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Bombay High Court
Asha Sunder Shivdasani vs V. Aruna Ramesh Kriplani on 13 October, 2000
Equivalent citations: 2001 CriLJ 2146
Author: D Deshpande
Bench: D Deshpande


JUDGMENT

D.G. Deshpande, J.

1. Ramesh Lekhraj Kriplani is the husband of Mrs. Aruna Kriplani. The said Aruna Kriplani filed a petition for probate in respect of last Will and testament of Mrs. Sitabai Lalchand Jagasia vide Petition No. 668 of 1988. In that petition nobody was joined as respondent. It was filed on 18-11-1-988 and the probate was granted to the said Aruna Kriplani by this Court on 9-3-1995. Mrs. Aruna Kriplani claimed in the said petition that she was the only legal heir and she was also sole executrix named in the Will. It was also stated that deceased-Sitabai Jagasia died as a widow and issueless.

2. It appears that there after Ms. Asha Shivdasani filed a Misc. Petition No. 46 of 1999 for revocation of the probate of the Will granted to Mrs. Aruna Kriplani, vide Misc. Petition No. 46 of 1999 Ms. Asha Shivdasani claimed that she was the daughter of Mrs. Chandravati Kishinchand Vazirani who was the sister of husband of the deceased i.e. the sister of Lalchand Narayandas Jagasia and as such she was entitled to the property of deceased-Sitabai Jagasia. Ms. Asha Shivadasani claimed in her petition that when she was served with the writ of summons of this High Court in Suit No. 5079 of 1998 along with the copy of the plaint, she came to know about the probate granted by this Court to Mrs. Aruna Kriplani. Ms. asha Shivdasani however could not get the inspection of original Will but she learnt that the said Will was forged and fabricated. Mrs. Aruna Kriplani had obtained probate without serving any citation on Ms. Asha Shivdasani. Advocate for Ms. Asha Shivdasani tried to get search of the papers and proceedings of Petition No. 568 of 1988 (probate petition filed by Mrs. Aruna Kriplani) and many attempts in that regard were made. However, the Testamentary Department of this Court was unable to trace out the record, and therefore, the advocate of Ms. Asha Shivdasani could not get the inspection. It is the case of Ms. Asha Shivdasani that Mrs. Aruna Krtplani obtained grant of probate in her petition by making false disclosure and suppression of the fact and by dishonesty.

3. After obtaining probate Mrs. Aruna Kriplani filed a Civil Suit No. 5079 of 1998 for claiming 50% share in the property. Mrs. Asha Shivdasani, therefore, took out a notice of Motion No. 2323 of 1999 and applied for urgent relief, at which time, the husband of Mrs. Aruna Kriplani was representing Mrs. Aruna Kriplani as her constituted attorney. When the motion of Ms. Asha Shivdasani came up for hearing it was revealed that the original record and proceedings of Testamentary Petition No. 668 of 1988 were not traceable. Justice S.S. Nijjar directed the office to trace out the record and , submit, the report in that regard.

4. When the motion came up for hearing before Justice S.S. Nijjar, advocate for Mrs. Aruna Ramesh Kriplani took a stand that neither the original nor the copies of the testamentary petition were available with Mrs. Aruna Kriplani, and therefore, Justice Nijjar allowed the Notice of Motion No. 2323 of 1999 taken out by Ms. Asha Shivadasani. Thereafter Mrs. Aruna Kriplani filed an appeal against the said order vide Appeal No. 229 of 2000. The appeal came up before the Justice N.J. Pandya and Justice Chandrachud, where the Division Bench has recorded the statement of Ramesh Lekhraj Kriplani, the husband of Mrs. Aruna Kriplani because it appears that even the advocate for Mrs. Aruna Kriplani made a statement before Justice Nijjar that neither the originals nor the copies of the probate proceedings were available with Mrs. Aruna Kriplani, her husband produced the xerox copies of the petition before the Division Bench. The Division Bench therefore, recorded the statement of Ramesh Kriplani as to from where he got the xerox copies and Ramesh Kriplani gave answer that he received the xerox copies for payment and he had not seen the original.

5. In this background the Division Bench placed this matter before me for perusal, necessary orders and directions as may be deemed fit and the possible action would be to lodge the complaint under Section 195 of the Criminal Procedure Code through the Prothonotary and Senior Master, High Court, Bombay.

6. When this matter came before me, Ramesh Kriplani was not represented by Advocate. However, I directed him to engage an advocate considering the seriousness of the matter. He thereafter engaged advocate Mr. V.R. Bhandary, and I heard him and also the advocate for Ms. Asha Shivdasani. Submissions were heard regarding the proposed action that can be taken against Ramesh Lekhraj Kriplani as per the directions of the Division Bench.

7. It was contended by Mr. Bhandary that the Division Bench has not given any finding, whether any offence was Committed by Ramesh Kriplani, that secondly, the discretion was given to this Court i.e. the single Bench, whether the complaint would lie under Section 195 of the Criminal Procedure Code, that it was for the Division Bench to lodge a complaint if at all any offence was found to have been committed by Ramesh Kriplani and since the Division Bench has not done so, the Single Judge, has no power to file complaint. Mr. Bhandary also contended that in her probate petition Mrs. Aruna Kriplani had proved the Will which was attested by the advocate and notary, and therefore, there was no question of branding the Will as forged and fabricated at least the Will was declared so. Mr. Bhandary also contended that unless there was sufficient things and materials to hold against Ramesh Kriplani that there was a strong possibility of his conviction for the offence alleged against him, he cannot be prosecuted by filing complaint and mere existence of prima facie case against Ramesh Kriplani was not sufficient. Mr. Bhandary relied upon the following authorities in support of his contentions viz. 1) 1984 Cri LJ 1692 (Cal) (Mayapur Sree Chaitanya Math v. Sachidananda Brahmachari); 2) AIR 1973 SC 2190 : (1973 Cri LJ 1176) (Santokh Singh v. Izhar Hussain and 3) 1986 Cri LJ 1398 [Punj & har).

8. On the other hand, advocate for Ms. Asha Shivdasani contended that offence complained against Ramesh Kriplani was very serious, and therefore, the Division Bench rightly directed this Court to decide the issue and lodge a complaint against Ramesh Kriplani. He also contended that it was not necessary for the Division Bench to lodge complaint and it could be lodged by this Court also. He also pointed out the conduct of Ramesh Kriplani and his wife in obtaining the probate without serving the citation upon Ms. Asha Shivdasani and without showing that Ms. Asha Shivdasani was one of the legal heirs of the deceased. He, therefore, urged that action should be taken against both Ramesh Kriplani and his wife.

9. Mr. Bhandary also contended in reply (hat when Mrs. Aruna Kriplani and/or her husband had succeeded in obtaining probate in respect of the Will of deceased-Sitabai Jagasia, they have no interest, nor they have any interest in taking away or removing the original record of Petition No. 668 of 1988, but it must be somebody else on behalf of Ms. Asha Shivdasani who were responsible for the lost of the original record. Therefore, according to him no action was required to be taken against Ramesh Kriplani.

10. Before appreciating the aforesaid submissions, it is necessary to quote certain admitted facts. It is an admitted fact that Mrs. Aruna Ramesh Kriplani filed a Probate Petition No. 668 of 1988. It is an admitted fact that her husband has produced xerox copy of the said Probate Petition No. 668 of 1988 before the Division Bench. It is an admitted fact, as apparent from the said xerox copy, that in the said petition Ms. Asha Shivdasani was not shown as the legal heir. It is also an admitted fact that the original record and proceedings of Probate Petition No. 668 of 1988 is lost from the record of this Court i.e. from the Testamentary Department. It is also an admitted fact that the counsel for Mrs. Aruna Kriplani made a statement before Justice Nijjar that this client did not have the original petition or its copy even from their own record. It is also an admitted fact that Mrs. Aruna Kriplani was not been able to prove before this Court in any proceeding that the citation of Petition No. 668 of 1988 was served upon Ms. Asha Shivdasani and it is an admitted fact that Justice Nijjar set aside the grant of probate.

11. Section 340 of the Criminal Procedure Code which was relied upon by Mr. Bhandary in support of his contention lays down :–

when upon an application made to it. in this behalf or otherwise, any Court is of opinion that it is expedient in the interests of justice that an inquiry should be made into any offence referred to in Cl. (b) of subsection (1) of Section 195, which appears to have been commited in or in relation to a proceeding in that Court or, as the case may be, in respect of a document produced…such Court may….

(Emphasis added)

Mr. Bhandary made stress on the word “that Court” in Section 340 and contended that if it was the Division Bench before whom the offence was committed, then complaint can only be lodged against Ramesh Kriplani by the Division Bench and not by this Court. I do not find any legal force in the aforesaid submission. Admittedly the Division Bench was concerned with the appeal arising out of the orders passed in the notice of motions by the single Bench of which I am the successor and the original record of the probate petition was not traceable in the Testamentary Department of this Court, even though there were repeated directions given by Justice Nijjar and the advocate for Mrs. Aruna Kriplani made a statement before Justice Nijjar that he does not have original record nor the copy thereof. What Ramesh Kriplani did before the Division Bench was of producing xerox copy of the official record of the original testamentary petition which contains seal of the department regarding filing of the petition and other notings etc. It is not filing of the xerox copy before the Division Bench that is the offence, but it is the loss of the original record from the Testamentary Department and enability of Ramesh Kriplani to get xerox copy and produce it before the Division Bench. In this back ground the Division Bench directed this Court to hold an inquiry and find out whether any offence was committed by Ramesh Lekhraj Kriplani. Therefore, this Court is competent to hold an inquiry and give its findings with consequences whatever may be.

12. The next submission of Mr. Bhandary was that no offence under Section 195 of the Criminal Procedure Code can be said to have been made out in the background and circumstances, and therefore, no complaint can be lodged against Ramesh Lekhraj Kriplani. He laid emphasis on Cl. (b) of subsection (i) of Section 195 and urged that offences from Sub section 193 to 196 (both inclusive), and Sub section 199, 200, 205 to 211 (both inclusive) and Section 228 of the Indian Penal Code could not be said to have been made out in this background, and therefore, no complaint can be lodged against Ramesh Kriplani.

Section 193 of the Indian Penal Code is about giving or fabricating false evidence in a judicial proceeding. Section 194 is about giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to cause any person to be convicted of a capital offence. Section 195 is about giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction…. Section 196 is about using in a judicial proceeding evidence known to be false or fabricated. Section 198 is about using as a true certificate one known to be false in a material point. Section 199 is about false statement made in any declaration which is by law receivable as evidence. Section 200 is about using as true any such declaration known to be false. Section 205 is about false personation for the purpose of any act or proceeding in a suit or criminal proceeding, or for becoming bail or security. Section 206 is about fraudulent ‘ removal or concealment, etc., of property to forfeiture, or in satisfaction of a fine under sentence or in execution of a decree. Section 207 is about claiming property without right, or practising deception touching any right to it, to prevent its being taken as a forfeiture, or in satisfaction of a fine under sentence or in execution of a decree. Section 208 is about fraudulent suffering a decree…Section 209 is about false, claim in a Court of Justice. Section 210 is about fraudulently obtaining a decree for a sum not due or causing a decree to be executed after it has been satisfied. Section 211 is about false charge of offence made with intent to injure and lastly Section 228 is about intentional insult or interruption to a public servant sitting in any stage of a judicial proceeding.

13. According to Mr. Bhandary even from the admitted facts Ramesh Lekhraj Kriplani cannot be said to have committed any of the aforesaid offences, and therefore, no complaint can be lodged against him. This is part from his arguments that unless conviction is a guarantee or a strong possibility, there cannot be any prosecution against Ramesh Kriplani.

14. It is true that many offences, covered in Section 196(b)(i), may not be applicable in the instant case. However, it cannot be said that none of these offences are applicable in the instant case and to find out this fact, the background in which probate proceeding was filed and probate obtained is required to be taken into consideration again.

15. Admittedly, when Mrs. Aruna Kriplani filed Probate Petition No. 668 of 1988 she had came to the Court with a Will of deceased-Sitabai Jagasia. She had annexed copy of the Will dated 18-7-1987 of de-ceased-Sitabai Jagasia to the said probate proceeding. According to her she had also filed an affidavit of two or one attesting witnesses to the said Will along with her probate proceeding. Further according to Mrs. Aruna Kriplani the citations of the probate petition were served upon Ms. Asha Shivdasani. Further it is an admitted fact that the original record and proceedings of the Probate Petition No. 668 of 1988 along with original Will are missing and not found with the Testamentary Department of this court. Ms. Asha Shivdasani has now, in her Misc. Petition No. 46 of 1999, specifically averred that the Will probated by Mrs. Aruna Kriplani was forged and fabricated.

16. In fact if Mrs. Aruna Kriplani and her husband had filed Petition No. 668 of 1988 and they had succeeded in obtaining probate when they were supposed to have their copy of the record i.e. entire Petition No. 668 of 1988 and the order passed therein. However, it is pertinent to note that this Petition No. 668 of 1988 was filed and order of grant of probate was obtained by Mrs. Aruna Kriplani after seven years i.e. on 7-3-1995. Admittedly Ms. Asha Shivdasani came to know about this probate petition only after Mrs. Aruna Kriplani filed her Suit No. 5079 of 1998 claiming 50% share in the suit property. Thereafter she directed to take inspection of original record of Probate Petition No. 668 of 1988 but she could not succeed. The original record was not available and missing in the Testamentary Department.

17. Missing of original record of Probate Petition No. 668 of 1988 is a strong circumstance that creates doubt about the conduct of Mrs. Aruna Ramesh Kriplani and her husband Ramesh Kriplani who was the constituted attorney throughout and if the original record was lost, then production of xerox copy of the original by Ramesh Kriplani before the Division Bench is the another strong and suspicious circumstance. These two circumstanes indicate; 1) that it was Ramesh Kriplani who was having original record of Probate Petition No. 668 of 1988; and 2) from which he produced the xerox copy. Therefore, the offence that is made out prima facie against Ramesh Kriplani is removal of the record of original Probate Petition No. 668 of 1988 from the custody of Court.

18. There is no force in the contentions of Mr. Bhandary that neither Mrs. Aruna Kriplani, nor her husband Ramesh Kriplani were interested in removing the record, as there was grant of probate in their favour. I do not find any force in this submission because Ms. Asha Shivdasani has strongly urged that the Will is forged and fabricated, that she was not shown as a legal heir of the deceased-Sitabai Jagasia and no citation was served upon her. Neither Mrs. Aruna Kriplani nor her husband could satisfy the single Judge before whom Misc. Petition No. 46 of 1999 came up for hearing on number of occasions that the citation was served upon Ms. Asha Shivdasani. If the original record was available, it should have revealed the truth that Ms. Asha Shivdasani was not shown as a legal heir, and no citations were served upon her. It was also revealed that the so-called consent order purported to be signed by Ms. Asha Shivdasani was not at the instance of Ms. Asha Shivdasani or not signed by her. Therefore, prima facie it is clear that it was Ramesh Lekhraj Kriplani and his wife Mrs. Aruna Kriplani who were interested in removing the original record.

19. Once this background is established from the circumstances and facts as stated above, then there is a prima facie case to prosecute Ramesh Lekhraj Kriplani for theft of the original record of probate petition from the High Court and for other different offences under Section 195{b)(i) of the Criminal Procedure Code, they include Section 199 for making false statement in the declaration : Sub section 200 and 201, 204, 207, 209, 193 of the Indian Penal Code.

20. One more strong circumstance reflecting by the conduct of Ramesh Lekhraj Kriplani and which was pointed out by the counsel for the petitioner, is that, along with Petition No. 668 of 1988 Mrs. Aruna Ramesh Kriplani filed an affidavit of Ms. Asha Shivdasani to the effect that the said Asha Shivdasani has no objection to the grant of probate to Mrs. Aruna Ramesh Kriplani and that the said Asha Shivdasani had given her full and free consent. According to advocate for the petitioner, Asha Shivdasani never gave any consent and said affidavit is a forgery. He also pointed out that other affidavit of Ishwari Vajarani was also a forgery. These allegations are very serious and in this background removal of the record of original Petition No. 668 of 1988 from the custody of this court is very serious matter.

21. At this juncture it is necessary to consider the authorities relied upon by Mr. Bhandary. He relied upon a decision of Calcutta High Court reported in 1984 Cri LJ 1692 (Mayapur Sree Chaitanya Math v. Sachidananda Brahmachari). In that case question was of forgery of document. The defendant relied upon certain documents in relation to shebaitship of deities and plaintiff alleged that those documents were fprged. The defendant denied the forgery and asserted that the documents were genuine. The question was whether this denial of forgery and assertion of genuineness of the documents itself amounted to perjury or interference with the administration of justice. In that background, the Calcutta High Court held that there must be a prima facie finding of forgery by the High Court before the defendant can be held guilty for using a forged document as contemplated by Section 840 read with Section 195(1)(iii). In the instant case, there is no question of forgery of document at least at this juncture. The trial Court may upon appreciation of facts prima faice decide whether the Will was forged one or not but so far as other offences against Ramesh Kriplani are concerned, as quoted in the aforesaid para, there is enough material before this Court to proceed with against Ramesh Kriplani.

Therefore, this judgment of Calcutta High Court is of no help to Ramesh Kriplani.

22. The second judgment that was relied upon by Mr. Bhandary was AIR 1973 SC 2190 : (1973 Cri LJ 1176} (Santokh Singh v. Izhar Hussain). In that case a judgment of single Bench of Allahabad High Court was challenged before the Supreme Court. By the said judgment the single Judge had alleged reversion and set aside the order of Sessions Judge and directed the Deputy Registrar of the High Court to file a com-plaint under Section 211 of the Indian Penal Code against the appellant for falsely charging Izhar Hussain with offences under Sub section 323 and 325 read with Section 149 and under Section 147 of the Indian Penal Code. In that case, the FIR was lodged by one Kartar Singh against Izhar Hussain and others under Sub section 147, 323, 326, 149 etc. of the Indian Penal Code. One Santokh Singh was appeared as prosecution witness No. 4. The accused were acquitted because Santokh Singh in his evidence admitted that he had named Izhar Hussairi at the instance of the people of the Octroi Post. Thereafter Izhar Hussain filed an application against the said Santokh Singh and others for prosecution under Sub section 211 and 193 of the Indian Penal Code, because they had intentionally given false evidence during the petitioner’s trial and had fabricated false evidence for the purpose of their conviction. The Additional District Maistrate had not directed any proceedings to be taken against the said Santokh Singh. Izhar Hussain filed an appeal before the Sessions Judge but did not succeed. Then Izhar Hussain moved the High Court and against the order of the High Court, Santokh Singh went to Supreme Court. The Supreme Court after considering the evidence given by Santokh Singh and considering the case laws and particularly considering the evidence of Santokh Singh where he has admitted that he had not seen Izhar Hussain as one of the assailants, held that there was no case made out for prosecuting Santokh Singh. On this background the Supreme Court held that every incorrect or false statement does not make it incumbent on the Court to order prosecution. The Court has to exercise judicial discretion in the light of all the relevant circumstances. The Court orders prosecution in the larger interest of the administration of justice and not to gravity feelings of personal revenge or vin-dictiveness or to serve the ends of a private party. It is only in glaring cases of deliberate falsehood where conviction is highly likely that the Court should direct prosecution.

23. There cannot be any dispute about the position of law laid down by the Supreme Court in the aforesaid judgment. However, the facts in the present case are totally different. Even admitted and undisputed facts in the present case as quoted by me repeatedly disclose any serious state of affair and those facts and the offence, prima facie made out from them, do directly affect the administration of justice and it is in the larger interest of administrative justice that the prosecution is necessary. It is also pertinent to note here that initiative to prosecute Ramesh Lekhraj Kriplani is not taken by Ms. Asha Shivdasani or any private party but it is the Division Bench who though it fit to consider whether the complaint can be lodged against Ramesh Lekhraj Kriplani under Section 195 of the Criminal Procedure Code. In this background the present case is a glaring case of deliberate falsehood of stealing the record from the Court, suppressing the record and making false claim etc. and in the circumstances, therefore, the objection of Mr. Bhandary in this regard has to be rejected.

24. Mr. Bhandary also relied upon judgment of the Supreme Court reported in AIR 1979 SC 1760 : (1979 Cri LJ 1334) (Har Gobind v. State of Haryana). In that case though the trial Court as well as the Additional District Judge in appeal held that the Will was not genuine and was a forged document and directed prosecution against the appellant. The Supreme Court found that the Courts really found that the Will was executed under suspicious circumstances and not it was a downright forgery. Further the Surpeme Court has found that even after issuing notice to the appellants, the Additional District Judge who filed the complaint had not at all gave any finding as to the part played by the appellants in the execution of the Will, nor has he clarified as to how the appellants could be prosecuted under Sub section 467/109. And therefore, in that background the Supreme Court set aside the order of Additional District Judge.

25. From the circumstances of the present case, specific findings can be given by the Court regarding the role played by Ramesh Kriplani and as to the offence which he prima facie committed.

26. Mr. Bhandary also relied upon a judgment reported in 1986 Cri LJ 1398 (Punj & Har). From the facts of that case it was however found that the husband and wife were bent upon personal vendetta and, therefore, the Court held that the courts never become tools at the hands of the parties to satisfy private vendetta or to take up cudgels on behalf of one party and punish the other. The primary object to take proceedings under Section 340 of the Criminal Procedure Code in instituting a complaint for giving false evidence is to curb the evil of perjury and to keep the flow of proceedings in the Courts unsullied and pure. The Court further observed :–

It is only in a rare case, when the Court comes to the conclusion that if the complaint is filed conviction more or less a certainty, that it chooses to become a complaint.

Since the facts of this case are totally different, the judgment cannot be any application. However, it can be said that the Court must be more or less satisfied that the facts could lead to affect.

27. Having considered the facts and circumstances of the case and submission made by both the advocates, there is no alternative but to launch prosecution against Ramesh Lekhraj Kriplani, and therefore, I pass the following order :–

ORDER

Prothonotary and Senior Master, High Court, Bombay is directed to file a complaint against Ramesh Lekhraj Kriplani before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mumbai for the offence under Section 195(1)(b)(i) of the Criminal Procedure Code; for the offence under Section 193 for filing forged affidavit of Smt. Asha Sunder Shivdasani and Smt.-Ishwarai Deepchand Vazirani, for the offence under Sub section 196 and 199 for making false declaration that these two persons/deponents have given no objection to the grant of probate to Mrs. Aruna Ramesh Kriplani; for the offence under Sub section 207, 209 and also for the offence under Sub section 379 and 380 of the Indian Penal Code within six weeks from today.

Copy of this judgment be immediately sent to the Prothonotary and Senior Master along with the record. The Prothonotary and Senior Master will preserve xerox copy of the Petition No. 668 of 1988 in a separate sealed envelope and will produce the same before the said Magistrate as and when required. Before doing that she will take out another xerox copy of the entire Petition No. 668 of 1988 and file it along with the complaint.

Needless to say that the Chief Judicial Magistrate or the Metropolitan Magistrate, dealing with the case, will not be influenced by the observations made by this Court in the present order while deciding the case against the said Ramesh Lekhraj Kriplani.

The Magistrate may if upon taking such evidence as he thinks fit or upon evidence recorded by him decide whether to join Mrs. Aruna Ramesh Kriplani as a co-accused along with her husband.

The Prothonotary and Senior Master to file complaint within six weeks from today.

Certified copy expedited.


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