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Surendra Kumar Gupta & Others v. State Of U.P. & Another - APPLICATION U/s 482 No. 3216 of 2006 [2006] RD-AH 17320 (6 October 2006)


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Surendra Kumar Gupta & others .. Applicants


State of Uttar Pradesh and another.. Opposite parties

Hon. K.N. Sinha, J.

By means of the present application under Section 482 Cr.P.C., the petitioners have prayed the quashing of criminal proceedings of Criminal Case No. 1654/2006 under Sections 304 and 201 Indian Penal Code, police station Civil Lines district Rampur (State vs. Surendra Kumar Gupta & others), pending in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Rampur.

2. The facts of the case are that M/s Swati Menthol & Allied Chemicals Ltd., situated at Bareilly Road, Rampur is a public limited company and engaged in manufacturing of Menthol, Crystals, Peppermint Oil etc.  The Company has been accorded the status of ''Export House' in the year 2003, by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry in India.  The applicant No.1 is Managing Director of the company and other applicants are connected with the affairs and the management of the company.  The company has a license from Drug Licensing and Controlling Authority, U.P., for manufacturing the above items, which is renewed up to 31.12.2006.  The applicant company has to use inflammable material in its manufacturing process as such the company has installed adequate fire extinguishing system in the factory premises.  The annual maintenance of fire safety equipment has been given to M/s Techso Engineers, Rudrapur (Udham Singh Nagar), who used to inspect and maintain the fire extinguishing equipment, like Fire Hydrant, installed in the factory premises.

3. As per prosecution case, a fire broke in the Distillation Tower of Factory on 15.2.2006 between 10.30 AM to 11.00 AM due to carelessness of the applicants and there was no proper arrangement for fire extinguishing by the water etc. hence many persons had burnt, out of which few died and many of them were injured.  On this information, a case was registered at case crime no. 297 of 2006 under Sections 304 and 201 Indian Penal Code in police station Civil Lines, Rampur.  The case was investigated and charge sheet was submitted under Sections 304-A, 285 and 287 Indian Penal Code.  The order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate (Annexure No.12) shows that investigating officer had prayed to convert the warrant into Sections 304-A, 285 and 287 Indian Penal Code from Sections 304 and 201 Indian Penal Code, but the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Rampur did not agree and rejected the said application and took cognizance.  By order dated 21.3.2006, the Chief Judicial Magistrate Rampur registered the case and issued summon to the accused under Sections 304 and 201 Indian Penal Code.  

4. The allegations were that fire extinguishing arrangement was not proper and it was due to a negligence of the management that this occurrence took place.  According to the version of the applicants, the company had given the contract for annual maintenance of its fire safety equipment to M/s Techso Engineers Rudrapur (Udham Singh Nagar).  The aforesaid company has taken the task of inspecting and maintenance of all the fire extinguishing system installed in the factory premises.  When fire broke in the factory premises, the fire brigade of the area was also informed, who undertook the work of extinguishing the fire.  The U.P. Fire Services also filed a report which came to the opinion that every instrument was properly working and the electric motor was jammed which gave sparking and fire had broken out.  Ultimately the charge sheet was submitted under Sections 304-A, 285 and 287 Indian Penal Code by the investigating officer.

5. The opposite party no.2 was served but no counter affidavit has been filed.  The opposite party no.1 has filed a counter affidavit, which was sworn by Raghav Ram Mishra, the sub inspector, who is the investigating officer of this case.  It has been mentioned therein that the Magistrate has rightly took cognizance of the case.  The Company situated within the industrial belt was granted license for the same.  It was further deposed that the company failed to install the adequate fire extinguishing system in the company premises and there were several irregularities, which resulted this incident.  The police came to the conclusion that it could be maximum a case of negligent act hence submitted charge sheet under sections 304-A, 285 and 287 Indian Penal Code.

6. The rejoinder affidavit has been filed in which the allegations of the counter affidavit have been denied and the contents of the affidavit have been reiterated.

7. Now, there are two aspects of this case, firstly, whether any case of culpable homicide is made out or not? And secondly, whether there was negligence on the part of applicants who were the directors of the company?

8. Heard Sri G.S. Hajela learned counsel for the applicants and the learned A.G.A.  The learned counsel for the applicants has relied upon Shamsher Khan vs. State (NCT of Delhi) reported in 2001 Supreme Court Cases (Cri) 31, wherein relevant facts involved were that appellant enlisted the other persons for the purpose of manufacturing bombs.  The bombs were manufactured and stored in the house.  The explosion of the bomb took place in the house of the appellant, which was the consequence of storing specific bombs.  The appellant was connected for the offence of sections 304 and 308 Indian Penal Code.  Hon'ble the Supreme Court, analysed the ingredients of Section 299 Indian Penal Code which includes (1) doing an act with the intention of causing death of a person, or (2) doing an act with the intention of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause such death, or (3) doing an act with the knowledge that he is likely by such an act to cause death of another person.  No evidence was found that storing of the bomb was done so that it is likely to cause death of any person nor there was any evidence to show that appellant had knowledge that by manufacturing bomb death could possibly be caused to any human being without any other act being done.  Thus, on the above facts Hon'ble the Apex Court came to the conclusion that no offence under Sections 304 and 308 Indian Penal Code was made out.  

9. Considering this analogy, the case under section 304 Indian Penal Code is absolutely not made out in the present case.  The Company was being run in the normal course everyday.  No act whatsoever was done by the applicants with the knowledge that it will cause death or such bodily injury, which may result in death.  During the investigation the prosecution collected the evidence but it could not collect any evidence by which the court could remotely attribute knowledge to the applicants that any act was done by the applicants in that regard which was sufficient to be covered under the definition of section 299 Indian Penal Code.  Thus, this part of the argument of the learned counsel for the  applicants is perfectly justified and the order of the Magistrate on this count is absolutely without any evidence.

10. The next question, which arose for consideration, is whether offence under Section 304-A Indian Penal Code is made out or not?  Section 304-A Indian Penal Code lays down as under :-

"Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be.........      ."  

An offence under this Section is committed either by doing any rash or a negligent act.  This Section by its own definition totally excludes the ingredients of section 299 or 300 of the Indian Penal Code.  The whole of the evidence collected in the case diary nowhere shows any Act on the part of applicants, which may be termed as rash or negligent act.  So far as the rashness of any act is concerned, it is absolutely missing.  The act of negligence has been attributed by the insufficient arrangement for fire fighting system.  This idea itself is without basis.  The applicants have filed various copies of the licenses granted to run the factory.  Whenever any such license is granted, the licensing authority makes all sorts of examination of the company including the arrangement for fire extinguishing system.  The fire fighting arrangements were made in the company, which is apparent from Annexure No.6.  Annexure No.7 shows that there was a contract with the applicants' company with Techso Engineers for annual maintenance of fire extinguishing system. The copy of statement of witnesses recorded under Section 161 Indian Penal Code have been annexed but no statement shows that there was any negligence on the part of applicants.  After the fire has broken out a special report was sent by the Chief Fire Extinguishing Officer, Bareilly to Inspector General, U.P. Fire Services, Lucknow, which indicates that all the arrangements were made.

11. The learned counsel for the applicants has relied upon Kurban Hussain Mohamedalli Rangaswalla vs. State of Maharashtra reported in AIR 1965 Supreme Court 1616, in which Hon'ble the Apex Court held that Section 304-A Indian Penal Code requires causing of death by doing any rash or negligent act.  It appears that in the present case there is no iota of evidence suggesting any rash or negligent act on the part of the applicants.  The facts of the case, on which the judgment of Kurban Hussain (Supra) is based, are more glaring than the facts of the present case but Hon'ble the Apex Court did not consider it any act of rashness or negligence on the part of appellant.  The relevant part of facts are quoted below:-

''The appellant along with three partners owned a factory known as Carbon Dry Colour Works which manufactured paints and varnish, having license from various departments.  The appellant was manager and working partner. He converted the factory from the cold process of manufacturing dry paints to a process of manufacturing wet paints by heating.  For that purpose four burners were used for the purpose of melting rosin or bitumen by heating them in barrels over the burners and adding turpentine hereto after the temperature cooled down.  On the date of occurrence, one Hatim Tasduq was the in-charge of the operation.  The rosin melted on one burner and lime was added and the whole thing was boiled for half an hour.  The said Hatim Tasduq took a drum of five gallons of turpentine, which was poured into the barrel.  It was also allowed to cool and then Hatim Tasduq started pouring turpentine into the barrel.  As soon as Hatim Tasduq started pouring turpentine the mixture began to froth.  Hatim Tasduq was unable to stir as according to him his assistant had gone to some distance.  The result was that froth overflowed out of the barrel and because of heat, varnish and turpentine, which were stored at a short distance, caught fire.  With the result that seven persons were burnt to death.  The fire brigade was called and fire could come into control within two and half hours.  The appellant was not present in the premise when fire took place though he came as soon as information was given to him.'    

On the above facts, Hon'ble the Apex Court held that:-

"The mere fact that appellant allowed the burners to be used in the same room in which varnish and turpentine were stored, even though it might be a negligent act, would not be enough to make the appellant responsible for the fire which broke out."

12. On the facts of Kurban Hussain's case (Supra), one person Hatim Tasduq was engaged in performing the act of cooling the temperature.  Hatim Tasduq was unable to stir as his assistant was at a distance and occurrence took place, but it was not considered an act of negligence.  In the case at hand, the applicants who are directors and person connected with management were in no way connected directly or indirectly in performing any act.  No act at all was performed by them, which could be termed as rash or negligent act.  All arrangements for fire fighting were made in the company, as is evidence from the document on record.  Thus, neither there is any evidence for offence under sections 304 and 201 I.P.C. nor offence under sections 304-A, 285 and 287 I.P.C. is made out.

13. The petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. is liable to be allowed and it is hereby allowed.  The criminal proceedings of the Criminal Case No.1654/2006 under sections 304/201 I.P.C. and charge sheet under sections 304-A, 285 and 287 I.P.C., pending in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Rampur against the applicants is hereby quashed.




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