(Common Prayer: Criminal Revision Cases filed under Section 397 r/w 401 Cr.P.C, to call for the records pertaining to the order of conviction and sentence 29.01.2021 in C.A.No.97, 96 & 95 of 2019 (1st Additional District and Sessions Court, Cuddalore) and confirming the order of conviction and sentence dated 15.03.2019 in C.C.No.5, 4 & 3 of 2018 on the file of the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Cuddalore and set aside the same by allowing the above criminal revision petition.)
1. These three revisions arise out of conviction in three different cases from the same crime numbers. Therefore, they are taken up and disposed of by way of a common order.
2. Charge against the petitioner is that the petitioner was working as a Plumber in Annamalai University and got acquainted with his colleagues and neighbours and started a money circulation chit scheme in the name of 'Bala Eala Chit' and promised good returns, collected money from the victims. However, thereafter, failed to repay the money upon maturity of the chit amount. Since three different transactions were run by the petitioner accused, after investigation, three different charge sheets were filed, which were taken on file as C.C.Nos.3 of 2018, 4 of 2018 and 5 of 2018. The petitioner accused denied the allegations and stood trial. The prosecution thereafter let in evidence and after examining the respective victims in each of the cases also examined the investigation officer. The membership card of the chit and the other records of the chit transactions were marked as documents. Upon being questioned about the material evidence on record and the incriminating circumstances, the accused denied the same as false. Thereafter, upon hearing the arguments of the learned Additional Public Prosecutor and the learned counsel for the petitioner accused, the Trial Court found the petitioner accused guilty for the offences under Section 420 IPC and Sections 4 and 5 of the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act 1978 and imposed a punishment of three years simple imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs.10,000/- for the offences under Section 420 IPC; to undergo seven years simple imprisonment and to pay the amount cheated as the compensation/fine amount under Section 4 of the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act 1978 and in default of payment of fine and compensation, to undergo each nine months simple imprisonment and to undergo two years simple imprisonment in respect of Section 5 of the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act 1978.
3. Heard Mr.P.Pugalendi, the learned counsel for the petitioner and Mr.S.Vinoth Kumar, the learned Government Advocate (Crl.Side) for the respondent.
4. After making strenuous efforts to argue the case on merits, since it is a clear case of the petitioner collecting money from the victims and not repaying the same, even till today, the learned counsel argued on the question of sentence. He would submit that unfortunately, the petitioner has got into this situation and he has absolutely no money at all to discharge the entire amount due to the victims i.e., the total sum of about Rs.37,00,000/- in all three cases put together. He would submit that a sum of about Rs.3,00,000/- was returned to the victims after the petitioner was imposed with the punishment and that he is currently in jail undergoing the punishment and none of his relatives are coming forward to help him. In this situation, he would only pray that taking into account the age of the accused and that he is already in prison for more than 1 years, prays for leniency in the matter of sentence.
5. Per contra the learned Government Advocate (Crl.side) would submit that in this case, absolutely no amount was realised and nothing has been paid to the victims. There is no other property of the accused. In that situation, he would submit that there is no question of any undue leniency to be shown to the petitioner in the matter of punishment.
6. I have considered the rival submissions made on behalf of either side. In this case, the Trial Court has imposed the maximum punishment in respect of the offences and also imposed a direction to pay compensation. Considering the nature of offences and the age of the accused, I am of the view that the sentence has to be interfered with and can be reduced. At the same time, even though it is pleaded by the learned Counsel for the petitioner/accused that he is not in a position to immediately pay the compensation amount, there can be no scope for payment even in future. As far as the total amount is concerned, the Trial Court has come to the conclusion that it is Rs.10,54,935/- and the clear list is given in paragraph No.11 of the judgment of the Trial Court.
7. In view thereof, this Criminal Revision Case is partly allowed on the following terms:-
(i) The petitioner/accused is found guilty for the offence under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code and is sentenced to undergo Simple Imprisonment for a period of 3 years and 6 months and to pay a fine of Rs.10,60,000/- and in default of payment of fine amount, to undergo Simple Imprisonment for a further period of 9 months;
(ii) The accused is found guilty of the offences under Section 4 of the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978 and shall undergo Simple Imprisonment for a period of one year;
(iii) The petitioner/accused is found guilty for the offence under Section 5 of the Prize
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Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978 and shall undergo Simple Imprisonment for a period of one year; (iv) Of the fine amount paid by the petitioner, the sum of Rs.10,54,935/- shall be paid out to the victims P.Ws.1 to 19 as enumerated by the Trial Court in paragraph No.11 of the judgment; (v) The substantive sentence of all the three offences shall run concurrently and the default sentence of 9 months shall be undergone after the expiry of the period of substantive sentence of 3 years and 6 months. (vi) Consequently, connected miscellaneous petitions are closed.