A sessions court imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on a complainant–whose two mobile phones, cash and some jewelry were allegedly stolen in 2002 from his house–for filing a “meritless” and a “frivolous” appeal against a lower court judgment.
The appeal was filed by the complainat Ranjan Samtan after a magisterial court had acquitted the accused for the lack of evidence. The state did not go for an appeal as it did not find any infirmity in the magesterial court judgment.
District and Sessions Judge (DSJ) Girish Kathpalia upheld the trial court’s order and said : “The application being just not meritless, but even frivolous, is a dismissed with cost of Rs 10,000 which shall be paid by the appellant (the complainant) to respondent ( accused) towards his litigation expenses within two weeks.”
According to court records, after the robbery in May 2002, Delhi Police recovered two mobile phone-Nokia and Panasonic-from the accused in June, following which police filed a chargesheet under IPC sections 457(lurking house-trespass or house-breaking by night in order to commit offence punishable with imprisonment), 380 (theft in dwelling house), and 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property). However, the trial court framed charges under IPC section 411 only, and proceeded with the trial. However, the charge could not be proved and the accused was acquitted in 2013.
The complainant filed an appeal stating that the magisterial court “erred” in ignoring the evidence related to the test identification parade (TIP) of the mobile phones. According to court records, a TIP was conducted infront of then Metropolitan Magistrate Surinder Rathi, in which he wrote: “After having a look at the displayed six cell phones, the witness has correctly identified his cell phone make Panasonic and Nokia from its design and colour…That the above proceeding is true and correct.”
In the appeal order, DSJ Girish Kathpalia said that the TIP proceedings was done only on the basis of design, colour and was “not scientific way of identification at all”. However, the court noted that during the trial, the said Panasonic phone was not produced before the court, and in the course, recording indicated that only a Nokia phone was produced. The DSJ said: “Neither the IMEI number nor purchase bill nor any other document of the ownership of the recovered mobile phone was brought on record.”
VK Ohri, counsel for the complainant, said: “We will file an appeal in the High Court. There are certain infirmities. When the court found out that only one mobile phone was produced, there should have been certain inquiry…in TIP it is clear that two phones were identified.”
Complainant Samtani said: “I have a right to appeal and I am surprised the court had imposed a fine on me. We are seeking legal remedies.”