Criminal Court Can’t Alter Judgment After Signing It, Rules HC

Srinagar—A criminal court cannot alter or review its judgment after it has been signed, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court said, underlining that the issue was no more an open question.

“From the perusal of provisions of section 369CrPC and the law laid down by the Apex Court in case Adalat Prasad Vs Rooplal Jindal (2004) 7 SC cases 338, the issue as to whether the criminal court has power to review or alter its judgment after it has been signed, is no longer res integra (open question),” said a single bench of the court comprising Justice Sanjeev Kumar while disposing of a case under Negotiable Instrument Act.

369 CrPC reads: Save or otherwise, provided by this code or any other law for the time being in force, in the case of High Court, by constitution of High Court, no court when it has signed its judgment, shall alter or review the same, except to correct cleric errors.

As per the facts of the case, the respondent, Muzammil Bashir, had filed three separate cases against the petitioner, Mohammad Ashraf Wani, before Chief Judicial Magistrate Sopore in 2014.

While the cases were pending, Wani entered into a compromise with Bashir in which he agreed to pay Rs 3550000 to him. Accordingly, the settlement deed was executed, notorized and placed before the CJM who subsequently took the cognizance and acquitted Wani of the charges under section 138 of the NI Act. However, as pointed out by the court, Wani did not fulfil the promise and didnot pay the amount as such Bashir approached CJM again who issued notice and once he failed to appear, issued summons against him.

Wani approached high court, challenging proceeding initiated against him by CJM. Through his counsel Gulzar Ahmad, Wani said CJM in the capacity of criminal court has no powers to alter or review the judgement after it has been signed except to correct clerical error.

“In view of the dictum of law and expression of the apex court and the provisions of the section 369 of CrPC, the proceeding before the CJM is nothing but sheer abuse of the process of law,” Justice Kumar said. The judge, however, left open for Bashir to avail appropriate remedies available to him.




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