R M Malkani vs. State of Maharashtra Case Summary 1972 SC

R M Malkani vs. State of Maharashtra Case Summary 1972 SC

R M Malkani vs. State of Maharashtra case dealt with the admissibility of the tape recording as a piece of evidence when it was collected illegally.

FACTS:

  • Jagdish Prasad Ramnarayan Khandelwal was diagnosed with acute appendicitis and was admitted to the nursing home of Dr. Adatia. They kept the patient under observation.
  • According to Dr. Adatia, the patient developed paralysis of the ileum after performing the operation and was sent to Bombay Hospital under treatment of Dr. Motwani.
  • Jagdish Prasad died on the third day. The hospital issued a death intimation card as “paralytic ileus and peritonitis” following an operation, giving rise to negligence by Dr. Adatia.
  • The Appellant allowed the disposal of the dead body without ordering a postmortem. However, there was a request for an inquest from the Police Station which was registered by the coroner’s court. The Coroner’s Court sends letters to professional people concerned in the inquest to get the explanation of the doctor who treated and operated upon the patient.
  • Dr. Adatia was asked to meet Dr. Motwani upon the orders of the appellant to get the technical issues surrounding the case sorted out. He asked Dr. Motwani to ask Dr. Adatia to pay a sum of Rs. 20,000. Dr. Adatia refused to pay any illegal gratification to the appellant, who later reduced the demand to 10,000, which was refused by Dr. Adatia again.
  • Dr. Motwani registered a complaint with the Anti Corruption Bureau on On 5th October as Dr. Adatia was receiving many calls from the Coroner who is the appellant in this case to pay the sum of money.
  • Mugwe and the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Sawant arranged for the tape recording equipment to be attached to the telephone of Dr. Motwani who was asked by Mugwe to ring up the appellant in the presence of Mugwe and other Police Officers about the appellant’s demand.
  • The Appellant was the Coroner of Mumbai and was trying to get illegal gratifications to the tune of Rs. 15,000 from an honest doctor, whom he had planned to implicate in a case involving negligent death of a penalty.
  • The present case arose out of an appeal against the conviction of the Appellant under Sections 161 and 385 of the Indian Penal Code. High Court of Bombay imposed a fine of Rs. 10,000 and in default of payment of fine, further simple imprisonment of six months.

LEGAL ISSUE:

Weather tape-recorded conversation is admissible as evidence?

CONTENTION:

1. The evidence of the telephonic conversation between Dr. Motwani, a witness, and the appellant which was recorded on the tape was illegally obtained in contravention of Section 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act, and therefore, the evidence was inadmissible.

2. The admissibility of the evidence offended Articles 20(3) and 21 of the Constitution.

3. The conversation between Dr. Motwani and the appellant which was recorded on the tape took place during the investigation because the Director of the Anti-corruption Branch asked Dr. Motwani to talk to the appellant and therefore, the conversation was not admissible under Section 162 of the Cr. P.C.

DECISION:

1. There was no violation of the Indian Telegraph Act and the tape recording was admissible in evidence.

2. The appellant’s conversation was voluntary and without compulsion. The mere attaching of the tape recording instrument, which was unknown to the appellant, did not render the evidence of conversation inadmissible. The appellant’s conversation was not extracted under duress or compulsion.

3. The tape recording was in the investigation because it was done under instructions that had come from a police officer. Sections 161 and 162 of the Criminal Procedure Code show that there is an investigation when the Police Officer orally examines a person and in this case, it was a telephonic conversation between Dr. Motwani and the appellant that the police officer was examining. Neither made a statement to the Police Officer. There is no mischief under section 162.

CONCLUSION:

In the RM Malkani case, the evidence was rightly admitted. The reason given by the court in the RM Malkani case was that if the evidence was admissible, the manner in which it was obtained is irrelevant.

The Judge has the discretion to disallow evidence in a criminal case if the rules of admissibility of evidence would operate unfairly against the accused. This is the golden rule in criminal jurisprudence.

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Ankit Kumar

Ankit Kumar

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