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Section 482 CrPC – Quashing of a Criminal Case on its merit by weighing the evidence so produced

HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT ALLAHABAD

Hon’ble Samit Gopal, J.
APPLICATION U/S 482 No. – 6004 of 2021; 30.6.2021

Sarju Prasad And 2 Others

vs.

State of U.P. and Another

Counsel for Applicant :- Pradeep Yadav; Counsel for Opposite Party :- G.A.

The matter has been taken up through Video Conferencing.

Heard Sri Pradeep Yadav, learned counsel for the applicants and Sri Phool Chandra Singh, learned A.G.A. for the State through video conferencing and perused the material on record.

This application under Section 482 Cr.P.C. has been filed by the petitioners Sarju Prasad, Anikt and Savita Devi with the prayer to quash the entire proceeding of Complaint Case as well as the impugned summoning order dated 20.1.2021 passed by C.J.M, Kaushambi in Complaint Case No.610 of 2020 (CNR No.UPK040005902020) (Ram Milan Vs. Sarju Prasad and others), u/s 323, 504, 506, 392 IPC, P.S. Manjhanpur, District Kaushambi, pending in the court of C.J.M, Kaushambi.

Learned counsel for the applicants argued that the proceedings against the applicants is false and with malafide intention only because of the reason that previously FIR as Case Crime No.0301 of 2019 under Section 323, 328, 120-B IPC was registered by the applicant no.3 against the opposite party no.2 and two other persons and as a counter-blast to the same, the present complaint has been filed levelling totally false and incorrect allegations in which summoning of the applicants is without any evidence and in a mechanical manner. Even the medical examination report of Ram Milan Prajapati annexed on page 47 is a procured document and certain arguments have been raised for the said document to establish that the same could not have been prepared and he could not have been examined on the date and time as has been shown in it. It is argued that the applicant no.3 is the wife of the opposite party no.2 and the applicant no.1 and 2 are the father-in-law and brother-in-law of opposite party no.2. The marriage of the applicant no.3 was solemnized with the opposite party no.2 on 26.2.2013. It is argued that as such the complaint is with malafide intention and the summoning order is arbitrary and perverse and the proceedings deserves to be quashed.

Per contra, learned A.G.A. opposed the prayer for quashing and argued that from the perusal of the complaint, there are material allegations against the applicants and from the perusal of the summoning order, it is apparent that there is no illegality or irregularity in the same and the defense as is being taken by the applicants cannot be looked into by this Court at this stage.

Considered the arguments advanced by learned counsel for the parties.

It has been held by the Apex Court in the cases of R.P. Kapur Vs. State of Punjab : AIR 1960 SC 866; State of Haryana and Ors. Vs. Bhajan Lal and Others : 1992 Supp (1) SCC 335; Trisuns Chemical Industry Vs. Rajesh Agarwal and Ors. : (1999) 8 SCC 686 3; M. Krishnan Vs. Vijay Singh Anr. : (2001) 8 SCC 645; Joseph Salvaraj A. Vs. State of Gujarat and Ors. : (2011) 7 SCC 59; Arun Bhandari Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors. : (2013) 2 SCC 801; Anand Kumar Mohatta and Anr. Vs. State (NCT of Delhi), Department of Home and Anr. : (2019) 11 SCC 706 that exercise of inherent power of the High Court under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is an exceptional one. Great care should be taken by the High Court before embarking to scrutinise the complaint/FIR/charge-sheet in deciding whether the rarest of the rare case is made out to scuttle the prosecution in its inception.

In the case of Priti Saraf anr. Vs. State of NCT of Delhi anr. : Criminal Appeal No(s). 296 of 2021 [Arising out of SLP(Crl.) No(s). 6364 of 2019] (judgment dated March 10, 2021) : 2021 SCC Online SC 206 the Apex Court while considering the powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. has held as follows:

“23. It being a settled principle of law that to exercise powers under Section 482 CrPC, the complaint in its entirety shall have to be examined on the basis of the allegation made in the complaint/FIR/charge-sheet and the High Court at that stage was not under an obligation to go into the matter or examine its correctness. Whatever appears on the face of the complaint/FIR/charge-sheet shall be taken into consideration without any critical examination of the same. The offence ought to appear ex facie on the complaint/FIR/charge-sheet and other documentary evidence, if any, on record.

24. The question which is raised for consideration is that in what circumstances and categories of cases, a criminal proceeding may be quashed either in exercise of the extraordinary powers of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution, or in the exercise of the inherent powers of the High Court under Section 482 CrPC. This has often been hotly debated before this Court and various High Courts. Though in a series of decisions, this question has been answered on several occasions by this Court, yet the same still comes up for consideration and is seriously debated.

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25. In this backdrop, the scope and ambit of the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court under Section 482 CrPC has been examined in the judgment of this Court in State of Haryana and Others Vs. Bhajan Lal and Others, (1992 Suppl (1) SCC 335). The relevant para is mentioned hereunder:-

“102. In the backdrop of the interpretation of the various relevant provisions of the Code under Chapter XIV and of the principles of law enunciated by this Court in a series of decisions relating to the exercise of the extraordinary power under Article 226 or the inherent powers under Section 482 of the Code which we have extracted and reproduced above, we give the following categories of cases by way of illustration wherein such power could be exercised either to prevent abuse of the process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice, though it may not be possible to lay down any precise, clearly defined and sufficiently channelised and inflexible guidelines or rigid formulae and to give an exhaustive list of myriad kinds of cases wherein such power should be exercised.

(1) Where the allegations made in the first information report or the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused.

(2) Where the allegations in the first information report and other materials, if any, accompanying the FIR do not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police officers under Section 156(1) of the Code except under an order of a Magistrate within the purview of Section 155(2) of the Code.

(3) Where the uncontroverted allegations made in the FIR or complaint and the evidence collected in support of the same do not disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the accused.

(4) Where, the allegations in the FIR do not constitute a cognizable offence but constitute only a non-cognizable offence, no investigation is permitted by a police officer without an order of a Magistrate as contemplated under Section 155(2) of the Code.

(5) Where the allegations made in the FIR or complaint are so absurd and inherently improbable on the basis of which no prudent person can ever reach a just conclusion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.

(6) Where there is an express legal bar engrafted in any of the provisions of the Code or the concerned Act (under which a criminal proceeding is instituted) to the institution and continuance of the proceedings and/or where there is a specific provision in the Code or the concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for the grievance of the aggrieved party.

(7) Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide and/or where the proceeding is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and personal grudge.”

26. This Court has clarified the broad contours and parameters in laying down the guidelines which have to be kept in mind by the High Courts while exercising inherent powers under Section 482 CrPC. The aforesaid principles laid down by this Court are illustrative and not exhaustive. Nevertheless, it throws light on the circumstances and the situation which is to be kept in mind when the High Court exercises its inherent powers under Section 482 CrPC.

27. It has been further elucidated recently by this Court in Arnab Manoranjan Goswami Vs. State of Maharashtra and Others, 2020 SCC Online SC 964 where jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and Section 482 CrPC has been analysed at great length.

28. It is thus settled that the exercise of inherent power of the High Court is an extraordinary power which has to be exercised with great care and circumspection before embarking to scrutinise the complaint/FIR/charge-sheet in deciding whether the case is the rarest of rare case, to scuttle the prosecution at its inception.”

Further, in the case of M/s Neeharika Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. Vs. State of Maharashtra and others : Criminal Appeal No(s). 330 of 2021 (judgment dated April 13, 2021) the Apex Court while considering the powers of quashing under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code and/or Article 226 of the Constitution of India has illustrated the circumstances under which quashing of a criminal case can be done. It has been held as follows:

“i) Police has the statutory right and duty under the relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure contained in Chapter XIV of the Code to investigate into a cognizable offence;

ii) Courts would not thwart any investigation into the cognizable offences;

iii) It is only in cases where no cognizable offence or offence of any kind is disclosed in the first information report that the Court will not permit an investigation to go on;

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iv) The power of quashing should be exercised sparingly with circumspection, as it has been observed, in the ‘rarest of rare cases (not to be confused with the formation in the context of death penalty).

v) While examining an FIR/complaint, quashing of which is sought, the court cannot embark upon an enquiry as to the reliability or genuineness or otherwise of the allegations made in the FIR/complaint;

vi) Criminal proceedings ought not to be scuttled at the initial stage;

vii) Quashing of a complaint/FIR should be an exception rather than an ordinary rule;

viii) Ordinarily, the courts are barred from usurping the jurisdiction of the police, since the two organs of the State operate in two specific spheres of activities and one ought not to tread over the other sphere;

ix) The functions of the judiciary and the police are complementary, not overlapping;

x) Save in exceptional cases where non-interference would result in miscarriage of justice, the Court and the judicial process should not interfere at the stage of investigation of offences;

xi) Extraordinary and inherent powers of the Court do not confer an arbitrary jurisdiction on the Court to act according to its whims or caprice;

xii) The first information report is not an encyclopaedia which must disclose all facts and details relating to the offence reported. Therefore, when the investigation by the police is in progress, the court should not go into the merits of the allegations in the FIR. Police must be permitted to complete the investigation. It would be premature to pronounce the conclusion based on hazy facts that the complaint/FIR does not deserve to be investigated or that it amounts to abuse of process of law. After investigation, if the investigating officer finds that there is no substance in the application made by the complainant, the investigating officer may file an appropriate report/summary before the learned Magistrate which may be considered by the learned Magistrate in accordance with the known procedure;

xiii) The power under Section 482 Cr.P.C. is very wide, but conferment of wide power requires the court to be more cautious. It casts an onerous and more diligent duty on the court;

xiv) However, at the same time, the court, if it thinks fit, regard being had to the parameters of quashing and the self-restraint imposed by law, more particularly the parameters laid down by this Court in the cases of R.P. Kapur (supra) and Bhajan Lal (supra), has the jurisdiction to quash the FIR/complaint;

xv) When a prayer for quashing the FIR is made by the alleged accused and the court when it exercises the power under Section 482 Cr.P.C., only has to consider whether the allegations in the FIR disclose commission of a cognizable offence or not. The court is not required to consider on merits whether or not the merits of the allegations make out a cognizable offence and the court has to permit the investigating agency/police to investigate the allegations in the FIR;

xvi) The aforesaid parameters would be applicable and/or the aforesaid aspects are required to be considered by the High Court while passing an interim order in a quashing petition in exercise of powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. and/or under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. However, an interim order of stay of investigation during the pendency of the quashing petition can be passed with circumspection. Such an interim order should not require to be passed routinely, casually and/or mechanically. Normally, when the investigation is in progress and the facts are hazy and the entire evidence/material is not before the High Court, the High Court should restrain itself from passing the interim order of not to arrest or “no coercive steps to be adopted” and the accused should be relegated to apply for anticipatory bail under Section 438 Cr.P.C. before the competent court. The High Court shall not and as such is not justified in passing the order of not to arrest and/or “no coercive steps” either during the investigation or till the investigation is completed and/or till the final report/chargesheet is filed under Section 173 Cr.P.C., while dismissing/disposing of the quashing petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. and/or under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

xvii) Even in a case where the High Court is prima facie of the opinion that an exceptional case is made out for grant of interim stay of further investigation, after considering the broad parameters while exercising the powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. and/or under Article 226 of the Constitution of India referred to hereinabove, the High Court has to give brief reasons why such an interim order is warranted and/or is required to be passed so that it can demonstrate the application of mind by the Court and the higher forum can consider what was weighed with the High Court while passing such an interim order.

xviii) Whenever an interim order is passed by the High Court of “no coercive steps to be adopted” within the aforesaid parameters, the High Court must clarify what does it mean by “no coercive steps to be adopted” as the term “no coercive steps to be adopted” can be said to be too vague and/or broad which can be misunderstood and/or misapplied.”

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Thus, it is trite law that at the stage of quashing only the material of the prosecution has to be seen and the court cannot delve into the defence of the accused and then proceed to examine the matter on its merit by weighing the evidence so produced. The disputed questions of facts in the case cannot be adjudged and adjudicated at this stage while excercising powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. and only the prima facie prosecution case has to be looked into as it is. Evidence needs to be led to substantiate the defence of the accused.

In view of the above facts, I do not find any ground to quash the proceedings of the aforesaid case and the summoning order. The application stands rejected.

The party shall file computer generated copy of such order downloaded from the official website of High Court Allahabad.

The computer generated copy of such order shall be self attested by the counsel of the party concerned.

The concerned Court/Authority/Official shall verify the authenticity of such computerized copy of the order from the official website of High Court Allahabad and shall make a declaration of such verification in writing.

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