Power of HC under Section 482 CrPC to prevent abuse of process not restricted only to stage of filing of FIR: SC

Supreme Court: A Bench comprising of S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the judgment of the Delhi High Court whereby it had dismissed appellant’s writ petition seeking to quash the FIR filed against them.

The case arose out of a property matter between the appellants and the complainant. The parties had entered into an agreement for the development of appellants’ property. However, the said agreement could not be performed due to the statutory ban on new construction in the area. It was the complainant’s case that the appellant was not returning a deposit of Rs 1 crore made at the time of entering into the agreement. Therefore, an FIR under Section 406 IPC was lodged against the appellants. The appellants’ filed a writ petition before the High Court seeking to quash the said FIR; however, the petition was dismissed. Aggrieved thereby the appellants preferred the instant appeal. The complainant opposed the appeal on the ground that the chargesheet had already been filed in the case and therefore the FIR could not be quashed at this belated stage.

The Supreme Court turned down the said contention of the complainant while referring to High Court’s power under Section 482 CrPC. After referring to Joseph Salvaraj A v. State of Gujarat, (2011) 7 SCC 59, the Court observed that “there is nothing in the words of Section 482 which restricts the exercise of the Court’s power to prevent the abuse of process of court or miscarriage of justice only to the stage of the FIR. The power is undoubtedly conferred to prevent abuse of process of any court.” Furthermore, on the facts of the case, the Court held that the money deposited with the appellant could not be said to be an entrustment. In any case, if there was a misappropriation, the remedy was available in a civil court. In the opinion of the Court, the FIR filed under Section 406 IPC was not tenable and therefore it was quashed. The appeal was thus allowed and the judgment impugned was set aside. [Anand Kumar Mohatta v. State (NCT of Delhi),2018 SCC OnLine SC 2447, decided on 15-11-2018]

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