Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Ashwani Kumar Singh, J. dismissed an application for the quashing of FIR by the petitioner under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India.

An FIR was registered under Section 366 read with Section 34 of the Penal Code, 1860 against the petitioner where it was alleged that he took the daughter of one Ram Narayan Pandey, who was aged about 18 years, when she was going to the Durga Mandir with her mother on 18-04-2019 at about 5.30 p.m. to offer her prayers. The petitioner along with others came there on a Bolero jeep and assaulted his daughter. When his wife protested, the accused pushed aside the informant’s wife and put his daughter in the vehicle and sped away.

The counsel for the petitioner Shubhesh Pandey submitted that the allegations made in the FIR were false and that the alleged victim had attained the age of majority, who out of her own sweet will, went with the petitioner and voluntarily married him.

After a careful perusal of the records, the Court held that the allegations made in the FIR were quite serious and they attracted the ingredients of a cognizable offence. To hold an investigation into a cognizable offence is the statutory right of the police. The defense taken by the petitioner that the victim went together with him out of her own sweet will and married him was to be examined by the police in the course of the investigation. At the stage of the investigation, the court would not come to any conclusion regarding the veracity of allegations made in the FIR. It is a well-settled principle of law that at this stage, the Court has no role to play. The role of the Court would start only after the investigation is completed and a report under Section 173(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure is filed.

In view of the above-noted facts, the instant application was dismissed since the allegations made in the FIR attracted the ingredients of a cognizable offence, and there was no reason to quash the FIR.[Benkatesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1355, decided on 22-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Orissa High Court: Dr Akshaya Kumar Mishra, J. quashed lower court proceedings partially and directed to proceed the matter under the Penal Code.

The present case relates to an FIR lodged by the Mining Officer, Office of the Deputy Director of Mines, Koira Circle, Sundargarh alleging that Ajay Mineral & Steels (P) Ltd. procured a certain metric ton of Iron ore lumps in an unauthorized manner for crushing and conversation purpose. The FIR was registered under Section 379 and Section 34 of the Penal Code, 1860 and under Section 21 of Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, 1957 (‘MMDR’). Upon investigation of the matter, a charge sheet was submitted basing upon which the learned Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Bonai took cognizance of the matter and nine of the accused persons including the present four petitioners were issued for initiation of the proceedings against them.

Sanjit Mohanty, S.P. Panda, S. Pattnaik, and P.K. Muduli, learned counsels representing the petitioners submitted that the police had no jurisdiction to try the case under the MMDR Act and the matter needs to be quashed due to the entire proceedings being illegal in nature. The Advocates also relied on the decision Surendra Kumar Agarwal v. State of Orissa (2009) 44 OCR 232.

Additional Government Advocate representing the respondent, D.K. Praharaj placing reliance on the Supreme Court judgment in the case of State (NCT of Delhi) v. Sanjay, (2014) 9 SCC 772 stated that the proceedings should continue due to the case being registered under Section 379 IPC.

The High Court referred to the cited judgments wherein Surendra Kumar Agarwal it has been held that “provisions contained in Section 22 of the MMDR Act and Rule 15 of the 2007 Rules, makes it abundantly clear that no Court shall take cognizance of offence punishable under the said Act or the 2007 Rules made thereunder, except upon a complaint in writing made by the competent authority or person authorized in that behalf by the Central Government or the State Government.” However, as an Apex Court decision shall take priority over a High Court judgment the present court took into consideration the decision of the Apex Court which stated that “Considering the principles of interpretation and the wordings used in Section 22, in our considered opinion, the provision is not a complete and absolute bar for taking action by the police for illegal and dishonestly committing theft of minerals including sand from the riverbed.” It also held that “the prohibition contained in Section 22 of the Act against prosecution of a person except on a complaint made by the officer is attracted only when such persons is sought to be prosecuted for contravention of Section 4 of the Act and not for any act or omission which constitutes an offence under the Penal Code.”

High Court quashed the lower court order partially stating that for want of complaint, the offence for contravention of Section 4 of MMDR Act cannot be proceeded with and thereby only proceedings under Section 379 of the IPC shall be proceeded with accordingly.[Ramesh Ku. Agarwal v. State of Orissa, 2019 SCC OnLine Ori 226, decided on 09-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: Sanjeev Kumar, J. dismissed a writ petition which claimed promotion and challenged the government order which was made on the basis of serious allegations regarding the disproportionate acquisition of property.

Respondent 2 herein, on a complaint, conducted a secret verification and found that the petitioner had acquired huge assets both movable and immovable, which were disproportionate to his known sources of income. He registered an FIR against the petitioner for the commission of offence under Section 5(1)(e) read with Section 5(2) of the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Corruption Act, 2006. He also wrote a communication to respondent 1 (Administrative Secretary) for initiating departmental action under Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services Rules, 1956 against the petitioner. Respondent 1 by passing an order attaching petitioner with the Chief Engineer, PHE Kashmir. Petitioner was Superintending Engineer in a hydraulic circle, Kargil. He claimed that due to his seniority he was likely to be promoted to the post of Chief Engineer. Aggrieved by the said order, the petitioner challenged both the aforesaid communication as well as government order by way of this petition.

Petitioner claimed that the impugned communication issued by respondent 2 and the impugned government order by Administrative Secretary was illegal, arbitrary, mala fide and without any authority of law; and the same could not be sustained in law as they were not traceable to any provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services Rules, 1956. He also contended that no employee can be penalized only on the ground that an FIR for his misconduct was registered with the police or Anti-Corruption Bureau and pleaded that the impugned communication and order were only aimed to denude him from his right to seek promotion to the post of Chief Engineer. Respondent 1 denied the allegations of arbitrariness and mala fide and objected the writ petition on the ground that the impugned government order was fully justified as the allegation against the petitioner was serious and disproportionate to his known sources of income. He also claimed that the petitioner had been attached with the Chief Engineer not only because an FIR regarding his misconduct was pending investigation before respondent 2 but also because a full-fledged departmental enquiry against him was contemplated.

Court held that the department was competent to hold a departmental enquiry solely on the basis of the allegations made against an employee and this power of the employer was independent of the power of the police and the Anti Corruption Bureau to register FIR and investigate the allegations. The delinquent employee may be acquitted by the Court of law on finding that the prosecution could not prove his guilt, but he can be penalized in the disciplinary proceedings, which were decided on the basis of preponderance of probabilities. The Court also observed that as per Section 31 of Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services Rules, 1956 he could also be suspended, if the complaint against him of any criminal offence was under investigation or trial. Hence, respondent 1 had shown leniency and instead of suspending him had only attached him with the Chief Engineer. Therefore, it could not be said that the order by respondent 1 was without jurisdiction or without any sanction of law. Thus, the petition was dismissed for being devoid of merit.[Sarwan Singh v. State of J&K, 2019 SCC OnLine J&K 518, decided on 07-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Manoj K. Tiwari, J. dismissed a petition thwarting the request for quashing the FIR where it prima facie disclosed the commission of offence.

In the present matter, the petitioner sought for quashing the FIR registered under Sections 420 and 120-B of the Penal Code, 1860. Ramji Srivastava, Advocate for the petitioner had submitted that he was falsely implicated in the crime as there is no evidence to support the alleged incident. Whereas Pratiroop Pande, AGA submitted that the petitioner had a long criminal history.

High Court relied on the Supreme Court case, State of W.B v. Swapan Kumar, 1982 (1) SCC 561  and was of the opinion that “if the FIR, prima facie, discloses the commission of an offence, the Court does not normally stop the investigation, for, to do so would be to trench upon the lawful power of the police to investigate into cognizable offences”.[Amit Agarwal v. State of Uttarakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 537, decided on 24-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Dinesh Kumar Singh, J. quashed the application under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 on the ground that as the evidence cannot be scrutinized it cannot be said that no cognizable offence was made out against the applicant.

An application was made to quash the charge sheet made under Sections 323, 506, 452, 354-A of the Penal Code.

Aushim Malhotra, advocate for the applicant submits that the applicant has been falsely implicated. The victim had suffered not any serious injury except that she was having a complaint of pain. There was also the delay of 9 days in lodging the FIR.  It was further submitted that the accused had no criminal history, hence prayed for quashing the FIR.

Vimal Kumar Pandey, AGA vehemently opposed the prayer for quashing the same.

The Court after going through the matter on record held that opposite party was attempted to be molested by the accused-applicant and when she tried to defend herself, she was beaten with fists & kicks and when the mother-in-law of the victim had arrived, she was also pushed off.  It was further submitted that “From the perusal of material on record and looking into the facts of this case, at this stage, it cannot be said that no cognizable offence is made out against the applicant. All the submissions made at the Bar relates to the disputed questions of fact, which cannot be adjudicated upon by this Court in proceedings under Section 482 CrPC.”  The disputed defense of the accused cannot be considered at this stage. Thus the prayer for quashing the proceedings was refused. But the Court on the settled principle of the law in the case of Amrawati v. State of U.P., 2004 (57) ALR 290 held that if the applicant appears and surrenders before the Court below within 30 days from today and applies for bail, his prayer for bail may be considered. However, in case, the applicant does not appear before the Court below within the aforesaid period, coercive action shall be taken against him.[Ram Vilas v. State of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 2272, decided on 14-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: The instant petition was entertained by Ravindra Maithani, J. where the petitioner under Section 482 CrPC applied for quashing of the chargesheet and impugned cognizance order for offence under Section 420 IPC, which was pending before Civil Judge. 

Petitioner had stated that an FIR was lodged in 2016 against him, where the petitioner was accused of cheating 52 students. In the FIR it was stated that, the petitioner took the educational documents, photos, identity card as well as income certificate of all those students and got them admitted in more than one colleges and thereby received the scholarship. In the FIR name of 41 such students have been mentioned. After investigation charge sheet was submitted against the petitioner. The Investigating Officer found the allegations levelled in the FIR as true.

Learned counsel for the petitioner argued that the allegations were not believable; It was categorically averred that one person cannot do such an act on his own; what was requested was that direction may be issued that bail application of the petitioner may be considered on the same day when it was presented before the court. 

The Court observed that the petitioner had filed the present application under Section 482, material that was also available at this stage before the Court was an FIR, which definitely discloses the commission of cognizable offence and a charge sheet, which stated that in fact, the offence as alleged in the FIR has been proved. In the absence of any other material, the Court didn’t presume that the story was not believable. Investigating Officer had found that the offence was committed. Therefore, there was no reason to make any interference and the petition deserved to be dismissed.[Chandra Kiran v. State of Uttarakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 506, decided on 29-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, JJ. appreciated the Delhi Police for the alacrity with which it reacted to the suggestions made by the High Court regarding online registrations of FIRs.

On 23-04-2019, a letter was received by the Court wherein the author of the letter stated that her daughter, who had been working as a maid, had gone missing. The letter was marked to the Delhi Police. Despite that, the FIR was registered only on 18-05-2019. Due to delay in lodging the FIR, the “golden hour” of the investigation was lost and in all probabilities, the important leads had dried up.

On 13-05-2019, while considering another petition, the Court had directed the Delhi Police to consider allowing online registration of FIRs by way of SMS, emails and WhatsApp. The suggestion was made as it was observed in a number of writ petitions filed by the family members of missing persons that either the FIRs had not been registered or had been registered belatedly. With online registration of FIRs, the human interface — which normally causes a delay in registration of FIR — would be obviated. On the present hearing, the Deputy Commissioner of police (Legal Cell) submitted a “Proposed Road Map for online reporting on Missing Persons through Delhi Police Web Portal and Mobile Application.” The Court appreciated the alacrity with which the Delhi Police has reacted to the suggestions made by it. It hoped that the time-frame mentioned in the road map shall be duly complied with.

This Court was of the view that at the police station level as well as at the district level, the investigation procedure followed by AHTU/Crime Branch should be replicated. For this purpose, not only the latest technology and training but also the general guidelines in the form of Standard Operating Procedure should be issued and followed at the ground level. The intent behind directing issuance of SOP/guidelines is not to control the discretion of the investigating officer, but to ensure that certain essential steps like flashing of message on wireless and placing the information of the missing person on the ZIPNET are taken in a time bound manner.

Directions were given to file fresh status report in regard to aforesaid developments within eight weeks. Further, a status report with regard to facts of the present petition was directed to be filed within 4 weeks. [Court on its own motion v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8807, decided on 30-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: R. Narayana Pisharadi, J. quashed the proceedings under Kerala Police Act, 2011 against the petitioner by invoking the power under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

The facts of the case were that the Sub Inspector found petitioner making obscene gestures having sexual flavors, degrading the dignity of the women who were passing through the road. The Sub Inspector arrested the petitioner from the spot. The report was thus made after investigation, on which the petition was filed to quash the present application.

Sri. P. Rahul, learned counsel for the petitioner after completion of the investigation urged for the quashing of the proceedings on the ground that there was a lacuna in the investigation process and the police officer who detected the offence himself conducted the investigation thereby causing the prejudice to the petitioner. It was submitted that no woman was questioned by the police and civil police were cited as the witness to prove the incident. It was further submitted that the final report does not reveal the petitioner has committed any act punishable under Section 119(1)(a) of the Kerala Police Act, 2011.

Sheeba K.K., Public Prosecutor opposed the quashing of the petition on the ground that the offence alleged involves public interest and thus should not be quashed.

The Court held that the grounds alleged by the petitioner for quashing the present petition were not fatal to the prosecution case against the petitioner as there was no mandate that the act was to be done against the particular woman. Although on the ground that in the statement made in FIR and final report there was no disclosure by the two civil police officer of what was the obscene or sexual gesture or act performed by the petitioner which was necessary as the petitioner cannot be made guessing what is the specific allegation against him, the court decided to quash the proceedings. The court further directed  that complaint or the first information report, as the case may be, shall contain recital as to the specific gesture or act performed by the accused, which according to the prosecution, was degrading to the dignity of women and which would attract the offence under Section 119(1)(a) of the Act.[Arun v. State of Kerala, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1623, decided on 22-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Chander Shekhar, J. dismissed a criminal revision petition filed against the order of the Additional Sessions Judge whereby he refused the petitioner’s application for supply of an advance copy of the questionnaire to enable him to file the written statement in terms of Section 313(5) CrPC.

An FIR was registered against the petitioner and other co-accused persons for offences punishable under the Penal Code and the Arms Act. The matter went to trial and prosecution evidence was closed. Thereafter, the petitioner made the application as aforesaid which was rejected. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner filed the present revision.

Ritesh Bahri and Vipin Bansal, Advocates representing the petitioner contended that he was entitled to have an advanced copy of the questionnaire. Per contra, Ashish Dutta, APP appearing for the State supported the impugned order.

The High Court was of the view: “It is a settled law that the general rule is that, an accused must answer the questions under Section 313 of the CrPC by personally remaining present in the Court and it is only in exceptional circumstances that the general rule can be dispensed with.” It was noted: “The questions under Section 313 of the CrPC are confined to the evidence already on record, the copies whereof must have been available with the accused and his counsel by that time hence, there is no need for supplying the questionnaire in advance.” In such view of the matter, it was held that there was no infirmity in the impugned order and there was no merit in the present petition, which was accordingly dismissed. [Raja v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8652, dated 14-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Sanjay K. Agarwal, J. while allowing a writ petition filed by a registered medical practitioner, held that the jurisdictional criminal court has to follow the directions issued by the Supreme Court in the matters of Jacob Mathew v. State of Punjab, (2005) 6 SCC 1 and Martin F. D’Souza v. Mohd. Ishfaq, (2009) 3 SCC 1, while directing registration of FIR and investigation under Section 156(3) CrPC against medical professionals.

The petitioner was a qualified gynaecologist. One patient, who was admitted to her Nursing Home, delivered a girl child and thereafter Conventional Tubectomy was performed on her by the petitioner. However, after that, the patient developed some complaints and she was shifted to another hospital where she passed away. Relatives of the deceased accused the petitioner of medical negligence. Complaint was filed against her with the Police. Inquiry was made; the Chief Medical and Health Officer also deputed four doctors to file a report. In the said report, it was found that there was no negligence on the part of the petitioner. However, some time thereafter, the mother of the deceased approached the Chief Judicial Magistrate with an application under Section 156(3), where under the CJM directed the SHO concerned to hold a preliminary enquiry, after which FIR was registered against the petitioner for offences punishable under Sections 269 and 304-A IPC. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner filed the present petition.

Abhishek Sinha and Vaibhav Maheshwari, Advocates for the petitioner contended that the impugned order was sustainable as the petitioner did not first comply with provisions of Sections 154(1) and 154(3), Ravi Kumar Bhagat, Deputy Government Advocate submitted that the final closure report was yet to be filed. Abhishek Sharma, Advocate representing the mother of the deceased supported the order under challenge.

The High Court noted precautions and principles laid down by the Supreme Court in the aforenoted two cases which have been consistently followed in subsequent judgments. The High Court was of the view that the order of the CJM was not unsustainable for more than one reason. It was, inter alia, held: “the principle of law laid down by the Supreme Court in Jacob Mathew and Martin D’Souza for registration of criminal case against a doctor before registering an FIR under Section 154(1) of the CrPC by getting an expert opinion from a qualified doctor would apply with equal force while registering /directing for registration of offence under Section 156(3)…” It was reiterated: “obtaining a medical opinion from experts was sine qua non for direction of registration and investigation of offences against medical practitioners.” Since the directions were not followed by the CJM in the present case, the impugned order was held unsustainable was thereby quashed. The petition was, thus allowed. [Krishna Dixit v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2019 SCC OnLine Chh 47, dated 14-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu & Kashmir High Court: In this petition filed before Rashid Ali Dar, J., an order passed by District Magistrate, Baramulla was challenged whereby detenu was ordered to be taken into preventive custody under Section 8 of the J&K Public Safety Act.

Petitioner’s custody in the police for the offences referred in the grounds of detention was converted into the custody under the impugned detention order. Petitioner challenged the order of detention on the ground that detenu was already under custody where an FIR was registered for offences under Section 7 and 25 of the Arms Act, 2013 and thus could not have been detained under the provision aforementioned. Whereas, Asif Maqbool, learned counsel on behalf of respondents contended that order of detention was passed taking into consideration the relevant provisions of the Act and he was well informed of the grounds of his detention thus, no illegality occurred. The question before the Court was, whether an order of detention could have been passed when the detenu was already in the custody of the police.

High Court relied on the case of A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras, (1950) 51 Cri LJ 1383 where it was held that: “Preventive detention is by its very nature repugnant to democratic ideals and an anathema to the rule of law”. Court mentioned that the mindset of respondents seems to be that if the detention order was passed the petitioner could not apply for bail and if he does he would be prevented by virtue of this order. The above thought of respondents was improper as the authorities in case of bail application could have contested the same thus; the impugned order cuts the very root of the State Act. Hence, this petition was allowed and the impugned order was quashed. [Akhter Rasool Lone v. State of J&K, 2019 SCC OnLine J&K 429, decided on 10-05-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Appellate Tribunal for Prevention of Money Laundering: A Coram of Justice Manmohan Singh (Chairperson) and G.C Mishra (Member) allowed an appeal against the order passed by the Adjudicating Authority to retain seized assets based on a reasonable belief of the respondents.

In this instant case, an FIR was registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation in relation to allegations that Sterling Group of companies and the Sandesara Group were involved in bribing public officials in the period between the period 2005 to 2011 for obtaining tenders for the supply of goods, loans by banks and financial institutions. The statements of one Ajay Panchal, who was maintaining diaries in the year 2011 was recorded, and it was stated that Angadias, one of the appellants, were involved in the transfer of suspected proceeds of crime from Vadodara to Delhi between “Starling Biotech Limited and various individuals/entities based in Delhi”. There was a search of the appellant’s premises and properties were seized based on the FIR.

The Appellate Tribunal took note of the allegations against the appellants and ordered that the impugned orders were passed without any due consideration to the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2000. The Appellate Tribunal, in its findings, opined that the allegations that the appellant’s services were used to transfer funds from the Sandesara Group to certain public officials did not hold true since the averment as to the whether there were any proceeds of crime was not concluded by the Directorate of Enforcement. The properties seized, pertained to the year 2017 whereas in the FIR and complaints it was noted that the transactions took place between 2005 and 2011. The Tribunal opined “the impugned orders have been passed without any application of mind and in a completely mechanical manner.”

 It was noted by the Tribunal that the Respondents failed to produce any material having relation or link between the appellants and Sterling Biotech Ltd., they also could not provide any proceeds of crime being generated from the transactions. The Petitioners have the option to enforce Section 8(8) of PMLA which provides an alternative statutory remedy to allow the release of property even during trials. The Appellate Tribunal noted that Sections 17 to 21 of PMLA provide that the outer limit up to the date for deciding the application for retention of property within the meaning Section 21(4) is 180 days from the date of seizure of any property or records and this said period cannot be extended. Thus, the Appellate Tribunal reiterated the provisions of Sections 17 and 18 of PMLA and stated that if the Adjudicating Authority has a legitimate reason for investigation of the said property, it should pass an order on the same and direct for investigation wherein the assets will be frozen for a period not exceeding 90 days, otherwise, the properties shall be defreezed.

The Appellate Tribunal ordered that in this instant case, the properties were seized for the purpose of investigation and the 90 days period had elapsed and there were no concrete averments against the appellants or their property hence the properties were to be defreezed.[Kapoor Chand Galbaji Prajapati v. Joint Director, Directorate of Enforcement, Delhi, FPA-PMLA-2231-2334/DLI/2018, decided on 02-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Chander Bhusan Barowalia, J. allowed a petition filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for quashing of FIR registered for offences under Sections 498-A and 506 of the Penal Code, 1860, on the ground that parties had entered into a compromise.

In the present case, the petitioner-husband and respondent-wife were married according to Hindu rites. After five years of their marriage, the wife left her matrimonial home and went to live with her parents in Shimla. She later filed an FIR under Sections 498-A and 502 of IPC against the husband. However, the parties later entered into a compromise and in order to maintain their cordial relation, they did not want to pursue cases against each other. Thus, the present petition was filed by the husband under Section 482 of CrPC requesting the court to quash the FIR filed against him along with the cases based upon it.

Learned counsel for the petitioner, R. L. Verma, contended that as the parties have compromised the matter, no purpose would be served by keeping the matter alive, hence the FIR, along with the subsequent proceedings should be quashed by the Court.

Learned counsel for the respondent, Dinesh Bhatia, prayed that the petition may be allowed in view of the compromise arrived between the parties.

The Court relied upon the judgment in Jitendra Raghuvanshi v. Babita Raghuvanshi, (2013) 4 SCC 58 where it was held that even in non-compoundable offences pertaining to matrimonial disputes, if Court is satisfied that parties have settled the disputes amicably and without any pressure, then for purpose of securing ends of justice, FIR/complaint or subsequent criminal proceedings in respect of offences can be quashed.

In view of the above, the petition was allowed and FIR against petitioner, along with its subsequent proceedings, was quashed.[Dharmender Mathur v. State of H.P., 2019 SCC OnLine HP 585, decided on 08-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: Dr A.P. Thaker, J. passed an order to grant anticipatory bail for the offences punishable under Section 3(1)(r)(s) and 3(2)(v-a) of the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

An appeal was made to the court after an application for anticipatory bail was rejected by the Special Judge (Atrocity), City Session Court, Ahmedabad.

The fact of the case was that the complainant had a fight with the appellant and during the fight, the appellant assaulted the complainant who suffered some injuries. Thereafter, the complainant lodged an FIR against the appellant under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and Atrocity Act.  

The learned Counsel for the Appellant, Mahesh Bariya and Pooja Baswal, prayed for the grant of an anticipatory bail which was vehemently opposed by the respondent’s counsel, Monali Bhatt on the ground that the offence was made out under Atrocity Act and thus was a grave offence. 

The court placed reliance on the law laid down by the apex court in Gorige Pentaiah v. State of A.P., (2008) 12 SCC 531 which laid down that the preliminary inquiry shall be conducted by Deputy Superintendent of Police to find out whether allegation made out under the said act before registering an FIR relating to the commission of an offence and approval of appropriate authority shall be obtained before arrest of any person in connection with such offence.

The Court thus held that in the present case, it is doubtful as to commission of offence under Atrocity Act. Further, it appears from the affidavit of the complainant that the matter has been amicably settled between the parties and complainant has also tendered the affidavit for quashing the same FIR.  Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, without discussing the evidence in details, prima facie, this court is of the considered opinion that the discretion under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is required to be exercised. 

The anticipatory bail was thus granted with the condition that appellant shall remain present before the Magistrate on the first day of hearing of the application and after all the subsequent occasions as may be directed by the Magistrate. It was also clarified that the appellant, even if, remanded to police custody, upon completion of such period of police remand, shall be set free immediately, subject to other conditions of the anticipatory bail order.[Vipul Maganbhai Patel v. State of Gujarat, 2019 SCC OnLine Guj 832, decided on 10-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Bench of Sonia Gokani, J., while hearing the grievance of the petitioner regarding non-filing of FIR, ordered the authorities to do a necessary investigation after lodging FIR.

A writ petition was made by the petitioner who was aggrieved by non-registration of the first information report on the basis of complaint given in writing. S.D. Mansur, learned counsel for the petitioner contended that the offence being a cognizable offence doesn’t take away his right to lodge the FIR. Thus an application for appropriate order of the court was made by the petitioner.

Jirga Jhaveri, the learned counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, submitted that though a cognizable offence is made out, his first information report was not registered.

The Court after hearing the party relied on the Judgment of Lalita Kumari v. State of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1, which mandates that registration of FIR is mandatory under Section 154 of Code of  Criminal Procedure, 1973.  The Court held that the police officer cannot avoid his duty of registering the offence if the cognizable offence is disclosed and the action should be taken against erring officer who does not register the FIR. The court further held that in order to ascertain the information regarding the cognizable offence it was important to conduct the preliminary inquiry. The court thus instructed the respondents to lodge the report and conduct the preliminary inquiry within one week and further instructed the petitioner that if the action is not taken, it shall be open to him to approach the higher officials, as provided under Section 154(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.[Avdhesh Bhawaniprasad Yadav v. State of Gujarat, Special Criminal Application No. 930 of 2019, Order dated 07-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: A Bench of Arvind Singh Sangwan, J., quashed the FIR on the basis of the compromise entered into by the parties.

A petition was filed by the petitioner for quashing the FIR for the offences punishable under Sections 377, 34 of Penal Code, 1908 and all the subsequent proceedings arising therefrom.  The ground for quashing the FIR mentioned was with respect to the compromise entered by the party. The Court revealed that they have voluntarily entered into a compromise and the Court is satisfied that the parties have amicably settled their dispute without any fear, pressure, threat or coercion and out of their free will. Hence the Application for quashing of FIR was filed.

The Learned counsel for the petitioner, Piyush Sharma, submitted apart from the amicable settlement between the parties there was no other criminal case pending and none of the petitioners is a proclaimed offender. Reliance was placed upon the case of Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, (2018) 10 SCC 1.

The Learned counsel for the respondent, M.S. Nagra, has not disputed the fact that the parties have arrived at a settlement with intent to give burial to their differences.

The Court after noting the submissions of both the parties held that “since the parties have arrived at a compromise and have decided to live in peace, no useful purpose would be served in allowing the criminal proceedings to continue.”[Pipal Singh v. State of Punjab, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 450, decided on 29-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: This Jail Appeal was filed before the Division Bench of Sudhir Agarwal and Vivek Varma, JJ., under Section 383 CrPC which prescribed the procedure to be followed when an appellant is in jail.

The facts of the case were such that the appellant was alleged for commission of crime of murder under Section 302 of Penal Code, which the Trial Court found to be proven beyond reasonable doubt and had sentenced him to undergo life imprisonment with six months simple imprisonment for default in payment of fine on the basis of ocular evidence of material witnesses and medical evidence. Hence, this appeal before this Court.

Ravi Chandra Srivastava, learned Amicus Curiae on behalf of the appellant submitted that witnesses of prosecution were interested witness who were in close relationship with the deceased thus were not independent. Further, prosecution had failed to show motive behind the alleged crime in addition to the non-supported ocular version of events by witness. Whereas Rishi Chaddha, learned Additional Government Advocate for State submitted that FIR was corroborated by the medical evidence brought before Court. The instrument used to commit the crime was found with the accused and accused had a strong motive to kill the deceased.

High Court was of the view that the argument advanced by accused that the eye witness’s version of the events cannot be accepted as they were closely in relationship with the deceased i.e. wife, cannot be accepted in view of the evidence presented before the Court. If the evidence provided by eye-witness inspires confidence then the same cannot be discarded on the ground of their relationship with the deceased. Therefore, this appeal was dismissed. [Shishu Pal v. State of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 2112, decided on 19-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: The Bench of Arvind Singh Sangwan J., imposed the fine on Vishal Dadlani and Tehseen Poonawala of Rs 10 lakhs each for hurting the sentiments of the Jain Community by insulting the Jain Saint Tarun Sagar on twitter, even though the FIR was quashed against the criminal charges registered against them. 

A case under Sections 295-A, 153-A and 509 of the Penal Code, 1860 was filed by the respondent/complainant against the petitioners (Vishal Dadlani and Tehseen Poonawala) for hurting the belief, religious feelings of the Jain Community and Jain Monk Tarun Sagar. The petitioner posted the photograph of Jain Monk (Muni) Tarun Sagar, when he was addressing the Haryana State Legislative Assembly and another photo by way of Photoshop, the photograph of a lady whose face was not shown, in a sitting posture wearing only undergarments was clubbed and posted along with the photograph of Jain Muni by Petitioner 2. 

Learned counsel for the petitioners, Karuna Nandy, submitted that there was no mens rea on the part of the petitioner to commit any offence and even the petitioner has tendered his apology to the Jain Muni Tarun Sagar, which was accepted by him by way of print media. She further submitted that a rational criticism of religious tenants, pounded in restraint language does not amount to an offence either under Sections 153-A or 295-A IPC.

Learned counsel for the respondent, Khushbir K. Bhullar, submitted that there are serious allegations against the petitioners for hurting the religious feelings of the complainant and the followers of the Jain Saints. The entire Jain fraternity is defamed before the public in large by using electronic media, to spread the religious discontent and hurt their sentiments and therefore, the FIR was rightly registered. 

The Court opined that the country has witnessed large scale violent protest on incitement made by using social media platform, thereby, causing extensive damage to public property and therefore it was appropriate to impose the costs of Rs 10 lakhs each on the petitioners – Vishal Dadlani and Tehseen Poonawala, so that in future they may not mock at any head of a religious sect, just to gain publicity on social media like Twitter.  The Court ordered that the FIR registered against the parties to be quashed and gave the following instruction for the cost by parties i.e. “The petitioner – Tehseen Poonawala will deposit the costs of `5 lacs with the Tarun Kranti Manch Trust (Regd.), Defence Colony, Delhi (a Trust created by late Jain Muni Tarun Sagar) and will also deposit a costs of 5 lacs with the Poor Patient’s Fund (Prabh Aasra) in Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research at Chandigarh. The petitioner – Vishal Dadlani will deposit the costs of 5 lacs with the Shri Digamber Jain Mandir Trust, Sector 27, Chandigarh and 5 lacs with the Punjab and Haryana High Court Advocates Welfare Fund.” [Vishal Dadlani v. State of Haryana, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 446, decided on 29-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: The Bench of A.P. Thaker, J., allowed the petition filed under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code for quashing and setting aside the FIR filed under Sections 304(A) read with Section 114 of the Penal Code, Sections 3(1)(j), 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 and Sections 5, 6, 7 and 9 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.

The brief facts of the case were that the complainant was a member of a scheduled caste who on the date of the incident received a message that his father died when he went to clean drainage in the society of the petitioners. He went there and found his father dead. The petitioners contended that the deceased never entered into said side drainage and he died due to heart problem and not by any negligence on the part of the petitioners. Further, they stated that the complainant had filed the complaint because he wanted compensation from the government. It was also contended that they had never called the deceased for any work nor were they present at the time of the alleged incident. Mr. Manish Patel, advocate for the petitioners, stated that the cause of death as revealed from the postmortem report was natural death due to cardiac-respiratory failure.

The Court while deciding the case emphasized on the settled law that for considering the petition under Section 482 of the Code, it was necessary to consider as to whether the allegations in the complaint prima facie make out a case or not and the Court was not to scrutinize the allegations for the purpose of deciding whether such allegations were likely to be upheld in trial. It was held that a criminal proceeding could be quashed where the allegations made in the complaint did not disclose the commission of an offence under the Penal Code. The complaint must be examined as a whole, without evaluating the merits of the allegations. Though the law does not require that the complaint reproduce the legal ingredients of the offence verbatim, the complaint must contain the basic facts necessary for making out an offence under the Penal Code. It was further stated that a Court exercising its inherent jurisdiction must examine if, on its face, the averments made in the complaint constitute the ingredients necessary for the offence. The FIR was registered on the basis of hearsay and relying on the postmortem report the application was allowed. [Jaykarbhai Kiritbhai Agnihotri v. State Of Gujarat, 2019 SCC OnLine Guj 761, Order dated 25-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: This petition was filed before the Bench of Daya Chaudhary, J., under Section 439 of Criminal Procedure Code for grant of regular bail where FIR was registered under Sections 324, 323, 342, 148, 149, 302 and 365 of Penal Code.

It was submitted by the petitioner that he was falsely implicated in the case where he was not involved in the commission of the alleged offence. The complainant and the eyewitnesses were examined and they did not support the case of the prosecution. Even the post mortem report did not suggest anything which could prove the involvement of the petitioner in the alleged commission of offence. Arguments were advanced stating that the deceased died after he was found in a good condition and discharged from hospital. The fact cannot be ignored that co-petitioner was already released on bail. Whereas respondent contended that petitioner was the main accused thus, should not be released on bail.

High Court was of the view that the bail should be granted and this petition was allowed as the death of the deceased cannot be said to be a result of injuries received by petitioner. [Gursewak Singh v. State of Punjab, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 415, dated 22-04-2019]