Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: N.S. Dhanik, J. entertained a Criminal miscellaneous application filed under Section 482 CrPC, where the petitioner had prayed for quashing for the entire proceeding of Session Trial under Sections 504 and 506 of IPC as well as Section 3(1)(X) of ST/SC Act. 

The instant application was filed on the basis of the compromise between the parties, hence, the applicant requested for quashing of the proceedings, summoning and further pending proceedings. 

The complainant through his counsel Deep Prakash Bhatt, submitted that the differences were buried and the dispute was to be amicably settled between the two parties. It was further contended that he was no more interested in prosecution. The counsel relied on the judgment in Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, (2013) 1 SCC (Cri) 160, where the Supreme Court held that “The position that emerges from the above discussion can be summarized thus: the power of the High Court in quashing a criminal proceeding or FIR or complaint in exercise of its inherent jurisdiction is distinct and different from the power given to a criminal court for compounding the offences under Section 320 of the Code.”  

Learned counsel for the applicant, Pankaj Sharma, submitted that even if the contents of the FIR be conceded to be true, no ingredients of Section 3 (1)(X) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act were prima facie made out against the applicant, in the sense that informant nowhere said that the accused himself was not a member of SC/ST and he used those words intentionally in order to humiliate him (victim) in a place within the public view knowing it that he (victim) belonged to a community of Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes.

Hence the Court observed that both the parties had prayed that since no offence under Section 3(1) (X) of the Act was made out even in the FIR, they were to be permitted to compound the offence. Hence, the Court granted compounding of offence under Sections 504 and 506 of Penal Code, 1860 It was advised to permit the complainant/victim to compound the offences alleged against the applicant in the larger interest of the society.

While dealing with the inherent jurisdiction, timings of settlement play a crucial role. Those cases where the settlement was arrived at immediately after the alleged commission of offence and the matter was still under investigation, the High Court may accept the settlement to quash the criminal proceedings. It was because of the reason that at this stage the investigation was still on and even the charge-sheet had not been filed. Likewise, those cases, where the charge was framed but the evidence was yet to start, the High Court exercised its powers, but after prima facie assessment of the circumstances/material mentioned therein. The Court was of the opinion that matter deserved to be given a quietus as the continuance of proceedings arising out of the first information report in question would be an exercise in futility.[Karnail Singh v. State of Uttarakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 691, decided on 29-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: This Criminal Case was filed before a Single Judge Bench of Rajendra Kumar Srivastava, J., by petitioner under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code for quashing the charge sheet pending before the JMFC and order passed by Additional Sessions Judge under Section 3 and 22 of the Madhya Pradesh Vanopaj Abhivahan Niyam 2000, Section 26 (1)(6) of Indian Forest Act, 1927 and under Section 52/1 of the Kasht Chiran Adhiniyam, 1984.

Facts of the matter were that 14 doorposts made up of teak wood was found and seized by the Forest officials from the under-construction house of petitioner. For the above illegal activity, complaint was filed against petitioner. Petitioner had submitted that the teak wood doorpost was not illegal and showed the relevant document. The competency of the Range Officer was in question who had submitted the complaint against the petitioners. Revision court found that range officer was competent to file a complaint against petitioner under Section 76(d) of the Indian Forest Act.

High Court agreed with revision court that range officer was competent to file a complaint against petitioner. In addition to that in light of case of Krishnan v. Krishnaveni, (1997) 4 SCC 214 Court also observed that this petition filed under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code is in the nature of second revision, therefore, not a proper case in which inherent power could be invoked under Section 482 CrPC. Therefore, this petition was dismissed. [Ramgopal v. State of M.P.,2018 SCC OnLine MP 924, order dated 14-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: An application was filed before a Single Judge Bench of Rajendra Kumar Srivastava, J., under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure for quashing and setting aside of FIR filed under Sections 323, 294, 384, 506, 354, 342 and 355 read with Section 34 IPC.

The present matter occurred as a consequence of a fortress checking programme organized by Railway Board initiated in order to stop the passengers traveling without ticket. During the drive, few people were found ticketless which they justified by stating that they always travel without ticket and they were going to attend a rally organized by Bhartiya Kisan Union in Uchehehra. They were charged with fine in addition to the ticket amount. Later, FIR was filed against the railway checking staff and police alleging them of offences under the above-mentioned provisions.

Petitioner submitted that complaint filed was with malafide intention and false allegation were made suggested by the fact that necessary ingredients for the offences were not found. High Court after perusing the submission made by the parties observed that the petitioner were performing their duty under the fortress checking the drive and had no enmity with the passengers caught without the ticket. In view of the fact that a number of ticket checkers and RPF force were deployed it was found that the petitioner i.e. Chief Ticket Inspector had no necessity to have involved personally. In addition to the above due process was followed by the petitioner by charging the ticketless passengers with fine.

High Court referred to the case of State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal, 1992 Supp (1) SCC 335 where guidelines to be exercised during process of Section 482 CrPC was provided and observed that the allegations made under FIR were prima facie absurd and improbable. Therefore, writ petition was allowed and the impugned FIR filed against the petitioner was quashed. [Prabhat Kumar Hazare v. State of M.P.,2018 SCC OnLine MP 814, Order dated 02-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu & Kashmir High Court: A Single Judge Bench of M.K. Hanjura, J., allowed an application filed against the order dismissing the petitioner’s petition under Section 561-A of the CrPC, 1989 [Jammu & Kashmir]. The petitioner sought quashing of the dismissal order primarily on the ground that it was passed behind his back.

The main issue, in this case, was whether a criminal Court can recall or review its decision after the date of its delivery.

The Court applied the ratio laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of State of Punjab v. Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar, (2011) 14 SCC 770, wherein the Supreme Court had held that there is no power of review with the criminal court once the judgment has been rendered. However, 4 exceptions to this general rule were also laid down by the Supreme Court: first, if the judgment is pronounced without jurisdiction; second, if it is in violation of the principles of natural justice; third, if it has been pronounced without giving an opportunity of being heard to the party affected by it; and fourth, where the order is obtained by abuse of the process of the Court. In all these cases the High Court under its inherent jurisdiction can recall its judgment.

The Court held that the petitioner’s case was covered under the above exceptions i.e. the order was passed behind his back and he was not afforded an opportunity of being heard. Hence the impugned order was quashed and recalled by the Court. [Jalal-ud-Din Sofi v. State of J&K,2018 SCC OnLine J&K 519, order dated 24-08-2018]

Hot Off The PressNews

The Law Commission of India in its 274th report to the Ministry of Law and Justice has suggested that it is not necessary to make any amendment, to the Contempt of Court Act, 1971, after a reference from the Government confined only to Section 2(c) of the Act 1971. In the report titled “Review Of Contempt Of Court Act 1971 (Limited To Section 2 Of The Act)”, the commission to reach the conclusion, has taken into account — Articles 129 and 215 of the Constitution, stating that with respect to the power of contempt under the Constitution, the said Articles vest the Superior Courts with power to punish for their contempt, and hence, the Supreme Court and High Courts are empowered to investigate and punish the contemnor even in absence of any legislation outlining their procedural powers. Further, in addition, Article 142(2) of the Constitution also enables Supreme Court to investigate and punish for its contempt. Hence, the Commission stated that the suggestion to delete the provision relating to ‘criminal contempt’ inter alia ‘scandalising of courts’ will have no impact on power of Superior Courts to punish for contempt, as these powers are independent of statutory provisions.

Background —

The said Act has been amended twice, once in the year 1976 and then in 2006 as per the need of the hour. In England and Wales, the offence of ‘scandalising the court’ had almost been disused, before its abolition and therefore, by virtue of doctrine of desuetude and with its long and continued non-use, it stood to be insignificant. However, the Indian scenario, with the number of criminal contempt cases, paint a different picture. Furthermore, amendment in deleting the words ‘scandalising the court’ did not change the situation vis-à-vis such offences, in the United Kingdom, and they continue to be punishable under other existing statutes, i.e., the Public Order Act, 1986, and the Communications Act, 2003 [which is not the case in India where deletion of ‘criminal contempt’ from Act 1971 will leave a perceptible legislative gap].

Analysis —

Entry 77 of Union List of the Seventh Schedule enables Parliament to inter alia legislate on “jurisdiction and powers of the Supreme Court, (including contempt of such Court)”. Circling back to the legislation itself, the Act 1971 was enacted with the objective of regulating the power and procedure for contempt cases, and it does exactly that by placing limits, and prescribing procedures, and also contains adequate safeguards to exclude instances not amounting to criminal contempt, thereby restricting instances of misapplication.

Recommendations —

  • The Act 1971 is not the source of ‘power to punish for contempt’ but a procedural statute that guides the enforcement and regulation of such power, since, prior to the commencement of Act 1926 these inherent powers were exercised by the Superior Courts.
  • The powers of the Supreme Court and High Courts are independent of the Act 1971, and by making any amendment, the power to punish for contempt under the Constitution cannot be rescinded.
  • The suggested amendment to Section 2(c) of the Act 1971, would not be a meaningful exercise and would not be in the larger public interest.
  • In the interest of consistency and coherency, the commission has suggested to continue with the existing definition, which has stood the test of judicial scrutiny.
  • Any amendment to the Act 1971, will lead to ambiguity because it will give rise to more spontaneous and multiple definitions and interpretations of “contempt”.
  • Such a change in the law of contempt could potentially lessen the respect for/fear of courts and their authority and functioning.
  • Further, viewed from the angle of the frequent indulgence of unscrupulous litigants and lawyers alike with administration of justice, it would not be in the interest of litigants and the public at large to minimise the effect of the exercise of powers of contempt as and when the need arises.
  • It may lead to an undesired increase in the instances of deliberate denial and profanity of the courts.

Therefore, the Commission does not consider it necessary to make any amendment.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar and Dr. DY Chandrachud, JJ, explaining the principles governing the inherent powers of the High Court under Section 482 CrPC, said that while the inherent power of the High Court has a wide ambit and plenitude it has to be exercised to secure the ends of justice or to prevent an abuse of the process of any court.

The Court summarised the elaborate principles laid down by the Supreme Court in various cases. Below is the summary of the principles:

  • The invocation of the jurisdiction of the High Court to quash a First Information Report or a criminal proceeding on the ground that a settlement has been arrived at between the offender and the victim is not the same as the invocation of jurisdiction for the purpose of compounding an offence. While compounding an offence, the power of the court is governed by the provisions of Section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Also, the power to quash under Section 482 is attracted even if the offence is non-compoundable.
  • In the exercise of the power under Section 482 and while dealing with a plea that the dispute has been settled, the High Court must have due regard to the nature and gravity of the offence. Heinous and serious offences involving mental depravity or offences such as murder, rape and dacoity cannot appropriately be quashed though the victim or the family of the victim have settled the dispute. Such offences are, truly speaking, not private in nature but have a serious impact upon society. The decision to continue with the trial in such cases is founded on the overriding element of public interest in punishing persons for serious offences.
  • As distinguished from serious offences, there may be criminal cases which have an overwhelming or predominant element of a civil dispute. They stand on a distinct footing in so far as the exercise of the inherent power to quash is concerned.
  • Criminal cases involving offences which arise from commercial, financial, mercantile, partnership or similar transactions with an essentially civil flavour may in appropriate situations fall for quashing where parties have settled the dispute. In such a case, the High Court may quash the criminal proceeding if in view of the compromise between the disputants, the possibility of a conviction is remote and the continuation of a criminal proceeding would cause oppression and prejudice.
  • Economic offences involving the financial and economic well-being of the state have implications which lie beyond the domain of a mere dispute between private disputants. The High Court would be justified in declining to quash where the offender is involved in an activity akin to a financial or economic fraud or misdemeanour. The consequences of the act complained of upon the financial or economic system will weigh in the balance.

The Court, however, said that the decision as to whether a complaint or First Information Report should be quashed on the ground that the offender and victim have settled the dispute, revolves ultimately on the facts and circumstances of each case and no exhaustive elaboration of principles can be formulated. [Parbatbhai Aahir v. State of Gujarat, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1189, decided on 04.10.2017]

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: In a matter where the applicant sought to recall an order whereby the petition was disposed of directing the court below to conclude the trial under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881,  the  Court refused to exercise it’s inherent power under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

The Court said that Section 362 of the Criminal Procedure Code is based on an acknowledged principle of law that once a matter is finally disposed of by a court, the said court in the absence of a specific statutory provision becomes functus officio and is dis-entitled to entertain a fresh prayer for any relief unless the former order of final disposal is set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction in a manner prescribed by law. It was further held that The power to recall a judgment will not be exercised when the ground for reopening the proceedings or vacation the judgement was available to be pleaded in the original action but was not done or where a proper remedy in some other proceeding such as by way of appeal or revision was available but was not availed.

It was further said that the effect that the criminal justice delivery system does not clothe the Court to add or delete any words, except to correct the clerical or arithmetical error as specifically been provided under the Statute itself after the pronouncement of the judgment. The inherent powers under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code is intended to prevent the abuse of the process of the Court and to secure ends of justice. Such power cannot be exercised to do something that has been expressly barred under the Code.

The bench of Suneet Kumar J., also laid down 4 conditions when a Tribunal or a Court can review its earlier order:

  1. if the proceedings culminating into an order suffer from the inherent lack or jurisdiction and such lack of jurisdiction is patent.
  2. there exists a fraud or collusion in obtaining the judgment.
  3. there has been a mistake prejudicing a party, or
  4. a judgment was rendered in ignorance of the fact that a necessary party has not been serving at all or had died and the estate was not represented.

[V.K. Anand . State of U.P, 2016 SCC OnLine All 392, decided on 30.05.2016]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: In a significant decision regarding the issue of exercise of inherent power of the High Courts under Section 482 CrPC to quash criminal proceedings in matters related to commercial disputes where the cases appear to have predominant civil nature but on perusal of facts reveals an innate criminal modus operandi the Bench of Dipak Misra and Vikramjit Sen, JJ. observed that it is an accepted principle that whenever there is a manipulative and cleverly conceived availing of benefits like letters of credits then such cases are not regarded as having a predominant civil character as such manipulations create a financial hazard for the society at large therefore the superior courts being the guardians of collective interest should not invoke its jurisdiction under Section 482 CrPC and Article 226 of the Constitution to quash the proceedings.

The facts as deduced from the chargesheet prepared by the Central Bureau of Investigation states that the respondents got letters of credit issued form Bank of Baroda showing fake details in name of fictitious companies which further discounted the letters of credits by attaching their bogus bills.

On perusing the arguments of Pinky Anand, Additional Solicitor General and A.L. Das representing the appellants and respondents, respectively, the Court went with the arguments of the appellant pointing out that the foundation of the case is in criminal law, therefore, the case does not have a civil character. The Court further observed that, in such cases, it falls upon the High Courts to perform their principle duty of thoroughly scanning the facts before passing an order to quash the proceedings in order to secure the ends of justice and prevent the abuse of process of the court. State of Maharashtra v. Vikram Anantrai Doshi, Crl. Appeal No. 2048 of 2014, decided on 19.09.2014.

To read the full judgment, refer SCCOnLine