Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The Division Bench of Karuna Nand Bajpayee and Ifaqat Ali Khan, JJ. dismissed a petition seeking quashing of a First Information Report filed against the petitioner for offences committed under Sections 148, 307, 353 and 504 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, and Section 7 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

The Court observed that grounds for quashing of FIR are well-settled, and thus in such cases court must refrain itself from embarking upon a roving enquiry into details of the case. It was noted that all the contentions raised by the petitioner’s counsel related to the determination of disputed questions of fact which may be adequately discerned either through proper investigation or adjudicated by the trial court. The ambit of an investigation into the alleged offence is an independent area of operation and does not call for interference except in rarest of rare cases. Relying on Ajit Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2006 SCC OnLine All 1409 it was opined that operational liberty to collect sufficient material, if any, cannot be scuttled prematurely by any uncalled for overstepping of the Court. 

The Court held that perusal of the case records, prima facie, made out the offence alleged and there appeared to be sufficient ground for investigation in the case. In view thereof, prayer for quashing FIR was refused. However, it was directed that the petitioner shall not be arrested unless credible evidence against him is collected by the Investigating Officer.[Umar Mohd. v. State of U.P, Criminal Misc. Writ Petition No. 330 of 2019, Order dated 08-01-2019]

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Uttaranchal High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Manoj K. Tiwari, J. allowed a compounding application as the offence involved was of a private nature and continuation of the criminal case would only cause oppression to the applicant.

This criminal miscellaneous application was filed by the applicant through his counsel Hemant Mehra and Vivek Pathak for setting aside the impugned order passed under Sections 9(b) and 37(2)(c) of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 along with a compounding application which shows that the applicant and the respondent have entered into a compromise whereby they have settled their disputes amicably outside the court following which if the criminal case continued it would serve no purpose. Also, the respondent through her counsel Preeta Bhatt and Anjali Noliyal has agreed to compound the matter against the applicants.

Accordingly, the court said that the offence involved in this case was of a personal nature and thus was not an offence against the society and nonetheless was not a heinous offence showing extreme depravity therefore in order to prevent abuse of process of law inherent powers under Section 482 CrPC shall be exercised. Accordingly, the Court allowed the petition.[Asish Makhijani v. State of Uttarakhand,2018 SCC OnLine Utt 1021, decided on 14-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of V.K. Bisht, J. dismissed a writ petition that sought interference with the investigation in a criminal case.

The petitioners were accused of cow slaughtering. It was alleged that on receiving information about the slaughtering of cow, the patrolling team reached village Harjoli and found that the petitioners were indulged in the said activity. The petitioners managed to escape; however, equipments meant for slaughtering, weighing machine and cow beef (approx. 350 kg) was found from the spot. A criminal case was registered against the petitioners for offences punishable under Sections 3, 5, and 11 of Uttarakhand Protection of Cow Progeny Act, 2007. The petitioners filed the instant petition praying to quash the impugned FIR.

On consideration of the record, the High Court held that relief, as prayed for by the appellant, could not be granted. The Court relied on the Supreme Court decision in State of W.B. v. Swapna Kumar, (1982) 1 SCC 561, to hold that if the FIR discloses a prima facie commission of an offence, the Court will not normally interfere with the investigation, as doing so would be to trench upon the lawful power of the police to investigate into a congnizable offence. From, the perusal of the FIR, the High Court held that it discloses prima facie commission of offence. Therefore, the Court held that it was not a case where relief could have been provided to the petitioner. Accordingly, the petition was dismissed. [Kala v. State of Uttarakhand,2018 SCC OnLine Utt 547, dated 18-6-2018]

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Karnataka High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of K.N. Phanendra, J. allowed a criminal petition and quashed the proceedings pending against the petitioner for the offence under Section 78(6) of  Karnataka Police Act.

The petitioners were accused of betting for an IPL match between Gujarat Lions and Mumbai Indians. They were accused of collecting money from the public and not repaying as promised. Learned counsel for the petitioners submitted that no offence as mentioned in the charge-sheet was attracted to facts of the case. He prayed that the proceedings against the petitioners may be quashed.

The High Court perused the charge sheet and found that no independent witness had been examined with reference to betting. Nothing was mentioned in the charge sheet about who all participated in the betting, paid money, how much money was paid, etc. The Court opined that the accused could not unilaterally play gambling without the help of public at large. In such circumstances, the Court held that when the offence itself was not constituted, nothing remained to be considered. Thus, the petition was allowed and proceedings against the petitioners were quashed. [Rahul v. State of Karnataka,2018 SCC OnLine Kar 633, dated 04-06-2018]

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Patna High Court: An appeal challenging the conviction and sentence of the appellant under Section 20(c) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) 1985, was allowed by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Aditya Kumar Trivedi, J.

The appellant was alleged to have been caught with 30 kg of ganja. It was alleged that on receiving information as to the same, the police officials raided appellant’s shop. Though the appellant managed to escape, but 30 kg of ganja was recovered and sealed from his shop in presence of two witnesses. The appellant was charged under Section 20(c), NDPS Act. The Special Judge convicted and sentenced the appellant under the said section. Appellant challenged the decision of Special Judge.

The High Court perused the record and found that while the alleged recovery and seizure of the said contraband material, proper procedure as prescribed by the Act was not followed. Prosecution witnesses did not support the prosecution story. The delay of over six months in getting the FSL report was unexplained. The Court relied on Vijay Jain v. State of M.P., (2013) 14 SCC 527, and held that in the instant case, the prosecution was not able to connect the evidence available to the guilt of the accused. It was observed, “it is the quality and not the quantity which matters while appreciating the evidence in order to search out whether the facts in issue have been proved or not”. Further, mandatory procedures as required by the Act are to be strictly followed because the offence under Section 20(c) is technical offence prescribing stringent punishment. Having find that the investigation in the instant matter was not conducted in strict accordance with provisions of the Act, the High Court set aside the order of the Special Judge convicting and sentencing the appellant under the said section. The appeal was thus allowed. [Naresh Keshari v. State of Bihar,  2018 SCC OnLine Pat 939, dated 28-05-2018]

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Bombay High Court: In a recent order, a Single Judge Bench comprising of G.S. Patel, J has clarified that a mere act of watching a pirated movie is not criminal offence, however, selling or showing a pirated movie is a crime, as per the Copyright Act. This case was regarding a message which had started appearing on certain blocked URLs, which stated that watching or downloading a pirated film could result in a three year prison term and a fine of Rs 3 lakh under Sections 63, 63-A, 65 and 65-A read with Section 51 of the Copyright Act, 1957.
The Judge stated that he had noticed some media reports, that commented on the fact that the error pages being displayed by various ISPs gave an impression, that ‘viewing’ an illicit copy of a film is a penal offence under the Copyright Act, 1957. The Court clarified that this was inaccurate. The offence was not in viewing, but in making a prejudicial distribution, a public exhibition or letting for sale or hire without appropriate permission copyright-protected material.The Court also noted that these irresponsibly worded messages had created confusion among internet users and that it was no longer possible to leave it to these ISPs to construct appropriate error pages. The Court requested the plaintiffs’ counsel  to come up with an appropriate message with basic objective of helping those who are adversely affected by a blocking order, so that they are made aware of their remedies and can approach the Court for corrective or remedial action. [Eros International Media Limited v.  Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, 2016 SCC OnLine Bom 6948, order dated 24th August, 2016]