SC: FIR can be quashed even after filing of a charge sheet.

The Honb’le Supreme Court today, i.e. on 15th November 2018, in the matter of Anand Kumar Mohatta and Anr. vs. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi) Department of Home and Anr. observed that while deciding a petition under Section 482 of Cr.P.C, the High Court can quash a FIR even when it has materialized into a charge sheet.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court also observed that:

There is nothing in the words of Section 482 of Cr.P.C which restricts the exercise of the power of the Court to prevent the abuse of process of court or miscarriage of justice only to the stage of the FIR.  (Para 17)

(Para 17) It is settled principle of law that the High court can exercise jurisdiction under Section 482 of Cr.P.C even when the discharge application is pending with the trial court. [G. Sagar Suri and Anr. V. State of U.P and Others, (2000) 2 SCC 636 (Para 7). Umesh Kumar V. State of Andhra Pradesh and Anr. (2013) 10 SCC 591 (Para 20)]

Indeed, it would be a travesty to hold that proceedings initiated against a person can be interfered with at the stage of FIR but not if it has advanced, and the allegations have materialized into a charge sheet. On the contrary it could be said that the abuse of process caused by FIR stands aggravated if the FIR has taken the form of a charge sheet after investigation. The power is undoubtedly conferred to prevent abuse of process of power of any court. (Para 17)

The essence of the offence of “Criminal Breach of Trust” lies in the use of the property entrusted to a person by that person, in violation of any direction of law or any legal contract which he has made during the discharge of such trust. (Para 21)

The fact that the complainant has not made any attempt for the recovery of the money except by filing a criminal complaint is strange and such action appears to be mala fide and unsustainable. (This inference has been drawn on the basis of Para 25 of the judgement)

The Hon’ble Supreme Court referred to its decision in the matter of Joseph Salvaraj A v. State of Gujarat [(2011) 7 SCC 59] in which while deciding the question:

“ Whether the High Court could entertain the 482 petition for quashing of FIR, when the charge sheet was filed by the police during the pendency of the 482 petition ? ”

the Hon’ble Supreme Court had observed in para 16 of the judgement that:

“Thus, from the general conspectus of the various sections under which the appellant is being charged and is to be prosecuted would show that the same are not made out even prima facie from the complainant’s FIR. Even if the charge-sheet had been filed, the learned Single Judge could have still examined whether the offences alleged to have been committed by the appellant were prima facie made out from the complainant’s FIR, charge- sheet, documents, etc. or not.“

The Hon’ble Supreme Court also referred to its decision in the matter ofIndian Oil Corporation v. NEPC India Ltd. and others [2006 (6) SCC 736] in which it was observed that:

(Para 13) Any effort to settle civil disputes and claims, which do not involve any criminal offence, by applying pressure through criminal prosecution should be deprecated and discouraged

The Hon’ble Supreme Court also referred to its decision in the matter of State of Karnataka v. L. Muniswamy and others [1977 (2) SCC 699] in which it was observed that:

(Para 7) In the exercise of this wholesome power, the High Court is entitled to quash a proceeding if it comes to the conclusion that allowing the proceeding to continue would be an abuse of the process of the Court or that the ends of justice require that the proceeding ought to be quashed. The saving of the High Court’s inherent powers, both in civil and criminal matters, is designed to achieve a salutary public purpose which is that a court proceeding ought not to be permitted to degenerate into a weapon of harassment or persecution. In a criminal case, the veiled object behind a lame prosecution, the very nature of the material on which the structure of the prosecution rests and the like would justify the High Court in quashing the proceeding in the interest of justice.

Copy of Judgment : Judgement 15-Nov-2018

-Tushar Kaushik

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