Activist with “an urge to positively contribute to the society” files plea u/s 482 CrPC seeking expedition of a criminal trial. ‘You have no locus standi’, holds SC

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan*, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ has reiterated that an application by a person who is in no way connected with the criminal proceeding or criminal trial under Section 482 Cr.P.C. cannot ordinarily be entertained by the High Court.

Background

The Court was dealing with a case wherein a person (respondent no. 2) who is “a social activist and an advocate” and “a person having an urge to positively contribute to the society in all possible ways” had filed application under Section 482 Cr.P.C in an ongoing case against one Sanjai Tiwari under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, seeking direction to Special Judge to expedite and conclude Special Trial. He, further, stated in his application that although FIR was lodged in 2006 but it got delayed by tactics opted by the accused persons. “The Vigilance Department completed the investigation after about 14 years and still the accused persons are trying to get away from the charges.”

On 09.09.2020, the High Court disposed of the said application directing the Court concerned “to expedite the proceedings of the aforesaid case and conclude the same, at the earliest possible, on day to day basis without granting any unnecessary adjournment to either of the parties, in accordance with law, provided there is no impediment.”

Analysis

In order to answer the issue relating to locus of a third party to challenge the criminal proceedings or to seek relief in respect of criminal proceedings of accused, the Court referred to the judgment in Janata Dal vs. H.S. Chowdhary and others, (1993) 1 SCC 756, wherein it was held,

“Even if there are million questions of law to be deeply gone into and examined in a criminal case of this nature registered against specified accused persons, it is for them and them alone to raise all such questions and challenge the proceedings initiated against them at the appropriate time before the proper forum and not for third parties under the garb of public interest litigants.”

The Court further noticed that criminal trial where offences involved are under the Prevention of Corruption Act have to be conducted and concluded at the earliest since the offences under Prevention of Corruption Act are offences which affect not only the accused but the entire society and administration. It is also well settled that the High Court in appropriate cases can very well under Section 482 Cr.P.C. or in any other proceeding can always direct trial court to expedite the criminal trial and issue such order as may be necessary.

“A criminal trial of an accused is conducted in accordance with procedure as prescribed by the Criminal Procedure Code. It is the obligation of the State and the prosecution to ensure that all criminal trials are conducted expeditiously so that justice can be delivered to the accused if found guilty.”

However, in the present, the proceeding initiated by respondent No.2 did not appear to be a bona fide proceeding. He is in no way connected with initiation of criminal proceeding against the appellant.

“The present is not a case where prosecution or even the employer of the accused have filed an application either before the trial court or in any other court seeking direction as prayed by respondent No.2 in his application under Section 482 Cr.P.C.”

Hence, noticing that the respondent No.2 has no locus to file the application which was not clearly maintainable, the Court held that the impugned judgment of the Allahabad High Court dated 09.09.2020 cannot be sustained.

The Court, however, observed that it will be open for the trial court to expedite the criminal trial, the offences being the offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, subject to any order passed by the High Court in pending proceedings.

[Sanjai Tiwari v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1027, decided on 16.12.2020]


*Justice Ashok Bhushan has penned this judgment.

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