Calcutta High Court

Calcutta High Court: In a criminal revision application seeking the quashing of the criminal proceeding and the order of Chief Judicial Magistrate taking cognizance of the case for alleged non-compliance Juvenile Justice Board’s order, a single-judge bench comprising of Ajay Kumar Gupta,* J., while dismissing the criminal revision application, held that there exists prima facie evidence against the petitioner and the petitioner failed to establish that the proceedings were frivolous or an abuse of process of law.

Factual Matrix

The instant matter arose from an FIR lodged by the Principal Magistrate, Juvenile Justice Board, Purulia, alleging that the petitioner failed to comply with the judgment and order passed by the Juvenile Justice Board directing a juvenile in conflict with law (juvenile) to undergo community service under the supervision of the petitioner-District Child Protection Officer (DCPO), Purulia, for three years. Despite the order, the petitioner did not ensure compliance with it, and the juvenile was found working outside the jurisdiction without proper authorization. A charge sheet was filed against the petitioner under various sections of the Penal Code, and the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Purulia took cognizance of the case on 08-12-2021. The petitioner filed the present criminal revisional application seeking the quashing of the criminal proceedings and the order dated 08-12-2021 passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Purulia, under Sections 397/401 read with Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC).

Parties’ Contentions

The petitioner contended that the initiation of the case against the petitioner is an abuse of the legal process as the petitioner had submitted a detailed report complying with the order of the Juvenile Justice Board. The petitioner claimed that he had intended to send the juvenile to a rehabilitation center, which was not considered by the court, and therefore, the proceedings against him are frivolous. It was further contended that the petitioner never disobeyed the court’s order willfully, and the allegations against him are vague and do not disclose any specific offense.

The State contended that the petitioner, being the District Child Protection Officer, negligently or intentionally failed to fulfill his duties as per the court’s order, allowing the juvenile to work outside the jurisdiction without proper authorization. The State maintained that despite repeated inquiries, the petitioner failed to provide satisfactory responses or comply with the court’s directives. The State asserted that there is sufficient material evidence against the petitioner, including witness statements and documents indicating his non-compliance with court orders.

Court’s Observation and Decision

The Court noted that the Juvenile Justice Board had issued a clear order directing the petitioner to supervise the juvenile’s community service; however, the petitioner failed to ensure compliance with this order. The Court further noted that despite being given opportunities to justify his actions, the petitioner’s responses were found unsatisfactory by the Juvenile Justice Board. The Court opined that the evidence collected during the investigation, including statements from witnesses and documents, established a prima facie case against the petitioner.

While citing the principles laid down in Paramjeet Batra v. State of Uttrakhand, (2013) 11 SCC 673, the Court held that the power to quash proceedings under Section 482 of CrPC should be used sparingly and only to prevent abuse of the legal process or to secure justice. The Court found no sufficient grounds to quash the proceedings initiated against the petitioner, as a charge sheet had already been filed, and the petitioner failed to demonstrate that the case was frivolous or vexatious or abuse of process of law.

The Court dismissed the criminal revisional application filed by the petitioner without order as to costs and the interim order, if any, was vacated.

[Sisir Kumar Mahato v. State of W.B., 2024 SCC OnLine Cal 1562, order dated 19-02-2024]

*Judgment by Justice Ajay Kumar Gupta

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Aritra Bhattacharya, Mr. Suryadipta Bairagya, Counsel for the Petitioner

Ms. Anasuya Sinha, Mr. Pinak Kumar Mitra, Counsel for the Respondent/State

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