Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: Ilesh J. Vohra, J., heard a matter related to offences alleged under Sections 376 (2) (n), 377, 406, 498(A), 323, 294(b), 506(2) and 114 of the Penal Code, 1860 and under Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act which was filed seeking to quash and set aside the impugned FIR and consequential proceedings.

The wife in the FIR had alleged that her husband right from day one of their marriage indulged in sexual acts with her against her wishes and raped her. It was alleged that, her sister-in-law and her three daughters as well as another sister in law though residing outside the country or in other States in India, also harassed her on domestic issues and demanded dowry, as a result, the complainant came to her parental home at Ahmedabad.

The Court prima facie was of the view that it was a matrimonial dispute between the husband and wife and ingredients for the alleged offence were not made out qua the applicants. Even the allegations of dowry and harassment are also prima facie not established against the present applicants as the applicants are residing in their respective States and country since long considering the law laid down in Ravinder Singh v. Sukhbir Singh, (2013) 9 SCC 245 where it was held,

            “the inherent power of the court in dealing with an extraordinary situation is in the larger interest of administration of justice and for preventing manifest injustice being done. Thus, it is a judicial obligation on the court to undo a wrong in course of administration of justice and to prevent continuation of unnecessary judicial process. It may be so necessary to curb the menace of criminal prosecution as an instrument of operation of needless harassment. A person cannot be permitted to unleash vendetta to harass any person needlessly. Ex debito justitiae is inbuilt in the inherent power of the court and the whole idea is to do real, complete and substantial justice for which the courts exist. Thus, it becomes the paramount duty of the court to protect an apparently innocent person, not to be subjected to prosecution on the basis of wholly untenable complaint”.

The Court further opined that at the stage of investigation, the High Court cannot exercise its inherent jurisdiction to quash the proceedings unless it is found that, allegations do not disclose the commission of cognizable offence or the power of investigation is being exercised by the police mala fidely or where noninterference would result in miscarriage of justice as held in Jehan Singh v. Delhi Administration, (1974) 4 SCC 522. The Court granted interim relief making the matter returnable on 27-11-2020.[Steffi Waring v. State of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 1531, decided on 09-10-2020]


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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: Sreenivas Harish Kumar, J., while dismissing a criminal petition for enlargement on bail, said, “There are prima facie materials against the petitioner; Section 37 of the NDPS Act is very much attracted.”

Brief Facts

1. That the Police Inspector received credible information on 11-6-2020 that about six persons living in a house were possessing narcotic substances such as ganja, MDMA, ecstasy tablets and LSD strips and they were about to sell those substances.
2. That subsequently, the Police Inspector conducted a raid on that house, seized the substances and arrested those persons.
3. That the present criminal petition is instituted to enlarge the petitioners on bail, on the ground (i) non-compliance of standing instructions; FSL report pending (ii) no registration of FIR prior to search (iii) contraband substances were not seized from the ‘conscious possession’ of the accused.

Observations

1. The panchanama discloses recording of reasons by the police officer for not being able to apply for search warrant and also compliance of proviso to Section 42(1) of the NDPS Act. It further states that the search was made in the presence of a gazetted officer, therefore there is due compliance of all the requirements envisaged under NDPS Act.

2. With respect to the contention that, the substances seized were not in the ‘conscious possession’ of the accused, the Court said,

“If a bag containing contraband is found in the house of the accused, it goes without saying that the first impression of an ordinary prudent man is that the bag belongs to the accused and he must be aware of its contents. If he takes a stand that he was not aware of the contents, the burden is on him to establish it.”

3. Ben Okoro v. State of Karnataka, Crl. P. No. 8644 of 2017, In this case, bail was granted to the accused taking note of the fact that the qualitative and quantitative report was not obtained within 15 days as per standing Instruction No. 1/1988.

4. Kelsi Katte Mohammed Shakir v. Suprintendent of Customs, Crl. P. No. 5402 of 2018, The position in the above-mentioned case was reiterated.

5. However, in Nonso Joachin v. State of Karnataka, following the Supreme Court decision in Supdt., Narcotics Control Bureau, Chennai v. R. Paulsamy, (2000) 9 SCC 549, The Court said,

“If the investigation officer could not obtain the FSL report within 15 days, it is not so significant that too when there are other materials indicating existence of prima facie materials about the involvement of the petitioners in commission of offences.”

6. The Court while citing, Lalita Kumari v. Government of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1, the Court made the following observation,

“The focus is on the duty of Station House Officer once he receives information about commission of offence, that means the information should disclose a crime being already committed. And in such a situation, if the crime is cognizable, the Station House Officer is bound to register FIR without wasting time. But the secret information does not disclose a crime being committed, it only alerts the police about a crime which is about to occur. The police officer who receives such information has to proceed to spot for preventing the crime or to take such other measures that the situation demands. Thereafter if he prepares a report, it may be treated as FIR for further course of action.”

Decision
Observing that there are prima facie materials against the petitioner, the Court dismissed the instant criminal petition on the lack of merits. [Tasleem N.P v. State of Karnataka, Crl. P. No. 3073 of 2020, decided on 01-10-2020]


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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: B.A. Patil, J., dismissing the present petition, observed,

“Taking into consideration the peculiar facts and circumstances under which the said speech has been delivered, the circumstances existing at that particular point of time and surrounding circumstances, have to be analyzed to come to a proper conclusion. At his pre-matured stage, it is not a fit case to exercise the power under Section 482 CrPC and thereby quash the proceedings.”

Brief Facts

The facts of the case are categorically stated hereunder;

  1. That on 17-02-2020 the ‘Popular Front of India’ organization held a function in the name of founding day at Derlakatter Ground, Belma village, Mangalore City.
  2. That the petitioner, in the aforementioned function, delivered a speech commenting upon the Supreme Court and its verdict on Ayodhya. Allegedly, the speech said to construct Babri Masjid at the same place, wearing uniform representing Allah and further called Home Minister and Prime Minister Modi as demons, who shall perish on their own.
  3. That the speech delivered was allegedly provocative, inflammable and derogatory to the Hindu belief system and carried the potential of spreading enmity between the two religious sects.
  4. That on the basis of such speech, a complaint was registered against the petitioner under Section 153A IPC.
  5. That the present Criminal Petition is filed under Section 482 CrPC, praying to quash the FIR under Section 154A IPC contending that the charge sheet does not disclose the ingredients of the said section and no material has been placed on records, so to conclude that the speech provoked enmity or communal disharmony between any religious sects.

Observations

The Court while examining the speech in question reproduced the language of Section 153A IPC. It further cited the following cases to evaluate the intention behind making such speech.

1. Manzar Sayeed Khan v. State of Maharashtra, (2007) 5 SCC 1

“Section 153A covers a case where a person by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, promotes or attempts to promote, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities or acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony or is likely to disturb the public tranquility. The gist of the offence is the intention to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of people. The intention to cause disorder or incite the people to violence is the sine qua non of the offences under Section 153A IPC and the prosecution has to prove prima facie the existence of mens rea on the part of the accused.”

2. While referring to Bilal Ahmed Kaloo v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (1997) 7 SCC 431 the Court remarked that, it is important to have atleast the reference of two religions in the alleged hate speech or literature. Mere inciting the feeling of one community without any mention of another group or community cannot attract the offence under Section 153A.

3. Deriving the element of intention in the present case, the Court observed,

“On close reading of the contentions of the speech, there are two religions involved. One is the Muslim community and another one has been indirectly, in the form of innuendo, stated as ‘other religions’. Whether he was having an intention or not, is a matter which has to be considered only at the time of trial. He has to come up and explain under what circumstances, with what intention he has made such statement. Since the matter has to be decided by the trial court, if a detailed discussion is made, it may affect both the parties to the proceeding. Perusing the contents of the complaint and other records, there appears a prima facie case against the said petitioner-accused.”

With respect to the cases pleaded by the counsel for the petitioner, the Court said that the applicability of those principles in the present case does not match.

Decision

While dismissing the criminal writ petition on lack of merits, the Court said that, it shall not be fit to exercise the power provided under Section 482 CrPC as the case is yet to be tried by the lower court and the prima facie records are reflective enough to further evaluate the said matter. [Mohammed Shariff v. State of Karnataka,  2020 SCC OnLine Kar 1532, decided on 1-10-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: Javed Iqbal Wani, J., while allowing the instant bail application, made significant observations pertaining with conditions to bail.

Brief Facts

The applicant as submitted in his application affirms that, he was falsely implicated in the said FIR and arrested in the month of June, 2019. Subsequently, he moved a bail application before the trial court that remained pending due to the outbreak of pandemic and no hearing was called. Later, he moved a second bail application which was dismissed on 02-06-2020 without affording him an opportunity of hearing through virtual mode. It is further stated that the trial court declined the bail application without considering the material produced before it and in the process passed a perverse order, committing grave illegality. Furthermore, it is an undisputed fact that the applicant has been under detention for over 14 months without even a fair occasion of hearing.

Contentions

It was the argument for the counsel of applicant that, (1) he has been falsely implicated without cogent reasons, (2) no fair hearing has been given until the present date, (3) plea of parity be considered as a co-accused in the same matter has been bailed out by this Court, (4) entitlement to bail under the guidelines issued by a High Power Committee constituted pursuant to the directions by the Supreme Court.

The Prosecution insisted on rejection of the bail application citing, (1) commission of serious, grave and reprehensible nature of offences, (2) voluntary and intentional hatching of criminal conspiracy.

Observation

The Court made the following observation in light of the facts and circumstances of the present case; “While considering an application for bail, it is well settled by the catena of judgments of the Apex Court that court must not go deep into merits of the matter while considering an application for bail. All that needs to be established from the record is the existence of prima facie case against the accused. Since charge sheet has been filed in the trial court, the presence of the applicant would be required only during the trial which in view of the present situations may consume a long time and as such the applicant cannot be held in custody for so long.” Since the application is also made citing parity as a co-accused is the same matter was granted bail by this Court, it was remarked, Parity cannot be the sole ground for granting bail yet if on examination of a given case it transpires that the case of applicant before the Court is identically similar to the accused on facts and circumstances who has been bailed out, then the desirability of consistency will require that such an accused should also be released on bail.”

Decision

While allowing the bail application, the Court enlisted five conditions illustratively, (1) To furnish a personal bond to the tune of Rs 1 lac, (2) To surrender and deposit passport, (3) Not to leave the territorial jurisdiction of the present Court without permission, (4) Not to influence the prosecution witness, directly or indirectly, (5) To face the trial without any fail.[Bharat Bhushan v. UT of J&K,  2020 SCC OnLine J&K 496, decided on 11-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: Ashok G. Nijagannavar, J., allowing the present petition, quashed the chargesheet filed and made significant observations with respect to Court’s power under Section 482 Criminal Procedure Code.

Brief Facts

The complainant Police Inspector received credible information about illegal activities regarding prostitution by supplying foreign and Indian girls by contacting customers through an international website. The said information was confirmed by sending a decoy. Thereafter, upon receiving the reply regarding the supply of the girls for prostitution at a place called the Kaisar Service Apartment, the complainant and his staff conducted a raid and arrested three accused namely two girls and a man who allegedly supplied the said girls for the illegal act of prostitution. Upon the information gathered from accused 1, it is learned that he solicited the customers through a website designed by accused 4, the present petitioner; Gavin Mendes. After completion of the investigation, the police have submitted the chargesheet arraying the petitioner as accused 4. 

Contentions

It was submitted by the counsel for the petitioner that the accused is a professional software developer and the website made by him was only a fulfillment of a contract that he entered into without knowing the purpose of the other accused. It was further insisted that the name of the petitioner is nowhere found in the FIR and has been later arrayed as an accused in the chargesheet only on the basis of unfound reasons. Another ground urged by the learned counsel for the petitioner is that when there are allegations for an offence under Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, the investigation must be conducted by the concerned Cyber Crime Branch and not by the respondent police, as they have no jurisdiction to do so. Lastly, it was insisted that no prima facie case exists against the petitioner and the charges be quashed accordingly.

The testimony of accused 1 mainly relied on the submissions made by the Prosecution. Moreover, the existence of mala fides and collusion behind designing the website was vehemently insisted.

Observations

The Court making significant observations with respect to the Inherent power of the Court under Section 482 CrPC, cited, Vineet Kumar v. State of U.P, (2017) 13 SCC 369, where the Supreme Court held, “Inherent power given to the High Court under Section 482 CrPC is with the purpose and object of advancement of justice. In case solemn process of court is sought to be abused by a person with some oblique motive, the court has to thwart the attempt at the very threshold. The court cannot permit a prosecution to go on if the case falls in one of the categories as illustratively enumerated by this Court in State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal

State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal, 1992 Supp (1) SCC 335, para 102 which illustrates 7 categories of cases where power under Section 482 CrPC can be rightfully exercised, namely: (i) No prima facie case (ii) no cognizable offence disclosed (iii) allegations in FIR and evidence fails to disclose any offence (iv) non-cognizable offence committed which can be investigated only by an order of Magistrate (v) allegations made are absurd or improbable (vi) express legal bar to the continuance of proceedings (vii) proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fides

 Decision

Allowing the present petition, the Court quashed the case against the accused of the offences punishable under Sections 4, 5 and 7 of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, Section 370, 370 A (2), 292 of the Penal Code, Section 67 of Information Technology Act and Section 14 of Foreigners Act. It further held that no prima facie case appeared against the petitioner and that the reasons for arraying him later are not well-founded.[Gavin Mendes v. State of Karnataka, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 1497, decided on 23-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Narayan Singh Dhanik, J., allowed a Criminal Jail Appeal which was filed from the jail against the judgment whereby the appellant had been convicted for the offences under Section 376/511 Penal Code, 1860 and Section 6 of the POCSO Act and was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for ten years and to pay a fine of Rs 25,000 for the offence under Section 6 of the POCSO Act.

The complainant had filed an FIR against the appellant alleging that he had attempted to commit rape on the two and half year’s old daughter of the complainant and had committed sexual assault on her. He further alleged that when he went looking for his daughter along with a companion he found the appellant while he was indulged in committing the alleged offence and took him to the police station. On conclusion of the trial, appellant was convicted and sentenced. Thus, the instant appeal was filed by the Amicus Curiae, Raman Kumar Sah on behalf of the appellant submitting that the prosecution had failed to prove the case against the appellant. He further contended that the victim had not identified the appellant nor the victim in her testimony had named the appellant and that the facts elicited during the cross-examination of the complainant and the companion along with him were totally contrary to the prosecution story. It was further contended that the mother of the victim did not support the prosecution story and was declared hostile. Per contra, the AGA for the State, Manisha Rana Singh submitted that prosecution had produced sufficient and credible evidence and the trial court had rightly convicted and sentenced the appellant.

The Court while allowing the appeal set aside the judgment and order of the Trial Court. The Court assessed the medical examination report of the victim which disclosed that the urethral meatus & vestibule, labia major and labia minor of the victim were found normal and no tear or swelling in the private parts was found and Hymen perineum of the victim was also found intact but the doctor had further stated that a little redness was present in the outer surface of the hymen of the victim and the presence of dried blood stains was also detected on her private parts and these conditions led to opine her that the attempt of sexual intercourse with the victim was made. It accepted all the contentions given by the Amicus Curiae and opined that the opinion of the doctor alone was not enough to connect the accused-appellant with the alleged crime in view of the material on record and in the absence of any credible evidence. The Court while quashing the conviction and sentence stated that,

            “In criminal cases, conviction cannot be based upon morality and there must be admissible and credible evidence to base conviction and moreover it is well-settled canon of criminal jurisprudence that ‘fouler the crime higher the proof’ and mandate of law is that the prosecution has to prove the charges beyond all reasonable doubt. A few bits here and a few bits thereon which prosecution relies cannot be held to be adequate or connecting the accused with the crime in question.”[Akash Kumar v. State of Uttarakhand, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 562, decided on 28-09-2020]


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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: Vivek Rusia, J., allowed the bail application of the applicant-accused in connection with the FIR registered for offence punishable under Sections 120-B, 420, 409, 467, 468 & 34 of the Penal Code, 1860.

The facts in the present case are such that the complainant Poonamchand lodged a written complaint against the BNP Group of Companies on 01-06-2016 alleging that he had invested money in various schemes of the aforementioned company with the assurance of certain inflated returns. However, even after the passing of the maturity date, the amount has not been returned to him. Acting on the complaint, police registered an FIR against 25 people including the owner, director and several employees. The applicant, being an employee has also been named and arrested.

Counsel for the applicant, Pramod C. Nair has submitted that the applicant was an employee of the company and he along with his family members had invested massive amounts of money in similar schemes with the expectation of assured and handsome returns. When the amounts were not returned even after maturity, the applicant lodged an FIR on 10-10-2015, much earlier than the FIR that has been filed against him. The applicant himself is a victim of cheating at the hands of the company. The applicant was never absconding and the police made no efforts to arrest him. It is also submitted that other named accused in the present case have already been granted bail by this Court or the trial court. In the event when there is no specific allegation against the applicant nor has there been any recovery from him, the applicant ought to be enlarged on bail. The investigation is also complete and the charge sheet has been filed, warranting no custodial interrogation.

Counsel for the respondent, Saumya Maru has vehemently opposed the present application.

The Court upon careful perusal of the facts, circumstances and the arguments advance observed that it is clear that the victim himself has been duped by the company making him a victim. The applicant and his family have also deposited huge amounts, the return of which has been jeopardized now. The main accused has been granted bail and the facts have not attributed any specific role against the applicant.

In view of the above, the Court has allowed the present application to enlarge the applicant on bail.[Lalit v. State of M.P., 2020 SCC OnLine MP 1990, decided on 16-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: N.S. Dhanik, J., partly allowed a criminal revision which was preferred against the Judgment and order passed by the District and Sessions Judge whereby he had confirmed the judgment and order passed by Chief Judicial Magistrate and also against the judgment and order passed by Chief Judicial Magistrate in a Criminal Case under Section 3/7 of the Essential Commodities Act, whereby the revisionist were convicted for the offence punishable under Section 3/7 of the Essential Commodities Act and sentenced to undergo one-year simple imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs 5,000.

The informant lodged an FIR alleging therein that on information, the informant came to know that two Nepali people who often smuggling the cement, compost, kerosene oil, etc from Tankpur to Nepal upon their motorcycles. The informant along with other police officials reached the Gandhi Park and seeing two persons who were tying the plastics canes in their motorcycles outside the warehouse of Naresh Chandra Gupta. Both tried to run away, but they were arrested on the spot. From the possession of the accused persons, Jaricanes were recovered and on asking regarding the said recovery, they told that they had purchased the Kerosene oil from the Naresh Chandra Gupta (present revisionist) and 20 litres kerosene oil was also recovered from the warehouse of Naresh Chandra Gupta. After investigation, the charge sheet against the accused revisionist for the offence punishable under Section 3/7 of the Essential Commodities Act was filed. The Counsel for the revisionist, Mr. Bhuwanesh Joshi submitted his arguments only on the quantum of sentence. He submitted that the revisionist had served about 27 days in the jail and that he was a poor person and the matter relates back to the year 2008.

The Court while partly allowing the revision modified and reduced the sentence to three months considering the contention that matter related back to the year 2008 and ends of justice would be sub-served if the jail sentence of the revisionist is reduced adjusting the period already undergone by him, although the sentence of the fine was enhanced from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000.[Naresh Chandra Gupta v. State of Uttarakhand, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 550, decided on 16-09-2020]


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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Jyotsna Rewal Dua, J., laid down directions to avoid future abuse of judicial process like in the instant case and granted bail to the petitioner.

The present case was a shocking case before the Bench as it involved 2 separate bail petitions being filed by the same bail petitioner arising out of the same FIR represented by separate counsels. Incidentally both the petitions got listed before the same bench which appalled the judge stating that there was a high chance of the two petitions being listed before separate benches and it would have led to grave abuse of the judicial process of the court.

 Cr MP (M) No. 1303 of 2020– It was stated in the Court that the present petition was filed at the instance of a local lawyer. It was instituted through an email on 04-08-2020 on a Power of Attorney signed by the petitioner with endorsement of the Assistant Superintendent Jail, Lala Lajpat Rai District & Open Air Correctional Home, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, dated 14-07-2020. This petition was represented by Mr. Vijendra Katoch.

 Cr. MP (M) No.1321 of 2020– It was stated in the Court that the present petition was filed at the instance of the relatives of the petitioner. It was also instituted through an e-mail on 06-08-2020. It was also on the power of attorney signed by the petitioner with the endorsement of the same Assistant Superintendent Jail, Lala Lajpat Rai District & Open Air Correctional Home, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, dated 30-07-2020.  This petition was represented by Mr. Gobind Korla.

Both these petitions, i.e. Cr. MP (M) Nos. 1303 of 2020 and 1321 of 2020, were listed on 06-8-2020 and 07-8-2020, respectively and incidentally before the same court. Resultantly, both the above petitions were ordered to be listed together on 20-08-2020 which on the said listed date was represented by two different counsels having separate instructions to represent the case.

The disclosure regarding at whose instance two Power of Attorney (POA) was given could not be obtained. It was also noticed that the Assistant Superintendent Jail did not maintain any record for the same but endorsed, attested and issued two separate POA’s.

The Court expressed its disapproval over the manner in which simultaneously two bail petitions were filed before the Court and recorded its indignation. The Court chose not to take action against the accused but gave a stern warning to the bail petitioner to not indulge in such activities on the request of the counsel and amicus curiae present in the case.

However, the court laid down certain directions to evade future incidents like this:

  1. It is necessary that the status report filed by the State should reflect details of all previous bail petitions filed by the petitioner irrespective of the fact whether the same were eventually withdrawn by him or not.
  2. Status reports should also clearly indicate the criminal history of the accused persons involved in the FIR, as available with the investigating agency. Director-General of Police, Himachal Pradesh was directed to issue necessary orders in this regard to all authorities concerned and ensure compliance.
  3. Maintenance of record with respect to the execution of power of attorneys by the persons in custody is essential not only to avoid situations like the present one, but also to prevent mischief which may be caused to the accused in custody.
  4. It was directed to all Jail Superintendents to maintain proper records with respect to identification of the person at whose instance the power of attorney of the person in custody are being attested and endorsed by the Jail Superintendents.
  5. The record should contain details of name/address/Aadhar Card detail/telephone numbers/ relation with the accused/purpose for obtaining power of attorney etc. The Director-General of Prisons & Correctional Services, Himachal Pradesh was directed to issue necessary orders in this regard to all the Jail Superintendents and ensure compliance.
  6. It was directed to try and evolve a software wherein filing of more than one bail petition in this Court by the same petitioner during pendency of previous bail petition, arising out of the same FIR can be detected and consequent steps can be taken at the threshold.

In the instant case, Court granted bail observing that the trial of the case will take sufficient time and the petitioner cannot be kept behind the bars for an indefinite period.

In view of the above, the petition was disposed off. [Sunil Kumar v. State of HP, 2020 SCC OnLine HP 1334, decided on 31 08-2020]


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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Telangana High Court: A Division Bench of Raghvendra Singh Chauhan, CJ and T. Vinod Kumar, J., while addressing a writ appeal observed that the High Court cannot decide whether the FIR is a false or frivolous one.

Facts

In the instant appeal, as per the facts of the case, petitioner was appointed as Village Assistant and later in February 2020 was promoted to Senior Assistant. By order dated 31-07-2020, the petitioner was suspended from his service.

On being aggrieved with the above, petitioner filed the petition before the Single Judge and further the same was dismissed and hence the appeal before this Court.

Contentions 

Petitioner’s Counsel, P.V. Ramana submitted that the allegations made against the petitioner relate to the year 2005-2006 and hence suspending the petitioner after a lapse of 14 years will not serve any fruitful purpose.

The alleged complaint made by Guda Rajeswar to the police on the basis of which a criminal case had been registered against the petitioner is also of the period 2005-2006. Also, the case made out on the said allegations was lost by the complainant before the revenue authorities. Hence the FIR is a false and frivolous one.

Decision and Analysis

Rule 8 of the Telangana Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1991 states that an employee can be suspended either if a Criminal Case is pending or a Departmental Enquiry is contemplated.

In the present matter, Article of charges had been furnished on 31-07-2020 to the petitioner, which clearly points that a departmental enquiry has commenced.

It has also been noted that an FIR was registered against the petitioner for offences under Sections 420, 468, 471, 506 read with 34 of Penal Code, 1860.

Hence on referring the stated rule, it is clear that both the conditions prescribed under Rule 8 are fulfilled in the present matter.

High Court also noted that to determine whether FIR is false or frivolous is not to be decided by this Court. The veracity and authenticity of the FIR are to be decided by the Trial Court.

Bench while analysing the matter also stated that “suspension is not a punishment.”

Suspension is merely suspending the relationship between the employer and an employee.

Court stated that since the petitioner is facing both the Criminal Trial and a Departmental Enquiry, the employer cannot be saddled with such an employee.

In view of the above Court dismissed the appeal on finding no merits. [P. Narasimha Chary v. State of Telangana, 2020 SCC OnLine TS 1021, decided on 16-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Yogesh Khanna, J., held that no coercive action shall be taken against the co-founder of ALT News with regard to the FIR alleging him to have harassed a minor girl on twitter.

Journalist

Petitioner who is a journalist and co-founder of news website outlet ALT News and due to the nature of his work is often abused, threatened and demeaned by people.

Two separate FIRs have been registered against the petitioner. In one FIR it has been submitted that the petitioner had shared an old image of his wearing traditional Indian attire and one Jagdish Singh from his twitter handle replied to this image “once a jihadi is always a jihadi”.

In July again the petitioner tweeted a simple tweet, wherein again Jagdish Singh from his twitter handle replied to the petitioner with a vulgarly worded image Tu toh bada mad****** nikla re”.

Again a similar instance occurred to which, this time the petitioner re-tweeted on Jagdish Singh’s tweet displaying a picture which was visible to the public wherein Jagdish Singh was standing with his daughter whose face was pixelated/blurred by the petitioner and he wrote “Hello Jagdish Singh, Does your cute granddaughter know about your part-time job of abusing people on social media? I suggest you change your profile pic”.

Further, the petitioner argued that the tweet would not reveal if it was intending to cause harassment to the minor girl and rather the said tweet was made on respondent 3 personal account.

06-08-2020: Respondent 3 made a complaint to respondent 2 against the petitioner. Only through twitter, the petitioner got to know that respondent 2 has taken cognizance of the complaint filed.

Petitioners’ Grievance

Petitioner submitted that the copy of the FIR was never supplied to him and for this reason, he could not respond to the allegations made against him.

Bench directed respondent 1 and 4 to supply a copy of the present FIR to the petitioner and should also file a status report on or before the next date.

Response from the police and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has also been sought.

Though respondent 2 submitted she was performing her duty as an informant, however, petitioner states that the information annexed at page 40of the paper book comes from the twitter handle of respondent 2 and the said information was made public, probably to harass the petitioner.

Respondent 2 shall also file a reply on or before the next date.

Matter has been listed for 08-12-2020, till then no coercive action to be taken. [Mohammed Zubair v. State of GNCT, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1189, decided on 09-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Division Bench of Samit Gopal and Ramesh Sinha, JJ., while addressing the present petition made the following observation:

“…the freedom of speech cannot be extended to such extent which may be prejudicial to the National interest.”

Counsel for the petitioners: N.I. Jafri, Senior Advocate assisted by Khalid Mahmood, Counsel for the petitioners, Meena A.G.A appearing for the State.

Petitioner seeks quashing of the FIR by the present petition, which has been registered under Section 67 of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, Sections 153-A, 153- B and 124-A of Penal Code, 1860.

Petitioners Counsel submitted that petitioner shared posts against the activities of the Government on her Facebook which is said to be an Anti-National activity and she is also alleged in making posts on Facebook against the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from 2014 to 2017 but she did not share posts after 2017, while the F.I.R. has been lodged in the year 2020.

Further, he adds that the petitioner had simply shared the Facebook posts on somebody else’s Facebook post which does not at all amount to spreading disharmony or feeling of enmity, hatred or ill will between different religions and is not prejudicial to National Integration and hence no offence is disclosed against the petitioner.

He also submits that whatever the petitioner has stated in her posts is her right to freedom of speech.

Decision

Bench on perusal of the above states that the material which has been posted by the petitioner appears to be of serious, one which may incite communal disharmony and the impugned FIR discloses cognizable offence against the petitioner, hence no interference is called for by this Court.

Present petition lacks merit and is accordingly dismissed.[Dr Imrana Khan v. State of U.P., Criminal Misc. WP No. 8632 of 2020, decided on 03-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Harnaresh Singh Gill, J., rejected the bail application filed by the applicant-accused in connection with the FIR registered for offence punishable under Sections 22 and 25 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS).

The facts, in brevity, are that the intoxicant tablets were recovered from the car in which the applicant was sitting which led to the filing of the above stated FIR.

Counsel for the applicant, Manpreet Ghuman has contended that the recovery has been effectuated in the present case and the applicant has been languishing in police custody for the past seventeen months. Also, the challan has been presented along with the filing of the charges hence the purpose to keep the applicant behind bars has turned redundant.

Counsel for the respondent, M.S. Nagra vehemently objected to the bail application stating that the intoxicant tablets that were recovered in the present matter were of commercial quantity hence, it is not fit that the applicant be granted bail.

Upon careful perusal of the facts, circumstances and arguments advanced the Court observed that an accused does not get entitled to bail merely because of the fact that a challan has been presented or charges have been framed. It’s an inadequate ground especially in the present case where the amount of intoxicant tablets recovered from the applicant falls under the category of commercial quantity. Section 37 of the NDPS Act has specifically barred the grant of bail to an accused in case of a commercial quantity being involved.

In view of the above, Court rejected and dismissed the application for lack of merit. [Prem Singh v. State of Punjab, 2020 SCC OnLine P&H 1341, decided on 26-08-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Ahsanuddin Amanullah, J., denied bail to the applicant in connection with the FIR registered for offence punishable under Section 30(a) of the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016.

The factual matrix is such that the applicant left his motorcycle and ran away while being chased by the police and later the police recovered 108 bottles of illicit liquor from a sack on the motorcycle.

Counsel for the applicant, Usha Rai contended that the applicant has been falsely implicated due to village politics and was never caught. It was submitted that both the bike and the sack do not belong to the applicant. There is not even a single witness to corroborate the event that transpired on that day, yet the applicant has been in custody for the past seven months.

The counsel for the respondent, Harendra Prasad vehemently opposed the bail submitting that there are many witnesses to corroborate the prosecution’s case and have confirmed the applicant’s involvement in liquor trade including the local Chowkidar who was a witness to the act which gives rise to the present matter. Moreover, the counsel drew the Court’s attention towards the incorrigible nature of the applicant, substantiating the same by stating that the applicant has several cases registered against him with six of them under the Excise Act itself. The counsel pleaded that it’s evident from the applicant’s history that he has been misusing the privilege of bail and committing offences of the same nature repeatedly.

Upon careful perusal of the facts, circumstances and arguments advances, the Court observed that it is clear that the applicant has been indulging himself in the same activity again and again, being accused of offences of similar nature and thus does not deserve bail in the present case.

In view of the above, the Court rejected the application for bail.[Santosh Pandey v. State of Bihar, 2020 SCC OnLine Pat 1230, decided on 21-08-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Ashok Menon, J., allowed the bail application of the applicant-accused in connection with the FIR registered for offences punishable under Sections 365, 323, 324, 342, 506(ii), 34 of Penal Code, 1860 and Section 27 of the Arms Act.

The facts of the case are such that the applicant kidnapped and assaulted the victim because of some personal enmity on 29-05-2020. The act included the applicant kidnapping the victim on a motorcycle and then taking him to a rented house and then assaulting him with a sword-like weapon.

The counsel for the respondent, Amjad Ali while opposing the bail has argued that the applicant is part of a larger notorious gang having 11 cases registered against them under the IPC. The applicant has also been tried twice under the provisions of the KAAPA. Given the fact that there are criminal antecedents and the other co-accused are at large, the present application, if allowed would act as a roadblock in the investigation. There’s also a chance that the applicant might abscond or tamper with the witnesses.

On careful perusal of the facts, circumstance and the arguments advanced the Court observed that the victim has not been subjected to any grievous hurt and that there’s no offence under Sections 307 and 308 IPC. The primary offence is of kidnapping which carries a term of maximum seven years. It wouldn’t be correct to incarcerate the applicant and deny him bail solely based on the reason that he has a past criminal record and that the co-accused have not been apprehended.

In view of the above, the application for bail was allowed in favour of the applicant. [Ansab v. State of Kerala, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 3299, decided on 17-08-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Dinesh Kumar Singh, J., allowed an application of anticipatory bail in connection with the FIR registered for the offences punishable under Sections 328, 342, 323, 504, 506 and 376D of the Penal Code, 1860.

The factual matrix as per the FIR is that the victim was first abducted and later administered some drugs which knocked her unconscious. Then she was taken to a house where she was kept for a few days. At the house, she was raped by the applicant along with the co-accused, Mukesh. The applicant’s wife physically assaulted the victim and threatened her with dire consequences in terms of social backlash and the blot on her career resultant of the act. One day post this incident, the victim somehow managed to inform her mother about her whereabouts after figuring out the name of the village she was being kept in. Later, the victim was forcibly carried to the matrimonial home of Daichi, the co-accused’s wife where she was shut inside a room subsequent to her being told to marry the co-accused’s brother, Babban. Thereafter, she was raped by Babban. At that very moment, a call from the sister of the co-accused was received stating that police had turned up at her place. On 23-09-2019 the applicant and the co-accused drugged her and then took her to Farrukhabad, when somebody called up her brother who took her home. Afterward, the victim’s family placed a call to the police but no action was taken.

The Applicant’s counsel, Ravi Kumar Singh has heavily denied this version contending that the applicant has been falsely implicated in a bogus case as the aforementioned FIR is the result of an ongoing monetary dispute between the victim and the co-accused. The counsel added that FIR has been lodged after a delay of about five months as the date of occurrence is 06-09-2019 while the FIR has been filed on 03-02-2020. He has vouched for his client stating that the applicant would not misuse the liberty and co-operate with the investigation if released on bail.

The counsel for the respondent, G.P. Singh, has vehemently opposed the applicant’s prayer submitting that the victim’s statement has supported the prosecution’s version of facts to which the applicant’s counsel retorted submitting that there is variation in the place of occurrence of the incident as per the victim’s statement and the FIR. As per the FIR, the rape was committed in village Alam whereas in the statement the place of occurrence has been mentioned as village Purthi.

After careful perusal of the facts, circumstance and the arguments advanced, the Court observed that there is an inordinate delay in filing of the FIR without any justifiable cause and that the conduct of the victim’s family does not “inspire confidence” with respect to the FIR. The Court also noted the complete lack of criminal history on part of the applicant.

In view of the above, the application had been allowed granting the relief of anticipatory bail to the applicant. Also, the Investigation Officer has been directed to conclude the investigation expeditiously preferably within three months. [Pratap v. State of U.P., 2020 SCC OnLine All 935, decided on 18-08-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission, India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that an Inspector of Govind Nagar police Station, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh asked a 16 years old girl to dance in lieu of registering an FIR against the nephew of her landlord who has been molesting her. The girl with her family lives in a rented accommodation in Dabauli West area of Govind Nagar.

The Commission has issued a notice to the Director-General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report within 6 weeks in the matter including action taken against the delinquent police officer and the status of the FIR registered on the complaint submitted by the victim’s family.

Reportedly, the girl’s family earns a livelihood by doing some Jagran parties, etc and they had tried to lodge a complaint against the nephew of their landlord accusing him of molesting the girl besides forcibly evacuating them from the rented portion of the house, a few days ago.

According to the media report, the Circle Officer of Govind Nagar, Kanpur has denied the allegations stating that there is no substance in the charges and prima facie, it appears that the girl has made the video viral in order to create pressure on the police. He has also stated that an investigation into the matter is underway.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 17-08-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Anubha Rawat Chaudhary J., upheld and modified the Judgment given by Trial Court on grounds of the accused being found guilty of the offence under Section 354, 506 and 509 of Penal Code, 1860.

The facts in a nutshell are that the informant was chased by the accused while she used to go for tuitions at a computer center. He used to wait for her at the bus stand and chase her, make illicit comments, ask her to marry him by showing her money, convincing her to be in an illicit relationship with him. The informant refused and asked him to behave himself but to no avail as he still kept doing the same and threatened to kill her.

Later, the informant confided in her family regarding the set of events and the father and brother caught the accused red-handed and registered an FIR against him under Sections 354, 506 and 509 of Penal Code, 1860. He was tried in the trial court and sentenced to imprisonment plus fine. Hence, the instant revision application was filed for the intervention of the High Court and the order of conviction to be set aside.

Counsel for the petitioner Ashish Kumar submitted that no case under Section 354 can be made out as the petitioner never held the informants hand and hence the charges are false and the ingredients of the section are not satisfied and hence the offence cannot be made out in the eyes of law. He further submitted that accused has been convicted based on the examination of two witnesses which is not sufficient for a fair trial as the two witnesses were the informant and her brother who are highly interested witnesses in the present case. The counsel further prayed the court to take a lenient view on the point of conviction as the age of the accused on the date of conviction was 42 years and his present age is 52 years, hence the sentence is liable to be looked into and modified by the court. He has also argued that when the FIR was registered the act of holding hand/ touching the informant was not mentioned which was added later in the prosecution case and therefore the accused has been falsely implicated in the present case.

Counsel, Pankaj Kumar prayed for no interference as there was no inconsistency in the finding of the facts, the examination of the witnesses, or appreciation of the evidence, thereby being no illegality or perversity in the impugned judgment.

The Court after hearing both sides relied on a Judgment of the Supreme Court titled State of Punjab v. Major Singh, AIR 1967 SC 63 held that the act of physical touching in the present case does not affect the order of conviction as other basic ingredients of Sections 354, 506 and 509 of IPC is clearly made out. It also held that the argument that the act of touch was not made out during filing of FIR but later in the prosecution case stands no ground as FIR is not an encyclopedia of the entire prosecution case.

In view of the above, the sentence is modified and criminal revision application disposed off. [Shyam Gupta v. State of Jharkhand, 2020 SCC OnLine Jhar 718, decided on 07-08-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Division bench of Ramesh Singh and Raj Beer, JJ., directed the Senior Superintendent of police to file a personal affidavit with regard to an explanation on how an FIR was filed under Section 66A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008?

Som Veer, Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the present FIR had been registered against the accused respondent’s 4 to 6 for an offence under Sections 66A and 67B Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 along with Sections 294, 500, 504, 506 and 509 of Penal Code, 1860.

In Supreme Court’s decision in Shreya Singhal v. UOI, (2015) 5 SCC 1, FIR under Section 66A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 cannot be registered as the same had been declared to be ultra vires.

High Court directed the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mathura to file a personal affidavit explaining how the FIR had been registered under Section 66A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008.

Matter to be heard on 26-08-2020. [Mohan Singh v. State of U.P., 2020 SCC OnLine All 920, decided on 31-07-2020]