Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Subramonium Prasad, J., expressed that:

“Courts must not close its eyes to the fact that it is the victim who knocks the doors of the Court and seeks justice must not left high and dry with the feeling that the accused have escaped due to the perfunctory/faulty/defective investigation.”

Instant petition as directed against the decision of Additional Sessions Judge that discharged the respondent 4 and 5 for the offences under Sections 306/34 of the Penal Code, 1860.

Petitioners are the parents of the deceased who was married to respondent 3. The deceased was found hanging by the neck from the ceiling fan in her matrimonial house within two and a half years of her marriage.

Statements before the SDM

Petitioner 1 i.e. the mother of the deceased stated that the deceased was not happy in her marriage and her mother-in-law and sister-in-law were responsible for the suicide. Though the deceased’s father said that he did not have any grievances or any complaints against any persons and that no one was responsible for the death of the deceased.

No FIR was registered against respondent 4 and 5.

After about 10 months of the death of the deceased, an FIR was registered under Sections 306/34 IPC.

Additional Sessions Judge found that the statements of parents before the SDM did not bear any stamp and that they were also not signed by the petitioners. Prima Facie no material was found to proceed against the accused persons for charges under Sections 306/34 IPC, hence the accused were discharged.

Though the Additional Sessions Judge found investigational lapses that required due probe and further directed for a copy of the order to be sent to the Screening Committee for appropriate action.

The above-said order has been challenged in the present petition.

Analysis, Law and Decision

“…charge-sheet in the instant case bleeds of wounds inflicted by the Police.”

No explanation on why FIR was registered after 10 months of the death

Bench noted that the investigation was oriented in order to give a closure report. And filing of FIR after ten months of the incident was contrary to law.

Petitioner 1 stated that the respondent 4 and 5 demanded dowry, hence there was no reason, whatsoever, not to lodge an FIR for an offence under Section 304B IPC.

It was also stated that IO told the petitioners to give statements as per his will and suggestions and threatened her. Petitioner 1’s letter to the Commissioner of police revealed that IO was forcing the parents of the deceased to enter into a compromise with the respondents.

To construe an offence under Section 304 B i.e. dowry death, the death of the women could have been caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband in connection with, any demand for dowry.

 Ingredients for constituting Section 304 B were made out but surprisingly no FIR was registered.

In the instant matter, the death occurred within 7 years of marriage and allegations of dowry death were also present against the respondent 4 and 5. Deceased died by committing suicide.

Bench expressed that unfortunately neither the Magistrate nor the ASJ orders a further investigation after commenting on glaring loopholes with the investigation.

Sufficient material on record was placed stating that the deceased was subjected to cruelty/harassment with the demand of dowry by respondent 4 and 5 and hence presumption under Section 113(b) of the Indian Evidence Act will apply.

Defective Investigation

 It is well settled that where there has been negligence on the part of the investigating agencies or omissions either negligently or with a design to favour the accused, then it becomes the obligation of the Court to ensure that proper investigation is carried out.

Supreme Court’s decision in Vinubhai Haribhai Malaviya v. State of Gujarat, (2019) 17 SCC 1, Vinay Tyagi v. Irshad Ali, (2013) 5 SCC 762 were relied upon by the Court.

In the present matter, investigation was conducted in an extremely shoddy manner. 

High Court elaborating more on the present matter stated that the ASJ while passing the impugned judgment on noticing the glaring inconsistencies should have ordered for further investigation.

Hence, impugned Judgment was set aside. High Court directed police to conduct an investigation on the basis of petitioners’ statements and the same to be conducted by a different investigation officer. [Saroj Bhola v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 1497, decided on 05-04-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioners: Chanan Parwani, Advocate

For the Respondents: Kusum Dhalla, APP for the State and respondent 2

Charanjeet Singh, Advocate for respondents 3 to 6

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court of India: The Division Bench comprising of Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah*, JJ., addressed the instant appeal challenging the validity of notice send to the appellant by Anti-corruption Bureau regarding pre-FIR open enquiry against him. The Bench stated,

“…(If) an enquiry is held and/or conducted after following the procedure as per Maharashtra State Anti-corruption & Prohibition Intelligence Bureau Manual, it cannot be said that the same is illegal and/or the police officer, Anti-corruption Bureau has no jurisdiction and/or authority and/or power at all to conduct such an enquiry at pre-registration of FIR stage.”

Background

The background of the instant case relates to various allegations made against the appellant and his brothers with regard to accumulating the assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. Noticeably, the appellant was a Member and President of Municipal Council, Katol, Nagpur. In connection with the said complaint, the Police Inspector, Anti-corruption Bureau, had issued a notice, calling upon the appellant to personally remain present before the investigating officer of the Anti-corruption Bureau to give his statement in an ‘open enquiry’ in respect of the property owned by him along with the information on the points stated in the said notice and further, asking him to provide documents relating to his property, assets, bank statements, income tax returns.

The grievance of the petitioner was that the Police Inspector, Anti-Corruption Bureau, had no power to issue the said notice. It was also submitted that there is no statutory provision which would compel any body to give statement to the police. It was also submitted that there was no FIR against the appellant. Per contra, the respondent authority submitted that the said ‘open enquiry’ was ordered to find out if an offence under Section 13(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act was disclosed.

Whether such an enquiry at pre-FIR stage would be legal and to what extent such an enquiry is permissible?

In Lalita Kumari v. Government of Uttar Pradesh, (2014) 2 SCC 1, this Court had observed that it is mandatory to register an FIR on receipt of information disclosing a cognizable offence. However, this Court had also considered the situations/cases in which preliminary enquiry is permissible/desirable and certain illustrations were also  carved out in which the preliminary enquiry was held to be permissible/desirable before registering/lodging of an FIR. It was further observed that if the information received did not disclose a cognizable offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry, a preliminary enquiry may be conducted to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not. It had been clarified that the scope of preliminary inquiry is not to verify the veracity or otherwise of the information received but only to ascertain whether the information reveals any cognizable offence. Similarly, in P. Sirajuddin v. State of Madras, (1970) 1 SCC 595, this Court expressed the need for a preliminary enquiry before proceeding against public servants.

When a public servant, whatever be his status, is publicly charged with acts of dishonesty which amount to serious misdemeanour or misconduct of indulging into corrupt practice, it does incalculable harm not only to the officer in particular but to the department he belonged to in general. Thus, before lodging FIR against him, there must be some suitable preliminary enquiry into the allegations by a responsible officer to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not.

Observing that a fool proof safeguard and procedure is provided under the Maharashtra State Anti-corruption & Prohibition Intelligence Bureau Manual of Instructions 1968, before lodging an FIR/complaint before the Court against the public servant, the Bench disregarded any doubt of irregularity regarding the issuance of impugned notice. Further, the Bench observed that the information sought on the aforesaid points was having a direct connection with the allegations made against the appellant, namely, accumulating assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. Clarifying that such an ‘open enquiry’, should be restricted to facilitate the appellant to clarify regarding his assets and known sources of income, the Bench said the same could not be said to be a fishing or roving enquiry.

Conclusion

Clarifying that the statement of the appellant and the information so received during the course of discrete enquiry should be only for the purpose to satisfy and find out whether an offence under Section 13(1)(e) of the PC Act, 1988 was disclosed. Such a statement cannot be said to be confessional in character, and would be restricted only to ascertain whether a cognizable offence is disclosed or not. The Bench held that such an enquiry would be to safeguard the interest of appellant which may avoid further harassment to him. Hence, the Bench refused to interfere with the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court of Bombay and dismissed the appeal with the above observations.

[Charansingh v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 251, decided on 24-03-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

*Judgment by: Justice M.R. Shah

Appearance before the Court by:

For the Appellant: Sr. Adv. Subodh Dharmadhikari,

For the Respondent/s: Sr. Adv. Raja Thakare

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Appalled with the arrest of Anuj Jain, the Interim Resolution Professional of the company managing the Yamuna Expressway, in connection with an accident that happened on the expressway that killed seven members of a family, the bench of AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ has directed his immediate release and has also issued a show cause notice to the Investigating Officer, Bijender Singh, Sub-Inspector, as to why appropriate action is not taken against him for taking such drastic action against Jain.

Jain was arrested in connection with an FIR that was filed after seven members of a family had died in an accident that happened on the highway. The victims were travelling towards Delhi when an overspeeding oil tanker jumped the divider and rammed into the victims’ vehicle The collision led to the spilling of oil from the tanker, resulting in a massive fire that engulfed both the vehicles.[1]

Shocked to the see the extreme step taken by UP Police to arrest the Interim Resolution Professional, Anuj Jain, working in that capacity pursuant to the order passed by the Court and entrusted with the functioning of the Company, the Court said,

“It is seen that the police official dealing with the case is not familiar with the provision of privilege of interim resolution appointed by the Court, in terms of Section 233 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.”

State of Uttar Pradesh had submitted before the Court that the Investigating Officer, Bijendra Singh, was of the view that the applicant may leave India at any time to avoid the prosecution and for securing his presence thought it necessary to arrest him from Mumbai.

Taking note of this submission, the Court said that it

“… will examine this aspect of the matter elaborately at appropriate time by treating this application as substantive writ petition filed by the applicant under Article 32 of the Constitution of India and to be numbered accordingly.”

In the meantime, the Court directed the release of Jain and further directed the Investigating Officer not to take any coercive action against him in connection with the subject F.I.R. until further orders.

The Court asked the Registrar(Judl.) to personally intimate the office of the concerned Judge and Police Station Beta-II, District Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh on telephone “to ensure immediate release of the applicant, Mr. Anuj Jain, without imposing any conditions”.

[Jaypee Kensington Boulevard Apartments Welfare Association v. NBCC (India) Ltd, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 160, order dated 02.03.2021]


Appearances before the Court by:

For applicant: Senior Advocates Parag Tripathi and Sidharth Luthra

For State: Senior Advocate R.K. Raizada

[1] Yamuna Expressway management firm’s officer held after FIR following fatal accident by Abhishek Anand, India Today, Last Updated: March 2, 2021 13:06 IST

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, JJ has held that merely because on the same set of facts with the same allegations and averments earlier the complaint is filed, there is no bar to lodge the FIR with the police station with the same allegations and averments. However, when the impugned FIR is nothing but an abuse of process of law and to harass the accused, the High Courts must quash the FIR by exercising the powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and 482 Cr.P.C., to secure the ends of justice.

As per Section 210 Cr.P.C., when in a case instituted otherwise than on a police report, i.e., in a complaint case, during the course of the inquiry or trial held by the Magistrate, it appears to the Magistrate that an investigation by the police is in progress in relation to the offence which is the subject matter of the inquiry or trial held by him, the Magistrate shall stay the proceedings of such inquiry or trial and call for a report on the matter from the police officer conducting the investigation.

It also provides that if a report is made by the investigating police officer under Section 173 Cr.P.C. and on such report cognizance of any offence is taken by the Magistrate against any person who is an accused in the complaint case, the Magistrate shall inquire into or try together the complaint case and the case arising out of the police report as if both the cases were instituted on a police report.

It also further provides that if the police report does not relate to any accused in the complaint case or if the Magistrate does not take cognizance of any offence on the police report, he shall proceed with the inquiry or trial, which was stayed by him, in accordance with the provisions of Cr.P.C.

Hence, the Code of Criminal Procedure permits such an eventuality of a complaint case and enquiry or trial by the Magistrate in a complaint case and an investigation by the police pursuant to the FIR. However, at the same time, if it is found that the subsequent FIR is an abuse of process of law and/or the same has been lodged only to harass the accused, the same can be quashed in exercise of powers under Article 226 of the Constitution or in exercise of powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. In that case, the complaint case will proceed further in accordance with the provisions of the Cr.P.C.

“As observed and held by this Court in catena of decisions, inherent jurisdiction under Section 482 Cr.P.C. and/or under Article 226 of the Constitution is designed to achieve salutary purpose that criminal proceedings ought not to be permitted to degenerate into weapon of harassment.”

The statute saves the inherent power of the High Court, as a superior court, to make such orders as are necessary

(i) to prevent an abuse of the process of any Court; or

(ii) otherwise to secure the ends of justice.

Same are the powers with the High Court, when it exercises the powers under Article 226 of the Constitution. When the Court is satisfied that criminal proceedings amount to an abuse of process of law or that it amounts to bringing pressure upon accused, in exercise of inherent powers, such proceedings can be quashed.

[Kapil Agarwal v. Sanjay Sharma, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 154, decided on 01.03.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice MR Shah

Appearances before the Court by:

For appellants: Senior Advocate K.V. Vishwanathan

For Respondent: Advocate M.C. Dhingra

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of S.S. Shinde and M.S. Karnik, JJ., found prima facie case against Late actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s sister Priyanka Singh.

It may be that the relations between the petitioner and the respondent 2 are strained, but we cannot overlook the serious allegations made in the complaint and materials on record and the fact that the investigation is in progress and same is not yet concluded.

In the present matter, it was stated that the petitioners suffered the untimely and unfortunate demise of their brother Sushant Singh Rajput on 14-06-2020.

Petitioners stated that they find themselves in the midst of controversy as a result of the registration of an impugned FIR based on unfounded allegations, unsubstantiated facts and a misleading complaint filed as a counterblast FIR filed by petitioner’s father against respondent 2.

Petitioners case was that the FIR was registered by respondent 1 on the complaint of Rhea Indrajit Chakraborty (Respondent 2) in a most illegal and arbitrary manner without following the due process of law.

Analysis and Decision

While perusing the facts and circumstances of the case, Bench notes that the present matter relates to the tragic incident in which the Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead at his residence.

Respondent 2 filed a complaint contending that the accused persons conspired with each other and illegally procured false prescription on the letterhead of Government hospital which contained psychotropic substances that are listed in the Schedule of NDPS Act and administered the same to the late actor.

Whether filing of the second FIR or counter-complaint permissible as done by the Respondent 2?

Bench referring to the decision of Supreme Court in Upkar Singh v. Ved Prakash, (2004) 13 SCC 292, found that the filing of the counter-complaint is permissible.

Elaborating the above point in terms of the present matter, Court expressed that:

Supreme Court has laid down that any further complaint by the same complainant against the same accused, subsequent to the registration of a case, is prohibited under the Criminal Procedure Code. because an investigation in this regard would have already started and further the complaint against the same accused will amount to an improvement on the facts mentioned in the original complaint, hence, will be prohibited under Section 162 CrPC.

Present Petitioners are not accused in the first FIR.  2nd respondent has filed the 2nd FIR in the nature of counter-complaint in respect of the same incident having different versions of the events which are legally permissible.

Further, the Bench stated that the allegations made in the complaint revealed the exchange of messages between petitioner 1 and late actor regarding the list of medicines. The FIR consisted of the allegations pertaining to the prescription with regard to the various medications controlled under the NDPS Act. Dr Tarun Kumar prescribed medicines which were prohibited from being prescribed electronically for the purpose of anxiety.

The allegation was that the accused prescribed psychotropic substances without any consultation or examination in violation of provisions of the NDPS Act and the Telemedicine Practice Guidelines, 2020.

Bench expressed that the allegations along with other material enclosed prima facie disclose the alleged offences as against the petitioner 1.

It is a well-settled principle of law that the power of quashing a criminal proceeding should be exercised very sparingly and with circumspection and that too in the rarest of rare cases.

 Supreme Court in the State of Karnataka v. Pastor P. Raju, (2006) 6 SCC 728, settled the legal position stating that the High Court ought not to interfere with and quash the entire proceedings in exercise of power conferred by Section 482 CrPC when the matter was still at the investigation stage.

In the case of State of Telangana v. Habib Abdullah Jeelani, (2017) 2 SCC 779, it was held that there is no denial of the fact that the power under Section 482 Cr.P.C. is of very wide amplitude but it needs no special emphasis to state that conferment of wide power requires the Court to be more cautious. It casts an onerous and more diligent duty on the Court.

Hence, Court opined that the allegations made in the complaint do constitute a cognizable offence against the petitioner – Priyanka Singh justifying the registration of a case and an investigation thereon.

With regard to petitioner 2, the allegation has been made against her based only on suspicion that the medicine might have been procured by her.

However, the complaint primarily proceeded on the allegation that the banned medicines prescribed by Dr Tarun Kumar were at the behest of petitioner No.1 who was having knowledge that the said banned medicine and heavy doses of medicine may result in a chronic anxiety attack which may damage the health of Sushant Singh Rajput.

While concluding, the Court added that:

FIR registered at the instance of the late actor’s father has already been transferred to the CBI for investigation in the light of the directions of the Supreme Court, and even Senior Advocate for the respondent 3 submitted that so far as FIR lodged by late actor’s father is concerned, the CBI is conducting investigation meticulously and professionally without being hindered by any external factor and would thoroughly look into each and every aspect relating to the death of the late actor in a fair and impartial manner.

Decision

From the reading of the complaint and materials on record, it was seen that the allegations were primarily against petitioner 1 and Dr Tarun Kumar. The FIR appeared to have been registered against the petitioner 2 only on suspicion without attributing specific overt acts qua petitioner 2 that she aided or abetted the alleged act of suicide by the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

Hence, on overall consideration, allegations against petitioner 2 were vague and general and the counter-complaint filed by the respondent 2 qua second petitioner is to be set aside and quashed and so far as petitioner 1 – Priyanka Singh was concerned, no merit was found in the present petition, therefore deserves to be dismissed.

Rejection of this Petition qua petitioner No.1 – Priyanka Singh shall not be construed as an impediment to petitioner No.1 to avail of an appropriate remedy in case Investigating Officer decides to file the chargesheet.[Priyanka Singh v. State of Maharashtra,  2021 SCC OnLine Bom 207, decided on 15-02-2021]


Advocates who appeared in the matter:

Mr. Vikas Singh, Sr. Advocate a/w Mr. M.V. Thorat i/b Mr. M.V. Thorat, for the Petitioners

Mr. Satish Maneshinde a/w Ms. Namita Maneshinde, for Respondent No.2.

Mr. Devdatta Kamat, Sr. Advocate a/w Mr. Deepak Thakre, PP, Mr. S.R.Shinde, APP a/w Mr. J.P. Yagnik, APP, Mr. Rajesh Inamdar and Mr. Hemant Shah, for Respondent No.1 – State.
Mr. Anil C.Singh, ASG a/w Mr. Sandesh Patil a/w Mr. D.P. Singh, for Respondent No. 3 – CBI.


Also Read:

Unmasking the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 [Explainer on certain provisions]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where two educated consenting adults had got married to each other without the consent of their parents, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul* and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ held that

“… the consent of the family or the community or the clan is not necessary once the two adult individuals agree to enter into a wedlock and that their consent has to be piously given primacy.”

Background

Santosh is an M.Tech from NIT, Tiruchirapalli and is working as a Lecturer in KLES (Karnataka Lingayat Education Society) Pre-University College, Bailhongal, while Laxmi, is an M.A.B.Ed., working as an Assistant Professor in Jain College of Engineering, Belagavi, Karnataka. They developed liking for each other during these assignments. However, there was resistance from the parents of Laxmi, though the parents of Santosh were willing for the matrimony of both the well qualified petitioners who are majors and Hindu by religion.

After Laxmi had, without informing her parents, travelled from Hubli to Bangalore and thereafter to Delhi in order to get married to Santosh, her parents had filed a complaint of a missing person. Laxmi, however, sent her marriage certificate to her parents through whatsapp on 15.10.2020 in which she revealed the factum of marriage to Santosh. She also spoke to the investigating officer and informed that she had already married Santosh and was residing with him. But the IO instead insisted that she should appear before the Murgod police station to record a statement so that the case can be closed. She then sent a letter to the IO stating that she was married to Santosh and there was threat from her parents and thus, was unable to visit the police station.

Thereafter, the IO stated that they would like to close the case, but they wanted her to get her statement recorded at the police station. The IO also stated that the family members may file a case against her that she has stolen things from the home and if an FIR is filed, there would be a negative mark against Santosh and they would have to arrest him which would be problematic for his job also.

What the Court said

The choice of an individual is an inextricable part of dignity, for dignity cannot be thought of where there is erosion of choice. Such a right or choice is not is not expected to succumb to the concept of “class honour” or “group thinking.”

The Court said that the case was handled does not reflect very well on the police authorities or the IO, the marriage certificate having been received by him and the conversation already been held with Laxmi where she clearly stated that she was married to Santosh and that she was feeling threatened and apprehensive of coming to the police station.

If the IO could have visited the residence of Santosh, he could very well have recorded the statement of Laxmi rather than insisting and calling upon the petitioners to come to the local police station at Karnataka. Not only that, he undoubtedly sought to compel Laxmi to come and record the statement at police station on the threat of possibility of a false case being registered by her parents against her husband and the consequent action of the police which would result in the arrest of her husband.

“We strongly deprecate the conduct of the IO in adopting these tactics and the officer must be sent for counseling as to how to manage such cases.”

The Court also noticed that both the parties are well educated.

“Educated younger boys and girls are choosing their life partners which, in turn is a departure from the earlier norms of society where caste and community play a major role. Possibly, this is the way forward where caste and community tensions will reduce by such inter marriage but in the meantime these youngsters face threats from the elders and the Courts have been coming to the aid of these youngsters.”

[Laxmibai Chandaragi v. State of Karnataka, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 85, decided on 08.02.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul 

Know Thy Judge| Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Ananda Sen, J., while addressing the instant matter with regard to the application of Section 228A of Penal Code, 1860 and subsequently the provision of defamation expressed that:

“…publishing of newspaper report of facts of lodging of an FIR cannot be said to be defamatory, especially when the FIR has been lodged by the victim herself.”

Through this interlocutory application it was submitted that during the pendency of the case, lower court cancelled the bail bonds of the petitioners, which necessitated the filing of the instant interlocutory application.

The criminal miscellaneous petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was filed by the petitioners to quash the order taking cognizance by which cognizance of offence under Sections 228 (A)/500/501/34 of the Penal Code, 1860 was been taken by the Judicial Magistrate.

OP 2 had filed a complaint against the petitioners who happen to be the Publisher, Chief Editor, Senior Editor and Resident Editor of a local newspaper and also against the newspaper itself and its publisher alleging therein that a newspaper report was published in the said newspaper with the following heading:

The said report contained that the victim was married and there was some dispute in relation to their residential house. She was subjected to sexual assault.

Complainant lodged a criminal complaint against the petitioners who happen to be the Editor and other officials of the newspaper alleging therein that as a result of the reporting of the FIR and incident, the victim was being harassed daily and sustained mental torture hence the said report amounts to be defamatory in nature.

Lower court on taking cognizance of the above incident issued summons to the petitioners.

Analysis and Decision

Bench noted that the said newspaper as stated above published a report about a lady, who had filed an FIR alleging that she was sexually assaulted after being administered with some narcotics. Though the sum and substance of the FIR was mentioned in the report no identity disclosure of the victim was reported.

Further, the Court added that only because the petitioners were Publisher, Chief Editor, Senior Editor and Resident Editor of the newspaper, they were named as accused.

In the complaint submitted it was nowhere mentioned that the fact reported was false, rather it was admitted that the fact, which was reported was true and the FIR had already been lodged by the victim under Sections 376/328 of the IPC.

In view of the above, Court stated that on perusal of the newspaper report it was found that name of the victim was not disclosed and since nothing was found in the newspaper report, which could suggest that the identity was made known, no application of Section 228 A IPC was made out.

Hence the Court held that in the present case it was a news which was admitted to be not false, thus not amounting to the application of Section 500 or 501 of the Penal Code, 1860.

High Court allowed the present criminal miscellaneous petition in view of the above discussion. [Ashutosh Choubey v. State of Jharkhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 2484, decided on 24-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Subramonium Prasad, J., in regard to quashing of FIRs expressed that:

“High Court cannot mechanically quash FIRs for non-compoundable offences by exercising powers under Section 482 CrPC just because parties have decided to bury their hatchets.”

The instant petition was filed for quashing of an FIR for offences under Section 377 of Penal Code, 1860 read with Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act).

Respondent 2/Complainant stated that after completion of his work when he reached home, he saw his 7 year old son crying, who told him that the accused who stayed in the same building had come and sodomosied him.

It was further stated that the underwear of the child was wet with blood. On completion of investigation, there was enough material to proceed against the petitioner for offences under Section 377 IPC and Section 4 POCSO Act.

The reason that has been stated for quashing of the FIR was due to the intervention of the elders of the society and friends. In view of the same, parties decided to put an amicable end to the disputes.

Analysis and Decision

Bench while analysis the facts and circumstances of the case, stressed that Section 377 IPC and Section 4 of the POCSO Act are non- compoundable offences and while exercising powers under Section 482 CrPC to quash criminal proceedings for non-compundable offences on the basis of compromise, the High Court should scan the entire facts to find out the thrust of allegations and the cruxof the settlement.

While stating the above position, Court referred to the decision of Supreme Court in State of Maharashtra v. Vikram Anantrai Doshi, (2014) 15 SCC 29.

Bench also referred to the following decisions of the Supreme Court:

The offence in the instant case was of grave nature.

POCSO Act was enacted only because sexual offences against children were not being adequately addressed by the existing laws and the purpose of the Act was to provide protection to children from sexual assault and sexual harassment and for safeguarding the interest and well being of children.

While noting the above stated objective of the POCSO Act, Bench stated that permitting such offences to be compromised and quashing FIRs would not secure the interest of justice.

Calling out the impact of such offences to be a serious one, Court also stated that, an offence under Section 377 IPC committed on a child of 7 years or an offence under Section 4 of the POCSO Act shows the mental depravity of the offender and cannot be said to be private in nature.

Hence, Court opined that the father of the victim cannot be permitted to settle the dispute and the Bench cannot lose sight of the fact that the accused was being prosecuted for an offence that shocks the value system of a society.

Deterrence to others committing similar offence is a must and they cannot get a signal that anything and everything can be compromised.

Therefore, Bench dismissed the petition in view of the above discussion. [Sunil Raikwar v. State, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 258,  decided on 29-01-2021]


Advocates for the parties:

Petitioner: Amit Gupta, Advocate

Respondents: Kusum Dhalla, APP for the State and Rahul Raheja, Advocate for R-2

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Mukta Gupta, J., quashed an FIR on noticing that the matter was being dragged only with the purpose of harassing one of the parties by the other.

In the instant petition, directions to respondent 2 were sought with regard to abiding the settlement terms arrived between the parties before the Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre for quashing of FIR under Sections 406/420/467/468/471/506/120-B of Penal Code, 1860.

What were the allegations in the above-stated FIR?

FIR lodged by respondent 2 contained allegations that complainant’s father was the owner of a property and had given the said property on license basis to his real brother (R.N. Chopra) in light of his brother’s financial condition not being good.

Complainant’s father passed away in 2001 and later in 2010, the complainant came to India and requested the petitioners to vacate the property. But the petitioners refused to do the same. Further in the FIR, it was alleged that with the intention to cheat, the petitioners executed a sale deed in 2005, which was executed by the petitioner 2, as attorney of late R.N. Chopra in favour of respondent. However, the father of the complainant passed away on 29-07-2001, the said GPA was invalid.

Since respondent 2 was not coming forward and claimed further money on the ground that he had to undergo visits to India, for settling the matter, the parties were referred to mediation and on 28-09-2017, a settlement agreement was entered into between Satish Kumar Chopra and Ashok Kumar Sehgal, as first-party and Anil Chopra, as second party.

Respondent 2 did not deny the settlement and repeatedly did not appear before the Court. Every time his grievance has been that he requires to be paid more money as he had to spend money on the travel for the settlement.

Bench stated that since the matter has already been settled and respondent 2 has just been dragging his feet only to delay the quashing and to harass the petitioners, therefore, Court quashed the FIR in view of the settlement deed arrived at between the parties before the Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre.

In view of the above discussion, the petition was disposed of. [Satish Kumari Chopra v. State, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 203, decided on 22-01-2021]


Advocates for the parties:

Petitioners: Gaganmeet Singh Sachdeva and H.S. Sachdeva, Advocates

Respondent: Rahul Mehra, Standing Counsel (Crl.) with Chaitanya Gosain, Advocate for State.

Rajeev K. Agarwal, Advocate for R-2.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: S.A. Dharmadhikari, J., dismissed the instant petition filed under Articles 226 and 227.

The facts of the case follow as, the respondent, who was a person of criminal antecedents, had come with his relatives armed with Pharsas and Guns to the petitioner and threatened to eliminate him and his family when the petitioner demanded balance amount of the sale proceeds of land sold to the respondent by father of the petitioner.

The petitioner submitted that, he had approached the Police Station but his report was not recorded, being aggrieved by that a representation had also been made to the Superintendent of Police for taking action against the miscreants but no action had been taken. Therefore, the petitioner requested the Court that a writ of mandamus may be issued to the Superintendent of Police to decide the said representation and take action against the respondent and also provide adequate protection to the petitioner from the respondent.

The counsel for the State, Abhishek Singh Bhadoriya argued that, the relief sought by the petitioner could not be granted in view of the fact that the petitioner had an alternative remedy of filing complaint before the Magistrate under Section 156(3) of the CrPC and the same was not availed by him.

The Court, relied on Sakiri Vasu v. State Of U.P., (2008)2 SCC 409, wherein, the Supreme Court held that, “if a person has a grievance that the police station is not registering his FIR under Section 154 CrPC, then he can approach the Superintendent of Police under Section 154(3) CrPC by an application in writing. Even if that does not yield any satisfactory result, it is open to the aggrieved person to file an application under Section 156 (3) CrPC before the learned Magistrate concerned the Magistrate can direct the FIR to be registered and also can direct a proper investigation to be made. The Magistrate can also monitor the investigation to ensure a proper investigation.”

 In view of the above, the Court dismissed the petition stating that, the High Court should discourage the practice of filing a writ petition or petition under Section 482 CrPC, simply because a person has a grievance that his FIR has not been registered by the police, or after being registered, proper investigation has not been done. For this grievance, the remedy lies under Sections 36 and 154(3) before the police officers concerned, and if that is of no avail, under Section 156(3) CrPC before the Magistrate or by filing a criminal complaint under Section 200 CrPC and not by filing a writ petition or a petition under Section 482 CrPC. However, the Court further directed that, if the petitioner approaches the Magistrate, the Magistrate concerned shall proceed in accordance with law including the precedents enumerated hereinabove. [Bharat Singh Gurjar v. State of M.P.,  2020 SCC OnLine MP 2924, decided on 22-12-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of S. Sunil Dutt Yadav and P. Krishna Bhat, JJ., emphasized on the importance of jurisdictional police to register FIR and conduct further investigation of the case.

The facts of the case are such that the instant writ petition was filed in the nature of Habeus Corpus under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, praying to issue a writ or order or direction for production of her son Suresh who was unlawfully taken away by SHO, Gogi Police Station i.e Respondent 3 in the instant case.

On the notice by the Court, Suresh was produced before the Court on 03-11-2020 and it was admitted by Respondent 3 that the petitioner Tarabhai had approached him in the police station with a grievance that her son had been abducted and thereafter he was not found. Inspite of Respondent 3 being conscious that the incident reported was cognizable in nature he did not register an FIR.

Counsel representing the defaulting respondent 3 submitted that a lenient view must be taken for the said violation of the procedure notwithstanding the serious implications for the liberty of Suresh and that his client is prepared to file an undertaking to do some community service to atone for the same.

The Court observed that the entire development in the case after Suresh going missing discloses to us a very disturbing facet of the functioning of the police stations in this area in the state. The Court further observed that the problem primarily is one of police officers not complying with the procedure prescribed under the Code of Criminal Procedure, which places a high premium on the guarantee of liberty of the individuals.

The Court thus held that if the facts disclosed to Respondent 3 amounted to an offence taking place within the limits of his police station, then he should have proceeded with the investigation of the case and if the offence disclosed took place outside the jurisdiction, then he was obliged to transfer the FIR to the jurisdictional police station for further investigation of the case. The Court further stated that Respondent 3 has overlooked the mandate of law in as much as he has not made an entry in the Station House diary regarding the substance of the petitioner and her son Suresh.

The Court directed the respondent 3 to comply with the undertaking by cleaning the front of his police station for a period of one week and further directed the Superintendent of Police, Kalaburagi District to hold a Workshop/ Orientation course to all the police officers working within the Kalaburagi District on the subject of “Zero FIR” and other provisions under the CrPC, 1973 pertaining to registration of FIR and investigation of cases.

In view of the above, and Suresh being produced before the Court, writ petition was disposed off.[Tarabai v. The State of Karnataka,  2020 SCC OnLine Kar 2286, decided on 17-12-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: R. Pongiappan, J., addressed the Criminal Original Petition seeking to quash the First Information Report of first respondent police as the same was alleged to be illegal.

The instant petition was filed to quash the FIR. The said FIR was registered for the offences punishable under Sections 294(b), 323, 324, 506(1) and Section 4 of Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, 2002.

Petitioner Counsel submitted that petitioner 1 is the husband of the second respondent. Petitioner 1 had filed the original petition under Section 13(1)(1-b) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 to seek dissolution of marriage. The said petition has been pending for commencement of trial.

In view of the above circumstances, to threaten the petitioners, respondent 2 lodged a false complaint and first respondent police without making my enquiry registered a case.

Analysis and Decision

Bench first and foremost referred to the Supreme Court decision on Kamal Shivaji Pokarnekar v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 14 SCC 350, wherein it was held that:

“5. Quashing the criminal proceedings is called for only in a case where the complaint does not disclose any offence, or is frivolous, vexatious, or oppressive. If the allegations set out in the complaint do not constitute the offence of which cognizance has been taken by the Magistrate, it is open to the High Court to quash the same. It is not necessary that a meticulous analysis of the case should be done before the Trial to find out whether the case would end in conviction or acquittal. If it appears on a reading of the complaint and consideration of the allegations therein, in the light of the statement made on oath that the ingredients of the offence are Sonu Gupta v. Deepak Gupta, (2015) 3 SCC 424. disclosed, there would be no justification for the High Court to interfere.”

Bench on perusal of the facts of the case found that the averments made in the FIR clearly constituted the prima facie case for offences under Sections 294(b), 323, 324, 506(1) and Section 4 of Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, 2002,

Court further relied on the Supreme Court decision in CBI v. A. Ravishankar Prasad, (2009) 6 SCC 351, wherein it was held that:

“Inherent powers of High Court under Section 482 CrPC are meant to act ex debito justitiae to do real and substantial justice, for the administration of which alone it exists, or to prevent abuse of the process of the court. These inherent powers can be exercised in the following category of cases: (i) to give effect to an order under the Code; (ii) to prevent abuse of the process of court; and (iii) to otherwise secure the ends of justice. Extraordinary power under Section 482 CrPC should be exercised sparingly and with great care and caution.”

Hence, relying on the above-stated decisions, the Court expressed that:

“…only in the circumstances that registration of case itself is an abuse of process of law, inherent powers can be exercised to prevent abuse of process of law.”

Petitioners in the instant case could not prove that the registration of the FIR was an abuse of process of law, therefore, Criminal Original Petition was dismissed. [Karunamoorthi v. State, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 6026, decided on 02-12-2020]


Advocates for the parties:

For Petitioners: W. Camyles Gandhi

For Respondent 1: S.Karthikeyan Additional Public Prosecutor

For Respondent 2: K.Vasanthanayagan

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has held that the true test of a valid FIR is only whether the information furnished provides reason to suspect the commission of an offence which the police officer concerned is empowered under Section 156(1) of the Criminal Code to investigate.

“The questions as to whether the report is true; whether it discloses full details regarding the manner of occurrence; whether the accused is named; or whether there is sufficient evidence to support the allegation are all matters which are alien to consideration of the question whether the report discloses commission of a cognisable offence.”

  1. FIR or the First Information Report, is neither defined in the Criminal Code nor is used therein, albeit it refers to the information relating to the commission of a cognisable offence. This information, if given orally to an officer in-charge of the police station, is mandated to be reduced in writing.
  2. The informant who lodges the report of the offence may not even know the name of the victim or the assailant or how the offence took place. Information to be recorded in writing need not be necessarily by an eye-witness, and hence, cannot be rejected merely because it is hearsay. Section 154 does not mandate nor is this requirement manifest from other provisions of the Criminal Code. Thus, at this stage, it is enough if the police officer on the information given suspects – though he may not be convinced or satisfied – that a cognisable offence has been committed.
  3. Section 154 of the Criminal Code, in unequivocal terms, mandates registration of FIR on receipt of all cognisable offences, subject to exceptions in which case a preliminary inquiry is required[1].
  4. There is a distinction between arrest of an accused person under Section 41 of the Criminal Code and registration of the FIR, which helps maintain delicate balance between interest of the society manifest in Section 154 of the Criminal Code, which directs registration of FIR in case of cognisable offences, and protection of individual liberty of those persons who have been named in the complaint.
  5. FIR is not an encyclopaedia disclosing all facts and details relating to the offence[2]. It is not meant to be a detailed document containing chronicle of all intricate and minute details. FIR is not even considered to be a substantive piece of evidence and can be only used to corroborate or contradict the informant’s evidence in the court[3].
  6. Even if information does not furnish all details, it is for the investigating officer to find out those details during the course of investigation and collect necessary evidence[4]. Thus, the information disclosing commission of a cognisable offence only sets in motion the investigating machinery with a view to collect necessary evidence, and thereafter, taking action in accordance with law.
  7. As per clauses (1) (b) and (2) of Section 157 of the Criminal Code, a police officer may foreclose an FIR before investigation if it appears to him that there is no sufficient ground to investigate. At the initial stage of the registration, the law mandates that the officer can start investigation when he has reason to suspect commission of offence.
  8. Requirements of Section 157 are higher than the requirements of Section 154 of the Criminal Code. Further, a police officer in a given case after investigation can file a final report under Section 173 of the Criminal Code seeking closure of the matter.

[Amish Devgan v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 994, decided on 07.12.2020]


[1] Lalita Kumari v. Government of Uttar Pradesh, (2014) 2 SCC 1

[2] Ibid

[3] Dharma Rama Bhagare v. State of Maharashtra, (1973) 1 SCC 537

[4] Superintendent of Police, CBI and Others v. Tapan Kumar Singh, (2003) 6 SCC 175

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Manoj Kumar Ohri, J., denied bail to the petitioner who is accused of commission of offence under Section 315 (act done with intent to prevent child being born alive or to cause it to die after birth) and Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Penal Code, 1860.

The instant application was filed under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 read with Section 482 CrPC seeking regular bail in the FIR registered under Section 315 of Penal Code, 1860.

Contentions

Petitioners Counsel, Madhusmita Bora, Advocate submitted that the petitioner’s age is 70 years and in terms of the decision in Jacob Mathew v. State of Punjab, (2005) 6 SCC 1, he ought not to have been arrested. Further, it was added that the petitioner is otherwise qualified as a medical surgeon and performed the surgery at the request of the hospital concerned. 

Additionally, it was submitted that the FIR was of the year 2015, but petitioner got arrested in the year 2020.

Neelam Sharma, APP for State submitted that though the FIR was initially registered under Section 315 IPC subsequently, Section 304 IPC was added as the patient had expired. Further, it was added to the submissions that, petitioner was neither on the panel of the hospital nor even a visiting surgeon.

Petitioner, knowing fully well that he was not a qualified Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, still performed the surgery when there was no urgency as the pregnancy was only 19-20 weeks old, which led to the death of the patient.

A complaint was made to Delhi Medical Council, which, after Disciplinary proceedings found all the Doctors concerned guilty of negligence. In fact, it was found that co-accused, Dr Hitender Vashisht, the In-charge/Director of R.P. Memorial Hospital was not even registered with the DMC as he is not the holder of qualification in Modern Scientific System of Medicine and should refrain from pre-fixing ‘Dr.’ to his name.

Petitioners Counsel made a bald assertion that no Doctor ought to be arrested in a case of medical negligence however, it is seen that in the present case, the Investigating Officer has taken an independent opinion from Delhi Medical Council, which conducted the Disciplinary proceedings.

It has been observed that the Disciplinary Committee, comprising of four Doctors, found the petitioner guilty along with other co-accused persons.

In fact, the Disciplinary Committee recommended that the name of the petitioner be removed from the State Medical Register of the Delhi Medical Council for a period of 180 days. The decision was confirmed by Delhi Medical Council and the petitioner’s name was removed for 180 days.

Supreme Court’s decisions in Kalyan Chandra Sarkar v. Rajesh Ranjan, (2004) 7 SCC 528State U.P. v. Amarmani Tripathi, (2005) 8 SCC 21, have considered parameters of a bail application.

Bench observed that the petitioner did not deny the fact that he had performed the alleged surgery on the deceased.

Hence on taking into consideration the Disciplinary Committee’s report and its recommendations, Court prima facie opined that the there was reasonable ground to believe that the petition had committed the offence.

Bail application to the petitioner was denied.[Suresh Chandra Gupta v. NCT of Delhi, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1594, decided on 09-12-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 2-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has refused to quash the FIRs registered against News18 Journalist Amish Devgan for using the term “Lootera Chisti” in one of his shows but has granted interim protection to him against arrest subject to his joining and cooperating in investigation till completion of the investigation.

The Court, however, accepted the prayer for transfer of all pending FIRs in relation to and arising out of the telecast/episode dated 15th June 2020 to P.S. Dargah, Ajmer, Rajasthan, where the first FIR was registered and also asked the concerned states to examine the threat perception of the petitioner and family members and take appropriate steps as may be necessary.

Background

On 15th June, 2020, Devgan had hosted a debate on his show ‘Aar Paar’ on News18 India on the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 which, while excluding Ayodhya, prohibits conversion and provides for maintenance of the religious character of places of worship as it existed on 15th August, 1947. Some Hindu priest organisations had challenged vires of this Act before the Supreme Court, and reportedly a Muslim organization had filed a petition opposing the challenge.

The petitioner, while hosting the debate, had described Pir Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti, also known as Pir Hazrat Khwaja Gareeb Nawaz, as “aakrantak Chishti aya… aakrantak Chishti aya… lootera Chishti aya… uske baad dharam badle”. Translated in English the words spoken would read – “Terrorist Chishti came. Terrorist Chishti came. Robber Chishti came – thereafter the religion changed,” imputing that ‘the Pir Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti, a terrorist and robber, had by fear and intimidation coerced Hindus to embrace Islam.’

Devgan later tweeted an apology along with a clarification that he has faith in Banda Nawaz Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti and has also gone on Ziyarat pilgrimage to Ajmer Sharif to offer respects and to worship. Expressing regret, he said that the attributed words were uttered inadvertently and by mistake; in fact, he wanted to refer to Alauddin Khilji and not Gareeb Nawaz Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.

Here’s what he tweeted:

Analysis

On refusal to quash the FIRs

Rejecting the contention that criminal proceedings arising from the impugned FIRs ought to be quashed as these FIRs were registered in places where no ‘cause of action’ arose, the Court held that Section 179 of the Criminal Code provides that an offence is triable at the place where an act is done or its consequence ensues.

“The debate-show hosted by the petitioner was broadcast on a widely viewed television network. The audience, including the complainants, were located in different parts of India and were affected by the utterances of the petitioner; thus, the consequence of the words of the petitioner ensued in different places, including the places of registration of the impugned FIRs.”

After going through the relevant portions of the transcript of the debate anchored by the petitioner, the Court noticed that it was apparent that Devgan was an equal co-participant, rather than a mere host. The transcript, including the offending portion, would form a part of the ‘content’, but any evaluation would require examination and consideration of the variable ‘context’ as well as the ‘intent’ and the ‘harm/impact’. These have to be evaluated before the court can form an opinion on whether an offence is made out. The evaluative judgment on these aspects would be based upon facts, which have to be inquired into and ascertained by police investigation. ‘Variable content’, ‘intent’ and the ‘harm/impact’ factors, as asserted on behalf of the informants and the State, are factually disputed by the petitioner. In fact, the petitioner relies upon his apology, which as per the respondents/informants is an indication or implied acceptance of his acts of commission.

The Court, hence, concluded that it would not be appropriate at this stage to quash the FIRs and thus stall the investigation into all the relevant aspects.

Directing that no coercive steps for arrest of the petitioner need be taken by the police during investigation, the Court said that

“In case and if charge-sheet is filed, the court would examine the question of grant of bail without being influenced by these directions as well as any findings of fact recorded in this judgment.”

On transferring and clubbing all FIRs with the first FIR registered at P.S. Dargah, Ajmer, Rajasthan

In Babubhai v. State of Gujarat, (2010) 12 SCC 254 the test to determine sameness of the FIRs has been elucidated as when the subject matter of the FIRs is the same incident, same occurrence or are in regard to incidents which are two or more parts of the same transaction. If the answer to the question is affirmative, then the second FIR need not be proceeded with.

Further, in T.T. Antony v. State of Kerala, (2001) 6 SCC 181 it was held that the subsequent FIRs would be treated as statements under Section 162 CrPC.

Relying on this the Court directed that all the subsequent FIRs be transferred to PS Dargah, Ajmer and the statement of the complaint/informant forming the basis of the transferred FIRs would be considered as statement under Section 162 of the Criminal Code and be proceeded with.

Justifying it’s decision, the Court said,

“This would be fair and just to the other complainants at whose behest the other FIRs were caused to be registered, for they would be in a position to file a protest petition in case a closure/final report is filed by the police. Upon filing of such protest petition, the magistrate would be obliged to consider their contention(s), and may even reject the closure/final report and take cognizance of the offence and issue summons to the accused. Otherwise, such complainants would face difficulty in contesting the closure report before the Magistrate, despite and even if there is enough material to make out a case of commission of an offence.”

It was further explained that Section 186 CrPC relates to cases where two separate charge-sheets have been filed on the basis of separate FIRs and postulates that the prosecution would proceed where the first charge-sheet has been filed on the basis of the FIR that is first in point of time. Principle underlying section 186 can be applied at the pre-charge-sheet stage, that is, post registration of FIR but before charge-sheet is submitted to the Magistrate.

“In such cases ordinarily the first FIR, that is, the FIR registered first in point of time, should be treated as the main FIR and others as statements under Section 162 of the Criminal Code. However, in exceptional cases and for good reasons, it will be open to the High Court or this Court, as the case may be, to treat the subsequently registered FIR as the principal FIR. However, this should not cause any prejudice, inconvenience or harassment to either the victims, witnesses or the person who is accused.”

[Amish Devgan v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 994, decided on 07.12.2020]


*Justice Sanjiv Khanna has penned this judgment

Also read: Freedom & rights cannot armour those who promote & incite violence| 15 notable excerpts on ‘hate speech’ from Supreme Court’s verdict in Amish Devgan case

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah*, JJ has granted anticipatory bail to Punjab’s former DGP Sumesh Singh Saini in Balwant Singh Multani disappearance case and has directed,

“… he shall be released on bail on furnishing personal bond in the sum of Rs.1,00,000/­ (Rupees one lakh only) and two sureties of the like amount and to surrender the passport and to cooperate with the investigation (however without prejudice to his rights and contentions in the pending proceedings to quash the impugned FIR).”

Background

Allegedly, in the year 1991 one Balwant Singh Multani was illegally abducted from his residence at Mohali by a team of officials operating under the instructions of the Saini; that he was severely and inhumanly tortured while in custody, by and at the behest of Saini. It is further alleged that a false and fabricated FIR might have been registered at the instance of the Saini to suggest that the victim was brought to the police station Qadian from where the victim was alleged to have escaped.

His brother had lodged an FIR against Saini on 06.05.2020 initially for the offences punishable under Sections 364, 201, 344, 219 and 120­B of the IPC, and subsequently the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC was added on  the basis of the  statements of the two co-accused who subsequently turned as approver.

The Additional Session Judge and the Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed Saini’s plea for anticipatory bail.

Relevant grounds on which anticipatory bail was sought

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Saini, argued before the Supreme Court that “the present FIR is filed with a malafide intention to harass the appellant and at the instance of the present party in power in the State.” Even otherwise the present FIR is not maintainable as being a second FIR on the same set of facts and has been registered after delay of 29 years of the alleged incident. It was submitted that earlier attempt to falsely implicate the appellant failed and a similar FIR for the very incident in question and with somewhat similar allegations came to be quashed by this Court in the case of State of Punjab v. Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar, (2011) 14 SCC 770.

It was further submitted that the informant heavily placed reliance upon the liberty reserved in   favour of the father of Balwant Singh Multani to file fresh proceedings, however, during his life time the father of Balwant Singh Multani did not initiate any fresh proceedings and six years after the death of the father of Balwant Singh Multani, the present FIR has been filed after 9 years of the judgment in Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar.

Analysis

Considering the fact that the impugned FIR was lodged by the brother of the deceased after a period of almost 29 years from the date of incident and after a period of 9 years from the date of decision in Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar and nothing is on record that in between he had taken any steps to initiate criminal proceedings and/or lodged an FIR, the Court observed that at least a case is made out by the appellant for grant of anticipatory bail under Section 438, Cr.P.C.

“Many a time, delay may not be fatal to the criminal proceedings. However, it always depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. However, at the same time, a long delay like 29 years as in the present case can certainly be a valid consideration for grant of anticipatory bail.”

On the reliance by the Informant and the State on the observations made in Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar and the liberty reserved in para 117 to the father of the deceased who earlier filed the petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. to take recourse to fresh proceedings, if permissible in law, the Court noticed that

“… the said liberty was as such in favour of the father of the deceased who in the earlier round of litigation before the High Court filed the petitions under Section 482 Cr.P.C. This Court reserved the liberty in favour of the father of the deceased to take recourse to fresh proceedings by specifically observing that if permissible in law.”

The Court took note of the fact that the father of the deceased died in the year 2014. Till 2014, he did not initiate any fresh proceedings.

“After a period of 9 years from the date of decision of this Court in the case of Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar (supra), all of a sudden, now the informant – brother of the deceased has woken up and has   initiated the present criminal proceedings. Whether the fresh/present proceedings are permissible in law are yet to be considered by this Court in the pending proceedings for quashing the impugned FIR.”

Conclusion

Hence, considering that Saini has retired in the year 2018 as Director General of Police, Punjab after 30 years of service and the alleged incident is of the year 1991 and even in the present FIR initially there was no allegation for the offence under Section 302 IPC and the allegations were only for the offences under Sections 364, 201, 344, 330, 219 and 120-B of the IPC, for which there was an order of anticipatory bail in Saini’s favour and subsequently the offence under Section 302 IPC has been added on the basis of the statements approvers only, the Court held that Saini has made out a case for anticipatory bail.

[Sumedh Singh Saini v. State of Punjab,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 986, decided on 03.12.2020]


*Justice MR Shah has penned this judgment.

For appellant: Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, 

For State: Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra, 

For original informant: Senior Advocate K.V. Vishwanathan

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where the Bombay High Court failed to  to evaluate even prima facie of the most basic issue thereby refusing bail to the accused, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and Indira Banerjee, JJ has reminded the High Courts and District Courts of their duty to ensure human liberty.

In the judgment running into 55-pages, here is what the Court said:

Fair Investigation

The public interest in ensuring the due investigation of crime is protected by ensuring that the inherent power of the High Court is exercised with caution. That indeed is one – and a significant – end of the spectrum. The other end of the spectrum is equally important: the recognition by Section 482 of the power inhering in the High Court to prevent the abuse of process or to secure the ends of justice is a valuable safeguard for protecting liberty.

The need to ensure the fair investigation of crime is undoubtedly important in itself, because it protects at one level the rights of the victim and, at a more fundamental level, the societal interest in ensuring that crime is investigated and dealt with in accordance with law. On the other hand, the misuse of the criminal law is a matter of which the High Court and the lower Courts in this country must be alive.

“Courts should be alive to both ends of the spectrum – the need to ensure the proper enforcement of criminal law on the one hand and the need, on the other, of ensuring that the law does not become a ruse for targeted harassment.”

Procedural hierarchy of Courts

The procedural hierarchy of courts in matters concerning the grant of bail needs to be respected. The High Court has the power to protect the citizen by an interim order in a petition invoking Article 226. Where the High Court has failed to do so, the Supreme Court would be abdicating its role and functions as a constitutional court if it refuses to interfere, despite the parameters for such interference being met.

“The doors of this Court cannot be closed to a citizen who is able to establish prima facie that the instrumentality of the State is being weaponized for using the force of criminal law. Our courts must ensure that they continue to remain the first line of defense against the deprivation of the liberty of citizens. Deprivation of liberty even for a single day is one day too many. We must always be mindful of the deeper systemic implications of our decisions.”

Emphasizing on the role of the district judiciary, which provides the first point of interface to the citizen, the Court said,

“Our district judiciary is wrongly referred to as the “subordinate judiciary‘. It may be subordinate in hierarchy, but it is not subordinate in terms of its importance in the lives of citizens or in terms of the duty to render justice to them.”

High Courts get burdened when courts of first instance decline to grant anticipatory bail or bail in deserving cases. This continues in the Supreme Court as well, when High Courts do not grant bail or anticipatory bail in cases falling within the parameters of the law. The consequence for those who suffer incarceration are serious. Common citizens without the means or resources to move the High Courts or this Court languish as undertrials. Courts must be alive to the situation as it prevails on the ground – in the jails and police stations where human dignity has no protector. As judges, we would do well to remind ourselves that it is through the instrumentality of bail that our criminal justice system’s primordial interest in preserving the presumption of innocence finds its most eloquent expression.

“Tasked as we are with the primary responsibility of preserving the liberty of all citizens, we cannot countenance an approach that has the consequence of applying this basic rule in an inverted form. We have given expression to our anguish in a case where a citizen has approached this court. We have done so in order to reiterate principles which must govern countless other faces whose voices should not go unheard.”

Data reflecting pending Bail applications in High Courts and District Courts across India

Noticing that 15,54,562 bail applications are currently pending in High Courts and District Courts across India, the Court said that

“The Chief Justices of every High Court should in their administrative capacities utilize the ICT tools which are placed at their disposal in ensuring that access to justice is democratized and equitably allocated. Liberty is not a gift for the few. Administrative judges in charge of districts must also use the facility to engage with the District judiciary and monitor pendency.”

[Arnab Manoranjan Goswami v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 964, decided on 27.11.2020]


*Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud has penned this judgment. Read more about him here

Also read: Anvay Naik Suicide|High Court abdicated it’s duty by failing to make prima facie evaluation of FIR. Here’s why SC granted interim bail to the accused

SC grants interim bail to 3 accused in Anvay Naik suicide case. Calls Bombay HC order erroneous

Case BriefsSupreme Court

“Liberty across human eras is as tenuous as tenuous can be. Liberty survives by the vigilance of her citizens, on the cacophony of the media and in the dusty corridors of courts alive to the rule of (and not by) law. Yet, much too often, liberty is a casualty when one of these components is found wanting.”

Supreme Court: After Feroz Mohammad Shaikh, Arnab Goswami and Neetish Sarda were granted interim bail on November 11, 2020 in relation to the alleged suicide of Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud* and Indira Banerjee, JJ has in it’s detailed judgment held that the Bombay High Court, in it’s 56-pages-long verdict, failed to evaluate even prima facie of the most basic issue.

“The High Court having failed to evaluate prima facie whether the allegations in the FIR, taken as they stand, bring the case within the fold of Section 306 read with Section 34 of the IPC, this Court is now called upon to perform the task.”

The Court had, in order dated 11.11.2020 said that

“… the High Court was in error in rejecting the applications for the grant of interim bail.”


Background


The matter relates to the alleged suicide committed by Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik who were Directors of an interior design company ‘Concorde Design Pvt. Ltd.’ The deceased had allegedly left behind a note wherein it was stated that they were committing suicide on account of the non-payment of CDPL’s dues. Arnab Goswami was arrested on 4 November 2020 under Sections 306 and 34 of the IPC. It was alleged that Goswami, the owner of ARG, had not paid an amount of Rs. 83 lacs and there was an outstanding amount of Rs. 4 crores from Feroz Shaikh and Rs. 55 lacs from Nitesh Sarda.

The Bombay High Court had, on November 9, held that no case for release of accused was made out.

It was Goswami’s case before the Supreme Court that his arrest was rooted in malice in fact, which was evident from the manner in which he has been targeted for his news broadcasts criticizing the Maharashtra government and the Maharashtra police. Several incidents leading up to the arrest were highlighted including FIRs lodged against him for alleged defamatory news show telecast on April 21 in connection with the Palghar mob-lynching case where he attacked Sonia Gandhi for orchestrating the incident; issuance of a letter by the ―Shiv Cable Sena to cable operators across Maharashtra asking them to ban the telecast of Republic TV; TRP Scam case, etc.


Analysis


Jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 and Section 482 CrPC

Bombay High Court, relying on decision in State of Telangana vs Habib Abdullah Jeelani, (2017) 2 SCC 779, had declined to even prima facie enquire into whether the allegations contained in the FIR, read as they stand, attract the provisions of Section 306 read with Section 34 of the IPC, stating that since the petition was being posted for hearing on 10 December 2020, it was not inclined to enquire into this aspect of the case and the appellant would be at liberty to apply for regular bail under Section 439.

The Court, hence, discussed the true import of Habib Jilani decision and said that the said decision arose in a situation where the High Court had declined to entertain a petition for quashing an FIR under Section 482 CrPC. However, it nonetheless directed the investigating agency not to arrest the accused during the pendency of the investigation. This was held to be impermissible by this Court. On the other hand, this Court clarified that the High Court if it thinks fit, having regard to the parameters for quashing and the self-restraint imposed by law, has the jurisdiction to quash the investigation ―and may pass appropriate interim orders as thought apposite in law.

“Clearly therefore, the High Court in the present case has misdirected itself in declining to enquire prima facie on a petition for quashing whether the parameters in the exercise of that jurisdiction have been duly established and if so whether a case for the grant of interim bail has been made out.”

Prima Facie evaluation of the FIR and the grant of bail

While considering an application for the grant of bail under Article 226 in a suitable case, the High Court must consider the settled factors which emerge from the precedents of this Court.

(i) The nature of the alleged offence, the nature of the accusation and the severity of the punishment in the case of a conviction;

(ii) Whether there exists a reasonable apprehension of the accused tampering with the witnesses or being a threat to the complainant or the witnesses;

(iii) The possibility of securing the presence of the accused at the trial or the likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice;

(iv) The antecedents of and circumstances which are peculiar to the accused;

(v) Whether prima facie the ingredients of the offence are made out, on the basis of the allegations as they stand, in the FIR; and

(vi) The significant interests of the public or the State and other similar considerations

Applying the factors to the case at hand, the Court noticed that a prima facie evaluation of the FIR does not establish the ingredients of the offence of abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the IPC. The appellants are residents of India and do not pose a flight risk during the investigation or the trial. There is no apprehension of tampering of evidence or witnesses.

“If the High Court were to carry out a prima facie evaluation, it would have been impossible for it not to notice the disconnect between the FIR and the provisions of Section 306 of the IPC. The failure of the High Court to do so has led it to adopting a position where it left the appellant to pursue his remedies for regular bail under Section 439. The High Court was clearly in error in failing to perform a duty which is entrusted to it while evaluating a petition under Section 482 albeit at the interim stage.”

Human liberty and the role of Courts

“In the present case, the High Court could not but have been cognizant of the specific ground which was raised before it by the appellant that he was being made a target as a part of a series of occurrences which have been taking place since April 2020. The specific case of the appellant is that he has been targeted because his opinions on his television channel are unpalatable to authority. Whether the appellant has established a case for quashing the FIR is something on which the High Court will take a final view when the proceedings are listed before it but we are clearly of the view that in failing to make even a prima facie evaluation of the FIR, the High Court abdicated its constitutional duty and function as a protector of liberty.”

Fair Investigation

The public interest in ensuring the due investigation of crime is protected by ensuring that the inherent power of the High Court is exercised with caution. That indeed is one – and a significant – end of the spectrum. The other end of the spectrum is equally important: the recognition by Section 482 of the power inhering in the High Court to prevent the abuse of process or to secure the ends of justice is a valuable safeguard for protecting liberty.

The need to ensure the fair investigation of crime is undoubtedly important in itself, because it protects at one level the rights of the victim and, at a more fundamental level, the societal interest in ensuring that crime is investigated and dealt with in accordance with law. On the other hand, the misuse of the criminal law is a matter of which the High Court and the lower Courts in this country must be alive.

“Courts should be alive to both ends of the spectrum – the need to ensure the proper enforcement of criminal law on the one hand and the need, on the other, of ensuring that the law does not become a ruse for targeted harassment.”

Procedural hierarchy of Courts

The procedural hierarchy of courts in matters concerning the grant of bail needs to be respected. The High Court has the power to protect the citizen by an interim order in a petition invoking Article 226. Where the High Court has failed to do so, the Supreme Court would be abdicating its role and functions as a constitutional court if it refuses to interfere, despite the parameters for such interference being met.

“The doors of this Court cannot be closed to a citizen who is able to establish prima facie that the instrumentality of the State is being weaponized for using the force of criminal law. Our courts must ensure that they continue to remain the first line of defense against the deprivation of the liberty of citizens. Deprivation of liberty even for a single day is one day too many. We must always be mindful of the deeper systemic implications of our decisions.”

Emphasizing on the role of the district judiciary, which provides the first point of interface to the citizen, the Court said,

“Our district judiciary is wrongly referred to as the “subordinate judiciary‘. It may be subordinate in hierarchy, but it is not subordinate in terms of its importance in the lives of citizens or in terms of the duty to render justice to them.”

High Courts get burdened when courts of first instance decline to grant anticipatory bail or bail in deserving cases. This continues in the Supreme Court as well, when High Courts do not grant bail or anticipatory bail in cases falling within the parameters of the law. The consequence for those who suffer incarceration are serious. Common citizens without the means or resources to move the High Courts or this Court languish as undertrials. Courts must be alive to the situation as it prevails on the ground – in the jails and police stations where human dignity has no protector. As judges, we would do well to remind ourselves that it is through the instrumentality of bail that our criminal justice system’s primordial interest in preserving the presumption of innocence finds its most eloquent expression.

“Tasked as we are with the primary responsibility of preserving the liberty of all citizens, we cannot countenance an approach that has the consequence of applying this basic rule in an inverted form. We have given expression to our anguish in a case where a citizen has approached this court. We have done so in order to reiterate principles which must govern countless other faces whose voices should not go unheard.”

Data reflecting pending Bail applications in High Courts and District Courts across India

Noticing that 15,54,562 bail applications are currently pending in High Courts and District Courts across India, the Court said that

“The Chief Justices of every High Court should in their administrative capacities utilize the ICT tools which are placed at their disposal in ensuring that access to justice is democratized and equitably allocated. Liberty is not a gift for the few. Administrative judges in charge of districts must also use the facility to engage with the District judiciary and monitor pendency.”


Direction


The interim protection which has been granted to the above accused by the order dated 11 November 2020 shall continue to remain in operation pending the disposal of the proceedings before the High Court and thereafter for a period of four weeks from the date of the judgment of the High Court, should it become necessary for all or any of them to take further recourse to their remedies in accordance with law.

[Arnab Manoranjan Goswami v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 964, decided on 27.11.2020]


*Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud has penned this judgment 

For Arnab Goswami: Senior Advocate Harish N. Salve

For Respondents: Senior Advocates Kapil SIbal, Amit Desai and CU Singh

For Feroz Shaikh: Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan

For Neetish Sarda : Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The Division Bench of Pankaj Naqvi and Vivek Agarwal, JJ., observed that,

Right to live with a person of his/her choice irrespective of religion professed by them, is intrinsic to right to life and personal liberty.

The writ petition was filed seeking a writ of mandamus directing the respondent concerned, not to arrest the petitioners under Sections 363, 366, 352, 506 of Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 7 and 8 POCSO Act.

Salamat Ansari and Priyanka Kharwar along with two others invoked the extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court for seeking quashment of an FIR under Sections 363, 366, 352, 506 IPC and Sections 5 and 6 of POCSO Act on the premise that the couple is of the age of majority, competent to contract a marriage, performed Nikah as per Muslim rites and rituals, after Priyanka Kharwar renounced her Hindu identity and embraced Islam.

Further, it was submitted that the couple had been living together as husband and wife since last one year peacefully and happily. FIR was lodged by the father of petitioner 4 prompted by malice and mischief only with a view to bringing an end to marital ties, no offences are made out, hence FIR be quashed.

DECISION

The mere fact that this petition is filed and supported by an affidavit of Priyanka Kharwar alleged victim, goes to show that she is voluntarily living with Salamat Ansari as a married couple.

Age of Priyanka Kharwar was not in dispute as she was reported to be around 21 years, therefore, petitioners 1 to 3 cannot be made accused of committing an offence under Sections 363 or 366 IPC, as the victim on her own left her home in order to live with Salamat Ansari. Similarly, as Priyanka Kharwar was not found to be juvenile, the offence under Sections 7/8 POCSO Act was not made out.

Hence, the allegations made were malafidely motivated with a view to implicate the family.

Bench stated that,

“Priyanka Kharwar and Salamat as Hindu and Muslim, rather as two grown-up individuals who out of their own free will and choice are living together peacefully and happily over a year.”

Adding to the above, it was observed that the Courts and the Constitutional Courts, in particular, are enjoined to uphold the life and liberty of an individual guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Interference in a personal relationship, would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of the two individuals.

Court stated that it fails to understand that if the law permits two persons even of the same sex to live together peacefully then neither any individual nor a family nor even State can have an objection to the relationship of two major individuals who out of their own free will are living together.

By relying on the Supreme Court decision of Shaffin Jahan v. Asokan K.M., (2018) 16 SCC 368, it was stated that the Supreme has consistently respected the liberty of an individual who has attained the age of majority.

Supreme Court in the decision of Shakti Vahini v. Union of India, (2018) 7 SCC 192, came down heavily on the perpetrators of “honour killings” which the Court found not only horrific and barbaric but also interfering with the right to choose a life partner and the dignity of an individual.

Bench stated that though the above observations were made in connection with ‘honour killings’ but the Court is of the firm view that the said principle would apply in the present context too where a relationship of two matured individuals is sought to be jeopardized at the whim and caprice of a parent.

Right to choose a partner irrespective of caste, creed or religion, is inhered under the right to life and personal liberty, an integral part of the Fundamental Right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Before parting with the present decision, Court reiterated that the FIR is being quashed primarily on the ground that no offences are made out, as two grown-up individuals have been living together for over a year of their own free will and choice.

Before concluding, however, the Court expressed that it expects the daughter to extend all due courtesy and respect to her family. [Salamat Ansari v. State of U.P., 2020 SCC OnLine All 1382, decided on 11-11-2020]


Advocates who appeared for the parties:

Counsel for the petitioner: Rakesh Kumar Mishra

Counsel for the Respondent: G.A., Ritesh Kumar Singh.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Sanjay K Agrawal J., allowed the petition based on the settled principle of law.

The present writ petition has been filed by the petitioners seeking quashment of FIR No. 02/2020 dated 10-01-2020 for offence punishable under Section 420 read with Section 34 of Penal Code, 1860 i.e. IPC registered against them by Respondents 2 and 3 at police Station Gol Bazar, Raipur on the ground that the dispute, being a commercial dispute, has been settled amicably between the petitioners and respondents 2 and 3 and the offence under Section 420/34 of the IPC is compoundable with the leave of the Court.

Counsel for the petitioners submitted that as per the agreement and statement of recorded before the Additional Registrar (Judicial) it was categorically stated that the dispute has been settled between them amicably and moreover, the offence registered against the petitioners under Section 420/34 IPC, being compoundable, FIR registered against the petitioners deserves to be set aside.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that they have no objection if the FIR registered against the petitioners is quashed as the dispute has been settled amicably.

The Court relied on judgment B.S. Joshi v. State of Haryana (2003) 4 SCC 675, Gian Singh v. State of Punjab (2012) 10 SCC 303 and Jitendra Raghuvanshi v. Babita Raghuvanshi (2013) 4 SCC 58 and observed that

“15. In our view, it is the duty of the courts to encourage genuine settlements of matrimonial disputes, particularly, when the same are on considerable increase. Even if the offences are non compoundable, if they relate to matrimonial disputes and the Court is satisfied that the parties have settled the same amicably and without any pressure, we hold that for the purpose of securing ends of justice, Section 320 of the Code would not be a bar to the exercise of power of quashing of FIR, complaint or the subsequent criminal proceedings.”

 16. There has been an outburst of matrimonial disputes in recent times. The institution of marriage occupies an important place and it has an important role to play in the society. Therefore, every effort should be made in the interest of the individuals in order to enable them to settle down in life and live peacefully. If the parties ponder over their defaults and terminate their disputes amicably by mutual agreement instead of fighting it out in a court of law, in order to do complete justice in the matrimonial matters, the courts should be less hesitant in exercising their extraordinary jurisdiction. It is trite to state that the power under Section 482 should be exercised sparingly and with circumspection only when the Court is convinced, on the basis of material on record, that allowing the proceedings to continue would be an abuse of process of court or that the ends of justice require that the proceedings ought to be quashed. We also make it clear that exercise of such power would depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case and it has to be exercised in appropriate cases in order to do real and substantial justice for the administration of which alone the courts exist. It is the duty of the courts to encourage genuine settlements of matrimonial disputes and Section 482 of the Code enables the High Court and Article 142 of the Constitution enables this Court to pass such orders.”

The Court thus held that offence under Section 420/34 of the IPC is compoundable with the leave of the Court and taking into consideration that the parties have settled their dispute amicably as per the agreement that they entered into and further considering that respondent 2 has filed his affidavit and respondent 3 has recorded his statement before the Assistant Registrar (Judicial) wherein they have clearly stated that they have compromised and settled the dispute amicably outside the Court.

In view of the above, offence was compounded, FIR quashed and petition disposed off.[Gurumukh Das Chandani v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2020 SCC OnLine Chh 568, decided on 27-10-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together