Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: A Full Bench of Prashant Kumar Mishra, Rajendra Chandra Singh Samant and Gautam Chourdiya, JJ., has held that the prospective accused is neither necessary nor a proper party in a writ petition seeking direction for registration of FIR and investigation into a cognizable offence. The Court was answering the question formulated by the Single Judge.

The daughter of the petitioner was married to one Mithilesh Kumar. The petitioner alleged that on account of ill-treatment and demand of dowry, his daughter committed suicide by hanging. He filed an application before the police against Mithilesh and his family members. Since no action was taken by the police, the petitioner filed the writ petition seeking a direction to the police authorities to register FIR and arrest Mithilesh and his family members for committing offences punishable under Sections 498-A and 304-B IPC. The Single Judge before whom the petition was placed, referred the following question for an effective pronouncement by the Full Bench:

“Whether in a writ petition preferred under Article 226, 227 of the Constitution of India seeking direction for registration of FIR and investigation against the accused persons alleged to have committed the cognizable offence(s), the said accused persons are necessary or proper party and they are required to be noticed and heard before issuing any such writ/direction, if any?”

Relying on a catena of decisions including Lalita Kumari v. State of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1Union of India v. WN Chadha, 1993 Supp (4) SCC 260Anju Chaudhary v. State of U.P., (2013) 6 SCC 384; etc., the High Court observed: “In the above view of the matter, it is an absolutely settled legal position that a prospective accused has no right of hearing before registration of FIR and investigation by the police officer or before the Court including the writ court, therefore, in a writ petition seeking direction for registration of FIR and investigation into a cognizable offence, the prospective accused is neither necessary nor a proper party.”

The Full Bench answered the reference accordingly and directed the matter to be placed before the appropriate Bench for further proceedings. [Dhananjay Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2020 SCC OnLine Chh 4, decided on 30-01-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of Z.A. Haq and M.G. Giratkar, JJ., partly allowed a criminal writ petition filed against the alleged illegal and high-handed action by the Police Inspector and Police Constable (respondents).

The matter related to 2013-2014 when disputes arose about the trusteeship of Shri Mirannath Maharaj Deosthan, Deoli. There was a dispute about whether Petitioner 1 was the Secretary of the Executive Committee of the public trust. FIRs were filed against the petitioners. However, after enquiry, the police authorities found that no cognizable offences were made out against the petitioners. But surprisingly, on 5-2-2014, action under Section 151 (1) CrPC (arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences) was taken against the petitioners and they were detained at the police station. They were later released on the orders of the Executive Magistrate. The petitioners claimed to be reputed citizens. They alleged that their detention was totally illegal and a result of abuse of power by the Police Inspector and Constable.

On behalf of the Police Inspector and Constable, it was submitted that the said action became necessary under Section 151 (1) CrPC as FIRs had been lodged against the petitioners. The High Court was of the opinion that this justification was misleading and was an attempt to cover up the illegal act.

The Court observed: “The police officer may take action as per Section 151 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure against a person, only if he has knowledge of a design of commissioning of any cognizable offence, or if it appears to him that commission of cognizable offence cannot be prevented unless preventive action is taken against the person who may commit cognizable offence.”

It was further stated: “Knowledge to the police officer of a design to commit any cognizable offence and formation of opinion by the concerned police officer that commission of cognizable offence cannot be prevented unless preventive action is taken against the proposed offender is sine qua non for taking preventive action as per Section 151 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Depriving a person of his liberty guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India cannot be left to the whims and wishes of the police officer, and if it is permitted it would be conferring arbitrary and unbridled powers on the police officers/authorities.”

The High Court held that the petitioners had suffered due to the illegal and high handed actions of the Police Inspector and, therefore, ordered him to pay a compensation of Rs 1 lakh each to the two petitioners, in addition to the costs of Rs 10,000 each payable to the petitioners. However, petitioners’ prayer for directing the State to conduct enquiry against the Police Inspector and Constable was rejected. [Kishor v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 6639, decided on 17-12-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Rajbir Sehrawat, J., addressed the petition filed under Sections 482 and 483 of CrPC for quashing of FIR registered under Sections 406, 420 & 120-B Penal Code, 1860 and the orders whereby the warrants of arrest were issued against the petitioner.

Contentions

Petitioner’s counsel submitted that the petitioner has instructed him to restrict the petition only qua challenge to the warrants issued by the Magistrate against the petitioner in the said FIR. Adding to his contentions, counsel for the petitioner stated that the Magistrate had issued warrants in a mechanical manner.

Magistrate had no reason to exercise his discretion to decide whether the petitioner was evading his arrest or not. The exercise of discretion by the Magistrate stands vitiated, being in the negation of law as is laid down by the Supreme Court in State v. Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, (2000) 10 SCC 438.

He further stated that since, the police had not disclosed any reason even in their application, therefore, the arrest of the petitioner would be in violation of the provisions of Section 41(1)(b)(ii) of CrPC. If the Magistrate could not have authorized police custody, due to absence of valid reasons then the Magistrate could not have been issued warrant authorizing arrest of the petitioner.

Respondent’s counsel stated that the petitioner is involved in a heinous crime of huge fraud. Since the police was unable to arrest the petitioner despite repeated attempts and the raids at the known addresses of the petitioner, therefore, the investigating officer had rightly applied for the arrest warrant against the petitioner.

Further, he stated that, Magistrate is not required to record any reasons for issuing warrants of arrest against an accused. Hence, the Magistrate has not committed any illegality.

Court’s Analysis & Decision

On a bare perusal of the provisions of CrPC, the Court stated that the police officer has almost omnipresent power to arrest. He can arrest a person even on having a suspicion that such person has committed a cognizable offence.

Adding to the above point, the Court stated that, in certain circumstances, the police officer is required to record reasons for arresting a person or is required to have a satisfaction qua the necessity of arrest, however, all these requirements are intrinsic to the arresting officer.

Thus for the purpose of arresting police officer has all-pervasive powers without any assistance from the Court or Magistrate.

Limiting factors for the above said the power of arrest without warrant is the existence of some reasons for the exercise of such power.

Chapter XII of CrPC which deals with Investigation of Crime also does not contemplate any assistance of a Magistrate or a court; to the police officer, qua investigation of a crime.

Section 167 CrPC requires that after arrest if investigation is not conducted within 24 hours then the person shall be produced before the Magistrate. Even the Magistrate is prohibited from permitting police custody for more than 15 days in all.

Section 73 of CrPC confers a power upon the Chief Judicial Magistrate and a Magistrate of First Class to issue warrants against any person who is ‘evading arrest’.

Under the above-said Section, the Magistrate can issue warrants of arrest against a person:-

(a) Who is an escaped convict
(b) Proclaimed offender
(c) Person accused of ‘non-bailable’ offence and is ‘evading arrest’.

Decision

High Court noting the above observations along with the contentions of both the counsels for the parties found the case of Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, (2014) 8 SCC 273, to be befitting in the facts of the present case, in the cited case following was held by the Supreme Court,

“…before arresting the accused, alleged to have committed a cognizable and non-bailable offence punishable with imprisonment up to seven years, the police officer has to record reasons qua his satisfaction that the arrest of the said person is necessary for the purpose mentioned in the Section.”

“…even at the time of authorizing detention of a person, who has already been arrested by the police, Magistrate would not go by ipse dixit of the language, which might be reproduced in the record of the police. He has to apply his independent mind as to whether the reasons are sufficient to sustain the satisfaction qua requirements of getting such person arrested. Only if the reasons are found sufficient, the person arrested by the police can be authorized to be put in further custody of the arresting officer.”

High Court also observed and stated that, before the Magistrate had taken cognizance of any offence, power of issuance of arrest warrants under any provision of CrPC, on an application of a police officer, cannot be invoked by the Magistrate as a routine manner.

It is clear from the above-said analysis that,

 “only for arresting a person; the police do not require any warrant as such. Hence, it would not lie in the mouth of the police to allege before the Magistrate, without there being any specific reasons or any barrier in their way, that the accused is evading arrest.”

Thus, the application moved by the police officer is silent qua any reason, which requires assistance from the court for arresting the petitioner.

No reason, whatsoever, has been spelt out in the application, even qua the requirements of arrest as mentioned in Section 41 CrPC, to justify the arrest of the petitioner, except to say that the petitioner is evading arrest. It is upon this application that the impugned warrants of arrest have been issued against the petitioner.

Hence, nothing has been noted either in the order passed by the Magistrate, from which it can be discernible that the Magistrate has some reasons or material to justify the discretion exercised by him.

Court found the impugned warrant issued by the magistrate not sustainable. Hence the present petition is found to be partly allowed by quashing the warrants of arrest and consequent order impugned in the petition. [Gurjeet Singh Johar v. State of Punjab, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 2606, decided on 08-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Ashwani Kumar Singh, J., dismissed the application for quashing of FIR as the FIR clearly stated the incidence of tampering of the meter which would constitute a cognizable offence and hence the investigation is necessary.

In the pertinent case, the petitioner filed the application for the quashing of an FIR registered under Section 135 of the Electricity Act. The Petitioner had, in spot billing of the month of December, 2017, an electric bill for an amount of Rs 1,55,089 showing meter reading as 27678 was issued. The consumption in two days was of 24110 units. Thereafter, he made a complaint on 12-02-2018 through the online portal of South Bihar Power Distribution Company Limited. An electrician came and inspected the said meter was defective and would be reinstalled after repairing. Subsequently, he came back and reinstalled a meter. Thereafter, on 23-02-2018, some officials of the Electric Supply Sub- Division, Jamui came at his house and made an allegation that the petitioner had tampered the meter.

The counsel for the opposite party contended that in the FIR, there is a specific allegation against the petitioner that on 23-02-2018, when the meter installed at the house of the petitioner was inspected, it was found that the body of the meter on the right side tampered and the seal was broken. Further, the meter number on the body and the screen did not match. It was also noticed that the past reading of the meter was reduced. They contended that the allegations made in the FIR clearly attract the ingredients of the offence punishable under Section 135 of the Electricity Act, 2003.

The Court observed that there is specific allegation in the FIR regarding tampering of the meter installed at the house of the petitioner. The seal of the meter was found broken. The aforesaid allegations are sufficient to attract the ingredients of the offence alleged, which is classified as a cognizable offence. In case of a cognizable offence, the police has a statutory right to investigate. Therefore, the Court held that neither the institution of the FIRnor its investigation can be held to be bad. [Bijay Kumar v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1870, decided on 23-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: A Division Bench of Prashant Kumar Mishra and Goutam Chourdiya, JJ. dismissed an application filed by the State seeking leave to appeal against the order of acquittal rendered by the Judicial Magistrate, 1st Class, as not maintainable.

The application by the State sought leave to appeal against the order of acquittal rendered by the Judicial Magistrate, 1st Class, whereby the accused was acquitted of the charges under Section 409 IPC (criminal breach of trust by public servant or by banker, merchant or agent).

The High Court was of the opinion that instead of preferring the instant application in the High Court, the State should have preferred an appeal before the Sessions Court under Section 378(1)(a) CrPC. Reliance was placed on Subhash Chand v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2013) 2 SCC 17, wherein the Supreme Court laid down the law thus:

If we analyse Section 378(1)(a) & (b), it is clear that the State Government cannot direct the Public Prosecutor to file an appeal against an order of acquittal passed by a Magistrate in respect of a cognizable and nonbailable offence because of the categorical bar created by Section 378(1)(b). Such appeals, that is appealed against orders of acquittal passed by a Magistrate in respect of a cognizable and non-bailable offence can only be filed in the Sessions Court at the instance of the Public Prosecutor as directed by the District Magistrate. Section 378(1)(b) uses the words “in any case” but leaves out orders of acquittal passed by a Magistrate in respect of a cognizable and non-bailable offence from the control of the State Government. Therefore, in all other cases where orders of acquittal are passed appeals can be filed by the Public Prosecutor as directed by the State Government to the High Court.”

In such view of the matter, the instant application filed by the State was dismissed as not maintainable, reserving the liberty in favour of the State to prefer acquittal appeal before the Sessions Court within a period of 30 days from the date of the instant order.[State of Chhattisgarh v. Mohanlal Bagde, 2019 SCC OnLine Chh 102, decided on 25-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Ashwani Kumar Singh, J. dismissed an application for the quashing of FIR by the petitioner under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India.

An FIR was registered under Section 366 read with Section 34 of the Penal Code, 1860 against the petitioner where it was alleged that he took the daughter of one Ram Narayan Pandey, who was aged about 18 years, when she was going to the Durga Mandir with her mother on 18-04-2019 at about 5.30 p.m. to offer her prayers. The petitioner along with others came there on a Bolero jeep and assaulted his daughter. When his wife protested, the accused pushed aside the informant’s wife and put his daughter in the vehicle and sped away.

The counsel for the petitioner Shubhesh Pandey submitted that the allegations made in the FIR were false and that the alleged victim had attained the age of majority, who out of her own sweet will, went with the petitioner and voluntarily married him.

After a careful perusal of the records, the Court held that the allegations made in the FIR were quite serious and they attracted the ingredients of a cognizable offence. To hold an investigation into a cognizable offence is the statutory right of the police. The defense taken by the petitioner that the victim went together with him out of her own sweet will and married him was to be examined by the police in the course of the investigation. At the stage of the investigation, the court would not come to any conclusion regarding the veracity of allegations made in the FIR. It is a well-settled principle of law that at this stage, the Court has no role to play. The role of the Court would start only after the investigation is completed and a report under Section 173(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure is filed.

In view of the above-noted facts, the instant application was dismissed since the allegations made in the FIR attracted the ingredients of a cognizable offence, and there was no reason to quash the FIR.[Benkatesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1355, decided on 22-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Dinesh Kumar Singh, J. disposed of the petition on the ground that no substantial ground was made for exercising the power under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

A petition was filed in order to quash the summoning order passed by 1st Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate under Section 498-A, 323, 504 and 506 of the Penal Code, 1860.

Rajendra Prasad, counsel for the petitioner submits that First Information Report had been lodged against the petitioner on the basis of false and fabricated facts. It was also submitted that the petitioner was ready to surrender before the court below and some protection may be granted to him.

The Additional Government Advocate had opposed the petition. It was discussed that the  power under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 was not to be exercised in a routine manner, but it is for limited purposes, namely, to give effect to any order under the Code, or to prevent abuse of process of any Court or otherwise to secure ends of justice. It was reiterated that according to the precedents the power under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 should not preempt a trial and cannot be used in a routine manner so as to cut short the entire process of the trial before the courts below.

Case of  Lee Kun Hee v. State of U.P., JT 2012 (2) SC 237, was brought in light,  in which it was held that “Court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 482 CrPC cannot go into the truth or otherwise of the allegations and appreciate evidence, if any, available on record. Interference would be justified only when a clear case of such interference is made out. Frequent and uncalled interference even at the preliminary stage by High Court may result in causing an obstruction in the progress of inquiry in a criminal case which may not be in public interest”

High Court after perusal of matter on record opined it cannot be said that a cognizable offence was not made out and thus there was no sufficient ground to quash the impugned proceedings, although it was directed that if the petitioner surrenders before the court within ten days with an application for bail the same shall be considered and disposed of expeditiously in accordance with the law.[Anil Kumar Srivastava v. State of U.P, 2019 SCC OnLine All 2299, decided on 01-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Dinesh Kumar Singh, J. quashed the application under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 on the ground that as the evidence cannot be scrutinized it cannot be said that no cognizable offence was made out against the applicant.

An application was made to quash the charge sheet made under Sections 323, 506, 452, 354-A of the Penal Code.

Aushim Malhotra, advocate for the applicant submits that the applicant has been falsely implicated. The victim had suffered not any serious injury except that she was having a complaint of pain. There was also the delay of 9 days in lodging the FIR.  It was further submitted that the accused had no criminal history, hence prayed for quashing the FIR.

Vimal Kumar Pandey, AGA vehemently opposed the prayer for quashing the same.

The Court after going through the matter on record held that opposite party was attempted to be molested by the accused-applicant and when she tried to defend herself, she was beaten with fists & kicks and when the mother-in-law of the victim had arrived, she was also pushed off.  It was further submitted that “From the perusal of material on record and looking into the facts of this case, at this stage, it cannot be said that no cognizable offence is made out against the applicant. All the submissions made at the Bar relates to the disputed questions of fact, which cannot be adjudicated upon by this Court in proceedings under Section 482 CrPC.”  The disputed defense of the accused cannot be considered at this stage. Thus the prayer for quashing the proceedings was refused. But the Court on the settled principle of the law in the case of Amrawati v. State of U.P., 2004 (57) ALR 290 held that if the applicant appears and surrenders before the Court below within 30 days from today and applies for bail, his prayer for bail may be considered. However, in case, the applicant does not appear before the Court below within the aforesaid period, coercive action shall be taken against him.[Ram Vilas v. State of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 2272, decided on 14-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Bench of Sonia Gokani, J., while hearing the grievance of the petitioner regarding non-filing of FIR, ordered the authorities to do a necessary investigation after lodging FIR.

A writ petition was made by the petitioner who was aggrieved by non-registration of the first information report on the basis of complaint given in writing. S.D. Mansur, learned counsel for the petitioner contended that the offence being a cognizable offence doesn’t take away his right to lodge the FIR. Thus an application for appropriate order of the court was made by the petitioner.

Jirga Jhaveri, the learned counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, submitted that though a cognizable offence is made out, his first information report was not registered.

The Court after hearing the party relied on the Judgment of Lalita Kumari v. State of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1, which mandates that registration of FIR is mandatory under Section 154 of Code of  Criminal Procedure, 1973.  The Court held that the police officer cannot avoid his duty of registering the offence if the cognizable offence is disclosed and the action should be taken against erring officer who does not register the FIR. The court further held that in order to ascertain the information regarding the cognizable offence it was important to conduct the preliminary inquiry. The court thus instructed the respondents to lodge the report and conduct the preliminary inquiry within one week and further instructed the petitioner that if the action is not taken, it shall be open to him to approach the higher officials, as provided under Section 154(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.[Avdhesh Bhawaniprasad Yadav v. State of Gujarat, Special Criminal Application No. 930 of 2019, Order dated 07-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: The Bench of Sonia Gokani, J. disposed of a petition with the direction to lodge the FIR if any cognizable offence is made out; and if not, reasons to be mentioned for not lodging an FIR to the complainant at the earliest but not later that one week.

The facts of the case are that the petitioner was aggrieved by non-registration of the FIR on the basis of the complaint given in writing by him. He contended that a cognizable offence was made out and still his FIR was not registered.

The Court while relying on the case of Lalita Kumari v. State of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1, held that registration of FIR is mandatory under Section 154 CrPC if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation. For the purpose of knowing as to whether any cognizable offence was revealed, a preliminary inquiry should be conducted. Still, if it is not made out, reasons are to be mentioned for not lodging an FIR to the complainant at the earliest but not later that one week in a cognizable offence. [Haripriyaben Sanjaykumar Shah v. State of Gujarat, 2019 SCC OnLine Guj 239, Order dated 06-02-2019]