Lakhwant Singh Vs.
Jasbir Singh & Ors.  INSC 1569 (16 September 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 281 OF 2003
Lakhwant Singh ...Appellant Versus Jasbir Singh and Ors. ...Respondents
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
in this appeal is to the judgment of a learned Single Judge of the Punjab and
Haryana High Court allowing the application filed under Section 482 of the Code
of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (in short the `Cr.P.C.'). Respondents had filed an
application praying for quashing the First Information Report (in short the
`FIR') registered against them for alleged commission of theft on 13.7.1999.
Statement in the FIR wasthat while executing the order in their favour
possession of land of the complainant was illegally taken in execution of
warrant of possession. The High Court accepted the prayer holding that the
aforesaid aspect of the matter can be examined if any objections are filed
before the concerned Court that warrant officer/bailiff acted beyond the
warrant of possession, and this could not give rise to registration of the
crime and, therefore, the matter is before us.
counsel for the appellant had referred to document appearing at Annexure R/6
and submitted that without even analyzing the factual and legal aspects, by an
abrupt conclusion the learned Single Judge should not have quashed the
proceedings. With reference to the objections filed before the High Court it
was pointed out that the challan had already been filed in the Court, and
learned Judicial Magistrate, Ist Class had committed the case to the court of
Sessions Judge, Amritsar. Certain other factual aspects have also been referred
to. It was further pointed out that while considering the application filed in
terms of Section 438 Cr.P.C., learned Additional Sessions Judge, Amritsar had
passed a detailed order highlighting the role played by respondents 1 to 5.
counsel for respondents 1 to 5 supported the judgment of the trial Court.
of power under Section 482 Cr.P.C. in a case of this nature is the exception
and not the rule. The section does not confer any new powers on the High Court.
It only saves the inherent power which the Court possessed before the enactment
of the Code. It envisages three circumstances under which the inherent
jurisdiction may be exercised, namely, (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. It is neither possible nor desirable to lay down
any inflexible rule which would govern the exercise of inherent jurisdiction.
No legislative enactment dealing with procedure can provide for all cases that
may possibly arise. Courts, therefore, have inherent powers apart from express
provisions of law which are necessary for proper discharge of functions and
duties imposed upon them by law.
That is the doctrine
which finds expression in the Section which merely recognizes and preserves
inherent powers of the High Courts. All courts, whether civil or criminal
possess, in the absence of any express provision, as inherent in their
constitution, all such powers as are necessary to do the right and to undo a
wrong in course of administration of justice on the principle quando lex aliquid
alique concedit, conceditur et id sine quo res ipsa esse non potest (when the
law gives a person anything it gives him that without which it cannot exist).
powers under the Section, the Court does not function as a court of appeal or
revision. Inherent jurisdiction under the Section though wide has to be
exercised sparingly, carefully and with caution and only when such exercise is
justified by the tests specifically laid down in the Section itself.
It is to be exercised
ex debito justitiae to do real and substantial justice for the administration
of which alone courts exist. Authority of the court exists for advancement of
justice and if any attempt is made to abuse that authority so as to produce
injustice, the court has power to prevent such abuse. It would be an abuse of
process of the court to allow any action which would result in injustice and
prevent promotion of justice. In exercise of the powers court would be
justified to quash any proceeding if it finds that initiation/continuance of it
amounts to abuse of the process of court or quashing of these proceedings would
otherwise serve the ends of justice. When no offence is disclosed by the
complaint, the court may examine the question of fact. When a complaint is
sought to be quashed, it is permissible to look into the materials to assess
what the complainant has alleged and whether any offence is made out even if
the allegations are accepted in toto.
R.P. Kapur v. State of Punjab (AIR 1960 SC 866), this Court summarized some categories
of cases where inherent power can and should be exercised to quash the
(i) where it
manifestly appears that there is a legal bar against the institution or
continuance e.g. want of sanction;
5 (ii) where the
allegations in the first information report or complaint taken at its face
value and accepted in their entirety do not constitute the offence alleged;
(iii) where the
allegations constitute an offence, but there is no legal evidence adduced or
the evidence adduced clearly or manifestly fails to prove the charge.
dealing with the last case, it is important to bear in mind the distinction
between a case where there is no legal evidence or where there is evidence
which is clearly inconsistent with the accusations made, and a case where there
is legal evidence which, on appreciation, may or may not support the
accusations. When exercising jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code, the
High Court would not ordinarily embark upon an enquiry whether the evidence in
question is reliable or not or whether on a reasonable appreciation of it
accusation would not be sustained. That is the function of the trial Judge.
Judicial process no doubt should not be an instrument of oppression or needless
harassment. Court should be circumspect and judicious in exercising discretion
and should take all relevant facts and circumstances into consideration before
issuing process, lest it would be an instrument in the hands of a private
complainant to unleash vendetta to harass any person needlessly. At the same
time the Section is not an instrument handed over to an accused to
short-circuit a prosecution and bring about its sudden death.
The scope of exercise
of power under Section 482 of the Code and the categories of cases where the
High Court may exercise its power under it relating to cognizable offences to
prevent abuse of process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of
justice were set out in some detail by this Court in State of Haryana v. Bhajan
Lal (1992 Supp (1) SCC 335) A note of caution was, however, added that the
power should be exercised sparingly and that too in rarest of rare cases. The
illustrative categories indicated by this Court are as follows:
"(1) Where the
allegations made in the first information report or the complaint, even if they
are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety do not prima facie
constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused.
(2) Where the
allegations in the first information report and other materials, if any,
accompanying the FIR do not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an
investigation by police officers under Section 156(1) of the Code except under
an order of a Magistrate within the purview of Section 155(2) of the Code.
(3) Where the
uncontroverted allegations made in the F.I.R. or complaint and the evidence
collected in support of the same do not disclose the commission of any offence
and make out a case against the accused.
(4) Where the
allegations in the F.I.R. do not constitute a cognizable offence but constitute
only a non-cognizable offence, no investigation is permitted by a Police
Officer without an order of a Magistrate as contemplated under S. 155 (2) of
(5) Where the
allegations made in the FIR or complaint are so absurd and inherently improbable
on the basis of which no prudent person can ever reach a just conclusion that
there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.
(6) Where there is an
express legal bar engrafted in any of the provisions of the Code or the
concerned Act (under which a criminal proceeding is instituted) to the
institution and continuance of the proceedings and/or where there is a specific
provision in the Code or the concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for
the grievance of the aggrieved party.
8 (7) Where a
criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide and/or where the
proceeding is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking
vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and
noted above, the powers possessed by the High Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C.
are very wide and the very plenitude of the power requires great caution in its
Court must be careful
to see that its decision in exercise of this power is based on sound
principles. The inherent power should not be exercised to stifle a legitimate
prosecution. High Court being the highest Court of a State should normally
refrain from giving a prima facie decision in a case where the entire facts are
incomplete and hazy, more so when the evidence has not been collected and
produced before the Court and the issues involved, whether factual or legal,
are of magnitude and cannot be seen in their true perspective without
sufficient material. Of course, no hard and fast rule can be laid down in
regard to cases in which the High Court will exercise its extraordinary
jurisdiction of quashing the proceeding at any stage. (See : The Janata Dal
etc. v. H.S. Chowdhary and others, etc. (AIR 1993 SC 892), Dr. Raghubir Saran
v. State of Bihar and another (AIR 1964 SC 1)). It would not be proper for the
High Court to analyse the case of the complainant in the light of all
probabilities in order to determine whether a conviction would be sustainable
and on such premises, arrive at a conclusion that the proceedings are to be
quashed. It would be erroneous to assess the material before it and conclude
that the complaint cannot be proceeded with. In proceeding instituted on
complaint, exercise of the inherent powers to quash the 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 in exercise of the
inherent powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. It is not, however, necessary that
there should be meticulous analysis of the case before the trial to find out
whether the case would end in conviction or acquittal. The complaint has to be
read as a whole. If it appears that on consideration of the allegations in the
light of the statement made on oath of the complainant that the ingredients of
the offence or offences are disclosed and there is no material to show that the
complaint is mala fide, frivolous or vexatious, in that event there would be no
justification for interference by the High Court. When an information is lodged
at the police station and an offence is registered, then the mala fides of the
informant would be of secondary importance. It is the material collected during
the investigation and evidence led in Court which decides the fate of the
accused person. The allegations of mala fides against the informant are of no
consequence and cannot by itself be the basis for quashing the proceeding. (See
: Mrs. Dhanalakshmi v. R. Prasanna Kumar and others (AIR 1990 SC 494), State of
Bihar and another v. P. P. Sharma, I.A.S. and another (1992 Suppl (1) SCC 222),
Rupan Deol Bajaj (Mrs.) and another v. Kanwar Pal Singh Gill and another (1995
(6) SCC 194), State of Kerala and others v. O.C. Kuttan and others (1999 (2)
SCC 651), State of U.P. v. O. P. Sharma (1996 (7) SCC 705), Rashmi Kumar (Smt.)
v. Mahesh Kumar Bhada (1997 (2) SCC 397), Satvinder Kaur v. State (Govt. of NCT
of Delhi) and another (1999 (8) SCC 728), Rajesh Bajaj v. State NCT of Delhi
and others AIR 1999 SC 1216).
aspects were highlighted in State of Karnataka v. M. Devendrappa and another
(2002 (3) SCC 89).
Jehan Singh v. Delhi Admn. (1974 (4) SCC 522) while considering a case under
Section 561-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (in short "the Old
Code") corresponding to Section 482 CrPC, it was observed as follows: (AIR
p.1146) "Where at the date of filing the petition under Section 561-A, no
charge-sheet or a complaint has been laid down in court and the matter is only
at the stage of investigation by police, the court cannot, in exercise of its
inherent jurisdiction under Section 561-A, interfere with the statutory powers
of the police to investigate into the alleged offence, and quash the
proceedings. Even assuming that the allegations in the FIR are correct and
constitute an offence so as to remove the legal bar to institute proceedings in
court, the court 12 cannot at that stage appraise the evidence collected by
the police in their investigation.
Any petition under
Section 561-A at such a stage is, therefore, premature and incompetent."
(SCC p. 526, paras 16-18)
is to be noted that the investigation was not complete and at that stage it was
impermissible for the High Court to look into materials, the acceptability of
which is essentially a matter for trial. While exercising jurisdiction under
Section 482 Cr.P.C, it is not permissible for the Court to act as if it was a
trial court. Even when charge is framed at that stage, the Court has to only
prima facie be satisfied about the existence of sufficient ground for
proceeding against the accused. For that limited purpose, the Court can
evaluate material and documents on records but it cannot appreciate evidence.
The Court is not required to appreciate evidence to conclude whether the
materials produced are sufficient or not for convicting the accused. In Chand
Dhawan v. Jawahar Lal (1992 (3) SCC 317), it was observed that when the
materials relied upon by a party are required to be proved, no inference can be
drawn on the basis of those materials to conclude the complaint to be
unacceptable. The Court should not act on annexures to the petitions under
Section 482 CrPC, which cannot be termed as evidence without being tested and
aspects are highlighted in State of Orissa v. Saroj Kumar Sahoo (2005 (13) SCC
non-reasoned order of the High Court does not reveal that the parameters relating
to exercise of power under Section 482 Cr.P.C. were kept in view. The
inevitable conclusion is that order of the High Court deserves to be set aside.
We direct accordingly.
appeal is allowed.
(Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)