Sundar Babu &
Ors. Vs. State of Tamil Nadu  INSC 372 (19 February 2009)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 773 OF 2003 Sundar
Babu & Ors. ...Appellant(s) Versus State of Tamil Nadu ...Respondent(s)
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,J.
Challenge in this
appeal is to the order passed by the learned single Judge of the Madras High
Court rejecting the petition filed under Sec.482 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure, 1973 (in short the `Code').
Background facts in
short are as follows:
referred to as `the complainant') was married with Sunder Babu-appellant No.1.
Appellant No. 2-Mr. Venugopal and Mrs. Ramathilagam appellant No.3 are the
parents of Sunder Babu. A.4-Rajinishree is his sister and Andalammal is his
maternal grandmother. The marriage took place on 25/11/1998. The -2- appellant
No.1 left for USA on 1/7/1999. The complaint was filed on 6/2/2000 alleging
commission of offence punishable under Sec.498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860
(in short the `IPC') and Sec.4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (in short
The complaint was
treated as First Information Report and investigation was undertaken. On
completiion of investigation charge-sheet was filed on 8/6/2000. A divorce
petition was filed by the complainant which appears to have been granted ex
parte on 12/7/2001. According to the appellants, complainant- Sukanya has
remarried on 24/8/2002. It was a stand of the appellant that the complaint
filed was nothing but an abuse of the process of law. The allegations were
unfounded. There was no basis for making the allegations. The appellant No.1
had left for USA after about six months of the marriage. Long thereafter on
6/2/2000, the complaint was filed. No explanation for the delayed lodging of
the complaint was offered. In essence, it was submitted that the continuance of
the proceedings will be an abuse of the process of law. The prosecuting agency
before the High Court contested the petition filed under Sec.482 Cr.P.C. taking
the stand that a bare perusal of the complaint discloses commission of alleged
offences and therefore it is not a case which needed to be allowed. The High
Court accepted the stand of the respondent-State and dismissed the application.
In support of the
appeal learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the factual scenario
indicated above and even a cursory glance of the complaint petition shows that
the same was nothing but an attempt to falsely implicate the accused persons.
Learned counsel for the respondent State supported the judgment.
Though the scope for
interference while exercising jurisdiction under Sec.482 Cr.P.C. is limited,
but it can be made in cases as spelt out in the case of Bhajan Lal. The
illustrative examples laid down therein are as follows:
-4- 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 Sec.156(1) of the Code except under an
order of a Magistrate within the purview of Sec.155(2) of the Code.
3 Where the
uncontroverted allegations made in the FIR 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 FIR 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 Sec. 155 (2) of
-5- 1 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.
2 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.
3 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 personal grudge."
Even a cursory
perusal of the complaint shows that the case at hand falls within the category
(7) of the illustrative parameters highlighted in Bhajan Lal's case (supra).
-6- The parameters
for exercise of power under Sec.482 have been laid down by this Court in
The Section does not
confer any new power 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 -7- 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 alicui concedit, concedere videtur et id
sine quo res ipsae 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 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 -8- 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.
As noted above, the
powers possessed by the High Court under Sec.482 of the Code are very wide and
the very plenitude of the power requires great caution in its exercise. 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. The 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 -9- quashing the proceeding at any stage. (See: Janata Dal v.
H.S. Chowdhary (1992 (4) SCC 305), Raghubir Saran (Dr.) v. State of Bihar (AIR
1964 SC1 ) and Minu Kumari v. State of Bihar (2006 (4) SCC 359). (See (2008) 11
SCALE 20) Consequently, the appeal deserves to be allowed. The proceedings in
Criminal Petition No. C.C.No. 385/2000 pending before the Judicial Magistrate,
Palladam, are quashed.
The appeal is
.J. (Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)
(LOKESHWAR SINGH PANTA)