R. P. Kapur Vs. The State of Punjab
 INSC 58 (25 March 1960)
SINHA, BHUVNESHWAR P.(CJ) IMAM, SYED JAFFER
GUPTA, K.C. DAS
CITATION: 1960 AIR 862 1960 SCR (3) 311
CITATOR INFO :
R 1975 SC 706 (16)
Criminal Trial--Quashing of Proceedings
-Inherent power of High Court--When to be exercised--Code of Criminal
Procedure, 1898 (V of 1898), s. 561-A.
One S lodged a first information report
against K. When K found that no action was taken on the report for several
months he filed a criminal complaint against S contending that the report
lodged by S was false. At the instance of S the magistrate ordered K's
complaint to stand adjourned till the police made its final report on the first
information report. Thereupon K moved the High Court under s. 561 -A of the
Code of Criminal Procedure for quashing the proceedings initiated by the first
information report. Pending the hearing the police submitted its report under
s. 173 of the Code. Subsequently the High Court dismissed the petition.
K obtained special leave and appealed:
Held that no case for quashing the
proceedings was made out. The inherent 'Jurisdiction of the High Court could be
exercised to quash proceedings in a proper case either to prevent the abuse of
the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice. The
following are some categories of cases where the inherent jurisdiction could
and should be exercised to quash proceedings:
(i) where there was a legal bar against the
institution or continuance of the proceedings;
(ii) where the allegations in the first
information report or complaint did not make out the offence alleged; and
(iii)where either there was no legal evidence adduced in support of the charge
or the evidence adduced clearly or manifestly failed to prove the charge.
In exercising its jurisdiction under s. 561-A
of the Code the High Court cannot embark upon an enquiry as to whether the
evidence in the case is reliable or not . In the present case there was no
legal bar to the institution of the proceedings or to their continuance; the
allegations made in the first information report did constitute the offences
alleged and it could not be contended that on the face of the record the charge
In re: Shripad G. Chandavarkar, A.I.R. 1928
Bom. 184, jagat Chandra Mozumdar v. Queen Empress, (1899) I.L.R. 26 Cal.
786, Dr. Shankar Singh v. The State of
Punjab, (1954) 56 Punj. L.W. 54, Nripendra Bhusan Ray v. Govind Bhandhu
Majumdar, A.I.R. 1924 Cal. 1018 and Ramanathan Chettiar v. K. Sivarama
Subrahmanya Ayyar, (1924) I.L.R. 47 Mad. 722, referred to.
S.P. Jaiswal v. The State, (1953) 55 Punj.
L.R. 77, distinguished, 389
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeal No. 217 of 1959.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated September 10, 1959 of the Punjab High Court in Criminal Misc. No.
559 of 1959.
Appellant in person.
S. M. Sikri, Advocate-General for the State
of Punjab, Mohinder Singh Punnan, T. M. Sen and D. Gupta, for the respondent.
1960. March 25. The Judgment of the Court was
delivered by GAJENDRAGADKAR, J.-On December 10, 1958, Mr. M. L. Sethi lodged a
First Information Report against the appellant Mr. R. P. Kapur and alleged that
he and his mother-in-law Mrs. Kaushalya Devi had committed offences under ss.
420-109, 114 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code. When the appellant found that
for several months no further action was taken on the said First Information
Report which was hanging like a sword over his head he filed a criminal
complaint on April 1, 1959, against Mr. Sethi under ss. 204, 211 and 385 of the
Indian Penal Code and thus took upon himself the onus to prove that -&he
First Information Report lodged by Mr. Sethi was false. On the said complaint
Mr. Sethi moved that the proceedings in question should be stayed as the police
had not made any report on the First Information Report lodged by him and that
the case started by him was still pending with the police. After hearing
arguments the learned Magistrate ordered that the appellant's complaint should
Thereupon the appellant moved the Punjab High
Court under s. 561 -A of the Code of Criminal Procedure for quashing the
proceedings initiated by the First Information Report in question. Pending the
hearing of the said petition in the said High Court the police report was
submitted under s. 173 of the Code on July 25, 1959. Subsequently, on September
10, 1959, Mr. Justice Capoor heard the appellant's petition and held that no
case had been made out for quashing the proceedings under s.561-A. In the
result the petition was dismissed. It is against this order that the appellant
has come to this Court by special leave, 50 390 The material facts leading to
the proceedings against the appellant lie within a very narrow compass. It
appears that in January 1957 the mother-in-law of the appellant and his wife
entered into an agreement with the owners of certain lands in village
Mohammadpur Munirka to purchase lands at Rs. 5 per sq. yd. Earnest money was
accordingly paid to the vendors and it was agreed that the sale had to be
completed by April 13, 1957; by consent this period was extended to June 13,
1957. Meanwhile, on March 8, 1957, notifications were issued by the Chief
Commissioner under ss. 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, for acquiring
considerable area of land which included the lands belonging to the vendors;
this acquisition was intended for the housing scheme of the Ministry of Works,
Housing and Supply in the Government of India. The proposed acquisition was
treated as one of urgency and so under s. 17 of the Acquisition Act possession
of the land was taken by the Collector on June 8, 1957. Some of the persons
concerned in the said lands filed objections against the validity of the action
taken under s. 17. It was under these circumstances that the sale deeds were
executed by the vendors in favour of Mrs. Kaushalya Devi and certain other
vendees on June 12, 1957. It appears that the vendees presented their claim
before the Land Acquisition Collector and an award has been made in September
1958 by which Mrs. Kaushalya Devi has been allowed compensation at Rs. 3-8-0
per sq. yd. That is how the title of the lands in question passed to Mrs.
The First Information Report filed by Mr.
Sethi alleges that he and the appellant were friends and that on January
4,1958, the appellant dishonestly and fraudulently advised him-to purchase
2,000 sq. yds. of land in Khasra Nos. 22, 23, 24 and 25 in the aforesaid
village Mohammadpur Munirka on the representation that as owner of the land in
the area Mr. Sethi would get a plot of desired dimensions in the same area
developed by the Ministry under its housing scheme.
The appellant also represented to Mr. Sethi,
according to the First Information Report, that since under the scheme no
person would, be allotted more than one 391 plot he would have to surrender a
part of his land; that is why as a friend he was prepared to give to Mr. Sethi
one plot at the price at which it had been purchased. According to Mr. Sethi
the appellant dictated an application which he was advised to send to the
Secretary of the Ministry of Works and he accordingly sent it as advised. The
First Information Report further alleges that the appellant had assured Mr.
Sethi that the land had been purchased by his mother-in-law at Rs. 10 per sq.
yd. Acting on this representation Mr. Sethi paid Rs. 10,000 by cheque drawn in
favour of Mrs. Kaushalya Devi on January 6, 1958. This cheque has been cashed.
Subsequently a draft of the sale deed was sent by the appellant to Mr. Sethi in
the beginning of March 1958 and on March 6, 1958, a further sum of Rs. 10,000
was paid by cheque. The draft was duly returned to the appellant with a
covering letter in which Mr. Sethi stated that he would have liked to add one
clause to the deed to the effect that in the event of the authorities not
accepting the sale for the purpose of allotment, the amount of Rs. 20,000 would
be refunded to him; and he expressed, the hope that even if the said clause was
not included in the document the appellant would accept it. The sale deed in
favour of Mr. Sethi was registered on March 21, 1958. It is this transaction
which has given rise to the First Information Report in question.
Broadly stated the First Information Report
is based on four material allegations about fraudulent misrepresentation. It is
alleged that the appellant fraudulently misrepresented to Mr. Sethi that the
land had been purchased at Rs. 10 per sq. yd.; that the appellant fraudulently
concealed from Mr. Sethi the pendency of the proceedings before the Land
Acquisition Collector, Delhi, and of the acquisition of the said property under
s. 17 of the said Act; he also made similar fraudulent misrepresentations as
regards the scheme of housing to which he referred. As a result of these
misrepresentations Mr. Sethi entered into the transaction and parted with Rs.
20,000. That in brief is the nature of the complaint made by Mr. Sethi in his
First Information Report. The appellant urged before the Punjab High Court that
the case started against 392 him by the First Information Report should be
quashed under s. 561-A of the Code. The Punjab High Court has rejected the
appellant's contention. The question which arises for our decision in the present
appeal is: Was the Punjab High Court in error in refusing to exercise its
inherent jurisdiction under s.561 -A of the Code in favour of the appellant ?
Before dealing with the merits of the appeal it is necessary to consider the
nature and scope of the inherent power of the High Court under s. 561 -A of the
Code. The said section saves the inherent power of the High Court to make such
orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code or to
prevent abuse of the process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of
justice. There is no doubt that this inherent power cannot be exercised in
regard to matters specifically covered by the other provisions of the Code. In
the present case the magistrate before whom the police report has been filed
under s. 173 of the Code has yet not applied his mind to the merits of the said
report and it may be assumed in favour of the appellant that his request for
the quashing of the .proceedings is not at the present stage covered by any
specific provision of the Code. It is well-established that the inherent
jurisdiction of the High Court can be exercised to quash proceedings in a
proper case either to prevent the abuse of the process of any court or
otherwise to secure the ends of justice. Ordinarily criminal proceedings
instituted against an accused person must be tried under the provisions of the
Code, and the High Court would be reluctant to interfere with the said
proceedings at an interlocutory stage. It is not possible, desirable or
expedient to lay down any inflexible rule which would govern the exercise of
this inherent jurisdiction. However, we may indicate some categories of cases
where the inherent jurisdiction can and should be exercised for quashing the
proceedings. There may be cases where it may be possible for the High Court to
take the view that the institution or continuance of criminal proceedings
against an accused person may amount to the abuse of the process of the court
or that the quashing of the impugned proceedings would secure the ends of 393
justice. If the criminal proceeding in question is in respect of an offence
alleged to have been committed by an accused person and it manifestly appears
that there is a legal bar against the institution or continuance of the said
proceeding the High Court would be justified in quashing the proceeding on that
ground. Absence of the requisite sanction may, for instance, furnish cases
under this category. Cases may also arise where the a11egations in the First
Information Report or the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value
and accepted in their entirety, do not constitute the offence alleged; in such
cases no question of appreciating evidence arises; it is a matter merely of
looking at the complaint or the First Information Report to decide whether the
offence alleged is disclosed or not.
In such cases it would be legitimate for the
High Court to hold that it would be manifestly unjust to allow the process of
the criminal court to be issued against the accused person. A third category of
cases in which the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court can be successfully
invoked may also arise. In cases falling under this category the allegations
made against the accused person do constitute an offence alleged but there is
either no legal evidence adduced in support of the case or evidence adduced
clearly or manifestly fails to prove the charge. In dealing with this class of
cases 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 manifestly and
clearly inconsistent with the accusation made and cases where there is legal
evidence which on its appreciation may or may not support the accusation in
question. In exercising its jurisdiction under s. 561-A the High Court would
not embark upon an enquiry as to whether the evidence in question is reliable
or not. That is the function of the trial magistrate, and ordinarily it would
not be open to any party to invoke the High Court's inherent jurisdiction and'
contend that on a reasonable appreciation of the evidence the accusation made
against the accused would not be sustained.
Broadly stated that is the nature and scope
of the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court under s. 561-A in the matter of
quashing 394 criminal proceedings, and that is the effect of the judicial
decisions on the point (Vide: In Re: Shripad G. Chandavarkar (1), Jagat Ohandra
Mozumdar v. Queen Empress (2 ), Dr. Shanker Singh v. The State of Punjab (3 ),
Nripendra Bhusan Ray v. Govind Bandhu Majumdar(4 ) and Ramanathan Chettiyar v.
K. Sivarama Subrahmanya Ayyar (5).) Mr. Kapur, who argued his own case with
ability before us, strongly relied on the decision of the Punjab High Court in
S. P. Jaiswal v. The State & Anr. (6) and contended that in the interest of
justice and in order to avoid unnecessary harassment to him we should ourselves
examine the evidence on record and decide whether the said evidence can
possibly lead to his conviction. In that case Jaiswal was charged with having
committed offences under's. 147 and s. 452 of the Code and it does appear from
the judgment of the High Court that the learned judge elaborately considered
all the evidence on which the prosecution relied and came to the conclusion
that the proceedings taken against Jaiswal and his co-accused should be
quashed. It is, however, clear from the judgment that the learned judge was
very much impressed by the fact that the police had reported that there was no
case or at the most only a technical offence against Jaiswal but the district
magistrate had interfered with the statutory duty of the police and had
directed the police officer concerned to prosecute him. On these facts the
learned judge was inclined to take the view that there was a violation of the
fundamental right guaranteed to Jaiswal under Art. 21 of the Constitution.
Besides, in the opinion of the learned judge the evidence on which the
prosecution relied showed that the essential ingredients of the offence charged
were missing " and the very essentials were non-existent". It is on
these findings that the criminal proceedings against Jaiswal were quashed. It
is unnecessary for us to consider .whether the fundamental right guaranteed
under Art. 21 had really been contravened or not. We have merely referred to
the relevant findings recorded by (1) A.I.R. 1928 Bom. 184.
(2) (1954) 56 Punjab L.R. 54.
(3) (1924) I.L.R. 27 Mad. 722.
(4) (1899) I.L.R. 26 Cal. 786.
(5) A.I.R. 1924 Cal. 1018.
(6) (1953) 55 Punjab L.R 77.
395 the learned judge in order to emphasise
the fact that this decision cannot be read as an authority for the proposition
that an accused person can approach the High Court under s.
561-A of the Code and ask it to appreciate
the evidence adduced against him and quash the proceedings in case it thought
that the said evidence did not justify the charge.
In fact, in dealing with the case the learned
judge has himself approved of the several decisions which have construed the
nature and scope of the inherent jurisdiction under s. 561-A and so the decision
must be confined to the basic findings recorded by the learned judge in that
This being the true legal position the
question which falls for our decision is: Does the appellant show that his case
falls under any of the three categories already mentioned by us. There is no
legal bar to the institution of the present proceedings or their continuance,
and it is obvious that the allegations made in the First Information Report do
constitute offences alleged against the appellant. His argument, however, is
that the evidence on record clearly and unambiguously shows that the
allegations made in the First Information Report are untrue; he also contends
that " certain powerful influences have been operating against him with a
view to harm him and debar him officially and otherwise and have instigated and
later seized upon the false First Information Report filed by Mr. Sethi against
him". In this connection he has naturally placed emphasis on the fact that
the investigating agency has acted with extraordinary dilatoriness in the
matter and that for several months the police did not make the report under s. 173
of the Code.
It is true that though the complaint against
the appellant is essentially very simple in its nature the police authorities
did not make their report for nearly seven months after the First Information
Report was lodged. We have already indicated how the appellant was driven to
a complaint on his own charging Mr. Sethi
with having filed a false First Information Report against him, and how the
Report in question was filed after the appellant moved the High 396 Court by
his present petition under s. 561-A. It is very much to be deplored that the
police officers concerned did not act diligently in this matter, and it is not
surprising that this unusual delay has given rise to the apprehension in the
mind of the appellant that the object of the delay was to keep the sword
hanging over his head as long as possible. It is perhaps likely that the
appellant being the senior-most Commissioner in the Punjab the investigating
authorities may have been cautious and circumspect in taking further steps on
the First Information Report; but we are satisfied that this explanation cannot
account for the inordinate delay made in submitting the report under s. 173.
It is of utmost importance that investigation
into criminal offences must always be free from any objectionable features or
infirmities which may legitimately lead to the grievance of the accused that
the work of investigation is carried on unfairly or with any ulterior motive.
Even so it is difficult to see how this conduct on the part of the police
officers can materially assist the appellant in his prayer that the proceedings
which have now reached the criminal court should be quashed.
We must, therefore, now proceed to consider
the appellant's case that the evidence on record is demonstrably against the
allegation of Mr. Sethi that he was induced by the appellant to part with Rs.
20,000 as a result of the several misrepresentations alleged in the First
He contends that the principal allegation
against him is two-fold, that he fraudulently and dishonestly concealed from
Mr. Sethi any information about the pendency of the proceedings before the
Collector, and fraudulently represented to him that the land had been purchased
at Rs. 10 per sq. yd. According to the appellant, if the correspondence on the
record is considered, and the statements made by Mr. Sethi and his wife and
their conduct at the material time are taken into account, it would
irresistibly show that the whole story about the fraudulent misrepresentations
is untrue. The appellant has taken us Through the relevant correspondence and
as referred us to the statements and the conduct of the parties. We are anxious
not to express 397 any opinion on this part of the appellant's argument. All we
wish to say is that we would inevitably have to consider the evidence ourselves
and to appreciate it before we pronounce any opinion on the validity or
otherwise of the argument. It is not a case where the appellant can justly
contend that on the face of there. cord the charge levelled against him is
unsustainable. The appellant no doubt very strongly feels that on the relevant
evidence it would not be reasonably possible to sustain the charge but that is
a matter on which the appellant will have to satisfy the magistrate who takes
cognisance of the case. We would, however, like to emphasise that in rejecting
the appellant's prayer for quashing the proceedings at this stage we are
expressing no opinion one way or the other on the merits of the case.
There is another consideration which has
weighed in our minds in dealing with this appeal. The appellant has come to
this Court under Art. 136 of the Constitution against the decision of the
Punjab High Court; and the High Court has refused to exercise its inherent
jurisdiction in favour of the appellant. Whether or not we would have come to
the same conclusion if we were dealing with the matter ourselves under s. 561-A
is not really very material because in the present case what we have to decide
is whether the judgment under appeal is erroneous in law so as to call for our
interference under Art. 136. Under the circumstances of this case we are unable
to answer this question in favour of the appellant.