Sponsored
    Follow Us:
Sponsored

Court Can Look Beyond FIR To Quash Criminal Proceedings When They Are Vexatious Or Frivolous In Nature Instituted To Wreak Vengeance: Kerala HC

While taking the right stand at the right time and so also taking the right step in the right direction, the Kerala High Court in a learned, laudable, landmark, logical and latest judgment titled Jitha Sanjay and Others vs State of Kerala and Other in Crl.M.C. No. 2016 of 2023 and cited in Neutral Citation Case No.: 2024/KER/42293 and so also in 2024 LiveLaw (Ker) 367 that was finally heard on 06.06.2024 and then was also pronounced as recently as on 18.06.2024 has minced just no words to hold in no uncertain terms that the Court can look beyond an FIR to quash the criminal proceedings when they are manifestly vexatious, frivolous or instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance. It must be noted here that the Court observed that when the complainant is motivated due to extraneous reasons, he can make sure that the FIR contains the necessary ingredients of the alleged offence. No doubt, it also in the fitness of things observed most commendably here that the High Court while exercising its inherent powers of jurisdiction need not restrict itself only to the stage of a case but can take into account the overall circumstances leading to the initiation/registration of the case as well.

What we must also not opt to miss out here is that the Kerala High Court noted if the Court sees that the criminal proceedings are instituted maliciously, it is a good enough reason to quash the proceedings. We also need to note that the Court observed that in this case, multiple FIRs had been filed over a period of time pointing to wreaking vengeance out of a personal grudge. By all accounts, this definitely could not be justified on one pretext or the other and so was definitely bound to be rejected by the Court and was accordingly rejected rightly also.

To recapitulate, the original case was that all the accused formed into an unlawful assembly, abused and threatened the complainant as her husband had not repaid some loans availed by him. It was alleged that the accused criminally trespassed into their property, abused the complainant and threatened her and her husband with dire consequences. A case was filed against the accused under Sections 143, 147, 447, 294(b), 506(i) and 149 of the Indian Penal Code.

As it turned out, the accused claimed that this was a false complaint. It was stated precisely that her husband had defaulted in the re-payment of a loan taken from Citizen Co-operative Society, Thrissur and the society official demanded that he pay the amount. The allegation was that the complaint was filed to wreak vengeance against the said demand. Quite ostensibly, we thus see that the Kerala High Court very rightly observed in this leading case that since the case was filed as and when the society demanded repayment of the loan and no overt acts were even alleged, false implication to nullify the demand of loan amount was the intention to be drawn from the facts. Accordingly, the Kerala High Court thus very rightly quashed the final report and all further proceedings in the Magistrate Court.

At the very outset, this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment authored by the Single Judge Bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice A Badharudeen of Kerala High Court at Ernakulam sets the ball in motion by first and foremost putting forth most succinctly in para 1 stating most unambiguously that, “This Criminal Miscellaneous Case has been filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, to quash Annexure A9 Final Report and all further proceedings in C.C.No.541/2019 on the files of the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court-III, Thrissur.”

Needless to say, the Bench then states in para 2 that, “Heard the learned counsel for the petitioners and the learned Public Prosecutor. I have perused the relevant records.”

To put things in perspective, the Bench then very rightly envisages in para 3 while elaborating on the prosecution case that, “In this matter, the prosecution case is that, the accused herein, formed into an unlawful assembly, with knowledge that they are all members of the said assembly, in prosecution of their common object and with intention to abuse and threaten the de facto complainant, due to animosity arose out of non-payment of loan availed by the husband of the de facto complainant from Citizens Co-operative Society, Thrissur District. Then, the accused criminally trespassed upon the courtyard of the house of the de facto complainant at 10.00 a.m. on 24.2.2019, abused the de facto complainant and threatened the de facto complainant and her husband, with dire consequences. This is the base on which prosecution alleges commission of the offences punishable under Sections 143, 147, 447, 294(b), 506(i) and Section 149 of the IPC.”

Simply put, the Bench then observes in para 6 that, “On perusal of the records, it could be gathered that there was loan arrears to be paid by the husband of the de facto complainant and the demand for the same and the subsequent events led to registration of this crime, alleging commission of the offences punishable under Sections 143, 147, 447, 294(b), 506(i) and Section 149 of the IPC.”

Do note, the Bench notes in para 7 that, “Having considered the genesis of this case, as one arose out of demand of the loan arrears, at the instance of the husband of the de facto complainant, false implication to wreck vengeance on account of demand of the loan amount could be noticed.”

While citing relevant and remarkable case laws, the Bench observes in para 8 that, “In the decision in Vineet Kumar & Ors. v. State of U.P & anr., reported in [2017 KHC 6274 : AIR 2017 SC 1884 : 2017 (13) SCC 369], the Apex Court held in paragraph 39 that inherent power given to the High Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C is with the purpose and object of advancement of justice. In case solemn process of Court is sought to be abused by a person with some oblique motive, the Court has to thwart the attempt at the very threshold. The Court cannot permit a prosecution to go on if the case falls in one of the Categories as illustratively enumerated by this Court in [AIR 1960 SC 866], State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal. Judicial process is a solemn proceeding which cannot be allowed to be converted into an instrument of operation or harassment. When there are material to indicate that a criminal proceeding which cannot be allowed to be converted into an instrument of operation or harassment. When there are material to indicate that a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide and proceeding is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive, the High Court will not hesitate in exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 482 Cr.P.C to quash the proceeding under Category 7 as enumerated in State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal (supra), which is to the following effect:

“(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 personal grudge.””

Most significantly, it must be noted that while continuing in the same vein, the Bench then specifies in para 9 stating that, “Similarly, in another decision in Mahmood Ali v. State of U.P, reported in [2023 KHC 7029 : 2023 KHC OnLine 7029 : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 613 : 2023 KLT OnLine 175 : AIR 2023 SC 3709 : AIR OnLine 2023 SC 602 : 2023 CriLJ 3896], the Apex Court while considering the power under Section 482 Cr.P.C, in paragraph 12 held that whenever an accused comes before the Court invoking either the inherent powers under S.482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or extraordinary jurisdiction under Art.226 of the Constitution to get the FIR or the criminal proceedings quashed essentially on the ground that such proceedings are manifestly quashed essentially on the ground that such proceedings are manifestly frivolous or vexatious or instituted with the ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance, then in such circumstances the Court owes a duty to look into the FIR with care and a little more closely. We say so because once the complainant decides to proceed against the accused with an ulterior motive for wreaking personal vengeance, etc., then he would ensure that the FIR/complaint is very well drafted with all the necessary pleadings. The complainant would ensure that the averments made in the FIR/complainant are such that they disclose the necessary ingredients to constitute the alleged offence. Therefore, it will not be just enough for the Court to look into the averments made in the FIR/complainant alone for the purpose of ascertaining whether the necessary ingredients to constitute the alleged offence are disclosed or not. In frivolous or vexatious proceedings, the Court owes a duty to look into many other attending circumstances emerging from the record of the case over and above the averments and, if need be, with due care and circumspection try to read in between the lines. The Court while exercising its jurisdiction under S.482 of the Cr.P.C. or Art.226 of the Constitution need not restrict itself only to the stage of a case but is empowered to take into account the overall circumstances leading to the initiation/registration of the case as well as the materials collected in the course of investigation. Take for instance the case on hand. Multiple FIRs have been registered over a period of time. It is in the background of such circumstances the registration of multiple FIRs assumes importance, thereby attracting the issue of wreaking vengeance out of private or personal grudge as alleged.”

Finally and far most significantly, the Bench then very rightly concludes by mandating and directing in para 10 that, “Therefore, the legal position is clear that quashment of criminal proceedings can be resorted to when the prosecution materials do not constitute materials to attract the offence alleged to be committed. Similarly, the Court owes a duty to look into the other attending circumstances, over and above the averments to see whether there are materials to indicate that a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide and proceeding instituted maliciously with ulterior motives. Once the said fact is established, the same is a good reason to quash the criminal proceedings. Since the case emanated as and when the officials of the Co-operative Society demanded repayment of loan amount, and no serious overt acts even alleged, false implication to nullify demand of loan amount is the intention to be drawn from the materials. Thus, applying the ratio of the decisions referred above, this petition succeeds and the same stands allowed. Accordingly, Annexure A9 Final Report and all further proceedings in C.C.No.541/2019 on the files of the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court-III, Thrissur, stand quashed. Registry is directed to forward a copy of this order to the trial court, for information and further steps.”

Sponsored

Join Taxguru’s Network for Latest updates on Income Tax, GST, Company Law, Corporate Laws and other related subjects.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sponsored
Sponsored
Search Post by Date
July 2024
M T W T F S S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031