Criminal Procedure; Manoj Kumar Sharma Vs. State of Chhattisgarh [Supreme Court of India, 23-08-2016]

Penal Code, 1860 – Ss. 304B, 498A & 34 – Criminal P.C. 1973 – Ss. 154, 173, 174, 397 & 482 – Territorial Jurisdiction – Ordinary place of enquiry and trial – Delay in lodging of FIR – Inquiry under Section 174 – Scope of. 

The allegations made in the FIR are inherently improbable and the evidence collected in support of the same do not disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the appellants herein. Further, to invoke inherent jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code, the High Court must be fully satisfied that the material produced on record is based on sound, justifiable and reasonable facts.

Held: In the case on hand, malicious prosecution was instituted by the brother of the deceased after a period of five years that too on the basis of anonymous letters. There was no accusation against the appellants before filing of the FIR. The allegations are vague and do not warrant continuation of criminal proceedings against the appellants. Also, the court at Durg has no territorial jurisdiction because cause of action, if any, has arisen in Ambala. The criminal proceeding is grossly delayed and a result of belated afterthought. The High Court failed to apply the test whether the uncontroverted allegations as made prima facie, establish the offence. It is also for the court to take into consideration any special features which appear in a particular case to consider whether it is expedient and in the interest of justice to permit the prosecution to continue. The High Court did not apply its mind judiciously and on an incorrect appreciation of record, ordered for continuance of the investigation on a petition under Section 482 of the Code. This power must be exercised judiciously and not capriciously or arbitrarily, as any improper or capricious exercise of such power may lead to undesirable results. In view of the foregoing discussion, FIR No. 194 dated 29.05.2005 is hereby quashed and the criminal proceeding against the appellants is dropped for want of prosecution. Consequently, the appeal is allowed.


IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

(MADAN B. LOKUR) AND (R.K. AGRAWAL) JJ.

AUGUST 23, 2016

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 775 OF 2013

Manoj Kumar Sharma & Ors. …. Appellant(s)

Versus

State of Chhattisgarh & Anr. …. Respondent(s)

J U D G M E N T

R.K. Agrawal, J.

1) This appeal has been filed against the judgment and order dated 27.09.2012 passed by the High Court of Chhattisgarh at Bilaspur in Criminal Miscellaneous Petition No. 765 of 2011 whereby learned single Judge of the High Court dismissed the petition filed by the appellants herein.

2) Brief facts

(a) Manoj Kumar Sharma-the appellant-accused, who was serving in the Indian Air Force at the relevant time, got married to one Nandini on 27.04.1999. On 20.09.1999, Nandini Sharma (since deceased) committed suicide at her matrimonial home. The information with regard to the same was lodged by the Security Officer of the Indian Air Force at Police Station Mulana, District Ambala. On 22.09.1999, post mortem was conducted on the body of the deceased and the body was handed over to the relatives for performing last rites.

(b) On 22.09.1999, the officer in-charge of the investigation, P.S. Mulana submitted a report being No. 26 stating that there was no sign of foul play in the occurrence. On the basis of the investigation, on 24.01.2000, a Final Report was submitted before the sub-Divisional Magistrate which got accepted on 19.02.2000. Simultaneously, a Court of Inquiry (CoI) was also convened to investigate into the alleged role of the appellant-accused but after completion of the Inquiry the case was finally closed on 25.07.2000.

(c) After five years of the closing of the above case, a fresh First Information Report (FIR), being No. 194 dated 29.05.2005 was got registered by Shri Shashi Bhushan Sharma (Respondent No. 2 herein) – brother of the deceased against Manoj Sharma- appellant No. 1 herein, Heera Lal Sharma, Mahaveer Prasad Sharma and Smt. Hem Lata Sharma-the father, uncle and mother of the appellant No. 1 herein respectively at P.S. Bhillai Nagar, District Durg under

Sections 304B, 498A and Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860

(in short ‘the IPC’).

(d) Being aggrieved by the filing of the FIR, the appellants herein filed a Writ Petition being No. 2890 of 2005 before the High Court. The Division Bench of the High Court, vide order dated 25.07.2005, directed for the continuance of the investigation of the alleged offence.

(e) On 04.04.2007, the said writ petition was withdrawn with the leave of the court and the appellants herein filed Criminal Miscellaneous Petition being No. 612 of 2007 before the High Court under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (in short ‘the Code’) for quashing of the FIR. Learned single Judge of the High Court, vide order dated 17.10.2011, allowed the proceedings to continue with a direction to the police to hold fair and proper investigation to ensure logical conclusion of the same without unnecessary delay.

(f) An application for modification being Criminal Misc. Petition No. 732 of 2011 was filed for modification of the order dated 17.10.2011 in Criminal Miscellaneous Petition 612 of 2007 on the ground that during the pendency of the judgment in the matter, the chargesheet came to be filed by the police before the court which was allowed vide order dated 17.11.2011.

(g) Further, the appellants herein filed Criminal Misc. Petition being No. 765 of 2011 under Section 482 read with Section 397 of the Code before the High Court for quashing of charge sheet and cognizance taken thereof by the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Durg dated 03.09.2011 and 13.10.2011 respectively in Criminal Proceeding No. 805 of 2011 arising out of Crime No. 194 of 2005 registered at P.S. Bhilai Nagar, District Durg. Learned single Judge of the High Court, vide order dated 27.09.2012 dismissed the petition filed by the appellants herein.

(h) Aggrieved by the abovesaid order, the appellants have preferred this appeal by way of special leave before this Court.

(3) Heard Mr. Sushil Kumar, learned senior counsel for the appellants-accused and Mr. Atul Jha, learned counsel for the respondent-State.