Criminal Prosecution not Instrument of Harassment

The court must ensure that criminal prosecution is not used as an instrument of harassment or for seeking private vendetta or with an ulterior motive to pressurise the accused. It is neither possible nor desirable to lay down an inflexible rule that would govern the exercise of inherent jurisdiction.

Inherent jurisdiction of the High Courts under Section 482 CrPC though wide has to be exercised sparingly, carefully and with caution and only when it is justified by the tests specifically laid down in the statute itself.

See Also : Inder Mohan Goswami v. State of Uttaranchal, (2007) 12 SCC 1

Case Laws on Criminal Prosecution

1. Mathavrao Jiwajirao Scindia v. Sambhajirao Chandrojirao Angre, (1988) 1 SCC 692

A three-Judge Bench of Apex Court has laid down the law as to quashment of proceedings under Section 482 CrPC as follows:-

“The legal position is well settled that when a prosecution at the initial stage is asked to be quashed, the test to be applied by the court is as to 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 a prosecution to continue.

This is so on the basis that the court cannot be utilised for any oblique purpose and where in the opinion of the court chances of an ultimate conviction is bleak and, therefore, no useful purpose is likely to be served by allowing a criminal prosecution to continue, the court may while taking into consideration the special facts of a case also quash the proceeding even though it may be at a preliminary stage.”

2. Suresh v. Mahadevappa Shivappa Danannava, (2005) 3 SCC 670

Criminal prosecution was quashed by the Court in respect offence of cheating noticing that the complaint was filed after a lapse of ten years.

3. Inder Mohan Goswami v. State of Uttaranchal, (2007) 12 SCC 1

The courts have consistently taken the view that they must use this extraordinary power to prevent injustice and secure the ends of justice. The English courts have also used inherent power to achieve the same objective. It is generally agreed that the Crown Court has inherent power to protect its process from abuse.

4. Connelly v. DPP (1964 AC 1254)

Lord Devlin stated that where particular criminal proceedings constitute an abuse of process, the court is empowered to refuse to allow the indictment to proceed to trial.

5. DPP v. Humphrys (1977 AC 1)

Lord Salmon stressed the importance of the inherent power when he observed that it is only if the prosecution amounts to an abuse of the process of the court and is oppressive and vexatious that the judge has the power to intervene. He further mentioned that the court’s power to prevent such abuse is of great constitutional importance and should be jealously preserved.

The above discussion on Criminal Prosecution is extracted from the latest judgment of the Supreme Court of India in Robert John D’Souza Vs. Stephen V. Gomes dated July 21, 2015 in which a bench comprised of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C. Pant viewed that in the instant case none of the offences for which the appellants are summoned, is made out from the complaint and material on record.

The Court further finds that it is nothing but abuse of process of law on the part of the complainant to implicate the appellants in a criminal case after a period of twelve years of execution of registered sale deeds in question, who is neither party to the sale deeds nor a member of the Society.

Therefore, the Court allowed the appeal and set aside the orders passed by the High Court and that of the courts below. Accordingly, the order passed by the Magistrate summoning the appellants in the criminal complaint filed by respondent No. 1, in respect of offences punishable under Sections 406, 409 and 420 IPC, also stands quashed.