Petition for quashing FIR can be entertained even if chargesheet is filed during its pendency
Anand Kumar Mohatta and Anr vs State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi) Department of Home and Anr
CRIMINAL APPEAL No.1395 OF 2018 [Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 3730 of 2016]
About/from the judgment:
‘It would be a travesty to hold that proceedings initiated against a person can be interfered with at the stage of FIR but not if it has advanced, and the allegations have materialized into a charge sheet.’
The Supreme Court has held that high courts could entertain a petition filed under Section 482 CrPC seeking quashing of FIR, even if the charge sheet is filed during the pendency of that petition.
The bench comprising Justice SA Bobde and Justice L Nageswara Rao was considering an appeal against Delhi High Court judgment that had refused to quash the FIR filed against Anand Kumar Mohatta.
During the pendency of the appeal before the apex court, charge sheet was filed and Mohatta had also filed an application seeking an amendment to the main prayer in the appeal incorporating the prayer to quash charge sheet.
The bench first dealt with the contention of the complainant that the petition for quashing of FIR was untenable since the proceedings have gone past the stage of FIR and have resulted in a charge sheet.
Referring to Section 482 of the CrPC, the bench said: “There is nothing in the words of this Section which restricts the exercise of the power of the Court to prevent the abuse of process of court or miscarriage of justice only to the stage of the FIR. It is settled principle of law that the High court can exercise jurisdiction under Section 482 of Cr.P.C even when the discharge application is pending 2 (2011) 7 SCC 59 7 with the trial court. Indeed, it would be a travesty to hold that proceedings initiated against a person can be interfered with at the stage of FIR but not if it has advanced, and the allegations have materialized into a charge sheet. On the contrary it could be said that the abuse of process caused by FIR stands aggravated if the FIR has taken the form of a charge sheet after investigation. The power is undoubtedly conferred to prevent abuse of process of power of any court.”
The bench also reproduced the observations made in Joseph Salvaraj A. v. State of Gujarat, in this regard.
Examining the complaint and charges against Mohatta, the bench observed that the dispute has the contours of a dispute of civil nature and does not constitute a criminal offence. “We are of the view that assuming that there is a security deposit of Rs. One Crore and that he has misappropriated the dispute between the two parties can only be a civil dispute,” the bench said.
“We find it strange that the complainant has not made any attempt for the recovery of the money of Rs. One Crore except by filing this criminal complaint. This action appears to be mala fide and unsustainable,” the bench said holding that prosecution is mala fide, untenable and solely intended to harass Mohatta. The court then quashed the FIR and the charge sheet.
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