Quashing of criminal complaint should be an exception and a rarity than an ordinary rule
Skoda Auto Volkswagen India Pvt Ltd Vs The State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors
SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO.4931 OF 2020
About/from the judgment:
Quashing of a complaint should rather be an exception and a rarity than an ordinary rule, the Supreme Court observed while refusing to quash an FIR registered against Skoda-Volkswagen over alleged cheat emissions devices installed in vehicles.
The CJI SA Bobde led bench observed that, if a perusal of the first information report leads to disclosure of an offence even broadly, law courts are barred from usurping the jurisdiction of the police. The two organs of the State operate in two specific spheres of activities and one ought not to tread over the other sphere, the bench said.
The bench, also comprising of Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian said that, it is only in cases where no cognizable offence or offence of any kind is disclosed in the first information report that the Court will not permit an investigation to go on.
In the appeal filed against Allahabad High Court order which refused to quash the complaint filed against it, the international car manufacturer company contended that (i) That the Police cannot investigate an issue, the substratum of which is sub judice before this Court in the civil appeals arising out of the order of the NGT; and (ii) That the High Court failed to take note of the long delay on the part of the 3rd Respondent in lodging the complaint and also the fact that the VAHAN Portal of the Government shows the purchase of only vehicles as against the claim of the 3rd Respondent to have purchased 7 vehicles.
Regarding the second contention, the bench said that in a petition for quashing the FIR, the Court cannot go into disputed questions of fact. The mere delay on the part of the complainant in lodging the complaint, cannot by itself be a ground to quash the FIR, it said. The court, taking note of the facts of the case in the appeal before it against NGT order, observed that the substratum of the police complaint was not the subject matter of adjudication before it in the appeals arising out of the order of the NGT. While dismissing the SLP, the bench observed:
"It is needless to point out that ever since the decision of the Privy Council in King Emperor vs. Khwaja Nazir Ahmed , the law is well settled that Courts would not thwart any investigation. It is only in cases where no cognizable offence or offence of any kind is disclosed in the first information report that the Court will not permit an investigation to go on. As cautioned by this Court in State of Haryana vs. Bhajan Lal, the power of quashing should be exercised very sparingly and with circumspection and that too in the rarest of rare cases. While examining a complaint, the quashing of which is sought, the Court cannot embark upon an enquiry as to the reliability or genuineness or otherwise of the allegations made in the FIR or in the complaint. In S.M. Datta vs. State of Gujarat , this Court again cautioned that criminal proceedings ought not to be scuttled at the initial stage. Quashing of a complaint should rather be an exception and a rarity than an ordinary rule. In S.M. Datta (supra), this Court held that if a perusal of the first information report leads to disclosure of an offence even broadly, law courts are barred from usurping the jurisdiction of the police, since the two organs of the State operate in two specific spheres of activities and one ought not to tread over the other sphere."
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