Inherent Powers of High court
The inherent power of the High Court can be exercised for three purposes as mentioned in the section. Its application is not only confined to correct the errors of law but it may also be used to prevent the abuse of the process of the Code or to serve, the ends of justice. The section empowers a High Court to interpret its own judgment.
The power of the High Court to be exercised under this section is in its nature extraordinary and ought not to be exercised capriciously or arbitrarily. It should be rather exercised judiciously in order to do real and substantial justice for the administration of which alone, the Courts exist. The High Courts, while exercising inherent power under this section must ensure that their decision is based on sound principles of criminal jurisprudence?
The inherent power of the High Court cannot be invoked to override an express provision of law or when there is already a remedy available under the Code.
The Supreme Court in Madhu Limaye v. State of Maharashtra has laid down the guiding principles for the exercise of inherent power by the High Court under Section 482(1) of the Code. They are as follows:—
1. So long as there is a specific provision in the Code for redressal of the grievance of the aggrieved party, the High Court should not resort to inherent power;
2. The inherent powers should be used in exceptional cases to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or to serve the ends of justice;
3. It should not be exercised where any other provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure expressly bars its exercise.
4. The inherent power is not to be exercised when there is another remedy available such as, civil proceeding or revision, or review by the Supreme Court under Article 137 of the Constitution, or original criminal jurisdiction.
Reiterating the need for exercise of inherent power by the High Court sparingly, carefully and cautiously, the Supreme Court in Pepsi Foods Ltd. v. Special Judicial Magistrate, observed:
“The power conferred on the High Court under Section 482 of the Code has no limit but more the power more the cases hence caution is to be exercised while invoking the power”.
The Supreme Court in CBI v. Ravi Shankar Srivastava, laid down certain categories of cases when the Court may prevent abuse of powers of Court by exercising its inherent powers. These illustrative cases are as follows:
(1) Where allegations made in F.I.R. or the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirely do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused.
(2) Where the allegations in the F.I.R. and other materials, if any, accompanying the F.I.R. do not disclose a cognizance offence justifying an investigation by police under Section 156 (1) of Cr. P.C. except under an order of a Magistrate within the purview of Section 155 (2) of the Code.
(3) Where the allegation, made in the F.I.R. or complaint and the evidence collected in support of the same do not disclose commission of any offence or make out a case against the accused.
(4) Where the allegations made in F.I.R. do not constitute a cognizable offence but constitute only a non-cognizable offence, no investigation is permitted by police officer without an order of a Magistrate as contained under Section 155 (2) of the Code.
(5) Where the allegations made in F.I.R. or complaint are so absurd and inherently improbable that no prudent person can ever reach a just conclusion that there sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.
(6) Where there is an express legal bar in any provision of the Code for the institution and continuance of the proceedings.
(7) Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with an ulterior motive or wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private or personal grudge.
The above categories of cases are only illustrative and not exhaustive.
In R.P. Kapur v. State of Punjab, the Apex Court held that the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court can be exercised to quash criminal proceedings in a subordinate Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.
In Dhirendra Kumar Banerjee v. State of Bihar, the Court found that the petition against the complaint for offence of cheating and alleged act of taking money and other activities were done for the benefit of co-operative society and not for personal benefit.
The allegations showed that the case was of a civil nature and there was no intent of cheating. Therefore, the Court quashed the order of taking cognizance as no prima facie case under Sections 420/468 and 120-B was made out.
The High Court of Andhra Pradesh in Vishal Paper Tech. India Ltd. v. State of A.P. held that where a purchaser who takes bank guarantee from vendor for due performance of the contract, makes full, payment for goods as per terms of the agreement to vendor and invokes bank guarantee also, prima facie intention to cheat on the part of purchaser could be drawn.
Therefore, criminal proceedings against him cannot be quashed merely because the complainant had failed to specifically allege in the complaint that there was intention to cheat on the part of accused even at the time of entering into the contract.
It has been decided once for all that the petition invoking inherent powers is not maintainable when earlier revision petition filed under Section 397 Cr PC was dismissed as not pressed. The Supreme Court has ruled that merely, because earlier application under Section 397 has been dismissed as not pressed, it could not be said that accused has acquired a right to challenge the order adding the offence under Section 395 IPC because the object of criminal trial was to render public justice and to ensure punishment to the offender keeping in view that the trial was concluded expeditiously. Delaying tactics or protracting the commencement or conclusion of the criminal trial needed to be curbed effectively in the interest of public justice.
The Supreme Court has observed in the case of B.S. Joshi v. State of Haryana that the High Court in exercise of its inherent powers can quash criminal proceedings or FIR or complaint and Section 320 of CrPC does not limit or affect the powers under Section 482 of the Code.
This case involved a matrimonial dispute leading to criminal complaints under Section 498-A IPC. The Court held that “undoubtedly, Section 498-A was added to IPC with a view to punishing a husband and his relatives who harass or torture the wife to coerce her or her relatives to satisfy unlawful demands of dowry, but encouraging matrimonial litigation in the form of criminal proceedings may be counterproductive and would act against the interests of women and defeat the purpose of enabling the young couple to settle down in life and live peacefully. Therefore, there is every likelihood that non-exercise of inherent power to quash the proceedings to meet the ends of justice would prevent women from settling down in life.”
The case of Harischandra Prasad Mani and others v. State of Jharkhand involved the question of quashing of order taking cognizance of an offence of murder which the High Court had refused to set aside in exercise of its inherent power under Section 482, Cr. P.C. The allegation against the accused wife was that she was having illicit relations with co-accused and hence killed her husband by poisoning him.
The death certificate in respect of deceased issued by Medical Officer stated that he died of cardio-respiratory arrest and no material showing that any poison was administered to was found. After investigation, the police submitted a final report that there was no material indicating guilt of the accused and this report was accepted by the Magistrate on 20th December, 2002 and no criminal revision or petition under Section 482, Cr. P.C. was filed against this order of the Magistrate.
However, subsequently on an application filed by the father of the deceased to the CJM on 14th May, 2003, the CJM recorded the statement of the applicant and his witnesses and thereafter passed the impugned order on 12 April, 2005 taking cognizance of the offence of murder and issued summons to the accused appellants.
Against this order of CJM taking cognizance of offence a petition was filed under Section 482, Cr. P.C. which was dismissed by the High Court, hence the petitioner moved in appeal to the Supreme Court.
Allowing the appeal the Apex Court held that an order taking cognizance merely on the basis of suspicion is liable to be quashed. The allegation that the accused Monika Mani (wife of the deceased) was having an affair with the co- accused by itself cannot be basis of conviction.
So also the fact that the in-laws of the deceased did not take part in his cremation is also not a sufficient evidence to show her guilt. There being no material on the basis of which cognizance was taken, the order of the High Court was liable to be quashed and as such appeal was allowed.
The Supreme Court in Mohd. Shamim v. Nahid Begum, exercising its inherent power under Section 482, Cr.P.C., quashed the F.I.R. filed by divorced Muslim wife as the continuance of criminal proceedings would have amounted to abuse of process of Court since the matter had already been compromised.
In the instant case, the divorced Muslim wife filed complaint against her husband and in-laws under Section 406/498-A of I.P.C. The matter was compromised and the wife had agreed to accept Rs. 2,75,000/- towards ‘Mehar’ amount as present and future maintenance. Settlement was reached with the intervention of a Judicial Officer.
The wife pleaded that she was not aware of the contents thereof and affidavit were got signed by misrepresentation of facts. Rejecting her plea, the Apex Court held that ex-facie, the settlement appeared to be genuine hence Courts’ intervention was not warrant.
Answering the question of permissibility of exercise of inherent power under Section 482 for quashing of complaint for inordinate delay in proceedings in the affirmative, the High Court of Punjab and Haryana held that where the complaint filed for the offence under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act was pending for last seventeen years and at no point of time the petitioner (accused) had remained absent from the proceedings, it was obvious that the accused had been facing agony of criminal proceedings for years and therefore, exercise of the inherent power to quash the complaint was necessary in the interest of justice.
There is no limitation period prescribed for application under Section 482 but it has to be within a reasonable time. Thus where in case of an offence under Sections 409/46/120B of IPC against the employees of a Co-operative Bank, the sanction of the Department could not be filed even after a lapse of twenty years long period, the High Court exercising its inherent power under Section 482 quashed all pending proceedings against the accused.
In Hari Krishna Budhia v. State of Jharkhand, the accused had entered into an agreement with the complainant to transport raw material of goods to his factory. Thereafter, accused had been avoiding to pay the balance transport charges on one or the other false pretext for last seven years. The complaint did not make out a case under Sections 406/420, I.P.C. Under these circumstances, the order taking cognizance of the case was set aside as it was lodged after seven years and, therefore, was hopelessly time- barred.
The Supreme Court in Inder Mohan Goswami and another v. State of Uttarakhand held that the Court should restrain from exercising its inherent powers when facts of the case are incomplete and hazy and no evidence is produced before the Court. This case involved dispute about cancellation of agreement to sell property which was rather a dispute of civil nature and, therefore, institution of criminal, proceedings under Sections 420, 120-B, 467 IPC against the vendor was an abuse of process of Court.
The Apex Court noted that inherent powers under Section 482, Cr. P.C. exist for advancement of justice and not suppression of injustice and as such, the Court exercising these powers must ensure that criminal prosecution is not used as an instrument of harassment or for seeking private vendetta or with an ulterior motive of pressurizing the accused. The refusal to quash criminal proceedings against the accused in exercise of inherent powers by the High Court in the instant was, therefore, improper and hence appeal was allowed.
In Thelapalli Raghvaiah v. Station House Officer, also the Apex Court had ruled that if the dispute is of a civil nature quashing of complaint was proper. In this case the complainant was given work of excavation of gravel and delivering it at work site of accused. Dispute was about quantity of gravel supplied to the accused. Complainant alleged cheating and criminal conspiracy by accused. The Apex Court held that the dispute between parties being of a purely civil nature as it related to measurement of gravels, hence quashing of complaint by the High Court exercising its inherent power under Section 482, Cr. P.C. was proper.
Though right to speedy trial is implicit in Article 21 of the Constitution, no time limit for trial can be prescribed under the Code. The reason being that if the provisions of the Code are followed in their letter and spirit there would be no occasion for delayed trial. The law does not expect that the demand should come from the accused because the Courts to ensure that criminal proceedings are not unnecessarily delayed for one reason or another.
The inherent powers can be invoked and exercised only when the facts alleged in a complaint are accepted to be correct at their face value, do not make out an offence with which the accused has been charged.
Thus where the complainant had alleged that he had entrusted Rs. 50,000/- to the respondent who was Vice President of a political party on her assurance to give him a party ticket but the said purpose was not found to have been mentioned in receipt relied upon.
The respondent’s contention was that the complainant being District President of the party had deposited the said amount in party’s account to meet the election expenses. The Allahabad High Court held that no offence under Section 406 had been made out and hence the order taking cognizance of the offence of criminal breach of trust under Section 406 IPC was liable to be quashed by the High- Court in exercise of its inherent powers.
In Jasmin B. Shah v. State of Jharkhand the High Court of Jharkhand refused to invoke its inherent power for quashing of proceedings under Section 406/420 (for criminal breach of trust and cheating). In this case, a cheque issued by one company to another company was dishonoured.
The accused company admitted that it had issued cheques to the complainant company in spite of the knowledge of insufficient funds in its account. As the investigation into the offence was not complete and even the charge-sheet was also not submitted, the High Court dismissed the prayer for quashing of proceedings against the accused company invoking its inherent power.
In Raghu Laxminarayan v. M/s. Fine Tubes, the complaint filed before, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi (Registered as complaint case No. 379/2003) alleged the three accused persons of having committed an offence under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act i.e., dishonour of cheque for Rs. two lacs issued by them on 15th August, 2002.
The Magistrate issued summons on the accused persons one of the accused No. 3 (appellant) filed an application before the High Court under Section 482, Cr. P.C. for quashing the summons issued against him contending that he was only an employee of the business concern (accused party in this case) and therefore was not personally liable applying the principle of vicarious liability.
However, the High Court dismissed the petition on the ground that there were specific averments made in the complaint against the accused (appellant) who was handling day-to-day affairs of the business concern (i.e., accused No. 1) and therefore the contention of petitioners related to disputed questions of fact which could be handled and decided only by the trial Court. In appeal against this dismissal of petition the appellant (accused No. 3) moved in appeal before the Supreme Court.
Allowing the appeal, the Apex Court set aside the judgment of the High Court holding that the complaint case against the appellant deserved to be quashed and the High Court should have exercised its jurisdiction under Section 482, Cr. P.C. as the appellant had made out a case in his defence.
It must be stated that analogous provisions relating to inherent powers of the High Court as contained in Section 482 of the Code of Criminal, 1974, are contained in Section 561-A of the J & K Cr. P.C. (Act 23 of 1989 Smvt). The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir in Pritam Singh v. Tawi Education Trust held that where on complaint of cheque dishonour, prima facie case was made out from allegations and the statement of witnesses and other documents on record, the High Court would not interfere in exercise of its inherent powers at initial stage of issue of processes.
Where there was allegation of non-payment for construction work done under an agreement. The plea of the accused was that part payment was already made and balance was withheld due to substandard work and letter to that effect was already given to the complainant.
The High Court held that the controversy between the parties appeared to be of a civil nature since there was total absence of criminal dishonest intention to dupe the contractor’s right from the inception of the agreement hence no offence under Section 406/420 IPC was prima facie made out. Therefore, order stating taking cognizance of the offence was illegal and deserved to be quashed.
The Supreme Court in CBI v. Ravishankar Shrivastava, has stated certain exemplary circumstances wherein the High Court could prevent miscarriage of justice by making use its inherent powers under Section 482, Cr. P. C. These circumstances are as follows—
(1) Where it appears to the Court that no offence is made out against the charges alleged in the FIR and the accused prima-facie appears to be innocent.
(2) Where the police report and the material sent therewith does not show the occurrence of a cognizable offence on the basis of which the Magistrate may order further investigation by the police under Section 156 (1), Cr P. C.
(3) Where on the basis of FIR no cognizable offence is made out but a non- cognizable offence seems to have been committed which the police officer cannot investigate until the Magistrate orders him to do so under Section 155 (2), Cr. P. C.
(4) Where the allegations and charges in FIR appear to be baseless and without any substance and no sensible person would hold that criminal proceedings be initiated against the accused for the alleged charges.
(5) If the case is of such a nature for which more effective remedy is available under any other law or Act or the criminal proceedings against such case is prohibited by any provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
(6) Where it appears that FIR against the accused is lodged by the complainant maliciously or to avenge enmity.
It is not necessary for the High Court invoking its inherent powers under Section 482 of Cr. P. C. to investigate whether the evidence available against the accused is sufficient and trustworthy because this has to be ascertained by the trial Court. However, the Court must make sure that invoking of inherent powers by it does not confer any undue advantage to the accused.
Where a criminal appeal has been disposed of on merits by a Judge or a Bench of the High Court having jurisdiction to do so and there is no violation of the principles of natural justice, the High Court will not interfere with such judgment under Section 482 as there is no inherent power in the High Court to review or reconsider its previous judgment in a criminal matter unless it was pronounced without jurisdiction or was violative of the principles of natural justice or involved abuse of the process of Court.
The High Court has the inherent power to cancel bail granted to a person accused of a bailable offence, who by his subsequent conduct forfeits his right to be released on bail.
But bail cannot be granted by the High Court in exercise of its inherent power. So also, the petition invoking inherent power for getting the benefit of release under Section 4 of the Probation of Offenders’ Act, 1958 for the accused, when all petitions against conviction had been dismissed, was held to be not maintainable.
Where the Executive Magistrate did not accept the bail-bonds furnished by the applicant despite clear directions from the Sessions Judge and the person had to remain in jail, the High Court held the Magistrate personally liable for the costs incurred by the applicant in approaching the High Court and ordered it to be recovered from the salary of the Executive Magistrate.
In Chaitanya Behra v. State of Orissa, the offence in question was triable by Court of Session. The names of appellants did not appear in the charge-sheet but the Magistrate had issued process against them. In petition against this, the High Court had directed the Magistrate to reconsider the case of appellants keeping in view the Supreme Court’s ruling in Kishori Singh v. State of Bihar, but the Magistrate without properly going through the said decision, had wrongly held that it was not applicable in the case. He also contended that he could not review his own order.
The High Court of Orissa held that the Magistrate should not have defied the directions of the High Court. Hence, Magistrate’s order taking cognizance of the case was quashed by the High Court in exercise of its inherent powers under Section 482 of Cr. P.C.
It has been pointed out by the Supreme Court that the High Court is not to take recourse to its inherent powers whenever it is unable to exercise its revisional powers in cases of interlocutory orders. However, situations mayarise where failure to exercise the inherent powers in case of interlocutory orders may cause great hardship and result in injustice.
Therefore, policy of the law is interlocutory orders, pure and simple, should not be taken up to High Court for the exercise of its inherent powers under Section 482 as it results in unnecessary litigation and delay. But it may interfere in exceptional and extraordinary cases where the interlocutory order is causing harassment or illegal prosecution of a person.
As stated earlier, there is no limitation prescribed for any relief sought under Section 482 Cr.PC. The reason being that inherent powers are conferred on the High Court to prevent abuse of process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice. Merely because the revision petition was filed at the belated stage, it cannot provide legality to an order which it patently illegal or suffers from the abuse of process of any Court. The underlying object of provisions of Section 482 is to secure the ends of justice.
The High Court of Allahabad in exercise of inherent power under Section 482, Cr. P.C. quashed the charge-sheet against the accused petitioners because the criminal proceedings, if allowed, would have amounted to abuse of process of Court. In this case i.e. Sanjeev Nath Bhaskar v. State of U.P. the accused was a holder of mining lease and he was alleged to have cut 2000 trees and thereby committed offence under Sections 52 and;53 of Mines Act, 1952 and under Section 26 of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 as also Section 379, I.P.C.
The High Court found the sections of Mines Act referred to related to “Annual Leave with Wage” and “Wages during Leave Period” and therefore totally irrelevant with the offence alleged. That apart, the land in question was not within the notified forest area and, therefore, the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 was not applicable in the case.
The allegations of theft under Section 379, I.P.C. were based on oral calculation, which stood completely belied on face of documents of prosecution itself. Therefore, no case was made out against the petitioner (accused) and hence charge- sheet was liable to be quashed to prevent abuse of process of Court.
The case of Inder Mohan Goswami & others v. State of Uttaranchal & another was basically related to breach of contract in relation to sale of property which was essentially of civil nature. But the vendor instituted criminal proceedings against the accused under Sections 415/420/120-B/467, IPC with a view to harassing him and got a non-bailable warrant issued against him.
The appellant moved the High Court under Section 482, Cr. P. C. praying for criminal proceedings against him to be dropped as they were maliciously initiated but the High Court refused to interfere. On appeal the Supreme Court held that it is true that the High Courts must exercise their inherent power under Section 482 sparingly under inevitable circumstances but it should not allow injustice to prevail.
In the instant case the issue of a non-bailable warrant had deprived him of his right to freedom and liberty and that too, for a case which primarily of a civil nature. Therefore, it was not proper for the High Court to refuse to terminate criminal proceedings against the appellant.
Even otherwise, it could not be said to be a case of cheating as there was no element of dishonesty when the parties entered into the contract of sale and purchase, Mere inability of the appellant to comply with the conditions of the contract does not constitute an offence of cheating.
The Supreme Court in S.M. Sheshagiri v. State of Andhra Pradesh, observed that the High Court should be extremely cautious and slow to interfere with the investigation and/or trial of criminal cases and should not stall the investigation and/or prosecution by exercising its inherent power under Section 482, Cr. P.C. except when it is convinced beyond doubt that the F.I.R. does not disclose commission of any offence or that allegations contained in F.I.R. do not constitute any cognizable offence or that the prosecution is barred by law or the High Court is convinced that it is necessary to interfere to prevent abuse of process of the Court. In dealing with such cases, the High Court should bear in mind that judicial intervention at the threshold of the legal process initiated against a person accused of committing offence is highly detrimental to the largers public and social interest.
However, if the High Court is satisfied that the complaint does not disclose commission of any offence or the proceedings of criminal case would result in failure of justice, then it may exercise inherent power under Section 482, Cr. P.C.
In the instant case the respondent wife lived with her husband (appellant) for less than one and a half months (8 days in India and 30 days in Foreign Country) after their marriage. The proceedings under Sections 498-A and 406, I.P.C. and Sections 4 and 6 of Dowry Prohibition Act were initiated by the wife against the husband (appellant) and his parents in 2000.
The High Court quashed the said proceedings against the parents of the appellant on the ground that the Magistrate could not have taken cognizance after 3 years. The wife did not challenge this order and hence it was deemed to have become final.
Under these circumstances, there would be no justification for continuation of the said proceedings as it would amount to harassment to the appellant and the respondent who are settled in USA as they would be required to come to India for giving evidence in relation to an offence allegedly committed in 1998-99. As continuation of proceedings against husband would amount to abuse of process of Court hence proceedings set aside.
The inherent power conferred on High Court under Section 482 empowers the Court to expunge the observations or remarks made by it or by subordinate lower Court in respect of conduct of a person or official if it thinks it necessary to do so to prevent abuse of the process of the Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.
Before expunging the derogatory remarks against a person or an official, the High Court must take into consideration whether the person concerned was given an adequate opportunity of explaining his conduct and whether such disparaging remarks were uncalled for.
Thus where the Magistrate passed derogatory remarks condemning the conduct of a person whose name was merely referred to by the witnesses and no opportunity of being heard was given to him, the High Court ordered expunction of the remarks exercising its inherent powers under Section 482 of the Code.
In “R” Judicial Officer, District & Sessions Judge, Bangalore v. Registrar General, High Court of Karnataka, adverse observations were made by the High Court against the petitioner. Judicial Officer, for his act of not clubbing cases, both filed against the same judgment of conviction and not disposing of both appeals at the same time.
Scrutiny of record did not show any negligence on the part of the petitioner, much less dereliction of duty or judicial impropriety. The Court held that as the observations made against the petitioner in ignorance of facts had far reaching consequences affecting his career, therefore, adverse remarks passed against him are liable to be expunged.
Where the appellant Police Officer had allegedly violated certain provisions while discharging his duties, strictures passed against him without affording him opportunity of being heard were liable to be expunged being in violation of the principles of natural justice.
Where adverse and harsh remarks were made by a Sessions Judge in a murder case judgment against the Investigating Officer, the High Court of Andhra Pradesh expunged those remarks under Section 482 holding them wholly unwarranted.
In State of Rajasthan v. Netrapal, the High Court used strong language against prosecution witnesses identifying dacoits as there was non-availability of light. The Court in such cases may be on its guard and consider evidence carefully. But remarks made that statements of prosecution witnesses were completely false and incorrect, were uncalled for and needed to be expunged.
The Supreme Court has held in a number of cases that judicial pronouncement must be judicial in nature and should not normally depart from “sobriety, moderation and reserve.”
In Kripal Singh Pratap Singh Ori v. Balvinder and Hardeep Singh Lobara, the High Court of Gujarat held that where the petitioner successfully convinced the Court that there exist special circumstances in the case for invoking inherent powers of the Court under Section 482, Cr. P. C. the Court should not reject the petition merely on the technical ground that the first petition of the petitioners had already been dismissed by the Court after due consideration. Instead it should dispose of the second petition after taking into consideration the special circumstances stated by the petitioner in that petition. The Court observed that if the High Court adopts a pragmatic approach, the number of such petitions being taken before the Supreme Court in appeal would be considerably reduced.
The Supreme Court in Sanparaeddy Mahidhar Sheshgiri & another v. State of Andhra Pradesh, observed that the High Courts should be cautious while using inherent power under Section 482, Cr. P. C. and they should refrain from terminating or withholding, the criminal proceedings only when they are satisfied that no prima-facie case is made out on the basis of FIR or police report and charges alleged in the report do not constitute a cognizable offence or the complaint is barred by limitation.
Where it appears to the Court that an offence has been committed by the accused according to FIR or investigation report, the Court should not interfere and it should allow to investigation authorities to proceed with the investigation. It is not expected from the High Court that it should decide the case on merits merely because an objection against the FIR or complaint, as the case may be, has been filed by the accused as it may lead to mis-carriage of justice.
In the instant case the appellant (husband) and the respondent (wife) were married in 1998. After the marriage they live together only for 38 days (including 8 days in India and 30 days in USA). The wife filed a complaint against the husband alleging dowry demand and cruelty under Sections 498-A, 406 and Sections 4 and 6 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. The father and mother of the husband were also impleaded as co-accused.
The husband (appellant) filed a petition in the High Court praying the Court to invoke its inherent powers to prevent injustice to him and his parents at the instance of the respondent (wife) and alleged that it was blatant misuse of judicial process by her.
The Court found no evidence to substantiate, the charges against the appellants and came to the conclusion that the complaint was filed only to harass her husband and in-laws. The court therefore, quashed the proceedings and allowed to appeal. The Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the High Court.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the subordinate Courts do have inherent powers.
The inherent power under Section 482 does not empower a High Court to quash or set aside any criminal proceedings pending before a subordinate Criminal Court in order to prevent abuse of the process of the Court, but it may do so in exercise of its plenary and residuary power under Article 136 of the Constitution of India.
The High Court of Rajasthan declined to quash the FIR on ground of territorial jurisdiction under Section 482 where there was allegation of offence of cruelty to woman by her husband under Section 498-A IPC. The FIR had been lodged and investigation was under progress. The High Court held that such FIR could not be quashed on the ground that no offence had been committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the concerned police station.
Where petitioner, Secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a Hindu organisation was prevented from participating in public meeting on the ground that his firy-speech would result in inciting communal feelings which would vitiate harmonious social atmosphere of the place, the High Court quashed the order of Magistrate which debarred the petitioner from entering into a particular village to participate in a public meeting on the ground that no untoward incident had taken place earlier where the petitioner had delivered public speeches, hence the allegation of likely communal violence was unfounded and should not have been viewed seriously.
The High Court cannot exercise its inherent powers under Section 482 where prima facie offence has been made out on the basis of allegations made in the FIR or complaint without going into the merits or otherwise of those allegations.
It has been further held that the questions of disputed facts are matters of evidence at the trial and cannot be looked into in a petition under Section 482. Thus, where there was specific allegation regarding entrustment of gold ornaments and misappropriation and breach of trust committed by the petitioners in respect of money, gold ornaments and other articles, the Court refused to quash the proceedings under its inherent power and held that the question whether the allegations will end in conviction, was a matter to be decided by the trial Court after evaluation of evidence.
In a case, the Sessions Judge refused to release two printing and cutting machines which were seized for an offence under the Copy Right Act. The order of the Sessions Judge was a speaking order and the machines seized were “case property” and hence could be confiscated if the case was proved. As no special circumstances were shown to justify invoking of powers under Section 482, the High Court of Delhi declined to set aside the order of the Sessions Judge.
Commenting on the scope of inherent power of High Court under Section 482, the High Court of Andhra Pradesh held that the Court should not look into the genuineness of document which was not filed before the trial Court. The High Court has to relegate such matters to trial Court for decision. Therefore, issue relating to jurisdiction of Market Committee to lodge criminal complaint in view of Government Notification was relegated to trial Court for decision.
In Meena Kumari v. State of Bihar, the Magistrate took cognizance of the offence without the charge sheet having been filed by the police though the police had found no evidence against the accused. Also, there was no indication that the Magistrate was dissatisfied with investigation report of the investigation officer, which made him to issue summons against the accused.
Therefore, it was evident that the summons was issued without proper procedure having been followed by the Magistrate. The processes were, however, withdrawn subsequently on the ground that it was a clerical mistake and the name of the accused was deleted. On appeal against this action of the Magistrate, the Court held that the Magistrate had no jurisdiction to review his own order as per Section 362 of Cr. P. C.
The Apex Court held that in the instant case the High Court ought to have quashed the entire proceedings of the Magistrate using its inherent power under Section 482 of Cr. P. C. which the High Court failed to do. Therefore, appeal was allowed.
In the case of C. Ramoji Rao, President Ramoji Group of Companies v. State of Andhra Pradesh,11 the complainants filed a complaint against the T. V. channel alleging that the channel has telecasted TV commentary which was defamatory for the State Chief Minister, his ministerial colleagues and public officials of the State. The TV channel responded that it had no intention to defame anyone.
The High Court ordered the TV channel to telecast a news within a week stating that the alleged comments were not intended to injure the reputation or feelings of anyone and if has so happened, it sincerely apologizes for the same. The petitioner complied with the Court order and telecasted the news and apology and the complainants agreed to withdraw the complaint. The Apex Court appreciated the decision of High Court and held that the inherent power had been properly used by the High Court to terminate the criminal proceedings.
The High Court has inherent power under Section 482 to dismiss an appeal or revision or any other criminal proceeding for default or non-appearance, so also, it has inherent power to restore any matter dismissed for default or non- appearance on sufficient reason being shown. These powers are inherent only in the High Court and the subordinate Courts do not have such power under Section 482 of the Code.
Where allegation of an offence was alleged in a complaint ingredients of which prima facie existed, it was held that the prosecution could not be withdrawn as the animus (intention) of the complainant or the mala fide of the informant could not be the basis for quashing the proceeding in exercise of inherent power of the High Court under Section 482.
The Supreme Court in its judgment in Shiva Nath Prasad v. State of West Bengal, reiterated that quashing of complaint was not allowed in exercise of inherent power by the Court. In the instant case a complaint was filed against appellant accused persons for offences under Sections 406, 420, 467, 417, 204 read with Section 120-B of I.P.C.
There was oral agreement between the couple regarding disposal of property to charity after their demise. It was alleged in the complaint that appellants pursuant to criminal conspiracy dishonestly misappropriated the charitable estate by procuring will of the lady and thereby converted said estate to their own use.
The complaint was based on mutual and oral agreements imposing secret trust obligations as evinced by trust deeds. The question as to whether there existed a valid or that survivor lex testatrix was entitled to the trust even during her life-time are defences which could be taken at. the stage of evidence.
The complaint could not be dismissed at initial stage merely on the ground of alleged mala fides of the complainant. Therefore, the refusal to quash the complaint by High Court was proper and there was no reason to interfere in its order.
In Baldeo P. Ganeriwal v. Slate of Gujarat application for proceedings against the company and its directors for criminal breach of trust and mis-appropriation of property was made to the High Court on the ground that some of the Directors had retired and some of them were not even holding the post of Director during the relevant time. The High Court dismissed the application as pre-matured holding that it was a matter of investigation.
Where there was evasion of income tax and penalty was imposed on the appellants (accused) under Section 276-C and 277 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, but a fresh order of assessment was passed by the Income Tax department, the penalty could not survive. Hence exercising its inherent power, the High Court allowed the quashing of proceedings.
In the case of Rajesh Kumar Sah v. State a complaint was lodged by the petitioner against the accused for house trespass and theft of his properties. After investigation, the Investigation Officer (I.O.) had submitted his final report of the false accusations.
But dispute that, notice was sent to the petitioner informing him about the submission of final report. Also subsequent petition filed by him were not registered. Instead, the petitioner complainant himself was prosecuted under Section 182/211, I.P.C. for setting law in motion falsely.
The High Court held that in view of the circumstances of the case the order taking cognizance against the petitioner (complainant) was not sustainable in law and, therefore, it was liable to be quashed.
Where firing by accused was aimed at other persons but accidentally deceased was hit and killed. Quashing of charges by High Court only on ground that accused neither intended to kill the deceased nor was she aimed at, was improper and deserved to be set aside.
The reason being that the High Court had completely ignored the provisions of Section 301, I.P.C. which state that absence of intention to cause death of deceased makes no difference since accused had the intention to cause death of other persons and in that attempt deceased was hit. The Supreme Court, therefore, directed the trial Court to proceed against the accused after framing appropriate charges against him.
In case of dismissal of petition for default, the court may order restoration of hearing in exercise of its inherent power under Section 482 of Cr. P.C. It may then insist on advocate to argue matter on merits as restoration was for hearing and not for adjournment.
In Manjula Sinha v. State of U.P., emphasizing the need for restraints on exercise of inherent power by the High Courts under Section 482, Cr. P.C., the Supreme Court held that, “the inherent power should not be used to stifle a legitimate prosecution. The High Court being the highest Court of State should normally refrain from giving a prima facie decision in a case, where the entire facts are incomplete and hazy, more so when the evidence has not been collected and produced before the Court and the issues involved, whether factual or legal, are magnitude and cannot be seen in their true perspective without sufficient material.”
Rejecting a prayer for quashing the F.I.R. in a case involving offence under Sections 406 and 498-A, the Supreme Court reiterated the need for exercising restraints on the use of inherent power in the instant case.
Order taking cognizance of an offence merely on basis of suspicion quashed under Section 482, Cr. P. C.
In Harishchandra Prasad Mani v. State of Jharkhand, the Supreme Court held that in a murder case, cognizance could not be taken unless there was at least some material indicating guilt of the accused. In the instant case the allegations that accused wife was having illicit relations with the co-accused and they killed her husband by poisoning.
The death certificate issued by the Medical Officer stated that cause of death was cardio respiratory arrest. No material was shown that any poison was administered. The fact that in-laws of the accused did not take part in his cremation was not a sufficient evidence to establish the guilt of the accused. The Supreme Court therefore, held that an order taking cognizance merely on the basis of suspicion was liable to be quashed.