Criminal cases can`t be quashed casually: SC
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Last Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 00:56
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said the courts cannot quash investigations in criminal offences in a casual manner as it would amount to miscarriage of justices and obstruction to the process of law.

The apex court said the high courts can exercise its extraordinary powers under Section 482 CrPC to quash criminal cases only in exceptional cases and the power cannot be exercised in an arbitrary manner.

"It is true that the inherent powers vested in the high court under Section 482 of the Code are very wide. Nevertheless, inherent powers do not confer arbitrary jurisdiction on the high court to act according to whims or caprice.

"This extra-ordinary power has to be exercised sparingly with circumspection and as far as possible, for extra-ordinary cases, where allegations in the complaint or the first information report, taken on its face value and accepted in their entirety do not constitute the offence alleged," the apex court said.

A bench of justices DK Jain and AR Dave gave the ruling while upholding an appeal by the Orissa Government challenging the state high court's decision to quash the probe initiated by the Vigilance Department of the state government into the allegations of irregularities in the receipt of excess quota, recycling of rice and distress sale of paddy by M/s Haldipada Rice Mill, a proprietary concern of one Ujjal Kumar Burdhan.

The apex court said unless a case of gross abuse of power is made out against those in charge of investigation, the high court "should be loath to interfere at the early / premature stage of investigation."

"We are constrained to hold that in the fact-situation at hand, the impugned decision is clearly indefensible," the bench said, while restoring the investigation.

The apex court said in the present case the SP, Vigilance Cell, had merely initiated an inquiry and even the FIR was yet to be registered.

"It goes without saying that commencement and completion of an investigation is necessary to test the veracity of the alleged commission of an offence. Any kind of hindrance or obstruction to the process of law from taking its normal course, without any supervening circumstances, in a casual manner, merely on the whims and fancy of the court tantamount to miscarriage of justice, which seems to be the case here.

"We, accordingly, allow the appeal, quash and set aside the impugned judgment and restore the investigation initiated against the respondent and direct the Vigilance Cell of the state to proceed with and complete the investigation expeditiously, in accordance with law," Justice Jain writing the judgement said.


First Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 00:56

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