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
"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.