On May 30 2020, the Delhi High Court dismissed a petition filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC). Justice Asha Menon partially allowed the Prayer of the Petitioner.
Facts of the Case
On 04.05.2020, the petitioner had informed the District Magistrate on WhatsApp about the complainant. The petitioner knew the complainant Ajay Kumar as Ajay Mathur. Earlier, the distribution centre where the complainant distributed food was shut as a consequence. The next day, the petitioner went to a School for distribution of food. The complainant insulted him for having filed the complaint and a verbal altercation occurred. The complainant allegedly threatened to teach the petitioner a lesson. Later, the petitioner’s well-wishers informed him that the complainant was attempting to implicate him in a false case.
The Mehrauli police registered an FIR against the petitioner on 11.05.2020. The Petitioner stated malafide intentions. He stated that the complainant wanted to take revenge. The police filed the FIR under Sections 323 and 506 of the IPC and under the Sections 3(1)(r) and 3(1)(s) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (Act). Hence, he filed this petition under Section 482 of CrPC. The petition seeks to quash of the FIR filed by the complainant.
Arguments by the Petitioner
The petitioner submitted that he was not at all aware that the complainant belonged to SC community. He stated that public notices described the complainant as ‘Ajay Mathur’ though in the FIR he had given his name as ‘Ajay Kumar’.
He also claimed that no witness has made a statement to the police about the use of caste aspersions. Thus, the counsel stated that this was a fit case for this Court to exercise its inherent powers to quash the FIR. He also prayed for at least the grant of anticipatory bail to the petitioner.
Argument by the Respondent
The Counsel for the complainant submitted that the defence raised by the petitioner is not valid. It is irrelevant that he did not know the caste of the complainant. He stated that the Supreme Court has held in various cases that if only the FIR failed to disclose a prima facie case, then could it be quashed. It was also submitted that since birth, the complainant and the petitioner were living in the same area. Hence, it was impossible to believe that the petitioner was unaware of the caste of the complainant. The police established that the CCTV footage of the incident that had occurred on May 5, 2020, was available. According to the Counsel, the petition was liable to be dismissed. He also claimed that the the applicability of Section 438 CrPC exempts the offences under the Act.
The learned APP for the State assured that the petitioner would be supplied the copy of FIR. He also sought time to place on record the Status Report which he has done on 21.05.2020. He informed that three witnesses have given their statements and police were yet to examine others. The footage provided by the complainant showed the petitioner using some gestures at the complainant. So, there was no prima facie conclusion of the falsity of the complaint. Thus, the counsel for the state prayed for dismissal of the petition.
Observation of the Court
The Supreme Court in State of Haryana & Ors. vs. Bhajan Lal & Ors. (1992) Supp (1) SCC 335, cautioned the High Courts while exercising their inherent powers to use them sparingly. The High Court is to use this power either to prevent abuse of process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.
The Court listed seven situations where the High Court could exercise its inherent powers. The Court held that a prima facie view suffices for the Court to exercise this power. The petitioner attempted to fit the case in category (7). The category stated where a criminal proceeding is malafide. Herein, the petitioner instituted the proceedings with an ulterior motive of vengeance on the accused. The Court observed that the CCTV footage showing the petitioner gesticulating was not enough for the prosecution to establish that he threw caste aspersions.
The Court noted that the Status Report also refers to the presence of several others at the time of the incident. It stated that without a complete investigation, it may not be possible for the Court to come to any conclusion that the FIR was indeed false. Additionally, it also noted that the defence of the petitioner was that he is not aware of the caste of the complainant. It pointed out the view taken by the Supreme Court where if the complainant made no prima facie case under the Act, or it appears that the complaint is malicious, pre- arrest bail can be granted under Section 482 CrPC. The Court held, there is no dispute between the parties. Both the petitioner and the complainant are party workers engaged in executing the welfare measures of the GNCTD. Thus, this is not a case of power imbalance.
Since the police had not completed investigations for various facts, this Court was not inclined to quash the FIR. The Court opined that considering the possibility of embellishments in the FIR, the seriousness of the allegations cannot be discounted. The Court deemed it appropriate, in the interest of justice, to grant anticipatory bail to the petitioner, as the police lodged the FIR almost a week after the incident.
Hence, the Court dismissed the petition while rejecting the prayer to quash the FIR.
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