On 29th September 2020, a Single Judge Bench of Hon’ble Justice Ravindra Maithani heard the case of Rajnikant Bajpai v. The State of Uttarakhand And Others.
The Petitioner was seeking the quashing of proceedings, in the case of State v. Ms Manisha Khanna and others, pending in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Dehradun, along with quashing the charge-sheet.
Facts of the Case
The petitioner in this case was an Ex officio [Regional Manager Uttar Pradesh Financial Corporation (UPFC)]. According to the FIR filed by the Respondent, a property was purchased jointly by the respondent with the co-accused Ms Manisha Khanna. Ms Manisha Khanna subsequently established a firm, namely, ‘Rush Foods’, in which the informant was not a partner. The co-accused Ms Manisha Khanna deposited the sale-deed and took a loan from UPFC and in the loan documents, forged signatures of the respondent were made. But the Respondent never mortgaged the property nor was he a partner of the firm, and he never signed any documents.
It was this FIR, in which, after the investigation charge-sheet was submitted against Ms Manisha Khanna and the petitioner under Sections 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 467 (Forgery of valuable security, will, etc), 468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (Using as genuine a forged [document or electronic record]) and 120-B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy) IPC.
Contentions of the Petitioner
The Learned Counsel for the Petitioner raised two issues in his arguments:
UPFC is State as defined under Article 12 of the Constitution of India and every employee of UPFC is a public servant, therefore, sanction under Section 197 (Issuing or signing false certificate) of the IPC was required before prosecution.
The loan was taken by co-accused Ms Manisha Khanna, who was absconding. No case was made out against the petitioner and petitioner did not sign any document.
Contentions of the Respondent
Learned counsel for the Respondent argued that the loan was sanctioned to Ms Manisha Khanna without spot inspection, without factory inspection, without submitting identity proof of the guarantor, and without obtaining non-encumbrance of the property.
It was further argued that co-accused Ms Manisha had already leased out her share in the property to some of her relatives and she had no interest left in the property, which she fraudulently mortgaged. Learned counsel for the respondent submitted that a strong prima facie case was made out against the petitioner and factual aspects might be examined during the trial of the case.
Learned Counsel for the Respondent supported his arguments by placing reliance on the case of Station House Officer CBI/ACB/Bangalore v. B A Sriniwasan and others, 2019.
The Court opined that it was a petition under Section 482 (Saving of inherent powers of High Court) of the CrPC and that the jurisdiction was too wide but much guided by the settled principles of law.
The Court referred to the case of Indian Oil Corporation Vs. NEPC India Ltd. and others, (2006) 6 SCC 736 which explained the principles relating to the exercise of jurisdiction under Section 482 of CrPC. The Court also referred to Section 197 of CrPC which states that sanction is required to prosecute only such public servants, who are not removable from their office save by or with the sanction of the Government.
The Court opined that the implication and interpretation of Article 12 of the Constitution have no direct bearing on Section 197 of the CrPC. For the application of Section 197, what is first and foremost required is that the person is a public servant and not removable from his office save by or with the sanction of the Government. In this case, it was not shown or exhibited that the petitioner was not removable from service, save by or with the sanction of the Government. Therefore, in this case, the provision of Section 197 was not applicable.
The Court referred to the case of Priyanka Srivastava and another vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and another, (2015) 6 SCC 287, which held that “the learned Magistrate has to remain vigilant with regards to the allegations made and the nature of allegations and not to issue directions without proper application of mind.”
Therefore, the Court was of the view that no prima facie case was made out against the petitioner and continuance of the proceedings against the petitioner would be nothing but abuse of process of the Court. Thus, the petition was allowed by the Court.
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