The inherent power of the High Court is enshrined in Section 482 CrPC. The inherent powers are those powers which the court is deemed to have with regard to ensuring justice and fairness. The extent of this inherent power goes to the extent of quashing investigations, quashing FIRs or criminal proceedings before any subordinate court or High Court. The inherent powers of the High Court are mainly to meet the ends of justice and prevent people from abusing the process of law. However, these powers are to be exercised with prudence and vigilance. Section 482 CrPC provides as follows:
“Saving of inherent powers of High Court- Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.”
The Supreme Court has on 5th December 2019, in M. Jayanthi v. K.R. Meenakshi, held that while exercising the powers under Section 482 CrPC, the High Court should not deal with the evidence available for the case and whether the alleged offences can be proved or not.
Facts of the Case
The appellant filed a complaint under 200 CrPC before a Magistrate alleging that her husband had committed the offence bigamy under the Section 494 IPC and also the offences punishable under Section 493, 120-B and 506(II) of IPC. The appellant claimed in her complaint that she married her husband in 1983 and has 3 children with the said wedlock. The appellant in her complaint to the magistrate also claimed that the respondent married again during the subsistence of their first marriage in 2011.
The respondent filed a petition under Section 482 CrPC for quashing of the complaint made by the appellant on the basis that there was no evidence to prove the alleged bigamous marriage. The appellant, however, brought forward the 2011 Government Gazette in which the other woman claimed to be the wife of the respondent. But the High Court was of the opinion that to prove the second marriage the complainant needs to provide the form of marriage, witnesses to marriage and details about the time, place and date of marriage.
On the basis of this, the High Court quashed the complaint of the accused on the ground that even though the complainant is producing the Government Gazette document but being a government document under Section 35 of Indian Evidence Act it also needs to be corroborated with other evidence. Therefore the High Court threw the complaint on the ground of lack of evidence.
The appellant aggrieved by the quashing of the complaint by the High Court had filed a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court.
Order Of The Supreme Court
The counsel of the appellant contended that the inherent power of High Court under Section 482 CrPC is limited and while exercising their power under Section 482 CrPC the High Court should not look that whether the evidence will be able to prove the allegations.
The Supreme Court held that the court should only look into whether the essentials of a specified offence which is claimed is being fulfilled or not. The High Court under its inherent power should not look into how the allegations will be proved.
The Court may also be entitled to see
(i) Whether the preconditions requisite for taking cognizance have been complied with or not; and
(ii) Whether the allegations contained in the complaint, even if accepted in entirety, would not constitute the offence alleged.
The Supreme Court, therefore, held that the appellant had all the relevant ingredients in her complaint in relation to the offence alleged. The Supreme Court said,
“Unfortunately, the High Court put the cart before the horse and held that the appellant had not produced any evidence to prove the entry in the Government Gazette though it is a relevant fact under Section 35 of the Indian Evidence Act. Much before the case could reach the stage of the trial, the High Court shut the door for the appellant and pre¬concluded the issue as though there was no evidence at all. This is completely contrary to law”.
Hence, the Supreme Court set aside the decision of the High Court and allowed the appeal of the appellant. The apex court also ordered the trial court to expedite the proceedings.
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