The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed investigation by CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) in a property dispute involving Civil Judge.

The obtrusion that impinges upon the system needs to be nipped in the bud and the vigil needs to be on the high against any pollutant, the court observed.

A petition was filed under Section 482 of Cr.PC. seeking transfer of an FIR registered for the offences punishable under Sections 452, 323, 506, 427, 120-B, 148, and 149 of the IPC to CBI or to a Special Investigation Team under the supervision of a Senior IPS Officer.

A Single Bench of Justice Pankaj Jain said, “The present case which started as one of the same specie has attained alarming turn. The abuse of process of law calls for a detailed investigation in the present case so that the trust of the litigants in the system doesn't get eroded. The obtrusion that impinges upon the system needs to be nipped in the bud and the vigil needs to be on the high against any pollutant. Since an attempt has been made to misuse the process of law and to make the legal system a party to the misadventure, it doesn't merely remain an offence of simple forgery.”

The Bench further said that the system cannot afford self-inflicted scars and thus a thorough and unimpaired investigation from an independent agency is required.

Senior Advocate R.S. Rai represented the petitioner while Senior Advocate Anand Chibber, Sr. DAG Tarun Aggarwal, and Advocate Nimanyu Gautam represented the respondents.

In this case, the petitioner i.e., Guru Nanak Vidya Bhandar Trust, Daryaganj, New Delhi through its Manager sought transfer of a case to CBI or a special investigation team under the supervision of a senior IPS officer. The pleaded case of the petitioner was that the said Trust was created way back in the year 1924 and had to its distinction eminent persons as trustees for the purpose of imparting education. The trust which was in existence for over 100 years, purchased various properties from time to time and an imposter trust was created by the accused persons. The accused persons in connivance with respondent No.5 i.e., Advocate, District Court, Bathinda, adopted all illegal measures including forum shopping and flouting the process of law, whereby the cases were filed by respondent No.5 and orders were passed by the respondent No.8 i.e., Civil Judge (Junior Division)/JMIC, Bathinda.

The dispute was related to the property owned by the petitioner-trust having a market value of over Rs. 100 crores and an FIR was registered for offences under Sections 452, 323, 506, 427, 120-B, 148, and 149 IPC at the instance of the manager of the petitioner-trust against the accused persons. It was further averred that certain documents were forged by such accused persons in an attempt to gain title over the property and one such document was a certificate which was allegedly issued under the Cooperative Societies Act bearing the stamp of N.C.T., New Delhi.

The High Court in the above context observed, “The facts of the case indeed reveal a shocking tale how the process of law has been abused by unscrupulous elements. The petitioners call it 'Forum shopping' but it seems to be beyond that.”

The Court relied upon the case of Shahid Balwa vs. Union of India (2014) 2 SCC 687 in which the Supreme Court held that no offender can be left with the feeling that he can get away with any crime which tarnishes the image not only of the investigating agency but judicial system as well.

“Gazing at the facts of the present case from the aforesaid guiding light and the caution, this Court finds that the seriousness of the allegations levelled in the present case, the manner in which legal process has been employed to serve the illegal designs of the troublemakers and the conduct of the investigating agency in shifting its stand every now and then, this is one of those cases which calls for a thorough and detailed investigation from an independent agency”, noted the Court.

Accordingly, the High Court disposed of the petition and directed CBI to conduct investigation.

Cause Title- Guru Nanak Vidya Bhandar Trust, Daryaganj, New Delhi v. State of Punjab and Others (Neutral Citation: 2023:PHHC:137868)

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