The Punjab and Haryana High Court exercised its powers under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. to bring an end to the indefinite and protracted investigation, quashing the FIR and related proceedings.

The Court emphasized the constitutional right to a speedy trial under Article 21, encompassing all stages from investigation to trial.

The petitioner was seeking the quashing of FIR (First Information Report) registered under Section 436, 120-B, 435, 457, 456, 427 of Indian Penal Code lodged against him in the year 2008.

A Bench of Justice Harpreet Singh Brar held, “The right to speedy trial under Article 21 encompasses all the stages of investigation, inquiry, trial. There is no justification for subjecting a citizen to an indefinite period of investigation. The inaction on part of the Investigating Agencies and the concerned Court in the present case cannot be accepted and it cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely. The State is under obligation to ensure speedy justice to its citizens. The inherent fairness embeded in Article 14, 19 and 21 makes it obligatory for the State to provide a procedure which is fair, reasonable and just.”

Advocate Chandan Singh Rana appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate Madhur Sharma appeared for the Respondents.

The FIR was registered based on the statement of a truck driver, who claimed that his trucks were set on fire by petitioner and his friends due to a minor dispute.

The petitioner argued that there are no specific allegations against them in the FIR. The police, after completing the investigation, declared the petitioner innocent, as indicated in the report of the Superintendent of Police. The trial court, in an order noted issues with the investigation and had directed further inquiry.

The Court noted that the petitioner had been facing criminal proceedings for over 15 years, and the Investigating Agency had repeatedly found no connection between the petitioner and the alleged offense.

The Court observed that the FIR was lodged in 2008, and the petitioner was declared innocent in 2009. The Court emphasized the importance of the right to a speedy trial, citing relevant Supreme Court judgments. It noted the inordinate delay in the investigation and expressed concern about the petitioner being subjected to prolonged investigation.

The Court added, “The present case is not a case of grave magnitude and diabolic in nature which shocks the conscience of the society to prevent this Court from exercising its inherent jurisdiction under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. The Investigating Agency cannot be allowed to perpetuate illegal inaction and inflict more misery on the petitioner in violation of his right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, this Court is of the considered opinion that this is a fit case to exercise its powers under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. to put an end to indefinite and protracted investigation pending for more than 15 years.”

The Court concluded that this was a fit case to exercise its powers under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. to quash the FIR and the related proceedings. The impugned FIR and the order passed by the Judicial Magistrate Ist Class were quashed, and the bail bonds of the petitioner were discharged.

Cause Title: Parminder Singh v. State of Punjab & Anr., [2023:PHHC:146633]

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