A two-judge Bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah has held that High Court has grossly erred in quashing the criminal proceedings in exercise of its power under Section 482 CrPC against the Respondent by entering into the merits of allegations, as if the High Court was exercising the appellate jurisdictions and/or conducting the trial.
"The High Court is not required to go into the merits of the allegations and/or enter into the merits of the case as if the High Court is exercising the appellate jurisdiction and/or conducting the trial," opined the Court.
Appeal was preferred before the Supreme Court against the Judgment passed by the Allahabad High Court which in the exercise of its power under Section 482 CrPc had quashed the entire criminal proceedings against the accused under Sections 147, 148, 149, 406, 329, and 386 IPC, pending in Court I Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Kanpur Nagar.
In this case, Respondent 3 (Mamta Gupta) had purchased a plot for Rs. 25 lacs. However, when one of her cheques got dishonored due to insufficient funds, Munni Devi (Owner of the Plot) served two legal notices upon Respondent 3. However, she showed no interest. Thereafter, Munni Devi appointed the Appellant as her Power of Attorney. When the Appellant along with his friend went to see the plot, he was abused and attacked by the Respondents who were present at the plot.
A complaint was registered and a case was made out against the Respondent under Sections 147, 148, 149, 406, 329, and 386 IPC.
It was contended by the Appellant that the High Court had committed a grave error in quashing the entire criminal proceedings against the Respondent while exercising its power under section 482 CrPc. The Appellant argued that the High Court had failed to appreciate and consider that there were contentious issues that can only be considered at the time of trial.
The Appellant asserted that another FIR was also registered against the Respondent under Sections 420, 467 468, and 471 IPC for which the investigation was underway and the High Court has failed to take this into consideration.
The Respondent contended that the High Court was correct in quashing the criminal proceedings and that a civil dispute was tried to be converted into a criminal dispute, which is an abuse of process of law.
The Respondent also argued that the Appellant had no locus to file the complaint as no power of attorney was alleged to have been executed in his favor. Also, since there was no entrustment of property, no case under section 406 IPC can be made out, pleaded the Respondent.
The Court noted that there is a difference between considering a petition under Section 482 Cr.PC at the stage of the FIR and after Charge-Sheet is filed.
The Court held that, "If the petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. was at the stage of FIR in that case the allegations in the FIR/Complaint only are required to be considered and whether a cognizable offence is disclosed or not is required to be considered. However, thereafter when the statements are recorded, evidence is collected and the charge-sheet is filed after conclusion of the investigation/inquiry the matter stands on different footing and the Court is required to consider the material/evidence collected during the investigation."
The Court held that the High Court had exceeded its jurisdiction in quashing the criminal proceedings in exercise of powers under Section 482 Cr.PC. "The High Court has failed to appreciate and consider the fact that there are very serious triable issues/allegations which are required to be gone into and considered at the time of trial. The High Court has lost sight of crucial aspects which have emerged during the course of the investigation," observed the Court.
The Court accordingly set aside the impugned Judgment passed by the Allahabad High Court and allowed the Appeal.