Supreme Court: Reasons Should Be Given By High Courts While Exercising Discretionary Power or Writ Jurisdiction To Grant Interim Relief
The Supreme Court (SC) in the case titled M/s Neeharika Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. (Appellant) v. State of Maharashtra and others (Respondents) ruled that whenever an interim order is passed by High Court (HC) mentioning "no coercive steps to be adopted", it must clarify what it means by "no coercive" as the term is too vague.
The SC ruled that even if the HC is of prima facie opinion that an exceptional case is made out for grant of interim stay of further investigation in a petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) or Article 226 of the Constitution (Writ Jurisdiction), it has to give brief reasons why such an interim order is warranted and/or is required to be passed.
The SC bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud stated that the power of quashing should be exercised sparingly by the HC and it must give brief reasons why such an interim order is required. An interim order should not require to be passed routinely, casually, and/or mechanically.
The SC bench also comprised of Justices MR Shah and Sanjeev Khanna mentioned the following parameters for HCs to exercise their inherent powers-
The CrPC envisages certain provisions that provide the police statutory right and duty to investigate into a cognizable offense;
Courts would not thwart any investigation into the cognizable offenses;
The Court would not permit an investigation unless there cognizable offense or offence of any kind is disclosed in the first information report (FIR);
The Court should exercise its power of quashing proceedings with circumspection and in the 'rarest of rare cases.
While examining an FIR/complaint, quashing of which is sought, the court cannot embark upon an inquiry as to the reliability or genuineness or otherwise of the allegations made in the FIR/complaint;
Criminal proceedings ought not to be scuttled at the initial stage;
Quashing of a complaint/FIR is not an ordinary rule rather it is an exception;
The Courts cannot encroach the jurisdiction of the police, as both the organs of the State operate in two specific spheres of activities and one ought not to tread over the other sphere;
The functions of the judiciary and the police are complementary, not overlapping;
Extraordinary and inherent powers of the Court do not confer an arbitrary jurisdiction on the Court to act according to its whims or caprice;
If the investigation by the police is in progress, the Court should not go into the merits of the allegations in the FIR. Police must be permitted to complete the investigation. It would be premature to pronounce the conclusion based on hazy facts that the complaint/FIR does not deserve to be investigated or that it amounts to abuse of process of law.
After investigation, if the investigating officer finds that there is no substance in the application made by the complainant, the investigating officer may file an appropriate report/summary before the learned Magistrate which may be considered by the learned Magistrate in accordance with the known procedure;
The High Courts have vast powers u/s 482 of CrPC but it casts an onerous and more diligent duty on the Court to exercise this power wisely;
If the Court, thinks fit regard being had to the parameters of quashing and the self-restraint imposed by law, more particularly the parameters laid down by this Court in the cases of R.P. Kapur v. State of Punjab and Bhajan Lal v. State of Haryana, has the jurisdiction to quash the FIR/complaint;
If a plea is filed for quashing the FIR then the Court should exercise its power under Section 482 CrPC, only has to consider whether the allegations in the FIR disclose the commission of a cognizable offence or not.
The Court is not required to consider on merits whether or not the merits of the allegations make out a cognizable offence and the court has to permit the investigating agency/police to investigate the allegations in the FIR;
The aforesaid parameters would be applicable and/or the aforesaid aspects are required to be considered by the HC while passing an interim order in a quashing petition in the exercise of powers under Section 482 CrPC and/or under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
An interim order of stay of investigation during the pendency of the quashing petition can be passed with circumspection. Such an interim order should not require to be passed routinely, casually, and/or mechanically.
If the investigation is in progress and the facts are hazy and the entire evidence/material is not before the HC, it should restrain itself from passing the interim order of not to arrest or "no coercive steps to be adopted" and the accused should be relegated to apply for anticipatory bail under Section 438 CrPC before the competent Court.
The HC shall not pass the order not to arrest and/or "no coercive steps" either during the investigation or till the investigation is completed and/or till the final report/charge sheet is filed under Section 173 CrPC.
If the HC has prima facie opinion that an exceptional case is made out for grant of interim stay of further investigation, after considering the broad parameters while exercising the powers under Section 482 CrPC and/or under Article 226 of the Constitution of India referred to hereinabove, it has to give brief reasons why such an interim order is warranted and/or is required to be passed so that it can demonstrate the application of mind by the Court and the higher forum can consider what was weighed with the HC while passing such interim order;
The SC bench gave the aforesaid guidelines while hearing a plea challenging an interim order of the HC order "no coercive measures" against the accused.
The allegations against the original accused pertained to forgery and fabrication of board resolutions and the fraudulent sale of a valuable property Naziribagh Palace ad-measuring 111,882 sq. ft. belonging to the appellant company to one M/s Irish Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.
It directed the registry to forward a copy of the judgment to all the HCs to be placed before the Chief Justice to circulate among all judges for information and compliance.
The Top Court set aside the order of the HC based on the aforesaid directions and guidelines.