Tuesday, July 24, 2012

HC: Not every FIR can be quashed for delay

HC: Not every FIR can be quashed for delay

MOHAMED IMRANULLAH S.

MADURAI, July 24, 2012

Courts must exercise their power sparingly and with circumspection, says judge

Not every First Information Report (FIR) can be quashed by the courts solely on the ground of inordinate delay on the part of the police to complete the investigation and file final reports, the Madras High Court Bench here has held.

Justice A. Selvam passed the ruling while dismissing a petition filed by a Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation employee accused of conniving with other staff to unauthorisedly sell away 12,000 litres of diesel meant for the government buses.

Listing out a series of Supreme Court rulings on the issue of quashing FIRs, the judge said: "From a conjoint reading of the said decisions, it is made clear that no proposition of law can be formulated to quash criminal proceedings on the ground of alleged inordinate delay.

"For quashing a criminal proceeding by exercising the powers of the court under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, the court must exercise its power sparingly and also with circumspection and that too in rarest of rare cases.

"The power conferred on the courts under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. cannot be invoked mechanically and further the inherent power mentioned in the said section should not be used to stifle a legitimate prosecution."

In so far as the present case was concerned, the Central Crime Branch police in Nagercoil of Kanyakumari district police had registered a FIR as early as on October 15, 2005 with regard to missing of 12,000 litres of diesel.

The petitioner, K. Thavasimani, was included as an accused on the basis of a confession statement made by another accused that they had sold 2,000 litres of the total amount of diesel found missing and shared the proceeds of the crime.

They were booked under Sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) which envisages a maximum punishment of life imprisonment, 420 (cheating) and Section 381 (theft by servant of property in possession of master) of the Indian Penal Code. Stating that a charge sheet had not been laid in the case even after the expiry of six years since the registration of the FIR, the petitioner claimed that it amounted to violation of his right to speedy trial under Article 21 of the Constitution.

However, the judge rejected his contention on the ground that the charges levelled against the accused were grave and at present the police was all set to file a final report as per the case diary maintained by them.

He also pointed out that the delay had been caused due to a case filed by the petitioner in 2008 seeking similar relief of quashing the FIR. The complainant too had filed a case in 2006 seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation probe. Both the cases had ended up in dismissal.

Courtesy_

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