1. I differ to above expressed opinion vis-à-vis S. 498a IPC quash 'grounds'.
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 - s.482 - Quashing of proceedings - Complaint against husband, his parents, sister and maternal grandmother under s.498A IPC and s.4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act - Husband had purportedly left for USA six months after marriage - Complaint was filed long thereafter - No explanation for delayed lodging of complaint - Petition under s.482 CrPC - Dismissed - On appeal, held: Scope for interference under s.482 is limited - However, interference can be made in cases as spelt out in Bhajan Lal's case - On facts, cursory perusal of complaint shows that the case at hand falls within category (7) of the illustrative parameters highlighted in Bhajan Lal's case - High Court erred in dismissing petition under s.482 CrPC - Penal Code, 1860 - s.498A - Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 - s.4.
The wife of appellant no.1 filed a complaint against him and his parents, sister and maternal grandmother alleging commission of offences punishable under s.498A IPC and s.4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. Appellant no.1 had purportedly left for USA six months after marriage. The complaint was filed long thereafter. No explanation for the delayed lodging of the complaint was given.
Appellants filed petition under s.482 CrPC contending that the complaint petition was nothing but an attempt to falsely implicate them and that continuance of proceedings against them would be an abuse of the process of law. The High Court dismissed the petition. Hence the present appeal.
1.1. Though the scope for interference while exercising jurisdiction under Sec.482 CrPC is limited, but it can be made in cases as spelt out in the case of Bhajan Lal. The illustrative examples laid down therein are as follows:
(1) Where the allegations made in the first information report or the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused;
(2) Where the allegations in the first information report and other materials, if any, accompanying the FIR do not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police officers under Sec.156(1) of the Code except under an order of a Magistrate within the purview of Sec.155(2) of the Code;
(3) Where the un-controverted allegations made in the FIR or complaint and the evidence collected in support of the same do not disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the accused;
(4) Where, the allegations in the FIR do not constitute a cognizable offence but constitute only a non-cognizable offence, no investigation is permitted by a police officer without an order of a Magistrate as contemplated under Sec. 155 (2) of the Code;
(5) Where the allegations made in the FIR or complaint are so absurd and inherently improbable on the basis of which no prudent person can ever reach a just conclusion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused;
(6) Where there is an express legal bar engrafted in any of the provisions of the Code or the concerned Act (under which a criminal proceeding is instituted) to the institution and continuance of the proceedings and/or where there is a specific provision in the Code or the concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for the grievance of the aggrieved party;
(7) where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide and/or where the proceeding is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and personal grudge. [Para 6] [332-B-H; 333-A-C]
1.2. Section 482 CrPC does not confer any new power on the High Court. It only saves the inherent power which the Court possessed before the enactment of the Code. It envisages three circumstances under which the inherent jurisdiction may be exercised, namely,
(i) to give effect to an order under the Code,
(ii) to prevent abuse of the process of court, and
(iii) to otherwise secure the ends of justice. It is neither possible nor desirable to lay down any inflexible rule which would govern the exercise of inherent jurisdiction. No legislative enactment dealing with procedure can provide for all cases that may possibly arise. Courts, therefore, have inherent powers apart from express provisions of law which are necessary for proper discharge of functions and duties imposed upon them by law. That is the doctrine which finds expression in the section which merely recognizes and preserves inherent powers of the High Courts. All courts, whether civil or criminal possess, in the absence of any express provision, as inherent in their constitution, all such powers as are necessary to do the right and to undo a wrong in course of administration of justice on the principle "quando lex aliquid alicui concedit, concedere videtur et id sine quo res ipsae esse non potest" (when the law gives a person anything it gives him that without which it cannot exist). [Para 9] [333-E-H; 334-A-B]
1.3. While exercising powers under section 482, the court does not function as a court of appeal or revision. Inherent jurisdiction under the section though wide has to be exercised sparingly, carefully and with caution and only when such exercise is justified by the tests specifically laid down in the section itself. It is to be exercised ex debito justitiae to do real and substantial justice for the administration of which alone courts exist. Authority of the court exists for advancement of justice and if any attempt is made to abuse that authority so as to produce injustice, the court has power to prevent abuse. It would be an abuse of process of the court to allow any action which would result in injustice and prevent promotion of justice. In exercise of the powers court would be justified to quash any proceeding if it finds that initiation / continuance of it amounts to abuse of the process of court or quashing of these proceedings would otherwise serve the ends of justice. [Para 9] [334-B-E]
1.4. The powers possessed by the High Court under Sec.482 of the Code are very wide and the very plenitude of the power requires great caution in its exercise. Court must be careful to see that its decision in exercise of this power is based on sound principles. The inherent power should not be exercised to stifle a legitimate prosecution. The High Court being the highest court of a State should normally refrain from giving a prima facie decision in a case where the entire facts are incomplete and hazy, more so when the evidence has not been collected and produced before the Court and the issues involved, whether factual or legal, are of magnitude and cannot be seen in their true perspective without sufficient material. Of course, no hard-and-fast rule can be laid down in regard to cases in which the High Court will exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction of quashing the proceeding at any stage. [Para 10] [334-E-H; 335-A]
1.5. In the present case, even a cursory perusal of the complaint shows that the case at hand falls within the category (7) of the illustrative parameters highlighted in Bhajan Lal's case. The proceedings in Criminal Petition pending before the Judicial Magistrate are consequently quashed. [Paras 7 and 10] [333-D]
Case Law Reference:
State of Haryana vs. Bhajan Lal [1992 AIR 604] relied on Para 5
Janata Dal vs. H.S. Chowdhary [(1992) 4 SCC 305] relied on Para 9
Raghubir Saran (Dr.) vs. State of Bihar [AIR [(1964) SC1] relied on Para 9
Minu Kumari v. State of Bihar [(2006 (4) SCC 359] relied on Para 9
Annexure in PDF format contains full text of Hon'ble SC decision on asked question to make use of.
[BTW, there are quash judgment on S. 406 IPC too on malafide intentions which were quashed by Hon’ble SC as central theme of your query.]