Mohan Singh Chatha vs. State Of Rajasthan
Date of Order:
17 May, 2023
Hon'ble Mr. Justice Farjand Ali
Petitioner: Mohan Singh Chatha
Respondent: State of Rajasthan and Onkar Singh
The Hon’ble High Court of Rajasthan has quashed the FIR and subsequent proceedings against the petitioner. This case involves allegations of offenses under Sections 436 and 457 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), along with Section 120-B of IPC, pertaining to a car being set on fire and a conspiracy related to a matrimonial dispute.
Indian Penal Code, 1860
- Section 436 – It deals with mischief by fire or explosive material with an intent to damage a house, a crime that is typically punished by imprisonment.
- Section 457 – It relates to the offense of house-breaking by night. It covers situations where someone breaks into a building or dwelling during nighttime with the intention to commit an offense such as theft or assault.
- Section 120(A) – This section describes criminal conspiracy as an act of planning to cause injury and harm though an illegal act done by two or more people with a common intent.
- Section 120(B) – This section related to the offence of criminal conspiracy. Under this section when two or more individual agree to commit an illegal act are guilty of the offense of criminal conspiracy.
The Police Act, 1888
- Section 37 – This section deals with the recovery of penalties and fines imposed by Magistrates.
Constitution of India, 1949
- Article 226 – This Article talks about the inherit power of the High Courts to issue certain writs.
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
- Section 482 – This Section empowers the High Court to use its inherent authority to halt criminal investigations or to preserve the goals of justice by preventing misuse of the legal system.
- Section 156(1) - Any officer in charge of a police station may look into any cognizable matter that a court with jurisdiction over the local region within the borders of that station would have the authority to look into or trial under the requirements of Chapter XIII without a magistrate's order.
- Section 155(2) - Without the permission of a magistrate with the authority to try the case or commit the case for trial, no police officer shall conduct an investigation into a non-cognizable matter.
- In this case respondent approached the police against five named and ten to twelve unnamed persons alleging that when he and his family were sleeping, they heard a noise of bursting crackers around 2:00 A.M.
- The respondent came out of his house and saw that the Bolero case which was parked in garage was on fire. The respondent and his family tried to extinguishing the fire but till the time the car had completely burned.
- The Respondent found a bucket filled with petrol along with a cloth soaked with petrol outside of their house. A petrol smelling jerrican cap and two empty beer bottles were also found adjacent and on the side of the home opposite the front gate. Behind the burned-out car, there was another empty beer bottle to be seen.
- Furthermore, it is alleged that deep footsteps belonged to several individuals who believed to be scaled the wall to access the property.
- It is further alleged in the FIR that respondent’s younger brother got divorce and married someone else on the same day. According to the allegations, two suspicious cars approached their home and fired two shots, which led the respondent to believe that the sons of his younger brother’s old wife and their companions sets his vehicle on fire.
- The police came to the conclusion that, the petitioner was the mastermind of the scheme and inspired the other co-accused parties to commit the crime as his sister was involved in matrimonial fallout with the respondent’s brother. Hence, the police registered a case against the petitioner under Section 457, 436 and 120(B) of Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- Whether the petitioner is liable under the Sections 457, 436 and 120(B) of Indian Penal Code, 1860 or the FIR should be quashed?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE PETITONER:
- The Learned Counsel on the behalf of the petitioner vehemently mentioned that, there is no mention on the name of the petitioner; the respondent dragged the name of the petitioner in this matter unnecessarily, due to an inimical relationship and acting with an ulterior object to spite the petitioner.
- Learned Counsel for the petitioner also mentioned that the petitioner is a citizen of Canada and has living there since 1996. The petitioner was in Canada at the time of the incident and did not travel to India. The petitioner visited the country: first from May 26 to June 14, 2018, and again from March 30 to April 11, 2019, but up until that point, nothing had been discovered in the inquiry of the petitioner.
- The FIR came to be registered on 6 September, 2018 and the petitioner visited India after six months of the incident but at that time there was no attempt made to interrogate the petitioner.
- The learned Counsel further mentioned that the FIR lodged on the basis of incorrect facts and the doubt regarding the incident being caused by a matrimonial dispute the petitioner claims to be falsely implicated due such relation.
- The petitioner alleges that the investigating agency, under the respondent's instructions, is determined to apprehend them and tarnish their reputation. The petitioner previously submitted a representation before the investigating officer as directed by the court, but no proceedings took place. In light of these circumstances, the petitioner seeks the quashing of the proceedings against them.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT:
- The Learned Counsel on the behalf of the respondent here submitted that the petitioner is the key conspirator of the incident. It was further alleged that, the petitioner is accused of encouraging the other co-accused who was present in India to conduct the crime.
- The Investigating authority admitted the fact that at the time of the incident the petitioner was not India. But, the fact of being in Canada does not disprove the petitioner's participation in the crime.
- The absence of proof, such as call logs or texts, does not rule out the possibility that the petitioner and the other accused parties had a deal.
- The Learned Counsel said that the argument of petitioner’s name does not appear in the FIR and it has been wrongly implicated due to a matrimonial dispute lacks merit. There are strong indications that the petitioner was involved in the crime based on the respondent's account and the discovery of incriminating objects close to the crime scenes.
- The court observed that the petitioner was not present in the country at the time of the alleged incident and his name does not appear in the FIR.
- There is no evidence to establish any direct or indirect nexus between the petitioner and the alleged crime. To establish offenses under Sections 457 and 436 of IPC, the accused person must be present at the place of the incident, which is not the case here.
- Regarding Section 120-B of IPC, there is no evidence of any agreement between the petitioner and other accused persons.
- Moreover, the court referred to previous judgments emphasizing the need for clear concurrence and meeting of minds to prove the offense of conspiracy. In the absence of such evidence, the court concluded that the proceedings against the petitioner should be quashed. Hence, the FIR stands disposed of.
It becomes clear from an analysis of the circumstances that the petitioner's name was not initially listed in the FIR. The respondent's concerns about the alleged event were mostly directed towards other people. Additionally, no evidence—direct or indirect—was shown to prove a connection between the offence and the petitioner. The petitioner's presence in Canada throughout that time period disregarded the prerequisites for crimes under Sections 436 and 457 of the IPC, such as the petitioner's presence at the scene of the occurrence. It is crucial to get an understanding amongst the parties concerned with regard to the criminal conspiracy accusation under Section 120-B IPC. The petitioner's involvement was not suggested by any linking evidence or any proof of such an arrangement, nevertheless. The prosecution's allegation of conspiracy is undermined by the petitioner's complete lack of engagement with the other accused parties.
There is no solid evidence connecting the petitioner to the crimes, and it is obvious that the petitioner's presence in India at the time of the claimed occurrence is shaky. Therefore, it would be unfair to continue the case against the petitioner. Hence, the FIR was quashed and set aside in light of these facts.