Shimla: Not agreeing with the remedy sought ‘to scuttle away the proceedings enroute before the cognizance is drawn’ and ‘to make an effort to kill a still born child’ the Himachal Pradesh High Court today trashed a petition by HPCA, its president Anurag Thakur and others for quashing of a criminal case registered under the prevention of corruption act, with the presiding judge observing ‘no case for interference is made out at this stage and the petition merits to be dismissed.
Before disposing of the petition, acting chief justice Mansoor Ahmed Mir recorded that the petitioners had pleaded that it was a case of vengeance, political vendetta and malafide.
However the judge observed, “The argument advanced by the learned counsel for the petitioners is devoid of any force for the reason that the FIR was lodged and investigation has been conducted. In terms of the status report filed, investigation has been concluded and the material collected do disclose that 18 persons are prima facie involved in the commission of offences who have been arrayed as accused.
Justice Mir also quotes a Supreme Court ruling which decrees that allegations of mala fide based on facts after lodging of the FIR are of no consequence and cannot be the basis for quashing of proceedings.
“It is a well settled position of law that when there are prima facie materials available, a petition for quashing of criminal proceedings cannot be entertained. The investigating agency should have the freedom to go into the whole gamut of the allegations and to reach a conclusion of its own. Pre-emption of such investigation would be justified only in very extreme cases,” the 56 page detailed order records.
In response to the petitioners argument that Anurag Thakur, one of the petitioners and others, allegedly involved in the commission of offence, are not public servants, so the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act could not be invoked, the court observed, “This argument is misconceived for the simple reason that 18 persons have been arrayed as accused and some of them are public servants.”
The judge noted that “It is alleged that all of them have hatched the conspiracy and caused wrongful gain to the petitioners and wrongful loss to the state. It is also alleged that they have misused their official position in order to shower benefits and to show favour to the other accused.
Justice Mir order holds, “The remedy under Section 482 CrPC i.e. invoking the inherent jurisdiction, should not be used as a device to frustrate the investigation or trial. Lodging of FIR, conducting the investigation and preparation of charge sheet in terms of Section 173 CrPC has to undergo scrutiny of judiciary at various stages and is yet a still born child.
The remedy cannot be used to scuttle away the proceedings enroute before the cognizance is drawn and process is issued by the committal court/ trial court and to make an effort to kill a still born child, the judge observed.
The petitioner HPCA, its president Anurag Thakur and others had sought quashing of FIR No 12 of 2013 registered at Dharamshala Police station on 1st August, 2013 under sections 406, 420, 120-B of the Indian Penal Code and Section 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 on the grounds that the matter involved was of a civil dispute outcome of civil liability.
No mens rea was involved and no criminal case was made out. The Cricket Association was ‘a not for profit society’ and was not converted into a company with ulterior motives and the question of wrongful loss or wrongful gain did not arise.
The case was heard by the High Court after the Supreme Court asked the chief justice to dispose of the case expeditiously as two other judges of the same court had earlier declined to hear the matter.
The court after hearing the case on 4th March and 7th April had reserved its order and was decided today.