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Writ petition not maintainable in high court where an alternative remedy encouraged on grounds of Public Policy: High court of Karnataka

A petition filed under Section 482 of Cr.P.C in a high court is not maintainable when there is an alternative remedy so as to further a public policy, based on Precedent set by Supreme Court. This was reiterated in the High court of Karnataka in the case of India Awake for Transparency and Azim Premji and Ors. [Writ Petition No. 12073 of 2020] by a single bench consisting of Hon’ble Justice P.S Dinesh Kumar.

The facts of the case are that the NGO which is the petitioner here had filed a case before the trial court in January 2020, the proceedings for which go stayed by the Supreme Court in the month of December in the same year. This petition was filed against the director of Enforcement Directorate, to institute a special investigation team and look into offences of money laundering by the alleged Mr. Azim Premji who is the second respondent here.

The petitioner has prayed for a direction against Director of Enforcement to register a case of money laundering by referring to Section 44 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 and submitted that stay of trial court by the apex court is Special Case is no reason to wipe out the offences committed by the private respondents.  The counsel further stated that the case involved a highe amount worth Rs.31342 crores and the enforcement agency has not taken any action even when the case is pending for more than a year now.  Hence the writ is maintainable.

The counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, relied upon the landmark judgement of Sarguja Transport Service vs. State Transport Appellate Tribunal [(1987) 1 SCC 5] wherein a petition was not maintainable on the ground of public policy. Further he pointed out that the writ petition previously filed was withdrawn unconditionally leaving no room for filing a new one. The three criminal petitions filed by the petitioner were clubbed a Special Case No.69/2020 and that order after being challenged was also dismissed by this same court.

Most importantly, the petitioner has the option of another remedy which is filing PCR before the Civil Court under section 190 (1) (c) and Section 156(3) under the Code of Ciriminal Procedure which they have already availed. The matter is pending in the court and this approach is efficacious as per normal procedure.

In Sakiri Vasu vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and others [(2008) 2 SCC 409 ], the apex court held that “when someone has a grievance that his FIR has not been registered and he rushes to High Court with a writ petition or a petition under section 482 Cr.P.C, the High Court should not encourage this practice and ordinarily refuse to interfere in such matters and relegate the petitioner to his alternative remedy”.

The courts said that the ratio of this case was applicable to the facts of this case also. In the view of the above arguments, it said that the “preliminary objection by learned advocate for the private respondents that this writ is not maintainable is sustained”.

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