Inherent Power under Section 482 does not confer any arbitrary jurisdiction on courts: Bombay High Court

Quashing the FIR by going beyond the averments, to consider the merits of the case even before the investigating agency has embarked upon the legal exercise of collecting evidence will be deemed legally unsustainable since inherent powers under Section 482 does not give, the High Court an opportunity to act according to its whim or caprice. This remarkable judgment was recently passed by the Bombay High Court in the matter of SMT. JAYSHRI W/o Ratan Uchit V THE STATE OF MAHARASHTRA [CRIMINAL APPLICATION NO. 1606 OF 2019] by Honourable Justice B.U.Debadwar and Justice Ravindra V.Ghuge.

This is an application under section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for quashing FIR filed under section 306 of the Indian Penal Code. The applicant here prayed that the FIR should be quashed on the basis of the report lodged by Shankar Pandurang Uchit.

The allegations made in the FIR were that deceased Ratan Pandurang Uchit was the elder brother of the complainant who was an agriculturist. His first wife committed suicide since she was depressed as she was a Cancer patient. Deceased had two children from his first marriage and remarried in 2018. The second wife and the deceased used to have constant quarrels and the deceased was fed up with these constant quarrels and eventually after four months and six days of marriage, he committed suicide leaving behind similar suicide notes wherein the wife was blamed for the suicide.

The Court observed that “Practically, in all matters under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal procedure, 1973, the accused approaches the Court on the ground that the First Information Report (FIR), on the face of it, does not disclose ingredients that would constitute a cognizable offence. Thus, the inherent power of the High Court, in its jurisdiction under Section 482, is invoked for seeking the quashing of the FIR.

The Court relied on C.B.I. Vs. Tapan Kumar Singh, (2003) 6 SCC 175 and State of Punjab Vs. Dharam Singh 1987 SCC (Cri.) 621 to assert that the High Court while quashing the FIR should not “go beyond the averments, to consider the merits of the case even before the investigating agency has embarked upon the legal exercise of collecting evidence.

Additionally, the High Court followed the guiding principles laid down by the Honourable Supreme Court in Parbatbhai Bhimsinhbhai Karmur and others vs. the State of Gujarat (2017) 9 SCC 641, which are to be duly considered by the courts in determining whether an FIR could be quashed under Section 482. Thence, in light of this consideration, the Bench stated that “The applicant has not seriously disputed the nature of the death of her husband Ratan and the cause of death is settled. The dispute is only about abetment. It is settled position of law that intention is the concomitant of the abetment.

The Bench observed that “There is nothing on record showing that Ratan Uchit was suffering from any mental disease or chronic ailment. When Ratan was mentally and physically fit, he had no reason to commit suicide, unless harassment meted out by the applicant, was of such nature and extent, which would compel him to commit suicide.

Thus, the HC stated that “at this juncture, inference cannot be drawn that the applicant did not instigate her husband Ratan Uchit to commit suicide or there was no intention behind the quarrels, which she used to pick up with her husband frequently. Only after trial, this material aspect can be decided. Therefore, it is not proper to quash the FIR getting influenced with the submission that the applicant had no intention to drive her husband Ratan Uchit to commit suicide.

Hence, the application was rejected.

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