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Abuse of process of criminal law if the case lacks sufficient material: High Court of Bombay

In the present case, the petitioner is accused under section 420, 468, 471, 120-B read with section 34 of Indian Penal Code (“IPC”). The Petitioner has preferred an application u/s 227 and 228 of the CrPC. The magistrate rejected the application due to which the accused preferred Criminal  Revision which was also dismissed by the Session’s court. A single-judge bench comprising of Justice Rohit B. Deo adjudicating the matter of  Giridharilal v. The State of Maharashtra( CRIMINAL WRIT PETITION 668 OF 2016) dealt with the issue of whether the accused be discharged from his criminal liability.

The accused filed a writ petition against the impugned order. The accused stated that there is no sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused. The Respondents stated that while considering an application seeking discharge, the Court is not expected to weigh the probative value of the evidence and it would suffice if accepting the contents of the report and the material placed on record along with the final report submitted under section 173 of the Code, there is scope to “presume” that the accused has committed the offence. The Respondents strongly contended by relying on a judgement that the submission that for an offence under section 120-B of the IPC, the prosecution need not necessarily prove that the conspirators expressly agreed to do or cause to be done the illegal act and that the agreement may be proved by necessary implication.

As per the facts of the case, Vikas Naidu representative of M/s Laxmi  Land Developers purchased land admeasuring 1.40 acres from Khasra 46 and Khasra 47 vide sale-deed dated 27-3-1998 and then obtained sale-deed of land admeasuring 1.75 acres purportedly from Khasra 46 and Khasra 47 on 28-12-1998. According to the complainant, in connivance with the Revenue Officers, Vijay Naidu ensured that the revenue record is mutated by referring to only Khasra 47 which effectively increased the area of the said khasra number on paper. Several other allegations are made in the complaint against Vijay Naidu pertaining to manipulation of revenue record and map/s. Finally, the complainant accuses Vijay Naidu and other co-accused of obtaining forcible possession of the portion of Khasra 46 which is owned by the complainant. Notably, there is absolutely nothing in the complaint which attributes any specific much less overt role to the petitioner/accused in the manipulation of record by Vijay Naidu or then in the alleged forcible dispossession.

The court observed that the first relevant statement is that Vijay Naidu took forcible possession of portion admeasuring Khasra 46 by joining hands with the petitioner, co-accused Pankaj Nandlal Agrawal and others. Also the petitioner is related to the complainant and is, therefore, aware of the details of the property owned by the complainant and he conspired with the co-accused. The complaint incorporates only a bald allegation which at best is in the realm of suspicion and nothing is disclosed in the complaint as would throw light on the basis of the suspicion that the petitioner entered into a conspiracy with the co-accused to cause wrongful loss to the complainant.

“ Prosecution or trial is a serious matter and a person cannot be forced to undergo the trauma of trial merely on the basis of fanciful suspicion which is not based on any credible material. All that the complaint states is that the petitioner is aware of the details of the property of the complainant and that he entered into a conspiracy with the co-accused. It is not even the case of the complainant that the petitioner played some overt or visible role in the alleged manipulation of the record or then in the alleged forcible dispossession.”

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