The learned trial court can sift the evidence so as to find out whether the evidence fulfils the ingredients of the offences or not.: High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh

The charge can be framed against the accused even when there is a strong suspicion about the commission of offence by the accused and at the same time, the learned trial court is not expected to merely act as a post office and frame the charge just because challan for commission of a particular offence has been filed against the accused as held by the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh through the learned bench led by Justice in the case of Syed Muried Hussain Shah Vs Union Territory of J&K and another.

The brief facts of the case are that the present petition has been filed by the petitioner for quashing the order dated 14.12.2020 passed by the learned Special Judge Anti-Corruption, Jammu) in a challan, titled “State vs Syed Muried Hussain Shah”, by virtue of which the petitioner has been ordered to be charged for commission of offences under sections 5 (1) (d), read with section 5 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and section 4-A of the Prevention of Corruption Amendment Act, 2014, as also order No. 21-JK-GAD(vig) of 2020 dated 16.03.2018, by virtue of which sanction has been granted by the Government for prosecution of the petitioner.

The present petition has been filed on the following grounds; That the order of framing of charge is bad in law as in the instant case, neither any official act required to be done by the petitioner was pending in petitioner’s office, nor there is any whisper of demand of 2 CRM(M) No. 131/2021 bribe in the entire story followed by the alleged acceptance of bribe money. Therefore, the orders impugned are not sustainable in the eyes of law. That the petitioner had become functus officio on 06.11.2018 after recommending the case for renewal along with the recommendation of penal interest to the Excise Commissioner therefore, the framing of charge is bad in law. That as per the Excise Policy, Rules and Norms, no formal permission for opening of the liquor shop was required to be given by the petitioner in view of the new Excise Policy and further as per Clause 11, the renewal of the license was automatic on depositing of the license fee and other dues, those were deposited on 18.12.2018 itself. That the petitioner had already processed the renewal of the license on 06.11.2018 and the story regarding demand and acceptance of rupees two lacs as illegal gratification from the complainant for processing of the renewal of license gets falsified. That the charged framed is contradictory to the order impugned. That the order granting sanction for prosecution of the petitioner has been passed without application of mind.

After the perusal of the facts and arguments by the learned counsels, the Hon’ble Court held, “The contention of the petitioner that he became functus officio as he had already recommended the renewal of license vide order dated 06.11.2018 so he had no more official duty to perform, is belied by the fact that the Technical PA to the Excise Commissioner has addressed a letter dated 18.12.2018 to the petitioner to allow the licensee to resume his business/establishment after deposition of license fee and also for submission of authenticated dissolution deed along with copy of the receipt of prescribed fee to that office for further proceedings, so it cannot be said at this stage that no role was left with the petitioner to perform after he recommended the renewal of license on 06.11.2018. The last contention is with regard to the validity of the sanction. Needless to say that the validity of the sanction can be examined by the trial court during the course of trial in view of the law laid down by the Apex Court in Central Bureau of Investigation v Ashok Kumar Aggarwal, (2014) 14 SCC 295. Viewed thus, the present petition is devoid of merit, as such, the same is dismissed.”

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Judgment Reviewed by – Aryan Bajaj

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