HM Journal

Whether the High Courts while exercising jurisdiction under section 482 of CrPC quash the proceedings of the Trial court or act as the court of appeal?

Facts –

  1. The present petition was filed by the brother of the deceased against the Karnataka High Court judgment wherein; the court stayed the proceeding of the trial court on the application of the second respondent/accused by exercising the pursuant power under section 482 of Cr PC.
  2. The deceased was employed as a driver with the accused; the officer of the Karnataka State Government and posted as Special Land Acquisition Officer (SLAO).
  3. The deceased committed suicide on 6th 2016. The deceased left a suicide note and also uploaded it on his Facebook account.
  4. The deceased alleged in the suicide note that the accused/second respondent used his position to amass illegal wealth and used the mobile number and mobile banking facilities of the deceased to transfer money to purchase the properties in the names of relatives of the accused to convert black money into white.
  5. The deceased in the note wrote that the accused believed that he had siphoned off the funds from the accused. The accused pressurized the deceased to return the money and failing to do so would cause him his life.
  6. To exert pressure on the deceased the accused stopped the salary for three payments.
  7. The deceased confided to his friends that he feared for his life by the hands of the accused.

Submission of Appellant –

Mr. Mahesh Thakur appeared on the behalf of the appellant and put forth the following submissions before the apex court –

  1. The Hon’ble Judge of High Court of State of Karnataka failed to understand the merit and seriousness of the complaint against Respondent 2/accused and erred in quashing the FIR while the matter was being still investigated. This adversely impacted the investigation.
  2. The counsel said that the precedents of the Supreme Court on section 482 of Cr PC hold that the High Court’s don’t have the authority to function as the Court of Appeal or revision and the jurisdiction must be exercised with caution.
  3. Nature of allegations made in the FIR attracts section 306 of IPC in such circumstances the High Court should not have quashed the circumstances.
  4. The Suicide Notes recovered from the deceased and the accounts narrated to his close friends about the kind of harassment and threats made to him by the second respondent were serious. The second respondent exploited his position as an employer and forced the deceased to amass the illegal wealth through black money. It needs to be investigated properly.

Submission of Respondent 1 (The State of Karnataka)

Mr. V. N. Raghupathy appeared for the state and made the following arguments –

  1. The Learned counsel agreed that the suicide note was recovered from the deceased and also updated on Facebook.
  2. The said suicide note was sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory for analysis but the High Court stayed the investigation while entertaining the proceedings under Section 482 Cr PC and scuttled the investigation;
  3. The Suicide note contained a detailed description of the harassment and the threat received by the deceased from the second accused prima facie indicates towards the abetment to suicide.
  4. The friend of the deceased registered another complaint at Ijur Police Station in Ram Nagar District (Crime No.128/2016) corroborates the averments made in Crime No.565/2016 of Maddur Police Station.

Submission of Respondent 2 (Accused) –

Mr. Sharan Thakur appeared for the accused and brought forward the following points in defense –

  1. Section 376 of Cr PC requires immediate and imminent instigation to qualify the offense as an abetment. The instigation should be such that there remains no other option but to commit suicide.
  2. The learned counsel continuing his argument further said that the allegations made in the suicide note and also the account narrated by the deceased to his friends fails to qualify for the components required for the abetment under section 376.
  3. The Hon’ble High Court judge has clearly specified the reasons why the allegations made by the deceased are not probable.
  4. The suicide note fails to mention any overt act by the accused which would have driven the deceased to commit suicide. The period when the accused was taken into custody and was enlarged on bail by the Sessions Court at Mandya, extensive inquiries and investigation were carried out by the investigating agency of the State Police comprising the officer of the rank of ACP Karnataka, despite that no conclusive evidence has been found, and
  5. It is a well-settled principle of law that in cases involving abetment to suicide there must be a number of direct or indirect acts of incitement to the commission of suicide. A mere allegation of harassment would not suffice unless the action on the part of the accused compels the person to commit suicide.

Judgment

Justice Chandrachud while writing the judgment for the bench held that – the Supreme Court had fully settled the principle in the context of section 482 of Cr PC regarding the pursuant power of High Court vide various judgments. In the present matter, the Single Bench of the High Court went ahead of its jurisdiction. In this matter, the High Court needed to ascertain on the face value that the allegation leveled by the deceased in suicide notes is probable or not but the High Court acted as the trial court or the court of appeal and decided upon the evidence and substances of the case.

Hence the bench accepted the appeal and set aside the verdict of the High Court.

My Opinion –

The Supreme Court once again emphasized upon the principles already settled in the context of section 482 of Cr PC. The apex court made it clear that the High Courts should exercise their jurisdiction cautiously and avoid acting as the Trial Court or the Court of appeal.

Judgment Name/Citation –  Mahendra K. C., (Appellant) Vs The State of Karnataka and Anr. (Respondent)                                     Judgment Date – October 29, 2021.

Bench – Dr. Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud J. and B V Nagarathna J.

Written by – Rudrakant Chaubey

College – Sri Krishna Jubilee Law College

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