ITEM NO. Judgment Court No.10 SECTION IIA
S U P R E M E C O U R T O F I N D I A
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. …. OF 2013 @ SLP(Crl.) No. 1962 of 2011
C.P.SUBHASH Appellant (s)
INSPECTOR OF POLICE CHENNAI & ORS. Respondent (s)
Date : 23/01/2013 This Petition was called on for judgment today.
For Appellant (s) Ms. D.Bharthi Reddy, Adv.
For Respondent(s) M/s. Gagrat & CO., Adv.
Mr. Yohesh Kanna, Adv.
Ms. Pallavi Mohan, Adv.
Mr. Ganesh Kamad, Adv.
M/s. K.V.Kini & Associates
Hon’ble Mr. Justice T.S.Thakur pronounced Judgment of the
Bench comprising His Lordship and Hon’ble Mrs. Justice Gyan Sudha
The appeal is allowed in terms of the signed judgment.
|(Shashi Sareen) | |(Veena Khera) |
|Court Master | |Court Master |
(Signed r reportable judgment is placed on the file)
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 176 OF 2013
(Arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) No.1962 of 2011)
C.P. Subhash …Appellant
Inspector of Police Chennai & Ors. …Respondents
J U D G M E N T
T.S. THAKUR, J.
1. Leave granted.
2. This appeal arises out of a judgment and order dated 15th
February, 2011 passed by the High Court of Madras whereby Criminal O.P.
No.15917 of 2010 filed by respondents 2, 3 and 4 has been allowed, FIR
No.41/10 dated 25th March, 2010 registered in Police Station Tambaram for offences punishable under Sections 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code,1860 and the ongoing investigation into the said FIR quashed.
3. The complainant-appellant in this appeal is the General Manager of
SNP Ventures Pvt. Ltd. while respondents 2, 3 and 4 were during the
relevant period working with M/s Gorden Woodroff Limited (for short ‘GWL’)
as legal advisers/Senior Managers.
GWL has, it appears, filed O.S. No.169
of 2008 before the District Court, Chengalpattu seeking a decree for
declaration of its title qua 11.75 acres of land situated at Jameen
Pallavaram Village, Tambaram in the State of Tamil Nadu.
In support of its
claim of ownership over the suit property GWL appears to be placing
reliance upon two sale deeds one dated 10th March, 1922 (document No.1551
of 1922) and the other dated 27th June, 1922 (document No.1575 of 1922).
SNP Ventures Pvt. Ltd. who claims to be in actual physical possession of
the suit property in the meantime appears to have approached the Sub-
Registrar’s office at Saidapet to verify the genuineness of the two sale
deeds relied upon by GWL.
Verification revealed that both the sale deeds in
question pertained to transactions between some private parties and had no
connection whatsoever with GWL.
The Sub-Registrar also informed the
complainant that there was no transaction during the year 1922 in respect
of the subject lands at Jameen Pallavaram.
4. It was on the basis of the above information that the complainant
filed a complaint against the respondents alleging commission of offences
punishable under Sections 468 and 471 of the IPC. Crime No.41/10 was
accordingly registered in the Central Crime Branch, Chennai Suburban, St.
Thomas Mount for the said offences against respondents 2, 3 and 4.
Aggrieved, the respondents filed Criminal O.P. No.15917 of 2010 for
quashing of the FIR as also investigation in connection therewith which
petition was heard and allowed by a Single Judge of the High Court of
Madras by an order dated 15th February, 2011 quashing registration of the
case as also the proceedings based on the same.
The High Court called in
aid two precise reasons for doing so. Firstly, the High Court held that the
allegations made in the complaint even if accepted in their entirety did
not prima facie constitute an offence or make out a case against the
Secondly, the High Court held that no Court could, in
view of the bar contained in Section 195 Cr.P.C., take cognizance of
offences in question except on a complaint in writing made by the court or
the public servant concerned. The present appeal assails the correctness of
the said order passed, as already noticed above.
5. Appearing for the appellant, Mr. K.K. Venugopal, learned senior
counsel, argued that the High Court had fallen in a palpable error in
interfering with the ongoing investigation. The complaint filed by the
appellant, argued the learned counsel, made specific allegations against
the respondents which could not be brushed aside without a proper
verification of the correctness thereof in the course of investigation. In
support of his submission he placed reliance upon the decision of this
Court in State of Karnataka and Anr. v. Pastor P.Raju (2006) 6 SCC 728. He
urged that the High Court could not interfere with an ongoing investigation
except under compelling circumstances or where the complaint did not make
out any case even if the allegations made therein were taken at their face
value. He further contended that the High Court was in error in relying
upon Section 195 of Cr.P.C. while quashing the investigation. Section 195,
argued Mr. Venugopal, was applicable to cases in which the alleged
fabrication of the document had taken place while the same was in the
custody of the court. That was not the position in the case at hand.
Reliance in support of that contention was placed by Mr. Venugopal upon a
Constitution Bench decision of this Court in the case of Iqbal Singh Marwah
and Anr. v. Meenakshi Marwah and Anr. (2005) 4 SCC 370.
6. Per contra, Mr. Jayant Bhushan, learned senior counsel appearing
for the respondents 2, 3 and 4 argued that while the complaint and the
registration of the case was not hit by the provisions of Section 195 of
the Cr.P.C. in the light of the decision of the Constitution Bench of this
Court referred to above, yet keeping in view the fact that the question of
validity and genuineness of the sale deeds relied upon by GWL was the
subject matter of a pending civil suit it would be an unnecessary and
avoidable harassment for the respondents if the investigation is allowed to
proceed even before the Civil Court records a finding regarding the
genuineness of the sale deeds.
7. The legal position regarding the exercise of powers under Section
482 Cr.P.C. or under Article 226 of the Constitution of India by the High
Court in relation to pending criminal proceedings including FIRs under
investigation is fairly well settled by a long line of decisions of this
Court. Suffice it to say that in cases where the complaint lodged by the
complainant whether before a Court or before the jurisdictional police
station makes out the commission of an offence, the High Court would not in
the ordinary course invoke its powers to quash such proceedings except in
rare and compelling circumstances enumerated in the decision of this Court
in State of Haryana and Ors. v Ch. Bhajan Lal and Others 1992 Supp (1) SCC
335. Reference may also be made to the decision of this Court in Rajesh
Bajaj v. State, NCT of Delhi (1999) 3 SCC 259 where this Court observed:
“…If factual foundation for the offence has been laid down in
the complaint the Court should not hasten to quash criminal
proceedings during investigation stage merely on the premise
that one or two ingredients have not been stated with details.
For quashing an FIR (a step which is permitted only in extremely
rare cases) the information in the complaint must be so bereft
of even the basic facts which are absolutely necessary for
making out the offence.”
8. To the same effect is the decision of this Court in State of
Madhya Pradesh v. Awadh Kishore Gupta (2004) 1 SCC 691 where this Court
“…The powers possessed by the High Court under Section 482 of
the Code are very wide and the very plenitude of the power
requires great caution in its exercise. Court must be careful to
see that its decision in exercise of this power is based on
sound principles. The inherent power should not be exercised to
stifle a legitimate prosecution. High Court being the highest
Court of a State should normally refrain from giving a prima
facie decision in a case where the entire facts are incomplete
and hazy, more so when the evidence has not been collected and
produced before the Court and the issues involved, whether
factual or legal, are of magnitude and cannot be seen in their
true perspective without sufficient material. Of course, no hard
and fast rule can be laid down in regard to cases in which the
High Court will exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction of
quashing the proceeding at any stage. It would not be proper for
the High Court to analyse the case of the complainant in the
light of all probabilities in order to determine whether a
conviction would be sustainable and on such premises, arrive at
a conclusion that the proceedings are to be quashed. It would be
erroneous to assess the material before it and conclude that the
complaint cannot be proceeded with. In proceeding instituted on
complaint, exercise of the inherent powers to quash the
proceedings is called for only in a case where the complaint
does not disclose any offence or is frivolous, vexatious or
oppressive. If the allegations set out in the complaint do not
constitute the offence of which cognizance has been taken by the
Magistrate, it is open to the High Court to quash the same in
exercise of the inherent powers under Section 482 of the
9. Decisions of this Court in V.Y. Jose and Anr. v. State of Gujarat
and Anr. (2009) 3 SCC 78 and Harshendra Kumar D. v. Rebatilata Koley etc.
(2011) 3 SCC 351 reiterate the above legal position.
10. Coming to the case at hand it cannot be said that the allegations
made in the complaint do not constitute any offence or that the same do not
prima facie allege the complicity of the persons accused of committing the
same. The complaint filed by the appellant sets out the relevant facts and
alleges that the documents have been forged and fabricated only to be used
as genuine to make a fraudulent and illegal claim over the land owned by
complainant. The following passage from the complaint is relevant in this
“…..Thus evidently these two sale deeds being produced by GWL
i.e. 1551/1922 dated: 10th March 1922 and 1575/1922 dated 27th
June 1922 are forged and fabricated and after making the false
documents they were used as genuine to make fraudulent and
illegal claim over our lands and go grab them. The
representatives of GWL Properties with dishonest motive of
grabbing our lands having indulged in committing forgery and
fabrication of documents and with the aid of the forged
documents are constantly attempting to criminally trespass into
our lawful possessed lands and have been threatening and
intimidating the staffs of our company in an illegal manner
endangering life and damaging the land. The representatives of
GWL properties also have been making false statements to the
Government Revenue Authorities by producing these forged and
fabricated documents with dishonest intention to enter their
name in the Government Records. The present Director-in-charge
and responsible for the affairs of the GWL Properties Limited is
Mrs. V.M. Chhabria and all the above mentioned acts and
commission of offences have been committed with the knowledge of
the Directors of GWL Properties Ltd., and connivance for which
they are liable. Mr. A.V.L. Ramprasad Varma representing M/s
GWL Properties Limited has registered a civil suit in the
District Court, Chengalpet using the forged documents. Mr.
Satish, Manager (Legal), Mr. Shanmuga Sundram, Senior Manager,
(Administration), have assisted in fabricating the forged
documents and used the same to get patta from Tahsildar,
Tambaram, thus cheating the Govt. Officials. Hence we request
you to register the complaint and to investigate and take action
in accordance with law as against the said company M/s GWL
Property Limited represented by Mr. Satish, Manager (Legal) Mr.
Shanmudga Sundaram, Senior Manager (Administration), A.V.L.
Ramprasad Varma, Directors, and their accomplice who have
connived and indulged in fabricating and forging documents for
the purpose of illegally grabbing our lands and for all other
offences committed by them.”
11. Equally untenable is the view taken by the High Court that the bar
contained in Section 195(1)(b)(ii) could be attracted to the case at hand.
In Iqbal Singh Marwah’s case (supra) a Constitution Bench of this Court had authoritatively declared that Section 195(1)(b)(ii) Cr.P.C. was attracted only
when the offences enumerated in the said provision have been committed
with respect to a document after it has been produced or given in evidence in any court and during the time the same was in custodia legis. This Court
while taking that view approved the ratio of an earlier decision in Sachida
Nand Singh & Anr. v. State of Bihar & Anr. (1998) 2 SCC 493 where this
“12. It would be a strained thinking that any offence
involving forgery of a document if committed far outside the
precincts of the Court and long before its production in the
Court, could also be treated as one affecting administration of
justice merely because that document later reached the court
xx xx xx xx
23. The sequitur of the above discussion is that the bar
contained in Section 195(1)(b)(ii) of the Code is not
applicable to a case where forgery of the document was committed
before the document was produced in a court.“
12. Mr. Venugopal was, therefore, correct in contending that the bar
contained in Section 195 against taking of cognizance was not attracted to
the case at hand as the sale deeds relied upon by GWL for claiming title to
the property in question had not been forged while they were in custodia
13. In the light of the above, the High Court was wrong in quashing
the FIR on the ground that the allegations did not constitute an offence
even when the same were taken to be true in their entirety. It was also, in
our view, wrong for the High Court to hold that the respondents were not
the makers of the documents or that the filing of a civil suit based on the
same would not constitute an offence. Whether or not the respondents had
forged the documents and if so what offence was committed by the
respondents was a matter for investigation which could not be prejudged or
quashed by the High Court in exercise of its powers under Section 482 of
Cr.P.C. or under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
14. In the result this appeal succeeds and is hereby allowed. The
judgment and order dated 15th February, 2011 passed by the High Court is
set aside and Criminal O.P. No.15917 of 2010 filed by the respondents
dismissed. We make it clear that neither the investigating agency nor the
Court before whom the matter may eventually come up for trial and hearing
upon conclusion of the investigation shall be influenced by any observation
made by this Court regarding the merit of the case.
(Gyan Sudha Misra)
January 23, 2013