India: Overview Of Section 482 Cr.P.C Vis-À-Vis The Landmark Judgments Of The Supreme Court Of India

SECTION 482 CR.P.C

S482, under the 37th Chapter of the Code – titled 'Miscellaneous' deals with Inherent powers of the Court.

SEC 482 CR.P.C READS AS FOLLOWS:

"Saving of inherent power of High Court- Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice."

WHY THE NEED FOR SECTION 482 CR.P.C?

The powers of the High Court U/s 482 Cr.P.C are partly administrative and partly judicial. The section was added by the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act of 1923, as the High Courts were unable to render complete justice even if in a given case the illegality was palpable and apparent. The Hon'ble Supreme Court in State of Karnataka v. Muniswami– AIR 1977 SC 1489, held that the section envisages 3 circumstances in which the inherent jurisdiction may be exercised, namely, "to give effect to an order under CrPC, to prevent abuse of the process of the court, and to secure the ends of justice".

The Hon'ble Allahabad High Court went on to state that, "The section is a sort of reminder to the High Courts that they are not merely courts in law, but also courts of justice and possess inherent powers to remove injustice". The inherent power of the High Court is an inalienable attribute of the position it holds with respect to the courts subordinate to it. They are necessarily judicial when they are exercisable with respect to a judicial order and for securing the ends of justice. The jurisdiction under section 482 is discretionary, therefore, the high court may refuse to exercise the discretion if a party has not approached it with clean hands.

WHAT ARE THE REAL POWERS OF THE HIGH COURT U/S 482 CR.P.C.?

Inherent powers u/s 482 of Cr.P.C. include powers to quash FIR, investigation or any criminal proceedings pending before the High Court or any Courts subordinate to it and are of wide magnitude and ramification. Such powers can be exercised to secure ends of justice, prevent abuse of the process of any court and to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, depending upon the facts of a given case. Court can always take note of any miscarriage of justice and prevent the same by exercising its powers u/s 482 of Cr.P.C. These powers are neither limited nor curtailed by any other provisions of the Code. However, such inherent powers are to be exercised sparingly and with caution.

It is well settled that the inherent powers under section 482 can be exercised only when no other remedy is available to the litigant and NOT where a specific remedy is provided by the statute. If an effective alternative remedy is available, the High Court will not exercise its powers under this section, especially when the applicant may not have availed of that remedy.

TEST TO CHECK WHETHER HIGH COURT CAN INTERFERE OR NOT

Ordinarily, a High Court will not interfere at an interlocutory stage of criminal proceeding in a subordinate court but HC is under an obligation to interfere if there is harassment of any person (Indian citizen) by illegal prosecution. It would also do so when there are any exceptional or extraordinary reasons for doing so. The Supreme Court, in Madhu Limaye v. Maharashtra, has said, "Nothing in the Code, not even Section 397 can affect the amplitude of the inherent power preserved in Section 482. Where the impugned interlocutory order clearly brings about a situation which is an abuse of the process of the court then for the purpose of securing the ends of justice, interference by the High Court is absolutely necessary and nothing contained in Section 397 (2) can limit or affect the exercise of the inherent power of the High Court".

The SC, further, in Madhu Limaye v. Maharashtra, has held that the following principles would govern the exercise of inherent jurisdiction of the HC:

  1. Power is not to be resorted to, if there is specific provision in code for redress of grievances of aggrieved party.
  2. It should be exercised sparingly to prevent abuse of process of any Court or otherwise to secure ends of justice.
  3. It should not be exercised against the express bar of the law engrafted in any other provision of the code.

It can never be laid down more particularly or precisely when the High Court can and cannot use its powers, but attempts have been made on that behalf in several of the decisions of Supreme Court.

In the landmark case State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal (1992 Supp.(1) SCC 335), a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India considered in detail, the provisions of section 482 and the power of the High Court to quash criminal proceedings or FIR. The Supreme Court summarized the legal position by laying the following guidelines to be followed by High Courts in exercise of their inherent powers to quash a criminal complaint:

  1. Where the allegations made in the first information report or the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused.
  2. Where the allegations in the first information report and other materials, if any, accompanying the FIR do not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police officers under Section 156(1) of the Code except under an order of a Magistrate within the purview of Section 155(2) of the Code.
  3. Where the allegations made in the FIR or complaint and the evidence collected in support of the same do not disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the accused.
  4. Where the allegations in the FIR do not constitute a cognizable offence but constitute only a non-cognizable offence, no investigation is permitted by a police officer without an order of a Magistrate as contemplated under Section 155(2) of the Code.
  5. Where the allegations made in the FIR or complaint are so absurd and inherently improbable on the basis of which, no prudent person can ever reach a just conclusion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.
  6. Where there is an express legal bar engrafted in any of the provisions of the Code or the concerned Act (under which a criminal proceeding is instituted) to the institution and continuance of the proceedings and/or, where there is a specific provision in the Code or the concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for the grievance of the aggrieved party.
  7. Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide and/or where the proceeding is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and personal grudge.

LIMITATION ON SECTION 482 OF CR.P.C

Even though the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court under Section 482 is very wide, it has to be exercised sparingly, carefully and with caution and only when such exercise is justified by the tests specifically laid down in the section itself. It is to be exercised exdebito justitiae to do real and substantial justice for the administration of which alone, courts exist. This view has been taken by the Hon'ble SC in many of its judgments including the recent Monica Kumar v. State of Uttar Pradesh.

In a proceeding under section 482, the High Court will not enter into any finding of facts, particularly when the matter has been concluded by concurrent finding of facts of two courts below.

In State of Bihar and another v. K.J.D. Singh, the Hon'ble Supreme Court had a question whether the Criminal Proceedings can be quashed even before the Commencement of the Trial. The Supreme Court went ahead and held that "The inherent power under Section 482 has to be exercised for the ends of the justice and should not be arbitrarily exercised to cut short the normal process of a criminal trial. After a review of catena of authorities, Pendian, J. in Janta Dal v. H.S. Chowdhary (supra) has deprecated the practice of staying criminal trials and police investigations except in exceptional cases and the present case is certainly not one of these exceptional cases."

In R.P. Kapoor v. State of Punjab, Hon'ble Supreme court went on to limit the powers of the Hon'ble High Court within the ambit of the Cr.P.C. It was held, "Inherent power of the High Court cannot be invoked in regard to matters which are directly covered by specific provisions in the Cr.P.C.".

It is well settled that the inherent powers under section 482 can be exercised only when no other remedy is available to the litigant and NOT where a specific remedy is provided by the statute. If an effective alternative remedy is available, the High Court will not exercise its powers under this section, specially when the applicant may not have availed of that remedy.

CONCLUSION

Section 482 Cr.P.C has a very wide scope and is an essential part of statue to meet the end of justice where injustice can take place but at the same time the said Power is too wide and hence, it is important for the courts to use it wisely and according to the guidelines laid down by High Courts and Supreme Court time to time. Section 482, in its current form has seen several changes with the changing times and needs of the hour and by the Guidelines framed by the Supreme Court in several of its judgments. The Courts are constrained to do so as the said Section which gives wide powers to the High Court, was highly abused by the Law Practitioners. Section 482 of Cr.P.C has made its space in Cr.P.C in order to enable the High Courts to provide proper justice and at the same time to curb filing of fictitious complaints just to avenge personal grudges.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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