The Gujarat High Court has refused to quash a FIR lodged for violation of the Environment (Protection) Act against a factory owner for allegedly dumping chemicals in open land by excavating pits.
Remarking that the case is nothing but a glaring example of "horrifying side effects of industrial growth", Justice Niral R. Mehta refused to exercise the limited jurisdiction under Section 482 of CrPC. The bench observed,
"In my considered opinion, the present case is a glaring example of horrifying side effects of industrial growth, wherein not only society at large is being affected, but it is prejudicial to the cattle as well. Therefore, in my view, when the industrialization is achieving its peak, then our eyes must not be closed against those errant, who, for the sake of their meager profit, manipulating with the nature and life of human."
The Applicant-accused was booked for offences under Sections 308, 277, 279 and 114 of the Indian Penal Code, Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act and Section 24 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act.
The case of the Prosecution as per the FIR was that the police authorities had raided certain land where one tanker containing a chemical was discovered along with two persons who were involved in dumping the chemical in tanker in a big pit. The tanker was brought from a factory owned by the Applicant. Accordingly, the FIR for the aforesaid offences was registered. The Investigating Agency filed a chargesheet before the competent court in December 2020 implicating the Applicant and the accused persons who were caught red-handed at the time of raid. The Prosecution showed that the Applicant was an absconder. The Applicant, however, felt aggrieved by the FIR and sought quashing of the same.
The Applicant opposed the FIR on the ground that the statement of co-accused had no evidentiary value. Further, the ownership of the tanker was disputed. The Applicant was one of the partners in partnership firm at JVM Mine Chemical and the firm was dissolved by way of dissolution deed. A new partnership firm was created wherein the Applicant was not a partner. Therefore, he could not be implicated in these offences.
Per contra, the APP insisted that the alleged offences were serious and resulted in endangering lives of humans and animals. Through the investigation it was clear that a prima facie case was made out against the Applicant.
The High Court opined that the nature of offences alleged to have been committed were serious in nature even as the investigation was underway and therefore, it would not be proper to quash the FIR at the given juncture.
Reference was made to Neeharika Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd vs. State of Maharashtra and others 2021 SCC Online SC 315 to emphasise: "The power of quashing should be exercised sparingly with circumspection, in the 'rarest of rare cases'. (The rarest of rare cases standard in its application for quashing under Section 482 Cr.P.C. is not to be confused with the norm which has been formulated in the context of the death penalty, as explained previously by this Court."
The application was rejected, accordingly.
Case Title: MAHENDRASINH HIMMATSINH CHAUHAN v/s STATE OF GUJARAT
Case No.: R/CR.MA/9779/2022
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Guj) 239