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Orders Framing Charges Or Refusing Discharge Neither Interlocutory Nor Final; Not Affected By Bar U/Sec 397 (2) CrPC: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
8 May 2021 5:21 AM GMT
Orders Framing Charges Or Refusing Discharge Neither Interlocutory Nor Final; Not Affected By Bar U/Sec 397 (2) CrPC: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court has held that orders framing charges or refusing discharge are neither interlocutory nor final in nature and are therefore not affected by the bar of Section 397 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.The bench headed by CJI NV Ramana observed thus while allowing appeal against the Allahabad High Court order which dismissed a Criminal Revision Petition against a...

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The Supreme Court has held that orders framing charges or refusing discharge are neither interlocutory nor final in nature and are therefore not affected by the bar of Section 397 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The bench headed by CJI NV Ramana observed thus while allowing appeal against the Allahabad High Court order which dismissed a Criminal Revision Petition against a Trial court order dismissing a  discharge application. The High Court was of the view that it lacked jurisdiction under Section 397 of Cr.P.C to interfere with CJM order. It relied on Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Pvt. Ltd. v. Central Bureau of Investigation (2018) 16 SCC 299 to hold that interference in the order framing charges or refusing to discharge is called for in rarest of rare case only to correct the patent error of jurisdiction.  

In appeal, the bench also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose, observed that the High Court committed jurisdictional error by not entertaining the revision petition on merits and overlooked the fact that 'discharge' is a valuable right provided to the accused. On Asian Resurfacing judgment, the court said:

13... It appears to us that while limiting the scope of a criminal revision to jurisdictional errors alone, the High Court apparently under­appreciated the Judgment in Asian Resurfacing (supra). We say so at least for two reasons. First, 9 the material facts in the above­cited case dealt with a challenge to the charges framed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 ("POCA"). The cited judgment itself enlightens that not only is POCA a special legislation, but also contains a specific bar under Section 19 against routine exercise of revisional jurisdiction. Second, This Court in Asian Resurfacing (Supra) while expressing concern regarding the need to tackle rampant pendency and delays in our criminal law system, followed the ratio laid down in an earlier decision in Madhu Limaye v. State of Maharashtra,

Orders framing charges or refusing discharge are neither interlocutory nor final in nature 

The bench added that the High Court is imbued with inherent jurisdiction to prevent abuse of process or to secure ends of justice having regard to the facts and circumstance of individual cases. Referring to Madhu Limaye v. State of Maharashtra (1977) 4 SCC 551, the bench observed:

15...The correct position of law as laid down in Madhu Limaye (supra), thus, is that orders framing charges or refusing discharge are neither interlocutory nor final in nature and are therefore not affected by the bar of Section 397 (2) of CrPC. That apart, this Court in the above­cited cases has unequivocally acknowledged that the High Court is imbued with inherent jurisdiction to prevent abuse of process or to secure ends of justice having regard to the facts and circumstance of individual cases. As a caveat it may be stated that the High Court, while exercising its afore­stated jurisdiction ought to be circumspect. The discretion vested in the High Court is to be invoked carefully and judiciously for effective and timely administration of criminal justice system. This Court, nonetheless, does not recommend a complete hands off approach. Albeit, there should be interference, may be, in exceptional cases, failing which there is likelihood of serious prejudice to the rights of a citizen. For example, when the contents of a complaint or the other purported material on record is a brazen attempt to persecute an 12 innocent person, it becomes imperative upon the Court to prevent the abuse of process of law.

Trial court while considering the discharge application is not to act as a mere post office

The court added that the trial court while considering the discharge application is not to act as a mere post office.

"16... The Court has to sift through the evidence in order to find out whether there are sufficient grounds to try the suspect. The court has to consider the broad probabilities, total effect of evidence and documents produced and the basic infirmities appearing in the case and so on. [Union of India v. Prafulla Kumar Samal ]. Likewise, the Court has sufficient discretion to order further investigation in appropriate cases, if need be.

Taking note of the facts of the case, the bench proceeded to set aside the High Court order and remanded the case back for its reconsideration in accordance with law.


Case: Sanjay Kumar Rai Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh [CrA 472 OF 2021]
Citation: LL 2021 SC 246
Coram: CJI NV Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose


Click here to Read/Download Judgment




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