S.S. Dewan, J.
1. This is a petition Under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (In short, the Code) praying that the charge against the petitioners Under Section 430 read with Sections 114 and 189 Indian Penal Code be dropped and the proceedings thereunder be quashed.
2. The brief facts of the case are as follows:
The petitioners are residents of village Nimri, Tahsil Fatehabad, District Hissar. Chaudhary Mani Ram Codara, father of Prithvi Raj petitioner and Pokhar Ram, father of Sat Pal petitioner are stated to be active politicians. F. I. R. No. 10/1969 for the said offences was registered against the petitioners on 31-1-1969 at the instance of Milkha Singh, Sub-Inspector, the then Station House Officer, Police Station Ratia, The main allegation in the F. I. R. against the petitioners was that they irrigated their fields illegally through Outlet No. 9065 and when they were asked not to do so by Milkha Singh, Sub-Inspector, he was threatened by them with dire consequences. It is alleged in the petition that initially, the investigation of this case was conducted by Banarsi Dass, Sub-Inspector, Station House Officer, Fatehabad and then the investigation was entrusted to Ram Chand Inspector, CIA Staff. Later on, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Ambala Range himself investigated the case and found it to be false due to deficiency of evidence and he recommended it for cancellation. The report for cancellation was put up before the Magistrate on 5-2-1975 but the Magistrate did not agree with the police report and ordered them to conduct further investigation in the case.
It appears that for years no action was taken against the petitioners and it was only on the application moved by Milkha Singh, a retired Sub-Inspector that the investigation was re-started. The petitioners were arrested by the police but they were subsequently released on bail on 17-8-1979 by the Judicial Magistrate Ist Class, Fatehabad. The challan was presented in the Court on September 4, 1979 and the Judicial Magistrate framed charge against the petitioners Under Section 430 read with Sections 114 and 189 of the Indian Penal Code and 29th May, 1980 was fixed for recording prosecution evidence. It is pleaded in the petition that the prosecution of the petitioners was an abuse of the process of Court as the history of this case reveals that how the political interference caused havoc to the petitioners after about 11 years when it was almost impossible for them to defend their case and that framing of charge against the petitioners after a long lapse of time was only meant to harass and humiliate them.
3. Mr. H. L. Sibal, learned Counsel for the petitioners has vehemently urged that there is no credible evidence whatsoever which may connect the petitioners with the crime and that in fact, the investigation conducted by the Deputy Inspector General of Police revealed that the petitioners were innocent and he rather recommended for the cancellation of the case. He has further urged that while it is incumbent on us to see that the guilty do not escape it is even more necessary to see that persons accused of crime are not indefinitely harassed and that they must be given a fair and impartial trial and while every reasonable latitude must be given to those concerned with the detection of crime and entrusted with the administration of justice, limits must be placed on the lengths to which they may go. On the other hand, Mr. Bhasin, learned Counsel for the State, argued that since the charge had been framed against the petitioners, the High Court would not be competent to exercise its inherent jurisdiction to quash the same.
4. It is in the first instance necessary to see as to whether after a lapse of 11 years from the date of the alleged commission of offence, the proceedings constitute a gross abuse of process of Court.
5. Before proceeding with the consideration of the above question, provisions of Section 482 of the Code may be noticed. These are:
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.
In R.P. Kapur v. State of Punjab : 1960CriLJ1239 it was observed:
It is well established that the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court can be exercised to quash proceedings in a proper case either to prevent the abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice. Ordinarily, criminal proceedings instituted against an accused person must be tried under the provisions of the Code and the High Court would be reluctant to interfere with the said proceedings at an interlocutory stage. It is not possible, desirable or expedient to lay down any inflexible rule which would govern the exercise of this inherent jurisdiction However, we may indicate some categories of cases where the inherent jurisdiction can and should be exercised for quashing the proceedings. There may be cases where it may be possible for the High Court to take the view that the institution or continuance of criminal proceedings against an accused person may amount to the abuse of the process? Of the Court or that the quashing of the impugned proceedings would secure the ends of justice.
In case, State of U.P. v. Kapil Deo Shukla : 1972CriLJ1214 it was in that context that Shelat, J. as he then was dealing with the powers of the High Court to quash such proceedings observed as follows:
Where on an application under Section 561A, Criminal P.C. by the accused who has been kept in suspense of a trial under Sections 408 and 477A, I. P. C for more than 20 years, the High Court quashed the pending proceedings against him on the ground that it would be an abuse of the process of the Court if the trial protracted for about 20 years were to be allowed to go on, particularly in view of the impossibility of furnishing to the accused copies of statements recorded by police during investigation, depriving the accused of his right to effectively cross-examine the witnesses the prosecution intends to examine; the failure to furnish copies of other documents on which also the prosecution intends to rely in spite of the Court's order to that effect; and the uncertainty of the memory of witnesses, assuming that they are still available on the question of proving the handwriting on the documents alleged to have been forged by the accused. Held that the circumstances were likely to prevent the trial being altogether fair. It was neither expedient nor in the larger interest of justice that the trial with all such possible deficiencies could be allowed.
Now there is no doubt that the F. I. R. was registered against the petitioners in the year 1969 and the challan was presented in the Court on 4th September 1979. The charge was framed against them in the year 1980 and 29th May, 1980 was fixed for further proceedings. To allow the criminal proceedings to continue further after a long lapse of time of about 11 years from the date of alleged commission of offence would, in my opinion, amount to permitting a Court proceeding to degenerate into a weapon of harassment and would not at this stage, achieve any salutary public purpose. On the facts and circumstances obtaining in the instant case, such continuance constitutes gross abuse of process of Court. It is thus imperative for securing the ends of justice that this criminal proceeding should no longer be allowed to stand and must be quashed.
6. For the reasons stated, I accept this petition and quash the charge in question and the proceedings there under.