Section 482 – SC guidelines

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that High Courts should quash criminal cases against accused persons only in exceptional cases and allow the trial to proceed without any hindrance.

A Bench of Justices P Sathasivam and A R Dave said whether an accused person is guilty or not should be decided by the trial court and the High Court can quash the FIR/criminal cases only if there is sufficient evidence to show that the accused was falsely implicated.

The apex court made the remarks while upholding an appeal filed by Andhra Pradesh government challenging the High Court’s decision to quash a criminal case filed against G Mahesh in an illicit arrack case.

The High Court had quashed the case by exercising its power vested under Section 482 CrPC.

“While exercising jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code, the High Court would not ordinarily embark upon an enquiry whether the evidence in question is reliable or not or whether on a reasonable appreciation of it the accusation would not be sustained. That is the function of the trial Judge/Court,” Justice Sathasivam said.

The apex court said it is true that at times cases may be foisted against indviduals to harass him/her.

“At the same time, Section 482 is not an instrument handed over to an accused to short-circuit a prosecution and bring about its closure without full-fledged enquiry.

“Though High Court may exercise its power relating to cognizable offences to prevent abuse of process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice, the power should be exercised sparingly,” the apex court said.

The apex court said the cases can be quashed only if prima facie it does not constitute an offence or there is enough evidence to show that the same was maliciously instituted to harass a person.

“The interference must be on sound principles and the inherent power should not be exercised to stifle a legitimate prosecution.

“That being so, the interference at the threshold quashing the FIR is to be exceptional and not like routine as ordered by the High Court in the present case,” the apex court bench said while upholding the state’s appeal.

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