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Umesh Kumar Vs State of Andhra Pradesh and Anr.

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Citations: Umesh Kumar Vs State of Andhra Pradesh and Anr., AIR 2014 SC 1106

Date of Judgment: 06/09/2013

Equivalent citations: (2013) 10 SCC 591; 2013(4) PLJR 284 SC

Case No: Criminal Appeal No. 1305 of 2013

Case Type: Criminal Appeal

Petitioner/Appellant: Umesh Kumar

Defendant/Respondent: State of Andhra Pradesh

Bench: Hon’ble Justice B.S. Chauhan, Hon’ble Justice S.A. Bobde

Court: Supreme Court of India

Statutes Referred:

  • Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973; Section- 139, 161, 216, 482
  • Indian Penal Code, 1860; Section- 120-B, 201, 468, 471,

Cases Referred:

  • Smt. Kiran Bedi & Jinder Singh Vs Committee of Inquiry & Anr., AIR 1989 SC 714;
  • Board of Trustees of the Port of Bombay Vs Dilipkumar Raghavendranath Nadkarni & Ors., AIR 1983 SC 109
  • Nilgiris Bar Association Vs TK Mahalingam & Anr., AIR 1998 SC 398
  • Dr. Mehmood Nayyar Azam Vs State of Chhattisgarh & Ors., AIR 2012 SC 2573
  • Vishwanath Sitaram Agrawal Vs Sau Sarla Vishwanath Agrawal, AIR 2012 SC 586
  • Kishore Samrite Vs State of U.P. & Ors., (2013) 2 SCC 398
  • Pepsi Food Ltd. & Anr. Vs Special Judicial Magistrate & Ors., AIR 1998 SC 128
  • Ashok Chaturvedi & Ors. Vs Shitulh Chanchani & Anr. AIR 1998 SC 2796
  • G. Sagar Suri & Anr. Vs State of U.P. & Ors., AIR 2000 SC 754
  • Padal Venkata Rama Reddy @ Ramu Vs Kovvuri Satyanarayana Reddy & Ors., (2011) 12 SCC 437
  • Rajiv Thapar Vs Madan Lal Kapoor, 2013 (3) SCC 330
  • State of Bihar Vs P.P. Sharma & Anr., AIR 1991 SC 1260
  • Sheo Nandan Paswan Vs State of Bihar & Ors., AIR 1987 SC 877
  • Parkash Singh Badal Vs State of Punjab & Ors., AIR 2007 SC 1274
  • State of A.P. Vs Goloconda Linga Swamy & Anr., AIR 2004 SC 3967
  • K. Karunakaran Vs State of Kerala, (2007) 1 SCC 59\
  • State of Maharashtra Vs Salman Salim Khan, AIR 2004 SC 1189
  • Sohan Lal & Ors. Vs State of Rajasthan, AIR 1990 SC 2158
  • CBI & Ors. Vs Keshub Mahindra etc., AIR 2011 SC 2037
  • Yusufalli Esmail Nagree Vs State of Maharashtra, AIR 1968 SC 147;
  • Magraj Patodia Vs R.K. Birla & Ors., 1970 (2) SCC 888;
  • R.M. Malkani Vs State of Maharashtra, AIR 1973 SC 157;
  • Pooran Mal Vs Director of Inspection, Income-Tax, New Delhi & Ors., AIR 1974 SC 348
  • Krishan Chander Nayar Vs Chairman of Central Tractor Organisation & Ors., AIR 1962 SC 602
  • Chhotan Prasad Singh & Ors. Vs Hari Dusadh & Ors., AIR 1977 SC 407
  • M. Veerabhadra Rao Vs Tek Chand, AIR 1985 SC 28

Facts:

  • On 22.04.2011 Shri M.A. Khan, through a letter annexed with certain documents representing the request of Samithi, demanded an inquiry against Shri V. Dinesh Reddy (-Respondent No. 2 herein). The letter received by the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Union of India claimed that the respondent is in charge of disproportionate assets and properties in the name of his wife.
  • The Ministry forwarded the complaint to the Andhra Pradesh Government for further inquiry. However, on the same day, a letter addressed to the Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh from the Central Government was received which claimed that the previous letter was not authored by M.A Khan (Member of Parliament). When the matter was in the examining process, Respondent No. 2 wrote a letter to the Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh referring to the letter of  Shri M.A Khan denying his authorship and directing the junior officer to present the genuineness of the complaining Samithi. Amid these, Respondent No 2 was appointed as D.G.P of Andhra Pradesh.
  • The State Government directed Additional D.G.P CID to enquire into the matter of forged letter in name of Shri M.A. Khan, the task was further delegated to Deputy SP, CID Shri Malla Reddy. The report of Deputy SP showed that Shri T.Sunil Reddy obtained copies of the same documents that were annexed with the complaint letter forwarded in the name of Samithi. The report was submitted to Respondent No. 2 to be further forwarded to the State Government.
  • After all this, on 25.8.2011 Respondent No.2 registered an F.I.R and directed Shri J.Ranjan Ratan Kumar, Dy. S.P. to lead the investigation. During the investigation, Shri T.Sunil Reddy was arrested and statements were recorded under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure wherein he disclosed the name of Umesh Kumar.
  • When T. Sunil Reddy was on bail he requested to become an approver under Section 306 Cr.P.C. Meanwhile, Umesh Kumar requested the State Government to inquire into Respondent No.2 based on the copies of sale deeds. During the course of these events, the Trial Court granted pardon to T. Sunil Reddy made him the approver, and a charge sheet showing offences punishable under Section 120-B, 201, 468, and 471 Indian Penal Code, 1860 against Umesh Kumar was filed.
  • Aggrieved with the decision of the Trial Court, Umesh Kumar approached the High Court under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 that ultimately quashed the Trial court order and the charge sheet partly. Therefore the cross-appeals stand before the Supreme Court of India.

Issues Involved:

  • Whether the appeal made by the Appellant, Umesh Kumar, to quash the order of the Trial Court is allowed or not?

Contention of Petitioner/Appellant:

The counsel for the Appellant made the following contentions:

  • The purported complaint made by Shri M.A Khan against Respondent No 2, Shri V. Dinesh Reddy was well supported with documents that showed that Respondent No 2 was in charge of disproportionate assets. These properties were in the name of his wife and her power of attorney. One of such documents included certified copies of sale deeds.
  • There has not been a fair inquiry on the property allegations that were made against Respondent No.2. The State Government has been inactive in the examination of the alleged disproportionate assets of Respondent No. 2.
  • Moreover, when the matter was entrusted to the Additional D.G.P. to conduct an inquiry on the authenticity of the complaint letter made by Shri M.A. Khan, representing the Samithi, Respondent No 2 interfered unnecessarily.
  • Before the report of Shri Malla Reddy could be forwarded to the State Government, Respondent No.2  registered the FIR arbitrarily. By doing this, the Respondent has created a situation of misdirecting enquiry against the appellant, using his power as D.G.P., Andhra Pradesh.
  • Even the Chief Secretary, Andhra Pradesh has failed to provide a clear reply to the Court order seeking the status of the enquiry made so far against the alleged disproportionate wealth of Respondent No.2.
  • Thus, the High Court should have quashed the charge sheet as a whole and not partly owing to malafide collusion between the State Government and Respondent No.2 causing discrimination to the appellant. The appeal filed by Umesh Kumar should therefore be allowed.

Contention of Defendant/Respondent:

The counsel for the Respondent to counter the Petitioner’s arguments gave these contentions:

  • The appellant Umesh Kumar has illegally obtained copies of certified sale deeds under different names and has filed a complaint against Respondent No.2 in some fictitious name with the forged signature of Shri M.A. Khan. This activity of the appellant has been disclosed by his accomplice, Shri T. Sunil Reddy.
  • The forged complaint made by the appellant has caused harm to the reputation of Respondent No. 2.  Against the forged complaint a case was duly registered before Delhi Police and a CID officer was appointed by the Andhra Government to conduct an inquiry into the same matter. This establishes that there was no malice on part of Respondent No.2
  • The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has committed gross error by allowing the appellant’s plea under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure Code. The investigation was ordered, an FIR was lodged, and the charge sheet against the appellant was rightly issued by Respondent No.2 as an in-charge.
  • Moreover, the matter was at the pre-emptive stage and charges could be altered during the trial on an application for discharge, the High Court should not have quashed the charge sheet so far Section 468 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 is concerned. Therefore, the appeal of Umesh Kumar should be dismissed and the State’s appeal should be allowed.

Judgement:

The Appeal was disposed of.

  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that the State Government of Andhra Pradesh failed to enquire into the allegations made against Respondent No. 2 but the court would not commit the same gross mistake. The cross-appeals were disposed of and the CBI was directed to investigate the matter based on allegations of disproportionate wealth acquired by Respondent No. 2. The Chief Secretary of the State Government, Andhra Pradesh must hand the certified copies of annexed sale deeds to the investigating agency.
  • Also, the case against the appellant, Umesh Kumar would proceed before the Trial Court. The judgment copy of the case would be handed to the Director of CBI to be further forwarded before this Court within four months.

Ratio Decidendi:

  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court, dealing with the cross-appeals, made out two aspects of the case- the first one against the Appellant, Umesh Kumar, and the other against the allegation of the disproportionate wealth of Respondent No2.
  • In the case against the appellant, the Court referred to various cases of Smt. Kiran Bedi & Jinder Singh Vs The Committee of Inquiry & Anr., Nilgiris Bar Association Vs TK Mahalingam & Anr. and Dr. Mehmood Azam Vs State of Chhattisgarh & Ors., where it was held that reputation is a personal right and is a necessary element of Article 21 of the Constitution. The right to freedom of free speech and expression under Article 19 of the Constitution is subject to the right of the reputation of a person.
  • Thus, the allegations against Respondent No.2 being of grave nature, and the genuineness of the complaint letter and the signature if forged, should be made by the authority. Hence, the investigation against the appellant is just and ought to continue. But before the cognizance of the offences could be taken, the appellant approached the High Court leading to the quashing of the charge sheet.
  • Concerning the quashed order of the High Court., the apex court referred to the cases of Pepsi Food Ltd. & Anr. Vs Special Judicial Magistrate & Ors., G. Sagar Suri & Anr. Vs State of U.P. & Ors. and Rajiv Thapar Vs Madan Lal Kapoor where it was held that Section 482 Cr.P.C. provides for extraordinary power to the High Court which should not be exercised to disturb a legitimate trial but can be used to prevent abuse of the court process. Thus, the charge sheet cannot be quashed merely on some ground that the proceedings were instituted with some malafide object or for some political vendetta. Hence, the order of the High Court cannot be termed as final and the order is to be dealt with by the  Trial Court under Section 216 Cr.P.C., based on evidence produced during the Trial.
  • In the case against Respondent No. 2 the Apex Court opined that even though the complaint was forged or false, the copies of the annexed sale deed could not be ignored. The allegations against the Respondent No.2 being in charge of amassed Benami properties and assets were left unattended.
  • The State Government has made a gross error on its part to examine the complaint against V. Dinesh Reddy rather has misdirected the entire situation by focusing exclusively on the case of the appellant. In view of this, the Court directed CBI investigation against Respondent No.2 acquiring those assets in the name of his wife and power of attorney. Thus, cross-appeals were disposed of and the case against the appellant to proceed before the Trial Court.

Conclusion:

The scope of Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides for extraordinary powers to the High Court and these inherent powers could be exercised to prevent abuse in the court process, to secure justice but not to suppress legal prosecution against the wrongdoer. In this case, the Hon’ble Court set aside the order of the High Court since it lacked finality rendering provisions of Section 216 of the Code of Criminal Procedure insignificant.

The Criminal Proceeding against the appellant was due before the Trial Court, thus the quashed order was improper and the proceedings must continue before the Trial Court. Alongside, the CBI Investigation against Respondent No.2 to inquire into the allegations of disproportionate properties was directed to begin. The case reflects gross error and misuse of power on the part of Higher authorities in the guise of investigation.

Drafted By: Shivani Tiwary, School of Law DAVV.

Edited by: Aashima Kakkar, Associate Editor, Law Insider

Published On: October 31, 2021 at 12:48 IST