Supreme Court Casts Doubt on Precedent Restricting High Court’s Authority in Deciding Discharge Applications

Supreme Court Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: November 30, 2023 at 13:20 IST

The Supreme Court has voiced concern regarding the precedent set by the Minakshi Bala v Sudhir Kumar case (1994), which advocated for a limited approach by High Courts when discharging accused individuals from criminal cases.

The bench, comprising Justices Vikram Nath and Ahsanuddin Amanullah, overturned a judgment by the Allahabad High Court that had denied the discharge of the accused in a criminal case.

The Supreme Court expressed reservations, particularly with respect to paragraph 8 of the Minakshi Bala judgment. The mentioned paragraph is reproduced below for clarity:

The Court highlighted the High Court’s deviation from the prescribed approach in dealing with the matter, emphasizing that it should have focused solely on the documents outlined in Sections 239 and 240 of the CrPC.

The Court criticized the High Court’s extensive consideration of rival contentions through affidavits, stating that findings on the commission of an offense should not be based on affidavit evidence during the framing of charges.

Under the current judgment, adhering to the Minakshi Bala perspective would unduly restrict the High Court’s discretion when evaluating discharge applications.

The Supreme Court cautioned that accepting Paragraph 8 of Minakshi Bala as it stands would limit a court’s ability to intervene, compelling individuals to stand trial even when substantial evidence points to their innocence.

Despite these reservations, the Court chose not to refer the matter to a higher bench for reconsideration, suggesting that such a review could be undertaken in a more suitable case.

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