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Supreme Court Emphasizes High Courts Duty in Protecting Against Vexatious Prosecution

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Published on: November 29, 2023 at 16:36 IST

The Supreme Court highlighted that safeguarding individuals against vexatious and undesired prosecution and sparing them from unnecessary trial burdens is a responsibility entrusted to the High Courts.

The Court’s observation came during an appeal against the Allahabad High Court’s decision that upheld the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s order rejecting the accused’s discharge plea in a theft case.

The two-Judge Bench, comprising Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah, asserted, “The protection against vexatious and unwanted prosecution and from being unnecessarily dragged through a trial… is a duty cast on the High Courts.

The Court expressed that intervening to discharge the accused in deserving cases, either by quashing a FIR/Complaint or through other legally permissible means, falls under the High Courts’ purview.

Case Background and Allegations

The case in question involved allegations that the appellants, a husband and wife, along with others, had unlawfully locked the complainant’s shop, looted goods, and committed theft.

The FIR under Sections 448, 454, and 380 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, led to the Trial Court’s rejection of the discharge plea under relevant sections of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Supreme Court’s Analysis

Examining the details, the Supreme Court noted that a case for interference had arisen. The Court pointed out inconsistencies, including the use of the Indian National Rupee symbol, which was not in existence during the alleged events, and a prima facie forged and fabricated document forming the basis of the complainant’s claim.

The Court emphasized that the case against the appellants rested on shaky grounds, and the complainant’s filing of a criminal case amounted to an abuse of the court process. Considering the absence of strong suspicion of guilt, the Court deemed it unjust to subject the appellants to a full-fledged criminal trial.

Referring to a past judgment, the Court reiterated, “…the Appellants are to be protected against vexatious and unwarranted criminal prosecution, and from unnecessarily being put through the rigours of an eventual trial.”

The Supreme Court allowed the appeal, overturning the High Court’s decision. The Court clarified its doubt regarding a specific case, Minakshi Bala v Sudhir Kumar (1994), expressing no need to reconsider the judgment by a larger Bench.

Case Title: Vishnu Kumar Shukla & Anr. v. The State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr.