Supreme Court: No Offense of Abetment under Section 14C of Foreigners Act if person unaware of Visa Status

advocate supreme court LAW INSIDER IN

Mitali Palnitkar

Published On: February 28, 2022 at 20:42 IST

The Supreme Court held that if a person was not aware about the Visa status of the foreigners, he shall not be said to have committed an Offense of Abetment under Section 14C of the Foreigners Act, 1946.

The Division Bench comprised Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M Trivedi. The Prosecution of the Appellant, Abinash Dixit was set aside by the Bench observing that mere passivity and insouciance will not tantamount to Offense of Abetment.

It was alleged that the Appellant facilitated the visit by two Chinese citizens who were on Tourist Visas to Rewa Solar Plant Project. Thereafter, a First Information Report (FIR) was registered for violating provisions under Sections 7 and 14 of the Act.

However, the Police did not find any violation of Section 7 after the Investigation and the said provision was not invoked in the Charge-sheet. Despite this, Charges were framed by the Trial Court under Section 7 read with Section 14.

The High Court declined to quash it and therefore an Appeal was filed in the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court stated that it was not able to comprehend the Trial Court’s reasoning with respect to framing Charges under Section 7 read with Section 14 of the Act. It pointed out that the Respondent’s Counsel also failed to justify the observations made by the Trial Court.

It noted that for violation of Section 14C of the Act, it is required that the Accused should have abetted Offences under Sections 14, 14A and 14B of the Act. It also noted that the Appellant was unaware of the fact that the Chinese citizens traveled on Tourist Visas.

It observed, “The word ‘Abet’ is an essential ingredient of Section 14C and has received Judicial Interpretation. ‘Abet’ means to aid, to encourage or countenance. An Abetment of the Offense occurs when a person instigates any person to do that Offense or engages with another person(s) in doing that thing.”

It further observed that the Chinese citizens visited the site along with employee of M/s PS Enterprises, Adarsh Kumar Singh who was unaware that they traveled on Tourist Visas. Therefore, Prosecution was not initiated against Singh or M/s PS Enterprises and they are not Co-accused.

After observing the facts, the Court quashed the Case.

Also Read: What is the Foreign Tribunal?

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