Supreme Court Rules Charges Under UP Gangsters Act Unwarranted When Accused Cleared of Predicate IPC Offenses


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Published on: February 20, 2024 at 12:05 IST

The Supreme Court highlighted that initiating charges under Section 3(1) of the U.P. Gangsters Act requires proof that the accused, as a gang member, engages in anti-social activities falling under predicate offenses punishable under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The Bench, comprising Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Sandeep Mehta, emphasized the necessity for the prosecution to explicitly state that the accused is being charged for offenses covered by anti-social activities, as defined under Section 2(b) of the Act.

Reversing the High Court’s decision, which declined to quash criminal proceedings against the appellant accused, Justice Sandeep Mehta’s judgment asserted that if the accused is acquitted of the predicate offenses listed under Section 2(b)(i) of the Act, continuing prosecution under the Gangster Act is unjustifiable and amounts to an abuse of the court’s process.

Section 2(b)(i) of the U.P. Gangsters Act designates a person as a gang member if found participating in anti-social activities punishable under IPC Chapters XVI (Offences Affecting Human Body), XVII (Offences Affecting Human Body), or XXII (Criminal Intimidation, Insult, and Annoyance).

Section 3(1) of the Act outlines penalties for being a gang member as defined in Section 2(b).

In the background of the case, the FIR was filed against the appellant accused, part of a gang led by Puskal Parag Dubey, under various IPC provisions. The FIR alleged the gang’s criminal history, prompting its registration to restrict gang activities, following approval from the District Magistrate under Section 3(1) of the Gangsters Act.

The appellant moved an application to quash the FIR before the High Court, which dismissed the application based on the Supreme Court’s judgment in Shraddha Gupta v. State of U.P., allowing Gangsters Act prosecution for individuals involved in a single offense mentioned in Section 2(b).

Challenging the dismissal, the appellant appealed to the Supreme Court, contending that with no ongoing prosecution for offenses involving anti-social activities as defined in Section 2(b)(i), the continued criminal proceedings were unjustified and amounted to an abuse of the court’s process.

The State argued that the appellant faced prosecution for multiple FIRs involving anti-social offenses under Section 2(b)(i), justifying the continuation of Gangsters Act proceedings, as per the decision in Shraddha Gupta.

The key issue for the Supreme Court was whether proceedings under the Gangsters Act and prosecution of the accused could persist despite exoneration from predicate offenses covered by Section 2(b)(i) of the Gangsters Act.

Observing the impugned order and considering arguments, the Supreme Court agreed with the appellant’s contentions. The court ruled that if the appellant stands cleared of offenses under IPC Chapter XVII, continuing Gangsters Act prosecution would serve no purpose and be an abuse of the court’s process.

The Supreme Court highlighted the requirement for the prosecution to explicitly state that the accused is being charged for offenses covered by anti-social activities, as defined under Section 2(b). Consequently, the court set aside the High Court’s order and quashed the pending criminal proceedings against the accused.

Case Details: FARHANA VERSUS STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH & ORS. | Crl.A. No. 001003 / 2024″

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