New Delhi: Criminal proceedings pending against an accused in a lower court can be quashed by the High Court exercising its inherent jurisdiction to prevent abuse of the process of court and to secure ends of justice, the Supreme Court has held.

“The parameters for exercise of power under Section 482 Cr. PC [inherent jurisdiction] have been laid down by this court in several cases. No legislative enactment dealing with procedure can provide for all cases that may possibly arise,” said a Bench consisting of Justices Arijit Pasayat, L.S. Panta and P. Sathasivam.

Writing the judgment, Justice Pasayat said: “The authority of the court exists for advancement of justice and if any attempt is made to abuse that authority so as to produce injustice, the court has power to prevent abuse. It would be an abuse of process of the court to allow any action which would result in injustice and prevent promotion of justice.”

Quoting the guidelines formulated in Bhajan Lal’s case, the Bench said the proceedings could be quashed where the allegations made in the First Information Report, even if they were taken at face value and accepted in their entirety did not prima facie constitute any offence against the accused and “where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide and/or where the proceeding is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and personal grudge.”

In the instant case, Sukhanya filed a complaint of dowry harassment against her husband Sundar Babu and four others. Mr. Babu and the others moved the Madras High Court for quashing the proceedings contending that it was a frivolous complaint. Mr. Babu said he left for the United States six months after the marriage, which took place in November 1998. But the complaint was filed belatedly in February 2000. He said Ms. Sukhanya also obtained a decree for divorce in 2001.

After the High Court dismissed their petition, Mr. Babu and the others filed the present appeal contending that even a cursory look at the complaint would show that it was nothing but an attempt to falsely implicate them in the case.

The Bench allowed the appeal and quashed the pending proceedings, holding that the case squarely fell within the parameters laid down in Bhajan Lal’s case.

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