[Case Brief] Dineshbhai Chandubhai Patel v/s State of Gujarat & Others, 2018

Brief Facts and Procedural History:

The subject-matter of the present dispute between the parties is a piece of land jointly owned by Rathore family, who belonged to Halpai caste. Dineshbhai Chandubhai Patel conspired with several others and took away land from the Rathore family by committing fraud, cheating, deception, etc. The members of the Rathore family filed 3 complaints with the Commissioner of Police, Collector (SIT) and Collecture, District Disputes Redressal Forum, respectively, in the city of Surat. These complaints led to First Information Report (FIR) being filed and subsequently a case in the lower court and High Court and later in Supreme Court, over a period of 4 years was committed. Dineshbhai, along with the other accused, appealed and asked for the FIR to be quashed, which was partly allowed by High Court. Both parties then, filed appeals against the judgement in the Supreme Court. Dineshbhai and others challenged the part of order by which the FIR was not quashed in relation to some offences. Whereas, the family members challenged that part of the order by which the FIR was quashed, but only partly.

Issues before the Court:

1) Whether the High Court crossed its jurisdictional limits when giving the judgement?

2) Whether the High Court’s decision of quashing the First Information Report, in part, was valid?

Ratio of the Court:

Yes, the High Court exceeded its jurisdiction. As per Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and various precedents, it is necessary that the First Information Report must disclose prima facie that a cognizable offence has been committed, so that investigation can commence. The High Court decided on all the issues like an investigating or appellate authority does and so exceeded its powers given under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 as it directly concluded that the FIR was bad in part and good in another part, without giving any justifiable reason. The High Court did not let the investigating machinery do its work and thus surpassed its powers. The Supreme Court examined the complaints and the First Information Report and found that the latter did disclose a prima facie commission of various cognizable offences by Dineshbhai and others. Thus, the High Court should have dismissed the criminal application filed by the accused persons and upheld the First Information Report.

Decision Held:

The position in law is that the Courts should not exceed their powers while giving judgements and should allow the investigating machinery and law to function before concluding on any case and giving its decision. In such situations, the investigation later may turn out to be biased. Thus, the High Court did not follow the inherent jurisdictional powers and so the decision pronounced was erred and flawed.

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