Supreme Court pulls up Bombay HC for staying police investigation

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has pulled up the Bombay High Court for virtually staying the police investigation into a criminal forgery case by ordering that “no coercive measures shall be adopted” against three in respect to an FIR registered in September 2019 by the Worli Police Station in Mumbai.

A Bench of Justices Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, MR Shah and Sanjiv Khanna also ordered the Registry to forward a copy of its judgment to all the High Courts for their Chief Justices to circulate it to all the judges since some High Courts continue to pass such interim orders as passed by the Bombay High Court on September 28 last year scuttling the police investigation.

The judgment penned by Justice Shah on behalf of the Bench lays down a detailed discussion on the issue, stressing that quashing of an FIR should be an exception rather than an ordinary and “the courts are barred from usurping the jurisdiction of the police, since the two organs of the state operate in two specific spheres of activities and one ought not to tread over the other's sphere” and remember that “functions of the judiciary and the police are complementary, not overlapping.”

The case stemmed from M/s Neeharika Infrastructure Private Limited lodging a police complaint that the three accused had committed offences under various sections of the Indian Penal Code in the fraudulent sale of its valuable property Naziribagh Palase ad-measuring 111,882 sq ft to one M/s Irish Hospitality Pvt Ltd.
The accused first secured interim protection from arrest from the sessions court, Mumbai, and then moved the High Court to quash the FIR against them.
Allowing the appeal, the Apex Court quashed the High Court's interim order of “no coercive measures” and set it aside, while making it clear that it has not expressed anything on the merits of the case, particularly the allegations in the FIR.
Laying down 18 criteria in such cases, it said: "Whenever an interim order is passed by the High Court of “no coercive steps to be adopted” within the aforesaid parameters, the High Court must clarify what does it mean by “no coercive steps to be adopted” as the term “no coercive steps to be adopted” can be said to be too vague and/or broad which can be misunderstood and/or misapplied."

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