Authors: Abhishek Naharia (4th-year student at RGNUL, Patiala)
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION
The question comes fresh into consideration as per the recent controversial Arnab Goswami case where he was claimed to have defamed Congress supreme Sonia Gandhi. Amongst a number of other questions that a bench of Hon’ble Justice DY Chandrachud answered, let us focus on whether an FIR can be quashed under Writ jurisdiction by the Supreme Court. So under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, where the applicant can claim remedies for the violation of a fundamental right amongst many others, the question arises as to whether the Apex Court can do a similar job as Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
SURPASSING VESTED POWERS
In the instant case, Mr. Salve while arguing on behalf of Goswami uprightly had put forth the argument that the right to speech was been enshrined in, and provided by the Indian Constitution under Article 19(1)(a), as well as a number of International Conventions. Putting forth in a more precise manner, the words and expressions used by Goswami came under the ambit of protection of his fundamental rights and thus no case could be instituted on the same, thus the relief of quashing of the FIR’s. Learned Senior Advocate Dr. Manu Singhvi was arguing on the respondent side, and argued amongst other arguments that filing for a quashing petition under Article 32 of the Constitution is very similar to leap frogging, meaning thereby surpassing the vested or de jure authority given by law to the petitioner, viz. Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Mr. Singhvi put forth that not only was this attempt an action of surpassing Section 482 of the CrPC, but then attempt to convert the jurisdiction under Art.32 into one under Section 482 CrPC.
OPINION OF THE COURT
It needs to be understood by the Court that there needs to be a balance between the existence of a fundamental rights of a person and restrictions placed by the State. Similarly, it needs to be understood by the applicants that under law, remedies have been provided specifically under various provisions, and that bypassing the procedure established by law is nothing but trying to make a mockery of the procedure established by law. The Bench opined that the FIR could not be quashed under Article 32 of the Constitution to ensure the fact that there are checks and balances in place, meaning thereby that without causing prejudice to the petitioner’s remedy under the Criminal Procedure Code, the petitioner could approach the requisite Court.
It goes without saying that the petitioner has tried to skip the procedure established by law when he has tried to not file for quashing under Section 482 of the CrPC. That it is an admitted position in law that one cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the Hon’ble Apex Court for enquiring whether an offence was made or not as a result of the FIR under Article 32. Further, that when a specific remedy is provided under the Criminal Procedure Code, what is the need to approach the Apex Court under the Writ Jurisdiction. Although in the instant case, arguments were made on several things amongst this, as per law, the High Court must decide on the maintainability of a quashing petition.