Supreme Court Judgment- Asian Resurfacing Of Road Agency Pvt. Ltd. & Anr. V. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) 2018 SC 310
Corruption is one of the biggest issues which is stopping our country from soaring new heights and boosting our economy which is growing at a snail’s pace. The present case revolves around the corrupt practices and malpractices of individuals and officers in the Government departments and how the law in India takes cognizance of such offences.
The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (hereinafter referred to as the Prevention Act) is the primary legislation which deals with the issues of corruption and attempts to penalise the conduct of public servants and other individuals who are deeply rooted in the world of corrupt practices.
The facts of the case are that a First Information Report (hereinafter referred to as FIR) was registered against certain officers of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (hereinafter referred to as MCD) under the provisions of Section 120B, 420, 467, 468, 471 and 477A of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred to as IPC) and Section 13(2) and 13(1) (d) of the prevention Act.
Allegations were made that the appellant and certain officers of MCD had caused wrongful loss to the MCD by using fake invoices of Oil Companies relating to transportation of Bitumen for use in “Dense Carpeting Works” of roads in Delhi during the year 1997 and 1998. After charge sheet was filed the special judge of CBI framed the charges against the accused since there appeared a prima facie case.
A revision petition was filed against this order of framing of charges before the High Court of Delhi and the single bench of the High Court referred the case to a division bench whose final decision was challenged before the Supreme Court and a bench of two judges of the Apex Court placed the matter in front of a larger bench of three judges for consideration.
The primary issue involved in this case was that as to what was the true and correct purport of Section 19(3)(c) of the Prevention Act, and whether the courts of a higher stature and authority superior i.e., High Courts were under an obligation to follow Section 19(3)(c) of the prevention Act in petitions that had been instituted by invoking the writ jurisdiction of the High Court.
A question for consideration was also that as to whether the inherent powers of the High Court could be invoked for staying the proceedings under the Prevention Act under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (hereinafter referred to as Cr.PC)
Sec 19(3)(c) of the prevention Act contemplates the proceedings under the Prevention Act shall not be stayed by any court. It further says that no court shall exercise the powers of revision with regard to any interlocutory order which has been passed in any inquiry, trial, appeal or other proceedings.
It was argued that the High Court had proceeded wrongly by holding that the order of framing charge was an interlocutory order.
It was further argued that a case under Section 482 Cr.P.C. and under Article 227 of the Constitution is very much maintainable and there could be no prohibition against interference by the High Court or on the power of the High Court to grant stay in spite of prohibition under Section 19(3)(c) of the Prevention Act.
It was primarily argued that an order of framing charges is an interlocutory order and the mandate of the Prevention Act has to be followed. If a proceeding is stayed then the same will be against the principles and objects of the Prevention Act since matters of such public importance need to be decided at the earliest instant.
A contention was raised that the expression “on any other ground” which is used in the language of the sec 19(3)(c) of the Prevention Act means grounds which are referable to the proceedings under the Prevention Act.
It was held by the Supreme Court of India that an order of framing charges is neither an interlocutory order nor a final order. It has the nature of both and the Jurisdiction of the High Court is not barred whether it is a petition under Sections 397 or 482 of the Cr.P.C. or under Article 227 of the Constitution.
The court while coming to this decision relied upon several case laws. The court relied heavily upon the cases of L.Chandra Kumar v. Union of India (1997) 3 SCC 261, Madhu Limaye v. State of Maharashtra (1977) 4 SCC 551, Girish Kumar Suneja v. Central Bureau of Investigation (2017) 14 SCC 809, Kartar Singh v. State of Punjab (1994) 3 SCC 569 in order to arrive at the decision.
It was further held that such jurisdiction of the court was to be used in consonance with the legislative policy and the power shall be used in very rare cases for correction of errors of jurisdiction and not for reappraisal.
It was clarified that in cases where a stay is granted by the court, then the case must be proceeded with on a daily basis so that the operation of stay does is not prolonged for a longer period. If the matter remains pending for a long time then the stay must not prevail for more than six months, unless more time is granted by way of an order which is speaking in nature.
The Supreme Court also observed that a judgment needs to be read as a whole. In cases where there are conflicting parts in a judgment then those parts have to be reconciled harmoniously in order to achieve the same view as an earlier decision of the same bench strength.