Srinagar: The High Court J&K and Ladakh has dismissed a petition by a woman JKAS officer wherein she had sought direction for quashing a verification by Anti-Corruption Bureau(ACB) regarding a “pseudonymous” complaint against her.
Among others, the JKAS officer, who was working as BDO , had claimed that she was harassed by an SP and a DySP rank officers of ACB for allegedly obtaining sexual favours from her to “close the verification” against her.
She had submitted that on the basis of a “pseudonymous complaint”, no action can be taken by the ACB against her.
The JKAS officer submitted that she cannot be subjected to unmerited and biased enquiry or investigation launched at the behest of some officials in "colourable exercise of the official duty." She contended that the inquiry had already been closed since the lodging of the anonymous and frivolous complaint on 25 February 2021 as the same being dispelled through the official correspondence.
While she submitted that Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 postulates impermeable protections of public servants with the object of curtailing frivolous complaints and the legislative presumption is always in favour of the public servant, she said the impugned inquiry "under guise of inquiry could not be permitted to circumvent the statutory protections and any violation thereto renders the inquiry without any justification in law and liable to be set at naught."
A bench of Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul dismissed the plea after the authorities concerned informed the court that the Dy.S.P., against whom the officer alleges demand of sexual favour since 2018 was not conducting any enquiry in any matter linked with her and has no occasion to contact her.
The authorities concerned also submitted that she was “never” called to the office of ACB in person during the probe of the instant verification as such the question of harassment does not arise at all.
“The case in hand, when examined on the touchstone of law laid down by the Supreme Court, does not at all persuade this Court to grant the relief prayed for by the petitioner in the instant petition,” the court said, adding, “It is well settled law that Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure empowers the High Court to exercise its inherent powers to prevent abuse of the process of Court.”
This extraordinary power, the court said, is to be exercised “ex debito justitiae” (as a matter of right). “However, in exercise of such powers, it is not permissible for the High Court to appreciate the evidence as it can only evaluate material documents on record to the extent of its prima facie satisfaction about existence of sufficient ground for proceedings against accused and the court cannot look into materials, acceptability of which is essentially a matter for trial.”
Citing an a Supreme Court Judgment, the Court said “the apex court has held that the powers under Section 482 Cr.PC or under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, to quash the FIR, is to be exercised in a very sparing manner as is not to be used to choke or smother the prosecution that is legitimate”.
“Inherent powers do not confer an arbitrary jurisdiction on the High Court to act according to whim or caprice. Such power has to be exercised sparingly, with circumspection and in the rarest of rare cases. Inherent powers in a matter of quashing FIR have to be exercised sparingly and with caution and only when such exercise is justifying by the test specifically laid down in provision itself,” the court said, adding, “Power under Section 482 Cr.PC, is a very wide, but conferment of wide power requires the Court to be more conscious. It casts an onerous and more diligent duty on the Court”.