‘Reckless registration of crime’ based on absurd allegations, says Karnataka HC on case against JP Nadda

The High Court of Karnataka has quashed the criminal proceedings in a case registered against BJP president J P Nadda in connection with a speech delivered ahead of the assembly elections in May in Vijayapura district, and called it a “reckless registration of crime.”

A complaint, alleging that Nadda threatened voters at a public meeting by stating that they would lose the benefit of central schemes if the BJP was not voted, was lodged by an election officer at the Harapanahalli police station on May 9 under Section 171F, which is a non-cognizable offence.

It was then forwarded to the Magistrate, who granted permission for registration of FIR.

Subsequently, Nadda had challenged it before the High Court.

Justice M Nagarpasanna, who heard the arguments of Nadda’s counsel and the government advocate recently, said the allegations were vague.

“The allegation is that Code of Conduct has been violated by the petitioner, on speaking at a public gathering on 07-05-2023 by threatening the voters. The complaint is so vague that it would daunt vagueness itself.

On such a vague complaint which is loosely made against the petitioner, the crime in Crime No.89 of 2023 is registered and the Damocles sword of crime is left hanging on the petitioner projecting it to be an offence,” he said.

The copy of the complaint was quoted by the HC in its judgement which only states that Nadda had violated the code of conduct and does not make mention of any details.

The HC further observed that allowing the criminal proceedings would be an abuse of law.

“If on the aforesaid facts further investigation is permitted to continue against the petitioner it would become a classic case of permitting investigation in a reckless registration of crime which on the face of it, would become an abuse of the process of law.”

Citing a Supreme Court judgement in a case, the HC said that three of the seven postulates laid down by the Apex Court in it were applicable in the current case.

“The first postulate is that where the allegations are taken on their face value they would not make out a case against the accused. The fifth postulate is that where the allegations in the FIR are so absurd and inherently improbable, it would be a sufficient ground to quash the proceedings.

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The seventh postulate is where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fides or is maliciously instituted with a view to spite the accused, such proceedings should be quashed,” the HC quoted the three postulates and said these were “completely applicable to the facts of the case at hand.”

Since the HC decided the case on merits, it said it was not necessary to remit it back to the Magistrate court.

“In the light of the issue being answered on the merit of the matter itself, the submission with regard to non-application of mind by the learned Magistrate while granting permission for registration of FIR and on that score matter being remitted back to the learned Magistrate for reconsideration, would pale into insignificance,” the judge said allowing the petition and quashing the entire investigation pending before the lower court.

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