State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr. Versus Akhil Sharda & Ors

State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr. Versus   Akhil Sharda & Ors

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.840 of 2022 
                                                                
State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr.               ...Appellants 
Versus  
Akhil Sharda & Ors.                         ...Respondents
With 
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.841 OF 2022
Sanjeet Jaiswal     …Appellant
Versus
State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors. …Respondents
J U D G M E N T 
M. R. Shah, J.
1. Feeling   aggrieved   and   dissatisfied   with   the   impugned
judgment and order dated 06.03.2020 passed by the High
1
Court of Judicature at Allahabad, Lucknow Bench, Lucknow
in a Case under Sections 482/378/407 No.2005 of 2019 by
which the High Court in exercise of powers under Section 482
Cr.P.C. has quashed the criminal proceedings arising out of
FIR bearing Case Crime No.260 of 2018 lodged under Section
406, registered at PS – Husainganj, District – Lucknow, the
State of U.P. as well as the original informant have preferred
the present appeals.
2. The facts leading to the present appeals in a nutshell are
as under:
For the sake of convenience, the parties are referred as
per the cause title in Criminal Appeal No.840 of 2022 filed by
the   State   of   U.P.     That   the   respondent   no.4   herein   M/s.
United Breweries Limited is engaged in manufacture of sale of
beer which is regulated and governed by the Excise Act and
other relevant clause of the State.   Respondent No.5 – M/s
Beehive Alcoveb is the licenced Firm having F.L. 2B licence,
engaged in the business of beer etc. by purchasing the goods
from   the   company,   Respondent   No.5   ­   Sanjeet   Jaiwal   –
original  informant  of FIR  No.260 of  2018, Manager of  the
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company – M/s Beehive Alcoweb.  On 07.09.2018 at 7.56 p.m.
respondent no.5 sent a demand order at 7.56 p.m. and on
11.09.2018 through e­mail for delivery of three trucks of beer
to   respondent   No.4   –   M/s   United   Breweries   Limited   and
transferred   a   total   sum   of   Rs.92,98,902/­   to   deliver   two
trucks in Lucknow and one in Varanasi.   The Respondent
no.4 directed its transporter SICAL Logistics Limited Company
to arrange a vehicle and deliver goods to Respondent no.5/the
informant.     That   in   furtherance   of   the   same,   M/s.   SICAL
Logistics   Limited   Company   contacted   another   transport
company,   who   in   turn,   hired   two   trucks   vide   truck
registration numbers UP­32HN/3209 and UP­32FN/8048 for
delivery   of   consignment   of   respondent   no.5/informant   to
Lucknow after obtaining transfer permit FL­36 from Excise
Department.  The trucks were enabled with GPS systems as
maintained by the Excise Department Track and Trace policy.
2.1 The consignment of beer was dispatched on 11.09.2018
through the aforesaid two trucks.   The GPS devices of both
the   trucks   lost   contact   with   GPS   tracking   agency   on
13.09.2018 after 11.41 pm.   On 13.09.2018 at about 16.40
3
hrs. when the transporter contacted through his mobile phone
to driver Mukesh on his mobile phone, he was informed that
the   vehicles   were   standing   near   Junabganj,   Lucknow   at
Chauhan Dhaba (outer area of Lucknow) due to “no entry”.  It
appears that thereafter neither the tracer could be contacted
nor the vehicles could be traced.  With no positive response
from the supplier, respondent no.1 and the goods not being
delivered though full payment was made and the goods being
missing   midway,   respondent   no.5   lodged   the   present   FIR
bearing Case Crime No.260 of 2018 for the offence under
Sections 406 & 420 IPC.   In the meantime, the Manager of
M/s SICAL Logistic also lodged a separate FIR bearing Case
Crime No.390 of 2018 under Sections  420 & 406 IPC PS
Badalpur, Gautam Budha Nagar against two truck drivers
and   one   unknown   person.     After   the   conclusion   of   the
investigation, the Investigating Officer filed the charge­sheet
against respondent no.5 in Case Crime No.26 of 2018 dated
10.02.2018 and thereafter the learned Magistrate passed the
summoning order dated 13.02.2019.  Even subsequently the
Investigating Officer PS Badalpur has also filed the chargesheet in the case arising out of Case Crime No.227 of 2019 PS
4
– Banthra, District Lucknow (Old No.390 of 2018).  Thereafter
goods   were   delivered   to   the   original   informant.   Also,
respondent   no.1   to   respondent   no.4   herein,   accused   in
Criminal Case No.5694 of 2019 (arising out of FIR No.260 of
2018) approached the High Court by way of an application
under Section 482 Cr.P.C. being Case Crime No.2005 of 2019
seeking the following main reliefs:
“(i) set aside the impugned summoning order
dated 13.02.2019 passed in Criminal Case No.
5694/2019, Case Crime No. 0260/2018, under
Section 406, 420, 467, 468, 471, 120­B I.P.C.,
Police Station­Husainganj, district Lucknow. 
(ii). set aside the impugned charge sheet dated
10.02.2019, filed by the Investigating Officer in
Case Crime No. 0260/2018, under Section 406,
420, 467, 468, 471, 120­B I.P.C., Police StationHusainganj, District­ Lucknow. 
(iii) set aside the entire proceedings of the Case
Crime No. 0260/2018, under Section 406, 420,
467,   468,   471,   120­B   I.P.C.,   Police   StationHusainganj, District­ Lucknow.” 
2.2 By the impugned judgment and order the High Court in
exercise of powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. has quashed the
entire criminal proceedings including the charge­sheet and
the summoning order arising out of Criminal Case No.5694 of
5
2019   (arising   out   of   Case   Crime   No.260   of   2018   PS   –
Husainganj, District – Lucknow).
2.3 Feeling   aggrieved   and   dissatisfied   with   the   impugned
judgment and order passed by the High Court quashing the
criminal proceedings and the summoning order passed by the
learned Trial Court in Criminal Case No.5694 of 2019 (arising
out of Case Crime No.260 of 2018 PS – Husainganj, District –
Lucknow), the State as well as the original informant have
preferred the present appeals.
3. Ms.   Aishwarya   Bhati,   learned   ASG   has   appeared   on
behalf of the appellant ­ State of UP and Dr. Abhishek Manu
Singhvi, learned Senior Advocate has appeared on behalf of
the original informant.   Shri Ranjeet Kumar, learned Senior
Advocate and Shri Sidharth Dave, learned Senior Advocate
have appeared on behalf of the original accused.
4. Ms. Bhati, learned ASG and Dr. Singhvi, learned Senior
Advocate appearing on behalf of the original informant have
vehemently submitted that in the facts and circumstances of
6
the case the High Court has committed a grave/serious error
in   quashing   the   entire   criminal   proceedings   in   exercise   of
powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C.
4.1 It is submitted on behalf of the State as well as the
original informant that while passing the impugned judgment
and order while quashing the criminal proceedings arising out
of Case Crime No.260 of 2018 the High Court has not properly
appreciated and/or considered the larger conspiracy.
4.2 It is submitted that the High Court has not appreciated
and/or considered  the  fact  that  both  the  FIRs being Case
Crime Nos.260 of 2018 and 227 of 2019 are interconnected
and cannot be separated.  It is submitted that the High Court
ought not to have set aside the criminal proceedings arising
out of one FIR being Case Crime No.260 of 2018.
4.3 It is submitted that the High Court has failed to note
and/or appreciate the allegations in the FIR being FIR No.260
of   2018   which   were   relating   to   disappearances   of   trucks
loaded   with   beer   from   highways   in   Uttar   Pradesh   which
7
involve allegations of forging data and uploading incorrect data
against the Respondent ­Accused.
4.4 It is further submitted that by passing the impugned
judgment   and   order   the   High   Court   has   curtailed   and
narrowed the scope of the investigation. 
4.5 It is submitted that even the High Court agrees that the
allegations are serious and require investigation.   However,
without a further prayer in that regard and at the instance of
the accused, the High Court has transferred the investigation
to CB­CID to investigate the FIR being FIR No.227 of 2019
lodged by the accused themselves.
4.6 It is further submitted that while passing the impugned
judgment and order and quashing the criminal proceedings
the High Court has not properly appreciated and considered
various aspects of the case and the complicity of the accused
have not been considered.  
8
4.7 It is submitted that two whole trucks loaded with beer
went missing and the beer bottles was not found.  There was
no recovery or seizure of the goods concerned. It had come
during investigation that there were other such instances of
disappearance   of   trucks   loaded   with   beer   bottles.     It   is
submitted   that   there   is   a   syndicate   operating   with   the
connivance of the accused persons. 
 4.8 It  is   submitted  that   the  manner   in  which   the  trucks
loaded with beer bottles went missing and the modus operandi
adopted, in such a serious matter but the High Court has
quashed the criminal proceedings; that the High Court has
exceeded its jurisdiction while exercising the powers under
Section 482 Cr.P.C.
4.9 It   is   submitted   that   while   quashing   the   criminal
proceedings in exercise of powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C.
the High Court has conducted a mini trial which as such is
not permissible while exercising the powers under Section 482
Cr.P.C.
9
4.10 Learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the respective
appellants have heavily relied upon the following decisions of
this   Court   in   support   of   their   above   submissions   and   the
prayer to quash and set aside the impugned judgment and
order.
(i) Odisha vs. Pratima Mohanty, 2021 SCC Online SC
1222 [paras 14, 15, 16, 18 & 22]
(ii) CBI vs. Thommandru, 2021 SCC Online SC 923
(iii) Rajeev Kourav vs. Baisahab, (2020) 3 SCC 317
(iv) Neeharika   Infrastructure   vs.   Maharashtra,   2021
SCC Online SC 315
(v) Rajiv Thapar vs. Madan Lal Kapoor, (2013) 3 SCC
330.
(vi) Divine Retreat vs. Kerala, (2008) 3 SCC 542.
4.11 It is further submitted by learned counsel appearing on
behalf of the appellants that in the present case the High
Court delivered the judgment after a period of six months from
the   date   it   was   reserved   for   judgment.     Therefore,   the
impugned   judgment   and   order   passed   by   the   High   Court
deserves to be quashed and set aside.  Reliance is placed in
the decision of this Court in the case of Anil Rai vs. State of
Bihar, (2001) 7 SCC 318.
10
Making   the   above   submissions   and   relying   upon   the
above decisions it is prayed to allow the present appeals and
quash and set aside the impugned judgment and order passed
by the High Court quashing and setting aside the criminal
proceedings arising out of FIR bearing Case Crime No.260 of
2018   lodged   under   Section   406,   registered   at   PS   –
Husainganj, District – Lucknow.
5. Both   these   appeals   are   vehemently   opposed   by   Shri
Ranjeet Kumar, learned Senior Advocate and Shri Sidhartha
Dave,   learned   Senior   Advocate   appearing   on   behalf   of   the
respective accused.
5.1 Learned   counsel   appearing   on   behalf   of   the   original
accused   have   vehemently   submitted   that   in   the   facts   and
circumstances of the case and after having satisfied that the
ingredients of Sections 406, 420 IPC are not made out and the
case falls within the parameters laid down by this Hon’ble
Court in the case of  Ch.  Bhajan  Lal  vs.  State  of  Haryana
1992 Supp (1) SCC 335 which are required to be considered
while quashing the criminal proceedings, the Hon’ble High
11
Court has not committed any error in quashing and setting
aside the criminal proceedings.
5.2 It is submitted that as such the respondents herein ­
original accused are not at all in anyway responsible for the
missing of the trucks loaded with beer after the same were
dispatched from their company.  It is submitted that in fact
the respondents – original accused delivered the goods to the
transporter   namely   SICAL   Logistic   and   in   turn   hired   two
trucks.   It is submitted that it was the SICAL Logistic who
arranged the vehicles to deliver goods to the informant.  It is
submitted that thereafter the goods have been delivered.  It is
also found by the High Court that there was no loss caused to
the   Excise   Department.     It   is   submitted   that   the   main
grievance/dispute by the informant was with respect to the
rebate and therefore with a mala fide intention, the FIR was
lodged.  That so far as the rebate is concerned, no allegation
was   made   in   the   FIR.     Therefore,   in   the   facts   and
circumstances of the case the High Court has not committed
any   error   in   quashing   and   setting   aside   the   criminal
proceedings, as it was nothing but an abuse of process of law.
12
Relying upon the decision of this Court in the case of  Ch.
Bhajan   Lal   (supra);   Indian   Oil   Corporation   vs.   N.E.P.C.
India Ltd. and others­  reported in  (2006) 6 SCC 736; Rajiv
Thapar (supra) and Jetking Infotrain Ltd. vs. State of U.P.,
(2015)   11   SCC   730.,  it   is  prayed   to   dismiss   the   present
appeals.
6. We have heard learned counsel for the respective parties
at length.
6.1 At  the outset, it is required to be noted that  by the
impugned judgment and order the High Court in exercise of
powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. has quashed the criminal
proceedings arising out of FIR bearing Case Crime No.260 of
2018   including   the   charge­sheet   filed   by   the   Investigating
Agency as well as the summoning order passed by the learned
Trial Court.
6.2 At the outset, it is required to be noted that the High
Court has delivered the impugned judgment and order after a
period   of   six   months   after   the   matter   was   reserved   for
13
judgment. Though the judgment and order passed by the High
Court may not be set aside on the aforesaid ground only,
however it is always advisable that the High Court delivers the
judgment at the earliest after the arguments are concluded
and the judgment is reserved. While emphasizing the need to
pronounce the reserved judgment at the earliest and within a
reasonable time this Court in the case of Anil Rai (supra) has
observed and held in para 9 as under:
“9. It is true, that  for the High Courts, no
period   for   pronouncement   of   judgment   is
contemplated either under the Civil Procedure Code
or   the   Criminal   Procedure   Code,   but   as   the
pronouncement of the judgment is a part of the
justice dispensation system, it has to be without
delay. In a country like ours where people consider
the Judges only second to God, efforts be made to
strengthen that belief of the common man. Delay in
disposal of the cases facilitates the people to raise
eyebrows,   sometimes   genuinely   which,   if   not
checked, may shake the confidence of the people in
the   judicial   system.   A   time   has   come   when   the
judiciary   itself   has   to   assert   for   preserving   its
stature, respect and regards for the attainment of
the rule of law. For the fault of a few, the glorious
and   glittering   name   of   the   judiciary   cannot   be
permitted   to   be   made   ugly.   It   is   the   policy   and
purpose of law, to have speedy justice for which
efforts are required to be made to come up to the
expectation   of   the   society   of   ensuring   speedy,
untainted and unpolluted justice.”
In the aforesaid decision this Court has also taken note
of the observations made by this Court in another case in the
14
case of Bhagwandas Fatechand Daswani and Ors. vs. HPA
International and Ors., (2000) 2 SCC 13 that “a long delay
in   delivery   of   the   judgment   gives   rise   to   unnecessary
speculations in the minds of the parties in a case”.
7. Having gone through the impugned judgment and order
passed by the High Court by which the High Court has set
aside the criminal proceedings in exercise of powers under
Section   482   Cr.P.C.,   it   appears   that   the   High   Court   has
virtually   conducted   a   mini   trial,   which   as   such   is   not
permissible at this stage and while deciding the application
under Section 482 Cr.P.C.   As observed and held by this
Court in a catena of decisions no mini trial can be conducted
by the High Court in exercise of powers under Section 482
Cr.P.C.   jurisdiction   and   at   the   stage   of   deciding   the
application under Section 482 Cr.P.C., the High Court cannot
get into appreciation of evidence of the particular case being
considered.
(See Pratima (supra); Thom (supra); Rajiv (supra) and
Niharika (supra).
15
7.1 Applying the law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid
decisions to the facts of the case on hand and the manner in
which the High Court has allowed the petition under Section
482   Cr.P.C.,   we   are   of   the   opinion   that   the   impugned
judgment and order passed by the High Court quashing the
criminal proceedings is unsustainable.   The High Court has
exceeded   in   its   jurisdiction   in   quashing   the   criminal
proceedings in exercise of powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C.
7.2 It is also required to be noted that even the High Court
itself has opined that the allegations are very serious and it
requires further investigation and that is why the High Court
has   directed   to   conduct   the   investigation   by   CB­CID   with
respect to the FIR No.227 of 2019.  However, while directing
the CB­CID to conduct further investigation/investigation, the
High Court has restricted the scope of investigation.  The High
Court has not appreciated and considered the fact that both
the FIRs namely FIR Nos.260 of 2018 and 227 of 2019 can be
said   to   be   interconnected   and   the   allegations   of   a   larger
conspiracy are required to be investigated.  It is alleged that
the   overall   allegations   are   disappearance   of   the   trucks
16
transporting the beer/contraband goods which are subject to
the rules and regulations of the Excise Department and Excise
Law.  
7.3 The High Court has quashed the criminal proceedings by
observing that there was no loss to the Excise Department.
However,   the   High   Court   has   not   at   all   appreciated   the
allegations of the larger conspiracy.  The FIR need not be an
encyclopedia  (See   Satpal   vs.   Haryana,   (2018)   6  SCC   110
Para 7).
7.4 Even   otherwise,   it   is   required   to   be   noted   that   the
allegation of missing of two trucks was the beginning of the
investigation and when during the investigation it was alleged
that earlier also a number of trucks were missing transporting
contraband goods, the FIR should not have been restricted to
missing of the two trucks only and return of on the goods
thereafter.  The High Court has not at all appreciated and/or
considered the allegation of the larger conspiracy and that
both the FIRs/criminal cases are interconnected and part of
the main conspiracy which is very serious if found to be true.
17
We however refrain from making any further observations as
at this stage of proceedings as we are at the stage of deciding
the application under Section 482 Cr.P.C. only and as the trial
of both the cases have yet to take place.  Therefore, we refrain
from making any further observations which may affect the
case of the either of the parties.  Suffice it to say and mention
that in the facts and circumstances of the case the High Court
has committed a grave/serious error in quashing and setting
aside the criminal proceedings arising out of Criminal Case
No.5694 of 2019 and Case Crime No.260 of 2018 PS lodged
under Section 406, registered at PS – Husainganj, District –
Lucknow.
8. In view of the above and for the reason stated above both
these Appeals Succeed.   The impugned judgment and order
passed by the High Court is hereby quashed and set aside to
the   extent   quashing   and   setting   aside   the   criminal
proceedings Criminal Case No.5694 of 2019 arising out of
Case Crime No.260 of 2018 PS lodged under Section 406,
registered at PS – Husainganj, District – Lucknow.
18
The   proceedings   before   the   learned   Trial   Court   in
Criminal Case No.5694 of 2019 are ordered to be restored to
file.  Present Appeals are accordingly Allowed to the aforesaid
extent.
…………………………………J.
                 (M. R. SHAH)
…………………………………J.
                                                 (B.V. NAGARATHNA)
New Delhi, 
July 11, 2022.
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