Sc.482 – Quashing of criminal case = When there is not even a whisper in the complaint that the present appellant, i.e., accused No. 4 was fully aware that accused No. 1 was not the sole beneficiary by inheritance and that the property had devolved upon the complainant and her sisters. Also there is nothing to show that knowing this he has collusively entered into the lease agreement with accused No. 1, by creating a false and fabricated will. Though, there is a mention with regard to conspiracy, but there is not even a suggestion with regard to manner of such conspiracy. – No criminal complaint is maintainable and is liable to be quashed.

1
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL No.1586 OF 2019
(arising out of S.L.P.(Crl.) No. 9156 of 2017)
M. SRIKANTH …. APPELLANT(S)

                          VERSUS

STATE OF TELANGANA AND ANR. …. RESPONDENT(S)
WITH
CRIMINAL APPEAL Nos.1587­1588 OF 2019
(arising out of S.L.P.(Crl.) Nos. 9160­9161 of 2017)
J U D G M E N T
B.R. GAVAI, J.
Leave granted in both the Special Leave Petitions.

  1. Both these appeals arise out of the common Judgment
    and Order passed by the single Judge of High Court of
    Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and the
    State of Andhra Pradesh dated 01.06.2017.
    2
  2. The criminal appeal arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) No.
    9156 of 2017 filed by M. Srikanth, the original accused No. 4,
    challenges that part of the order by which the single Judge of
    the High Court has rejected his application under Section 482 of
    the Cr.P.C. for quashing the proceedings in Crime No.
    311/2010 of P.S., Central Crime Station, Hyderabad. The
    criminal appeals arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) Nos. 9160­9161 of
    2017 at the instance of the original complainant challenge that
    part of the order vide which the single Judge of the High Court
    has quashed the complaint qua accused Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.
  3. The facts, in brief, giving rise to the present appeals
    are as under:
    The parties are referred to herein as they are arrayed
    in the original complaint. The Respondent No. 2, Fatima Hasna,
    in the criminal appeal arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) No. 9156 of
    2017 (hereinafter referred to as “the complainant”), is the sister
    of accused No. 1, Akramuddin Hasan. The complainant had
    filed a private complaint against nine persons including accused
    No. 1. The allegations in the said complaint in a nutshell is that
    the house bearing No. 3­5­1102 at Narayanaguda, Hyderabad,
    originally belonged to Afzaluddin Hassan, the father of the
    3
    complainant, who died on 28.05.1996. Afzaluddin Hassan,
    possessed the same upon death of his mother, Khairunnisa
    Begum Saheba as per the oral gift dated 12.12.1966 and deed of
    confirmation of the said oral gift. It was the case of the
    complainant, that upon death of her father, Afzaluddin Hassan,
    the said property was inherited by her as well as her three
    sisters and accused No. 1, her brother. It is further averred in
    the complaint, that her father had entered into a development
    agreement on 25.05.1989 with M/s Banjara Construction
    Company Pvt. Ltd. However, the same was cancelled during his
    lifetime. It is further averred by her that after the death of her
    father, accused No. 3, Abid Rassol Khan, tried to trespass into
    the property and for that on her complaint, Crime No. 159/1996
    came to be registered for the offence punishable under Sections
    448 and 380 of the IPC on 14.06.1996.
  4. It is further averred by her that, thereafter, she came
    to know about the existence of a document thereby assigning
    the rights by M/s Banjara Construction Company Pvt. Ltd. in
    favour of M/s NRI Housing Company Pvt. Ltd., represented
    through accused No. 3, Abid Rasool Khan. For the said incident
    another complaint vide Crime No. 177/1996, came to be
    4
    registered for the offence punishable under Sections 418 and
    420 read with Section 120­B of the IPC against seven persons
    including M/s Banjara Construction Company Pvt. Ltd. and
    accused No. 3 in the present case. With regard to the said cause
    of action, the complainant had also filed Original Suit No.
    1989/1996 against accused No. 3 and others for permanent
    injunction. The complainant’s sisters had filed O.S. No.
    1403/1999 against M/s Banjara Construction Company Pvt.
    Ltd. of which accused No. 3, Abid Rasool Khan, was the
    Managing Director. According to the complainant, certain
    interim orders were also passed in the said original suits.
  5. It is further the case of the complainant in the
    complaint, that her brother accused No. 1, Akramuddin Hasan,
    who had falsely created a will in Urdu purported to be executed
    by their paternal grandmother, Khairunnisa Begum Saheba, in
    favour of their parents Afzaluddin Hassan and Liaquathunnisa
    Begum for their lifetime and vested remainder to accused No. 1.
    It is the case of the complainant, that the said will is registered
    and said to have been executed on 02.04.1950. Further, it is the
    case, that accused No. 1 had also created another forged and
    fabricated document styled as deed of confirmation (Hiba Bil
    5
    Musha) dated 08.03.1990 vide which the property is orally
    gifted to accused No. 1 on 29.08.1989 and also handed over
    physical possession thereof.
  6. It is further the case of the complainant, that accused
    No. 1, posing himself to be the owner of the premises, on the
    basis of the alleged oral will and deed of confirmation, created a
    registered lease on 01.12.2008, bearing document No.
    3107/2008 permitting accused No. 4 to sub­lease the said land
    in favour of accused No. 5, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation
    Ltd. (“HPCL”). Accused No. 6 and accused No. 9 are the
    employees/officers of accused No. 5 ­ HPCL whereas, accused
    Nos. 7 and 8 are the attesting witnesses. On the basis of the
    said complaint, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate directed the
    registration of an FIR on 24.11.2010.
  7. It appears, that various criminal petitions came to be
    filed before the High Court. Criminal Petition No. 6047/2013
    was filed by accused No. 7, Khaja Mohiuddin and accused No.
    8, G. V. Prasad. Criminal Petition No. 6064/2013 came to be
    filed by accused No. 3, Abid Rasool Khan. Criminal Petition No.
    6609/2013 came to be filed by accused No. 4, M. Srikanth, who
    is the appellant in the criminal appeal arising out of SLP (Crl.)
    6
    No. 9156/2017. Criminal Petition No. 8743/2013 was filed by
    accused No. 5 ­ HPCL and its officers, accused No. 6, S.K. Srui
    and accused No. 9, R. Umapathi. By the impugned Order, the
    High Court allowed the Criminal Petitions of all the applicants
    except accused Nos. 3 and 4.
  8. Being aggrieved by the dismissal of his petition,
    accused No. 4, so also the original complainant, being aggrieved
    by the impugned Order by which the petitions of accused Nos.
    5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 have been allowed, have approached this Court.
  9. We have heard Mr. D. Rama Krishna Reddy, learned
    counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant, M. Srikanth, and
    Mr. Shakil Ahmed Syed, learned counsel appearing on behalf of
    the complainant. We have also heard Mr. K. M. Nataraj, learned
    Additional Solicitor General, appearing on behalf of the original
    accused No. 5 ­ HPCL and its officers/employees, accused Nos.
    6 and 9.
  10. The learned counsel for the original accused No. 4
    submitted, that the only role attributed to the said accused in
    the complaint is that a lease deed was executed in his favour by
    7
    accused No. 1, showing himself to be the absolute owner of the
    property in question; whereas, the property was owned by the
    complainant and her three sisters along with accused No. 1. It
    is further submitted, that the entire allegations of fabrication so
    as to show that the property belongs to accused No. 1 are
    against accused no. 1. It is submitted that accused No. 4, on
    the basis of the advertisement issued by accused No. 5 – HPCL
    for installation of a petrol pump, had applied and after being
    successful in the competition had obtained the land in question
    on lease from accused No. 1. He submitted, that as per the
    terms and conditions for grant of the said outlet, he was
    required to get the land on long term lease and sub­lease the
    same to accused No. 5 – HPCL. It is submitted, that even taking
    the complaint at its face value, there are no averments which
    would show that accused No. 4 had any role to play in
    fabrication of the document which bestowed the title on accused
    No. 1. It is further submitted, that there are various civil
    proceedings pending amongst the complainant, accused No. 1
    and their sisters so also the other parties. Accused No. 4 is not
    at all concerned with the same.
    8
  11. It is further submitted, that as a matter of fact, the
    case of accused No. 4 could not have been distinguished from
    the case as against accused Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. It is
    submitted, that applying the same logic, which the learned
    Judge of the High Court had applied while quashing the case
    against the said accused, the case against the present accused
    No. 4 also ought to have been quashed. It is submitted that the
    continuation of criminal proceedings against accused No. 4, the
    appellant herein, would be nothing else but an abuse of the
    process of law.
  12. Per contra, Mr. Shakil Ahmed Syed, learned counsel
    appearing on behalf of the private complainant, submitted that
    the High Court has rightly dismissed the petition of accused
    No. 4. It is submitted, that accused No. 4 in order to deprive
    the benefits of the property to the complainant had got the lease
    deed executed in his favour from accused No. 1 knowing very
    well that the claim of accused No. 1 was based on fabricated
    document(s). He further submitted, that the High Court had
    also erred in allowing the petitions of accused Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8
    and 9 and, therefore, the order to the extent that it quashes the
    criminal proceedings qua them also needs to be set aside.
    9
  13. Mr. K.M. Nataraj, learned Additional Solicitor General,
    submitted that accused Nos. 5, 6 and 9 have been
    unnecessarily dragged in the said criminal litigation. It is
    submitted that accused No. 5 ­ HPCL is a public undertaking
    and accused Nos. 6 and 9 are its officers. It is submitted that
    the High Court has rightly arrived at a finding that there was no
    material against them and quashed the criminal proceedings
    qua them.
  14. This Court, in the case of State of Haryana and Ors.
    vs. Bhajan Lal and Ors.1
    after considering all its earlier
    judgments, has laid down principles which are required to be
    taken into consideration by the High Court while exercising its
    jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. for quashing the
    proceedings. It will be relevant to refer to the following
    observations of this Court in Bhajan Lal (supra):
    “102. In the backdrop of the interpretation of the various
    relevant provisions of the Code under Chapter XIV and of
    the principles of law enunciated by this Court in a series of
    decisions relating to the exercise of the extraordinary power
    under Article 226 or the inherent powers under Section 482
    of the Code which we have extracted and reproduced above,
    we give the following categories of cases by way of
    illustration wherein such power could be exercised either to
    prevent abuse of the process of any court or otherwise to
    1 1992 Supp (1) SCC 335
    10
    secure the ends of justice, though it may not be possible to
    lay down any precise, clearly defined and sufficiently
    channelised and inflexible guidelines or rigid formulae and
    to give an exhaustive list of myriad kinds of cases wherein
    such power should be exercised.
    (1) Where the allegations made in the first information
    report or the complaint, even if they are taken at their
    face value and accepted in their entirety do not prima
    facie constitute any offence or make out a case against
    the accused.
    (2) Where the allegations in the first information report and
    other materials, if any, accompanying the FIR do not
    disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an
    investigation by police officers under Section 156(1) of
    the Code except under an order of a Magistrate within
    the purview of Section 155(2) of the Code.
    (3) Where the uncontroverted allegations made in the FIR
    or complaint and the evidence collected in support of
    the same do not disclose the commission of any offence
    and make out a case against the accused.
    (4) Where, the allegations in the FIR do not constitute a
    cognizable offence but constitute only a non­cognizable
    offence, no investigation is permitted by a police officer
    without an order of a Magistrate as contemplated
    under Section 155(2) of the Code.
    (5) Where the allegations made in the FIR or complaint are
    so absurd and inherently improbable on the basis of
    which no prudent person can ever reach a just
    conclusion that there is sufficient ground for
    proceeding against the accused.
    (6) Where there is an express legal bar engrafted in any of
    the provisions of the Code or the concerned Act (under
    which a criminal proceeding is instituted) to the
    institution and continuance of the proceedings and/or
    where there is a specific provision in the Code or the
    concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for the
    grievance of the aggrieved party.
    11
    (7) Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with
    mala fide and/or where the proceeding is maliciously
    instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking
    vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him
    due to private and personal grudge.”
  15. It could thus be seen, that this Court has held, that
    where the allegations made in the FIR or the complaint, even if
    they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety
    do not prima facie constitute a case against the accused, the
    High Court would be justified in quashing the proceedings.
    Further, it has been held that where the uncontroverted
    allegations in the FIR and the evidence collected in support of
    the same do not disclose any offence and make out a case
    against the accused, the court would be justified in quashing
    the proceedings.
  16. Let us consider the case of the complainant on its face
    value without going into the truthfulness or otherwise thereof.
    It is the case of the complainant, that the property originally
    belonged to her grandmother. After her death, it devolved upon
    her father, Afzaluddin Hassan and after his death on
    28.05.1996, it devolved upon accused No. 1 and his three
    sisters, namely, Karima Siddiqua, Saleha Asmatunnisa and
    Sadika Khairunnisa. Their father had entered into a
    12
    development agreement with M/s Banjara Construction
    Company Pvt. Ltd., however, the same was cancelled during his
    lifetime. After the death of their father on 28.05.1996, accused
    No. 3 tried to trespass into the property for which, on the basis
    of her complaint a crime was registered. That the said M/s
    Banjara Construction Company Pvt. Ltd. had executed some
    document alleging assignment of its rights in favour of M/s NRI
    Housing Company Pvt. Ltd. of which accused No. 3, Abid Rasool
    Khan was the Managing Director. In respect of the same action,
    Crime No. 177/1996 had been registered at the instance of the
    complainant. With respect to the said transaction, two original
    suits were already filed, one by the complainant and another by
    her sisters.
  17. It is further the case of the complainant, that accused
    No.1 created a will in Urdu purported to be executed by her
    grandmother bequeathing the property in favour of her parents,
    namely, Afzaluddin Hassan and Liaquathunnisa Begum for
    their lifetime and vesting the remainder to accused No. 1. The
    said will is created on a non­judicial stamp paper of Nizamat
    Jung and has been allegedly executed on 02.04.1950.
    According to the complainant, accused No. 1, her brother, had
    13
    created another forged and fabricated document styled as deed
    of confirmation (Hiba Bil Musha) dated 08.03.1990 confirming
    the oral gift to accused No. 1 and also recording handing over
    of physical possession. It is her case, that on the basis of these
    fabricated documents, accused No. 1, posing himself to be an
    absolute owner of the property, executed a lease deed in favour
    of accused No. 4 (the appellant herein in one of the appeals) on
    01.12.2008. It is further the case of the complainant, that
    thereafter accused No. 4 executed a sub­lease in favour of
    accused No. 5 ­ HPCL represented by accused Nos. 6 and 9
    within a period of two months i.e. on 30.01.2009 and that
    accused Nos. 7 and 8 are the attesting witnesses. That is all the
    case of the complainant.
  18. The complaint filed by respondent No. 2 runs into 26
    pages and 26 paragraphs. As already discussed hereinabove, it
    reveals a disputed property claim based on inheritance between
    the complainant, her sisters and her brother, accused No. 1. A
    perusal of the complaint would further reveal, that the
    complainant also disputes with regard to the area of the
    property including the manner of its devolution upon the
    parents of the complainant and her competing interest with that
    14
    of her siblings. There is not even a whisper in the complaint
    that the present appellant, i.e., accused No. 4 was fully aware
    that accused No. 1 was not the sole beneficiary by inheritance
    and that the property had devolved upon the complainant and
    her sisters. Also there is nothing to show that knowing this he
    has collusively entered into the lease agreement with accused
    No. 1, by creating a false and fabricated will. Though, there is a
    mention with regard to conspiracy, but there is not even a
    suggestion with regard to manner of such conspiracy.
  19. Upon perusal of the complaint itself, it would reveal
    that the father of the complainant and accused No. 3 had
    himself entered into a development agreement which
    subsequently came to be cancelled during his lifetime. It would
    also reveal, that only after the lease in question was executed in
    favour of the appellant, the complainant has raised all these
    issues. We are of the considered view, that the issues raised
    reflect a civil dispute with regard to inheritance amongst the
    legal heirs. We fail to understand as to how a dispute with
    regard to the inheritance under a will and deed of confirmation
    can be decided in a criminal proceeding. We find, that the same
    can be done only in an appropriate civil proceeding. Not only
    15
    that, the civil proceedings with that regard are already
    instituted by various parties including the complainant. These
    proceedings are as follows:
    (i) O.S. No. 239 of 2004 on the file of the Hon’ble XI ACJ,
    CCC, Hyderabad.
    (ii) O.S. No. 337 of 2002 on the file of the Hon’ble XI ACJ,
    CCC, Hyderabad.
    (iii) O.S. No. 58 of 2001 on the file of the Hon’ble XI ACJ,
    CCC, Hyderabad.
    (iv) O.S. No. 277 of 2000 on the file of the Hon’ble XI ACJ,
    CCC, Hyderabad.
    (v) O.S. No. 506 of 2001 on the file of the Hon’ble XI ACJ,
    CCC, Hyderabad.
    (vi) Writ Petition (C) No. 685 of 2010.
  20. It will be relevant to refer that though in the complaint,
    the complainant had mentioned about pendency of O.S. No.
    1989 of 1996 against accused No. 3 and O.S. No. 1403 of 1999
    against M/s Banjara Construction Pvt. Ltd., there is no
    reference with regard to the other proceedings. Accused No. 4
    has been impleaded as a party­defendant in O.S. No. 506 of
    2001 only on 30.10.2009.
    16
  21. O.S. No. 239 of 2004 has already been filed by the
    complainant against her brother, accused No. 1 and her three
    sisters inter alia for partition and separate possession which is
    stated to be pending. As such, the documents alleged to be
    fraudulent in the complaint will fall for consideration in the
    said suit. A possibility of contradictory finding in civil
    proceeding as against criminal proceedings cannot be ruled
    out. Though, the complainant had filed Writ Petition Nos.
    23017/2009 and 23672/2009 to restrain construction on the
    plot in question, the same was dismissed on 28.10.2009.
    However, there is no mention with regard to the same in the
    complaint. This Court in Sardool Singh vs. Nasib Kaur2
    observed as follows:
    “2. A civil suit between the parties is pending
    wherein the contention of the respondent is that no
    will was executed whereas the contention of the
    appellants is that a will has been executed by the
    testator. A case for grant of probate is also pending
    in the court of learned District Judge, Rampur. The
    civil court is therefore seized of the question as
    regards the validity of the will. The matter is sub
    judice in the aforesaid two cases in civil courts. At
    this juncture the respondent cannot therefore be
    permitted to institute a criminal prosecution on the
    allegation that the will is a forged one. That question
    will have to be decided by the civil court after
    recording the evidence and hearing the parties in
    accordance with law. It would not be proper to
    permit the respondent to prosecute the appellants
    on this allegation when the validity of the will is
    2 (1987) Supp. SCC 146
    17
    being tested before a civil court. We, therefore, allow
    the appeal, set aside the order of the High Court,
    and quash the criminal proceedings pending in the
    Court of the Judicial Magistrate, First Class,
    Chandigarh in the case entitled Smt Nasib
    Kaur v. Sardool Singh. This will not come in the way
    of instituting appropriate proceedings in future in
    case the civil court comes to the conclusion that the
    will is a forged one. We of course refrain from
    expressing any opinion as regards genuineness or
    otherwise of the Will in question as there is no
    occasion to do so and the question is wide open
    before the lower courts.”
  22. It is further to be noted, that the complainant and her
    sisters executed an agreement of sale­cum­irrevocable specific
    power of attorney on 20.03.2015 in favour of one Mohd. Khalid
    Shareef. Various litigations have also been filed with regard to
    the installation of the petrol pump and grant of N.O.C. etc. The
    complaint was sent to the police for registration of an FIR and
    investigation under Section 156(3) of the Cr.P.C. on
    24.11.2010. In its final report dated 30.08.2017, the police has
    opined that no material had surfaced to show any conspiracy
    during investigation.
  23. The learned Judge himself in Paragraph 8, after
    observing that it is nobodies case that the signatures on the
    documents in question are forged or anybody has impersonated
    for the purpose of cheating, goes on to observe thus:
    18
    “8…..The allegation in nutshell in this regard is that
    accused No. 1 is not the absolute owner of the properties,
    but for one of the co­owner or co­sharer along with the de
    facto complainant and other sisters of them and he
    falsely claimed as if he is the owner for purpose of
    cheating by using as if genuine forged and fabricated
    documents of so called will and so called deed of
    confirmation. The so called will is of the year 1950 and
    the so called deed of confirmation is of year 1989­1990
    and the alleged oral gift prior to that is of 1966….”
  24. We fail to understand, as to how after observing the
    aforesaid, the learned Judge could have refused to quash the
    proceedings against accused No. 4. Not only that, but on the
    basis of the said observations, the learned Judge himself has
    observed that it will not be in the interest of justice to permit
    the Police authorities to arrest the accused for the purposes of
    investigation. We are of the considered view, that the learned
    Judge, having found that the entire allegations with regard to
    forgery and fabrication and accused No. 1 executing the lease
    deed on the basis of the said forged and fabricated documents
    were only against accused No. 1, ought to have exercised his
    jurisdiction to quash the proceedings qua accused No. 4 also.
    We find that the learned Judge ought to have applied the same
    parameters to the present accused No. 4, which had been
    applied to the other accused whose applications were allowed.
    19
  25. Insofar as the criminal appeals arising out of the
    special leave petitions filed by the original complainant is
    concerned, we absolutely find no merit in the appeals. The
    learned single Judge has rightly found that there was no
    material to proceed against accused No. 5 – HPCL and its
    officers accused Nos. 6 and 9 as also accused Nos. 7 and 8, who
    have been roped in, only because they were the attesting
    witnesses. The learned single Judge has rightly exercised his
    jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C.
  26. Insofar as original accused No. 4 is concerned, we have
    no hesitation to hold, that his case is covered by categories (1)
    and (3) carved out by this Court in the case of Bhajan Lal
    (supra). As already discussed hereinabove, even if the
    allegations in the complaint are taken on its face value, there is
    no material to proceed further against accused No. 4. We are of
    the considered view, that continuation of criminal proceedings
    against accused No. 4, M. Srikanth, would amount to nothing
    else but an abuse of process of law. As such, his appeal
    deserves to be allowed.
    20
  27. In the result, the criminal appeal arising out of S.L.P.
    (Crl.) No. 9156/2017 filed by accused No. 4 is allowed. The
    criminal proceedings in Crime No. 311/2010 of P.S., Central
    Crime Station, Hyderabad, against accused No. 4 are quashed
    and set aside. The criminal appeals arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.)
    Nos. 9160­61/2017 filed by the original complainant are
    dismissed.
    …………………..J.
    [NAVIN SINHA]
    ………………….J.
    [B.R. GAVAI]
    NEW DELHI;
    OCTOBER 21, 2019.