Author: Lakshya Raj Singh Rathore, 1st year student at Institute of Law, Nirma University.
Citation: (2015) 7 SCC 423
Date of Judgment: January 20, 2015
Bench: V. Gopala Gowda and R. Banumathi
Original Copy: View
Statues Involved: Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code.
Issues in question:
- Whether the offences alleged against the appellants prima facie stood any ground?
- Whether quashing an appeal filed at an early stage of investigation be quashed or not?
Background of the case:
- The appellant 2, Sakshi Jawa along with her husband while driving her Maruti hit an auto injuring Mrs Laxmi Ganapti, the passenger sitting in it, who sustained some injuries and the appellant 2 admitted the injured into the hospital and paid for the treatment and thus the dispute was settled amicably.
- But the constable present at the scene appealed to Mr Kasim, the inspector of the area.
- The inspector thus called the appellant no 2 to the station asking to show her driving license and the documents of the vehicle and allegedly was rudely talking to her and threatening to file a court case if not complied by the orders of the inspector as there was no FIR filed by Mrs Ganapati.
- Later the appellants posted on the Facebook page of the Bangalore traffic police regarding the misbehaviour done by the Police inspector against them.
- Because of which the police inspector lodged a FIR against the appellants under section 353 and 506 of IPC.
- Aggrieved by filing of such an FIR the appellants filed a criminal appeal under section 482 CrPC before the Karnataka High Court to quash the FIR, which the Court dismissed because it was being filed at an early stage of the investigation.
- Thus the present special leave came up before the bench of V. Gopala Gowda and R. Banumathi.
- The special leave petition filed against the judgment of the Karnataka High Court decision of dismissing the petition to be premature and filed before the investigation was completed.
- The appeals were against the FIR registered against the appellants by the police inspector for posting comments and posts on Facebook under sections 353 and section506 of IPC.
- Thus on dismissal by the High Court for the aforesaid reason the appellants were seeking remedy by special leave.
- Since the appeal is made at such an early stage the courts have a duty to check whether the allegations are uncontroversial to establish the offence, and to check whether the prosecution should be permitted or not so that it does not interfere with the course of justice.
- Also from the judgment in State of T.N. v Thirukkural Perumal the bench noted that the power to quash proceedings at an early stage should be rarely used by the courts as the process of a criminal trial cannot be treated in a casual manner.
- The counsel for appellants said that the posting of comments on Facebook does not arise any liability under section 353 and 506 of IPC as it is a public platform where people share their problems and discuss those problems socially, to which the counsel for respondents said that the posted comments were derogatory and thus were threatening and are covered under criminal intimidation, also these obstructed the public servants to do their duty and thus the order of the High Court was correct.
- The bench as per section 353 noted that since there is no presence of any force and no record shows that they have assaulted the police officer to prevent him from doing his duty, thus the offences as per this section does not arise against the appellants.
- The bench as per section 506 said that as per the facts available there was no intention of the appellants to be having any bad intention of harming the reputation of the public servant, and posting posts on Facebook does not arise any liability under section 506 IPC because the page created by the traffic police was for the people to share their grievances.
- Thus the alleged offences against the appellants are not satisfied as per the facts and circumstances the bench therein quashed the FIR against the appellants reversing the decision of the Karnataka High Court in Manik Taneja v State of Karnataka.
- The bench from the present case defined the application and scope of section 353 and 506 of the IPC.
- The bench from this case also stated the power of the court in dealing with matters filed before them which are in the premature stage of an investigation by mentioning the precedents to provide a better idea.
- Also by the case we can understand the things we need to keep in mind before posting anything online.
- The case also shows the scope of freedom of speech and expression which the constitution provides as per Article 19 while posting anything on social media.