Rupan Deol Bajaj & Anr v. Kanwar Pal Singh & Anr, 1995 SCC (6) 194
Rupan Deol Bajaj, Petitioner
Kanwar Pal Singh, Respondent
Mrs. Rupan Deol Bajaj, an Officer of the I.A.S from the Punjab Cadre, working as the Special Secretary, Finance at the time, filed a complaint with the Inspector General of Police, Chandigarh Union Territory, on July 29, 1988. He insinuated commission of offenses under Sections 341, 342, 352, 354, and 509 of the Indian Penal Code by Mr. K.P.S. Gill, Director General of Police, Punjab, during a dinner event on July 18, 1988.
Following that, on November 22, 1988, her husband, Mr. B.R. Bajaj, filed a complaint in the Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate for the same misdemeanors. Alleging, among other things, that Mr. Gill, despite being a high-ranking Police Officer, had not been arrested in charge of the case registered by the Police on his wife’s complaint. Also.the police didn’t perform an investigation in a fair and unbiased manner. And he was only complaining because he believed the police would close the inquiry by declaring the matter untraceable.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate redirected the complaint to a Judicial Magistrate for disposition. And the latter, given that an inquiry by the Police was ongoing in regards to the same offenses, requested a report from the Investigating Officer in accordance with Section 210 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. On December 16, 1988, Mr. Gill petitioned the High Court under Section 482 Cr. P.C. for the quashing of the F.I.R. and the complaint.
On that petition, an interim order was issued, halting the inquiry into Mrs. Bajaj’s F.I.R. but not the procedures begun on Mr. Bajaj’s complaint. As a result, the learned Judicial Magistrate progressed with the complaint case, questioning the complainant and the witnesses he had provided.
Following that, Mr. Bajaj brought an application before the learned Magistrate for questioning Mr. Y.S. Ratra, an I.A.S. Officer of the Government of Punjab, and Mr. J.F. Rebeiro, Adviser to the Governor of Punjab. It was to testify on his behalf and provide certain documents, which was granted. Instead of attending in person, the above-mentioned officers claimed exemption from attendance. And the District Attorney, after reviewing the papers, submitted an application claiming privilege under Sections 123 and124 of the Evidence Act on their behalf.
Can the High Court’s decision to dismiss the FIR be appealed? And whether the accusations constitute any of the aforementioned offences.
The court ordered the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate of Chandigarh to take cognizance of the police report concerning the crimes under Sections 354 and 509 IPC and to try the matter independently in line with the law.
They made it abundantly clear that the learned Magistrate should not be swayed by any of their observations relating to the facts of the case. This is because their task was limited to determining whether a “prima facie case” to proceed to trial was made out or not. Whereas, the learned Magistrate will have to decide the case purely based on the evidence to be substantiated during the trial.
The court first considered Sections 354 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, both of which deal with women’s modesty. The division court also examined the decision in State of Punjab v. Major Singh, which ruled that when any conduct has done to or in the presence of a woman is indicative of sex according to ordinary ideas of mankind, it must fall within the offense of Section 354 of the Criminal Code.
When the Hon’ble Court applied the test in the present case, it could not help but conclude that Mr. Gill’s alleged act of slapping Mrs. Bajaj on her posterior amounted to “outraging of her modesty,” because it was not only an insult to the normal sense of feminine decency, but also an affront to the lady’s dignity – “sexual overtones” or not.
Mr. Tulsi, the respondents’ counsel, argued that even if it was assumed that Mr. Gill had offended Mrs. Bajaj’s modesty, no offence under Section 354 IPC could be said to have been committed by him because the other ingredient of the offence, namely, that he intended to do so, was completely lacking. He argued that the guilty purpose of the perpetrator in doing the crime, not the results, is the essence of the problem.
This court held that it is undeniably accurate that if purpose or knowledge is one of the components of any offence, it must be proven along with the other ingredients to condemn a person. In the present case, they were merely at the preliminary stage and must determine, only prima facie, whether Mr. Gill meant to outrage or knew it was possible that he would outrage Mrs. Bajaj’s modesty by slapping her on her rear in the context described by her in the FIR.
The court evaluated the application of Sections 341,342, and 352 of the IPC. The court determined that nothing in the FIR or the facts of the case indicated a scenario of Wrongful restriction or Wrongful confinement. Mr. Gill’s mere act of standing in front of Mrs. Bajaj cannot be considered unlawful constraint.
The court ruled that it is a well-established legal principle that at the stage of quashing a FIR or complaint, the High Court is not justified in investigating the likelihood, trustworthiness, or authenticity of the accusations asserted therein.
An F.I.R. or a complaint may be quashed if the accusations made in it are so preposterous and intrinsically implausible that no prudent person can ever reach a just outcome that there is good justification for proceeding against the accused, but the High Court had not transcribed such a finding, obviously because it was not possible to do so based on the allegations in the FIR.
The Supreme Court ruled that the High Court made a clear mistake of law in dismissing the FIR and complaint. As a result, it reversed the challenged decision and rejected Mr. Gill’s plea before the High Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C.