This article has been written by Aditya Joshi.
A diocese, a bishop’s pastoral district, blends the theological and temporal affairs with those of a Christian Church. It makes the decision to sell some of its properties. A couple of office bearers are proposed to sell the land, but they are accused of misappropriation. A few members of the church voice their dissatisfaction, and at least four of them go to the police or the judge. A qualified trial court takes cognizance of such a lawsuit and agrees to prosecute the case. Others, on the other hand, continue to file police reports. They came before the High Court of Kerala after the police reportedly failed to report a crime. They say that only cops can solve the case. The writ petition is granted by a learned Single Judge, and the police follow the judicial directive and report a crime. The distressed officials challenge this course in the appeal. Can the contested decision be upheld? Are there any effective possible options open to the complainants, given that the public-law remedy is the last resort in private matters? are the questions to be dealt with. The concerned case analysis scrutinizes a recently decided judgment by the High Court of Kerala.
The article focuses on the dilemma of the petitioners in the country who are yearned to initiate the criminal proceedings but often lose their patience by the smarmy state of the criminal procedure in the country. The commentary analyses the ambit of police officials in filing FIR with special reference to the Lalitha Kumari Case, it also specially carve out the alternative remedies available to the petitioners in case they feel that their complaint is being ignored by the Officials.
In the Christian Church, a Diocese is a territory under the pastoral care of a bishop that blends theological and secular affairs. It makes the decision to sell any of its properties. In the present case a couple of office bearers are allowed to sell the land, but they are accused of misappropriation. At least four members of the church contact either the police or the judge. A qualified criminal court takes cognizance of such a lawsuit and agrees to prosecute the case. Others, on the other hand, continue to file police reports. They came before the high Court of Kerala after the police reportedly failed to report a crime. They assert that only cops can solve the case. The writ petition is granted by a learned Single Judge, and the police follow the judicial directive and file a criminal case. The aggrieved office bearers challenge the decision in the appeal. Is it possible to uphold the challenged decision? Are there any effective potential options open to the complainants, as the public-law solution is always the last resort in private matters? These are the major questions to be addressed in this Analysis.
From a couple of years ago, the Diocese had a plan to establish a medical college for which in the year 2015 the diocese guided by one of its core members named Shine Varghese decided to buy some land of approx. 60 crores including 5 individual lands. Most parts of this purchase were made possible through a hefty bank loan. Time passed and the project did not resulted that fruitful for the diocese as it was expected. After seeing the debt mounting and things against their financial ambits the diocese with a consensus decided to sell some of their properties and land in order to repay the loan and stabilize their financial conditions. For this pivotal task, the diocese decided to appoint 2 of its senior members including F.R Sebastian Vadakkumpadan and F.R Joshy as they were experienced in financial matters of the Diocese. The diocese pre-decided certain criteria for the sale and ordered that the interim body will not sale the lands until the board allows it to do so. Per Contra, both the appointed members violated certain norms of the decided criteria and were found selling the properties even before the board commanded them to proceed for the same. After the finding, the Diocese reviewed these allegations and they were found to be true, in consonance to this several members of the Diocese decided to file a police complaint against the accused. The Complainants reached the court after finding that the respective police officials of the district are not filing the complaint against both the accused because of some higher officials. After reviewing the Writ Petitions and previous judgements court, in this case, finds that Shine Varghese and the complainants have faltered at the first hurdle—the alternative remedy, which they had on several counts. That is to say, the challenged decision had a legal flaw and was overturned.
Cases relating to multiple lodging of FIRs or police’s denial of filing a complaint are numerously found in a country like India. These types of instances often make the complainants yearn for restoring their rights which according to them have been violated by the accused. This puts a question on the motion of criminal procedure as to when being the ideal stage or what are the basic requirements that are needed to kick start the motion of the criminal justice system. This raises further questions relating to the delineation of the respective circumstances to start the wheel of the criminal justice system. Analysing through the complainant’s side every complaint lodged before the police officials should be lodged to keep the motion of the criminal justice system lubricated, but if this being the case there will be innumerable frivolous complaints before the police officials rather defeating the purpose of smooth criminal procedure in the country. So what is the requisite action for identifying that the complaint is legible in order to be lodged?
The answers to this question comes through various Judicial Interpretations which have refurbished the Criminal Jurisprudence and coined the pivotal Operandi of Preliminary Inquiry which can be exercised by the police officials if deemed necessary in certain cases. Previous noteworthy Supreme Court decisions, such as Nazir Ahmed, H.N. Rishbud, and Inder Singh v. the State of Delhi, The court ruled that the judiciary could not intervene with the police in matters such as investigation, especially of a cognizable offense, which is the police’s statutory right. The court claimed that the police do not need judicial permission. In view of individual liberties and the country’s law and order condition, the court decided that the roles of the police and judiciary are complementary rather than conflicting. The judiciary’s job begins after a charge has been made, not before. In the case of Abhinandan Jha v. Dinesh Mishra, show how this jurisprudence has evolved. The Supreme Court took great care in describing the powers of the police and the judiciary in the case of Abhinandan Jha v. Dinesh Mishra. They clarified the police’s responsibilities in the prosecution of crimes, as well as their powers, referring to Chapter XIV of the Criminal Procedure Code. Sections starting with Section 154 and concluding with Section 176. Section 154 deals with facts related to the commission of a cognizable offence, as well as the procedures to be followed. There is no involvement of the Judiciary in any of these parts; the sections include instructions to the police about how to continue with the investigation, but the police officer still retains the power to perform a preliminary inquiry if a complaint does not specifically reveal a Cognizable offence or has concerns about the veracity of the complaint. In Sevi v. State of Tamil Nadu, the court specifically stated that before filing an FIR under Section 154 of the CrPC, the station house officer (SHO) can conduct a preliminary investigation to decide if there is a prima facie case of criminal activity. The Supreme Court claimed categorically in Binay Kumar Singh v. State of Bihar that an officer in charge of a police station cannot be expected to file an FIR upon obtaining information that does not reveal the commission of a cognizable offence. The officer-in-charge should be able to verify the veracity of the complaint and further investigate if a cognizable offence has been committed, according to the court.
Eventually, in Kalpana Kutty v. State of Maharashtra, the Bombay High Court established general principles concerning preliminary inquiry that courts should follow. Such guidelines grant police power to keep a lid on baseless allegations while still ensuring that the accused is not subjected to unnecessary abuse. Lastly, in Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of UP and Others, a three-judge panel decided that filing a First Information Report (hereinafter FIR) should be optional. They reasoned that after a preliminary inquiry, an officer should be sure that an offence is made out in the FIR and an FIR has significant implications for the convicted, and hence the need for a preliminary inquiry is inherent in the provisions of Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution should be considered when reading these provisions.
But what if the police officials because of an external influence or departmental pressure explicitly deny conducting such inquiry and filing the FIR. Are there any alternative remedies to be precise, to change the effect of such denial, or do a complainant have no option left but to approach the Judiciary in order to seek justice? The development in the Jurisprudence relating to the non-filing of complaints by the police personnel have widely been seen in the country, but the only intrinsic question which is untouched by the benches in the previous judgements is the exhaustion of ‘alternative remedy’ if the police denies filing the complaint in a case. One reason for such ignorance of the courts in this aspect can be law’s assumption of people having knowledge of the law and its procedures. This Question is been answered or rather highlighted in the judgment of F.R Sebastian v. Shine Varghese referring to the respective sections of the Criminal Procedure code which makes this judgment an “eloquence to criminal procedural jurisprudence”. This case is regarding certain allegations made against 2 of the renowned members of a Diocese which are found conspiring under the desk and were involved in Criminal Breach of trust and Misappropriation of funds. W.P. (C) No.5522 of 2018 reveals these facts, Shine Varghese is a member of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Arch Diocese, which, according to Shine, performs its affairs in accordance with the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (“the Code of Canons”) and its bye-laws. The ecclesiastical components — the church’s estate — are indeed governed by such Cannons and bye-laws. Mar George Alancherry is the Arch Bishop of the Diocese; Fr. Joshy Puthuva, a priest, is the finance officer; and Fr. Sebastian Vadakkumpadan is one of the Pro-Vicar Generals. The Diocese decided to create a medical college a few years back. In 2015, it spent Rs.58,78,25,930 on five pieces of land, the majority of which it borrowed from banks. Due to the failure of the plan and mounting debt, the Diocese sought to sell off some of its other assets. Fr. Joshy and Fr. Sebastian were tasked with the mission by the Diocese’s Finance Council in March 2016. After endorsing the Finance Committee’s suggestion, the Consulters’ Forum required those two people to sell the land under the following conditions:
- the land must be sold at “an average price of Rs.9,00,000/- percent”;
- The five properties must be sold together as a single lot.
In total, the Diocese agreed to sell 301.76 cents for Rs.27,15,84,000/-. After that, there were commercial issues to remember, as well as the associated temporal tribulations and evils. The accusations now coming out in a flood.
In a nutshell, Shine claims that the Arch Bishop and the two priests disobeyed the Consulters Forum’s directive by selling the land for a pittance. They just got half of the estimated selling price. And on September 13, 2017, Fr Joshy admitted before the Financial Council that he had got Rs.26 crores but only transferred Rs.8,00,00,000/- to the Diocese’s account. Fr Joshy was required to designate an in-house investigation committee after accusations of alleged abuse of confidence and misappropriation became public. According to Shine, the committee conducted a thorough investigation and discovered the Arch Bishop’s, two priests’, and Saju’s wrongdoings, which are crimes under Sections 120B, 406, and 415 of the Indian Penal Code. Shine claims that, as damning as the report was, the Diocese had no intention to prosecute the perpetrators. So Shine, a parishioner, took it upon himself to put the offenders to justice: he lodged an Ext.P1 report with the Station House Officer of the Central Police Station in Ernakulum. The SHO, on the other hand, declined to report a crime or issue a receipt, claiming that “he had orders from higher-ups” not to register any crime involving the “Syro-Malabar Church Land-deal issue.” Shine’s appeal has been ignored by the Commissioner of Police, Kochi. As a result, Shine filed WP (C) No.5522 of 2018, asking that the police authorities report and prosecute a crime. Martin Payyappilly, another parishioner, filed a police report regarding the same supposed crime as Shine Varghese. He accused Saju Varghese of intervening and manipulating the police into not acting on his complaint. Meanwhile, Martin learned the Original Petition (Crl.) No. 64 of 2018 was pending before this Court at the request of another parishioner. And it was almost the same thing. As a result, he filed W.P. (C) No.5997 of 2018, alleging that the police’s failure to report an offence, as well as this Court’s pause in coping with the OP (Crl.), would frustrate the ends of justice.
Apart from throwing light on the major issue of ‘Cacophony of Complaints’ and ‘Exhausting other remedies’ provided in CrPC, there were other subsidiary issues that were in front of the High court of Kerala. These issues were revolving around the Jurisdiction of the court and the legitimacy of writ petitions filed before the court. First, one being that the writ petition was heard by this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution, and the impugned decision was certainly made by exercising “criminal jurisdiction” by a learned Single Judge. Is it possible to bring an intra-court appeal against the decision in light of Clause 10 of the Letters Patent? The second one being that, other parishioners have previously lodged additional lawsuits alleging that the same group of individuals had committed criminal offenses. A competent court has ruled that the claims are of a civil nature in one case. Will the principle of issue estoppel, first and foremost, influence the writ petition if this finding is unaffected? The next issue before the court was of a collateral nature, does the Supreme Court’s decision in Lalita Kumari encourage a plaintiff to circumvent the statutory remedies and go directly to judicial review?
‘Alternative remedy or relief’ is “where a new remedy is created or is present in addition to an existing one, they are called “alternative” if only one can be enforced; but if both, “cumulative”.”
In India, courts are endowed with a multitude of innate powers. If it’s under Section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure (available to all civil courts), Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (available to the High Court), or Article 226 and 142 of the Constitution (available to the High Courts and the Supreme Court, respectively). These powers are unrestricted in the strictest sense. The courts, on the other hand, have defined their own guidelines for restricting the exercise of powers to specific circumstances. For example, we recently noticed the Supreme Court’s power under Article 142 and the unwritten law that it cannot be used where a statutory provision prohibits it. Inasmuch as it is now well known that the High Courts’ inherent powers to grant prerogative writs or order otherwise in terms of Article 226 of the Constitution, the High Courts would carefully test the reliefs pursued against the bar of alternative remedy. The law prevents a claimant from using the High Court’s extraordinary authority in cases where the claimant has a recourse available elsewhere (for example, an appeal to a Tribunal), and therefore, although the High Court has the power to intervene, it would not do so, requiring the claimant to seek all options before seeking the High Court.
The Supreme Court clarified the rule of ‘alternative remedy’ in its decision in State of Himachal Pradesh v. Gujarat Ambuja Cement Ltd., “We shall first deal with the plea about alternative remedy as posed by the appellant-State.” With the exception of a short time when Article 226 was amended by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act of 1976, the right of the alternate solution has been treated as a self-imposed restriction. It is simply a policy, ease, and discretionary rule, not a rule of law. Despite the availability of an appropriate solution, the High Court has the power to grant relief under Article 226 of the Constitution. Around the same time, it should not be forgotten that, even if the issue of an alternative solution has nothing to do with the case’s jurisdiction, the High Court should generally refrain from interfering where an appropriate and effective alternative remedy exists. If anyone comes before the High Court after even pursuing the alternate solution, the court should make sure that he has a solid argument or that there are good reasons to claim the exceptional jurisdiction. After referring to this case the High court of Kerala’s judgment in F.r Sebastian v. Shine Varghese seems appropriate, the court had an ingrained approach while tackling all the issues present in the case and have given justifiable reasoning for the same. Coming to the issues discussed by the court and the reasoning applied to them we shall discuss the first and foremost rudimentary issue of the maintainability of the writ.
Issue 1(Is the writ application maintainable)
The court while addressing this issue referred to the respondent Shri Raman Pillai’s arguments where he cited the case of Ram Kishan Fauji v. State of Haryana stating that even under Article 226, an intra-court appeal is not maintainable where the ruling of a learned Single Judge in the first instance comes under criminal jurisdiction. Clause-10 of the Letters Patent is inaccessible in those circumstances.
In Ram Kishan Fauji, a three-judge Supreme Court bench held that the nomenclature of a writ petition is not the deciding factor; “what is important is what is ultimately being tried to be enforced.” The High Court cannot entertain an intra-court appeal until it rules in the first place under Article 226 “in the exercise of criminal authority,” which is forbidden by Clause 10 of the Letters Patent. But the court observed that the objection put forth by the respondent cannot detain them long, by referring to one of the recent judgments of their court itself the bench elaborately considered the same issue in State of Kerala v. Mohammed where the court compared and analysed clause 10 of letters patent with the case of Ramkishan fauji, High court of Kerala Act, Clause 15 of letters patent applicable to Madras High court.
Court referred the Section 5 of the Kerala High court Act which mandates that an appeal shall lie to a bench of two judges from “(i) a judgment or order of a Single Judge in exercise of original jurisdiction), and (ii) a judgment of a Single Judge in exercise of appellate jurisdiction in respect of a decree or order made in exercise of original jurisdiction by a subordinate court.”, reviewing this the court observed that the restrictions laid down in the clause 15 of letters patent are not incorporated with the Section 5 of High courts Act. As a result, “orders issued by a learned Single Judge in the exercise of criminal jurisdiction are not excluded.” The court reckons—indeed, was required to hold—that the intra-court appeal is eminently maintainable, provided the emphatic enunciation of rule by a co-equal Bench of the Court.
Issue 2 (Principle of Issue Estoppel)
The Honourable court does not give proper explicit reasoning for resolving this issue, rather the court opined that this is an academic issue and would not be adjudicated. This issue arose because there were multiple petitions with the same factual parameter and issues, before Shine Varghese there were several parishioners who filed W.Ps with similar issues and facts. The question before the court was whether Principle of Issue Estoppel will affect the W.P filed by Shine or will his petition be considered. The Principle of Issue of Estoppel is an affirmative defence that prevents a group from re-litigating an issue that was decided against them in a previous action, even though the second action is substantially different from the first. The court even quoted the case of Mills v. Cooper, in which Lord Diplock said that “matter estoppel is a special application of the general law of public policy that litigation should be final.” The general rule still extends to judicial cases, but in a somewhat different way due to the difference between criminal and civil prosecutions. It takes the shape of the double jeopardy provision in this case….” The court however stated that this issue even after being of academic nature will be obviated by the court’s rationales in the issue of alternative remedies.
Issue 3 Collateral (In Lalita Kumari, does the Supreme Court enable the petitioner to withdraw statutory remedies and instead recourse directly to the judicial review?)
The High Court observed the complainant’s arguments which were as follows: Despite the fact that the complainants were presented with a clear process under the Code for filing a criminal case, they based their arguments on what they considered to be Lalita Kumari’s authoritative dictum. They argue that this verdict by a Constitution Bench has eliminated all statutory obstacles that a claimant would otherwise face in reaching the High Court directly. But is it really so? This was been answered in this case by the bench. First of all, discussing the holding in Lalita Kumari Lalita, the court observed that, Kumari’s approach is clear and straightforward: if a victim of a cognizable crime approaches the police, they must file an FIR and immediately investigate the crime, with the arrest of the accused not being a necessary step in the process. Lalita Kumari is worried about the police’s legal duty to file an FIR if they receive a formal report claiming a criminal offense. In any case, it does not imply that an aggrieved complainant must rush to the High Court if the police refuse to register a crime. Lalita Kumari is concerned about the police’s legal obligation to file an FIR if they receive a written report alleging a cognizable offense. In any case, it does not enable an aggrieved claimant to run to the High Court if the police refuse to report an offence. It hasn’t even allowed the suitors to disregard the other constitutional provisions and rely on a public-law remedy, let alone one under Art. 226. That question—what remedies are applicable to a claimant if the police fail to file an FIR—is not discussed or answered in Lalita Kumari. Granted, sub silentio is a well-established legal doctrine for evaluating a decision’s precedential significance. This doctrine, though, has no position unless the court left a matter unresolved that should have been resolved. The verdict on a subject that has not been directly dealt with and pronounced on, despite the fact that it is present by inference, remains sub silentio. As a result, any question that has been left unresolved cannot be seen as a precedent. The Supreme Court noted in B. Shama Rao v. UT of Pondicherry that a verdict is binding not because of its conclusions, but because of “its ratio and the principles laid down therein.” Lalita Kumari, on the other hand, has no opportunity to argue before the court over the procedural remedies available to a complainant after the police refuse to file an FIR. As a result, the court determined that Lalita Kumari will not, in effect, decimate the aggrieved complainant’s other legal remedies. The Landmark case of Lalita kumari has passively contradicted various judicial precedents on this doctrine when the SC interferes by ‘obliging the police officials to file a complaint after the preliminary inquiry is been conducted’. This judgment can be criticized on its sheer ignorance of the sub silentio issues and binding the officials by giving a straitjacket modus operandi in mobilizing the criminal procedure, this at various levels interferes and affects the statutory powers given to these investigating bodies and personnel.
Issue 4 (Is it possible for a complainant to ignore the alternative solutions given by, say, the Criminal Procedure Code and concentrate on a writ solution instead?)
The court analyses the Scope of Alternative remedies if a police official denies to file an FIR, while analysing the statutory remedies per se the court enlightened about the criminal nature of the case specifically refers to the Code of Criminal Procedure which demarcates the procedure for administration of substantive criminal laws, In it, the bench reviews the various sections which deal with the powers of the investigating officers and responsibilities of the magistrate to take cognizance if ever the official fails to register the complaint. At Instance, Court takes into consideration the very basic section of CrPC which discusses about “the information provided to the police officers and their power to investigate”, Section 154 of CrPC reads as follows: A signed or oral report regarding a cognizable offence can be presented to the police by any individual. If the information is submitted verbally, the police must write it down, read it, and make the claimant sign it. The complaint’s content must then be reported in a book maintained for that purpose by a police officer. Furthermore, the officer shall provide the applicant with a copy of the reported information. According to the Pleaders of Shine and other petitioners, this course of action was left incomplete when they provided all the information to the police officers and officers refused to write it down and register a record of the complaint. If this was true, then what was the alternate option left before the applicants after this denial is the major question. The court observes that the answer to this question is itself embedded in Sub-section (3) of Section 154 of CrPC. Subsection (3) specifies the redress open to a complainant if the police refuse to register his complaint: he may send information about the cognizable crime to the concerned Superintendent via post. If that officer determines that the complaint discloses a cognizable offense after receiving it, he must either conduct his own investigation or order one of his subordinate officers to do so under the Code. This clears out that a complaint to the respective Superintendent of Police becomes one of the Statutory Remedies available to the complainant which is explicitly been mentioned in CrPC. Looking forward to other remedies provided in the Code the court refers to Section 156,190 and 200 of CrPC. The “police officer’s power to investigate cognizable cases” is addressed in Section 156 of the Code. The police officer does not require the Magistrate’s permission to investigate if the offense is cognizable. The investigation cannot be halted or dealt with based on the officer’s lack of investigative authority. A Magistrate may even order an investigation whether he or she is acting under Section 190. The phrase “may order such an investigation as above-mentioned” appears in Sub-section (3) of Section 156. The words “as above mentioned” clearly refer to Section 156(1), which requires the officer in charge of the Police Station to conduct an investigation. This clears out that the Officer in Charge of the police station can be referred comes out to be another remedial step by the applicant. The High Court before advancing cited here the Judgement given by SC in Sakiri Vasu vs. State of U.P in which the apex court opines that a review by the Magistrate on the police undertaking their duties under Chapter XII CrPC is also provided for in Section 156(3). If the Magistrate determines that the police have not thoroughly investigated the case or have not done so satisfactorily, she will order the police to conduct a thorough investigation and follow the case. This is an Independent power given to the Magistrate by the statute and does not affect the investigation power of the police officers. This can act as a check on the actions of the responsible police officers dealing with the Complainant’s case. This is a ‘passive remedy’ available after the FIR is filed but if we talk about the magistrate’s cognizance before FIR is filed then we shall refer to Section 190 and 200 of CrPC, the HC Observes. If the police fail to respond at any stage, the plaintiff has the option of filing a complaint with the jurisdictional Magistrate under Section 190 read with Section 200 of the Code. According to Chapter XV of the Code, the Magistrate will investigate the complaint. If a Magistrate “finds a prima facie case after recording evidence,” This clears out that Filing a complaint before the respective Magistrate is another statutory remedy that and complainant can opt. Deducing every section referred we get 4 rigid statutory remedies in CrPC for which an applicant can go for before approaching HC with a Writ remedy. The court apart from reviewing the statute further referred to the Previous SC judgment regarding the alternative remedy if the police fail to file the FIR. Referring to Aleque Padamsee v. Union of India and Sudhir Bhaskarrao Tambe v. Hemant Yashwant Dhage the HC said that If a person has a complaint that the police have not reported or have not adequately investigated, the aggrieved person’s recourse “is not to approach the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, but to go to the Magistrate concerned under Section 156(3) of the Code.” If the claimant approaches the Magistrate and she is confident on the grounds, she will order the police to file an F.I.R. And if the police had already registered the offence, the Magistrate has the authority to order a proper investigation, including, at her discretion, proposing a change of investigating officer. The Court in reference to these Judgements also commented on the tendency of complainants to rush the HC’s without going with the alternative recourses first. Lalita Kumari, as authoritative as it is, has not modified the proposition of law that the High Court, in exercising its jurisdiction under Article 226 in this case, ensures that the suitor has no other effective, alternative remedy. As a result, the precedential importance of Aleque Padamsee, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Gangadhar, Sudhir Bhaskarrao Tambe, Sakiri Vasu, and Kunga Nima Lepcha, to name a few, is unaffected. The court criticizes the Impugned Judgments made by the previous bench a few days before stating that the questioned judgment seems to have put a strong emphasis on the Diocese’s inquiry report, concluding—at least on the surface—that a cognizable offence has been created. Regrettably, it has overlooked the crucial question of jurisdiction. It has overlooked Shine’s unseemly haste: no sooner had he filed his case than he ran to the Court—in less than 24 hours. To Conclude, The court observed that Shine’s actions and Martyn’s petition have faltered at various ways. Shine Varghese has failed at the first hurdle—the alternate remedy, which he had on several occasions. That is to add, the disputed decision has a legal flaw and can be discarded. And the court does so. Martin Payyappilly’s writ appeal, like Shine’s, suffers from the absence of an alternative remedy. Aside from that, his writ petition still suffers from a fatal flaw: the concealment of material facts. The fact that the police recorded Martin’s response after his complaint, he did not want to reveal this fact until the prosecutor took it to the Court irrefutably. As a result, the ruling in W.P. (C) No.5997 of 2018 is revoked, and the writ petition is rejected.
The court when criticizes this act of haste by the petitioners without looking for any alternate remedy speaks volumes, “if seen closely we can infer that court indicates towards the overburdening of the criminal justice system because of the ratty and impatient approach of the petitioners” This indication is often referred to in future judgments after the case of F.r Sebastian v. Shine Varghese. In 2019, the Supreme Court in the judgment of Maharashtra Chess Association v. Union of India was questioned that whether the presence of an alternative solution would bar the High Court’s writ jurisdiction.
“The availability of an alternative solution, whether sufficient or not, does not change the inherently arbitrary essence of the High Court’s writ authority, and therefore does not establish an absolute procedural bar to a High Court exercising its writ jurisdiction.”
The court went on to say that courts had placed some limitations on the exercise of their writ jurisdiction to ensure that the jurisdiction did not become an appeal forum for all cases within a High Court’s local jurisdiction.
“It’s clear what this self-imposed guideline is about. When High Courts practice their writ power so widely they systematically overrode constitutional appeal processes, they will be inundated with lawsuits, to the detriment of the litigants in such cases.” It will also frustrate the legislature’s aim of enacting statutory appellate mechanisms to ensure that cases are resolved quickly. The bench rejected the contention that if a High Court’s writ jurisdiction is circumscribed by the presence of a reasonable alternate remedy, whether constitutional, legislative, or contractual, then a High Court should not exercise its writ jurisdiction where such an alternate remedy occurs under the self-imposed law. After considering the representations on behalf of the parties, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Authorized Officer, State Bank of Travancore, and Ors. Vs. Mathew K.C. observed that the discretionary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution is not absolute, but must be exercised judiciously in the specified facts of a case and in conformity with the statute. The general rule is that if there are other procedural alternatives available, a writ petition under Article 226 should not be considered.
After analysing the issues discussed by the court it can be deduced that the court’s decision in F.r Sebastian v. Shine Varghese is appropriate as it crystalline the scope of alternative recourse provided in the CrPC and rightly points out the wrongdoing of the complainant Shine in creating haste while opting for the criminal procedure to seek justice. The reasoning given in the judgment relies upon the previously decided cases on a similar issue, thus, the reasoning provided is consistent and provides more clarity to the reader’s approach in analysing the scope of statutory remedies. This Judgement does not significantly influence the existing laws rather it interprets and clarifies the ambit of the existing laws and the recourses awarded by them to a layman. However, the court omits the issue of Estoppel which the court labels as an academic issue and not adjudicatory. Anyhow, such omission does not affect the ratio of the judgment and its implications.
This judgment tackles every issue with utmost legal acumen and in a symphony refers to all the various precedents that talk about criminal procedural jurisprudence. This judgment can be called an “Evaluative Judgement” which does not influence or add to the existing laws but rather carve them and clarify their implications. The court’s ruling in F.r Sebastian v. Shine Varghese is relevant because it solidifies the extent of alternative recourse available in the CrPC and correctly highlights the wrongdoing of the defendants in rushing to pursue justice by criminal proceedings. The rationale presented in the decision is clear and gives greater guidance to the reader’s method in evaluating the extent of legislative remedies since it is focused on prior resolved decisions on the same question. This opinion would not substantially change existing laws; rather, it interprets and clarifies the nature of existing laws and the solutions applicable to laypeople. When the court criticizes the petitioners’ hurry in not seeking an alternative solution, it says it all: “if looked at closely, we can conclude that this is a case which apart from deciding prima facie indulges deep into the Faux pas done by the petitioners in a hurry to seek justice, It clearly opines that if courts like the impugned judgment start deciding prima facie without using utmost prudence it will finally result in the overburdening of the criminal justice system and its Collapse at a Point.”
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