Read Order: Vijay v. UT of Chandigarh & Others
Chandigarh, April 27, 2022: While dealing with a plea seeking quashing of a second FIR registered against the petitioner in respect of the same incident and offences, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that a second FIR with respect to the same offence or occurrence is not maintainable but one of the exceptions to this principle is where there are two rival versions in respect of the same episode in which case they would ordinarily take the shape of two different FIRs and the investigation can be carried on under both of them by the same Investigating Agency.
The Bench of Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi was considering a petition wherein the petitioner sought quashing of an FIR registered against the petitioner and his co-accused under Sections 379 and 411 IPC at Police Station Manimajra, Chandigarh along with all consequential proceedings arising therefrom.
In this case, essentially, an FIR was registered on December 06, 2015 under Section 379 IPC at Police Station Sector 19, Panckhula on the allegations that the informant’s scooty (Activa No. HR03F-4746) was stolen from her parking lot.
On December 18, 2015, the Police of Police Station Manimajra, Chandigarh apprehended two boys namely Saurav and Vijay (the present petitioner) who were riding the same scooty while looking forward to selling it. After their arrest, a second FIR under Sections 379 and 411 IPC was registered at Police Station Manimajra.
In the meanwhile, in respect of the first FIR, the report under Section 173 Cr.P.C. was submitted for offences under Sections 379/411/34 IPC. The petitioner and his co-accused were convicted for having committed offences under Sections 411/34 IPC. However, in appeal, the petitioners were acquitted of the charges under Sections 411 read with Section 34 as well.
The Counsel for the petitioner argued that the registration of the second FIR was nothing but an abuse of the process of the Court because the first FIR, in which the petitioner now has been acquitted, already stood registered under the identical sections. He thus contended that in respect of one and the same occurrence two different FIRs were registered, which was impermissible in law.
It was further contended that filing of the second FIR was violative of his fundamental rights under Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution of India as also of the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code as multiple FIRs for the same occurrence are not contemplated under the Criminal Procedure Code.
On the contrary, the case of the respondents was that while the first FIR lodged at Panchkula was registered regarding theft of the scooter, the second FIR in Chandigarh was registered for having retained the stolen vehicle and thus both were distinct offences; one for stealing the property and the other for knowingly retaining the same. It was thus stated that the ingredients of the offences were different and the cause of action occurred at two different places and thus both the cases were to be tried in different Courts.
After considering the rival submissions, the Court made reference to the Supreme Court in Anju Choudhary Vs. State of U.P. & another, 2013(1) RCR (Criminal) 686, wherein it was held that the test of ‘sameness’ is to be applied to find out whether both the FIRs relate to the same incident and to the same occurrence, are in regard to incidents which are two or more parts of the same transaction or relate completely to two distinct occurrences.
Thus, in the present case applying the said test of ‘sameness’, the Court inferred that the FIR in Panchkula pertained to an offence of theft under Section 379 IPC and the challan was submitted under Section 379/411 IPC. The scooter, the Court added, was recovered in Chandigarh by the police of Police Station Manimajra and the FIR was registered under Sections 379/411 IPC.
Therefore, the Court was of the considered opinion both the FIRs/occurrences pertained to one incident/occurrence of theft or it could be said that there were two incidents which are part of the same transaction i.e. theft in Panchkula and consequent recovery of the Activa in Chandigarh.
Therefore, it was concluded that both these FIRs were virtually identical or ‘same’ as per the test laid down in Anju Chaudhary’s case (supra).
The Bench said, “The aforementioned judgments of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and this Court would go to show that a second FIR with respect to the same offence/occurrence/incident is thus not maintainable. One of the exceptions to the aforementioned principle is where there are two rival versions in respect of the same episode in which case they would ordinarily take the shape of two different FIRs and the investigation can be carried on under both of them by the same Investigating Agency.”
However, it was also added that one of the exceptions to the aforementioned principle is that where there are two rival versions in respect of the same episode in which case they would ordinarily take the shape of two different FIRs and the investigation can be carried on under both of them by the same Investigating Agency.
Testing the above facts of the case in light of the above stated exception, the Court was of the opinion that the filing of the second FIR registered under Sections 379 and 411 IPC at Police Station Manimajra, Chandigarh was clearly impermissible in law.
It was observed that in the present case, as has already been mentioned above, there already stood an FIR at Police Station Sector 19, Panckhula in which challan was submitted under Sections 379/411/34 IPC; the conviction was recorded by the trial Court under Sections 411/34 IPC and ultimately, the accused came to be acquitted for the offences under Sections 411/34 IPC as well.
Thus, in view of these facts, the Court held that the offences in the first FIR were identical to the offences in the second FIR (impugned FIR) and the occurrence/incident was one and the same or part of the same transaction.
“Thus, it is clearly established that the registration of the second FIR No.672 dated 18.12.2015 registered under Sections 379/411 at Police Station Manimajra, Chandgiarh was an abuse of the process of law”, asserted the Court. Thus, the petition was allowed.