Chandigarh, March 22, 2022: Exercising its powers under Section 482 CrPC, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has quashed an FIR while reiterating the law as laid down by the Supreme Court as well as by the various High Court, that the registration of the second FIR with respect to the same cause of action is illegal and deserves to be quashed and further, filing of successive applications without disclosing the final report in the earlier applications and instituting criminal proceedings with a malafide motive to wreak vengeance, would be valid grounds for seeking quashing of the criminal proceedings.
In this case, before Justice Vikas Bahl, the complainant (former employee of the first accused/ company), filed a complaint against ten accused persons (including 9 petitioners in both petitions that the High Court was dealing with) praying for the issuance of directions as envisaged under Section 156(3) of the Cr.P.C. to the concerned Police Station for registration of an FIR under Sections 406, 409, 420, 465, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B IPC, on the allegations that the accused persons committed illegalities in order to procure a tender, floated by Haryana State Health Resource Centre (HSHRC) for implementation of Hospital Information System (HIS) in favour of M/s United Health Group.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Panchkula, vide impugned order allowed the said application and directed the SHO, Sector 5 Panchkula to lodge the FIR. It was further observed by the Magistrate that since the complainant (second respondent) was also involved in the bidding process on behalf of the accused- company, the Court made the Assistant General Manager and the Senior Consultant, HARTRON as the complainants. Consequently, an FIR was registered and hence, the nine accused persons approached the High Court with two separate petitions under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. seeking quashing of the impugned order.
Before the Court, it was highlighted by the Court that the second respondent/ complainant in order to extract the said money from the petitioner-company and its employees, filed several complaints before the various police officials and other authorities. It was alleged that the first Complaint (2016) was filed before the Cyber Crime Cell, Mandir Marg, New Delhi wherein, allegations were levelled with respect to the hacking of the personal e-mail account of the complainant and qua the criminal conspiracy of the petitioner company and its officers.
While the second complaint was filed in 2017 before the Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police, Rohini, New Delhi, wherein it was alleged that in the year 2014 the company had participated in a bid to secure the tender floated by the Haryana Government for implementation of hospital information system and even though the company did not fulfil the essential qualifications yet, the company/their officers participated in the tender process by creating false and fabricated documents such as experience certificates etc. Along with this other allegations were also levelled.
By the third complaint, a prayer was made to issue directions to the SHO/IO concerned to register an FIR and to investigate the matter. Pursuant to this complaint, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Rohini Court directed registration of an FIR only under Sections 66 and 66-C of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Four other complaints were also made by the complainant. Thus, as many as seven complaints in total were filed.
After undertaking a rigorous analysis of the factual and the legal situation, the Court concluded that the filing of the present application under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. by the second respondent was with a malafide intent and with an ulterior motive to settle scores.
On the successive filing of complaints before various authorities, the Court opined that successive filing and the non-disclosure of the same in the present application under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. showed that the complaint/ second respondent indulged in forum shopping and he suppressed facts and thus, the maxim “suppressio veri, expression faisi” i.e., suppression of the truth is equivalent to the expression of falsehood, gets attracted to the facts of the present case.
Further, the Court was of the opinion that in the present complaint under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C., there was no reference to the earlier application filed under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. before the Rohini Courts, New Delhi, nor it was stated that similar allegations with respect to forgery, cheating and corruption was already made in the said application and it was deceivingly only mentioned in para 28 of the present complaint/application under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. that an FIR was registered under Sections 66, 66-C of the I.T. Act.
At this juncture, the Court made reference to the Supreme Court in Krishna Lal Chawla and other v. State of Uttar Pradesh and another, (2021) 5 Supreme Court Cases 435, wherein it was observed that permitting multiple complaints by the same party with respect to the same incident whether it involves a cognizable or non-cognizable offence, will lead the accused to be entangled in numerous criminal proceedings which would also waste the precious time of the courts and the police.
Against this backdrop, the Court opined that on account of the malicious conduct and active concealment, the complainant has managed to get two FIRs registered against the petitioners on the same cause of action. The due course in law available to the complainant was to challenge the orders passed in the proceedings under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. in the Delhi Court in case, he was dissatisfied with the non-registration of the FIR under certain offences or the complainant should have filed objections/protest petition in the cancellation proceeding with respect to the first FIR registered in Delhi but the same having not been done, the complainant now cannot be permitted to institute a subsequent application under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. with respect to the same incident and on a similar set of allegations, added the Court.
Further, reference was made by the Court to the Apex Court in T.T. Antony vs. State of Kerela, 2001(6) SCC 181 a wherein it was held that with respect to one incident an FIR has already been registered, then a second FIR with respect to the same incident cannot be registered and in case, the same is registered then the High Court while exercising its powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. would be well within its power to quash the second FIR.
Thus, keeping in view the eight grounds and the facts and circumstances of the present case and the ratio of law laid down in the plethora of judgments, both the petitions were allowed and the impugned order was set aside. However, the Court clarified that the setting aside of the impugned order would not affect the proceedings/complaint which was pending before the Lokayukta, Haryana and also the proceedings pending before the Rohini Courts in New Delhi arising out of the FIR registered in pursuance of the application of 2017 filed under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. by the complainant in the Court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Rohini Courts, New Delhi.