STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: The State High Court on Monday dismissed the petition filed by Pranav Gandotra, Junior Assistant posted as Incharge Tehsil Supply Officer, seeking quashment of FIR registered by the State Vigilance Organisation (SVO).
Justice Janak Raj Kotwal of J&K High Court Jammu Wing, after hearing Senior Advocate B.S Salathia with Advocate Ashish Sharma for the petitioner and Deputy AG Raman Sharma for the SVO, observed that the principles governing the exercise of inherent jurisdiction under Section 561-A of the Code by now are well settled.
“High Court under Section 561-A of the Code (Sec. 482 of the Central Code) is vested with inherent jurisdiction to make such order as may be necessary to give effect to any order under the Code or to prevent abuse of process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice. This power, though it may be used in appropriate cases, has to be used sparingly and cautiously”.
Justice Janak Raj Kotwal further observed that Supreme Court has held that where the allegations made in the FIR, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety, do not prima facie constitute any cognisable offence or make out a case against the accused, the FIR can be quashed to prevent misuse of the process of court and to secure the ends of justice. In R. Kalyani’s case cited by the counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner, Supreme Court has held that High Court ordinarily would not exercise its inherent jurisdiction to quash a criminal proceeding and, in particular, in FIR unless the allegations contained therein, even if given face value and taken to be correct, in their entirety disclose no cognizable offence. Nonetheless, Court has further said that the High Court would not hesitate to exercise its jurisdiction in appropriate cases though no hard-and-fast rule can be laid down.
Justice Kotwal further observed that contention raised on behalf of the petitioner that the allegations in the impugned FIR on their plain reading do not constitute commission of any offence is without any substance and is liable to fail. The FIR discloses prima facie dishonest and fraudulent misappropriation of the Government money by the petitioner, which was under his control, by paying the dealers’ amount less than what was due to them and reflecting higher amount in the office records. The contention that no misappropriation has taken place is equally without any substance. The contents of the FIR are to be read with and in backdrop of the result of verification conducted by the VOJ. It can rather be said prima facie that a brazen modus operandi for siphoning out the Government money was adopted in the office of the petitioner in which primary role could have been played by none else than the petitioner, who indisputably was responsible for signing the cheques for withdrawing the money from official Bank Account and certifying the disbursement, as has been done on the statement of payments produced by the petitioner’s counsel. To say precisely, the verification has revealed that, firstly, out of the total amount of Rs. 81, 20,914 only an amount of Rs. 21, 42,500 was allowed to remain in the official Bank Account and rest of the amount was withdrawn. The dealers were issued cheques for the amount less than the amount due to them. The receipts obtained from the dealers and the related entries made in the official record of the petitioner, however, reflected the amount which was due to the dealers.
“Correct it is that as per the record produced before this Court, none of the dealers seems to have raised any grievance in regard to the less payment made to him but that does not rule out the possibility of misappropriation. Lodging of information by the aggrieved person is not sine qua non for setting in motion the action for commission of a criminal offence. How the dealers had issued receipts for the amount more than that actually paid to them and why they did not agitate against less payment are the questions to be investigated, though a glimpse is available in the statements of the aforementioned four dealers recorded by the VOJ, which are available on the record produced on behalf of the VOJ”, Justice Kotwal observed and dismissed the petition.
On July 21, the State Vigilance Organisation registered FIR 21/2018 against ‘millionaire’ junior assistant Pranav Gandotra. The Vigilance sleuths on same day had also conducted raids at offices of Pranav Gandotra at Satwari and Janipur, two residences at Channi Himmat and two Palm Rivera flats at Akhnoor Road.
Huge quantity of gold and silver ornaments weighing four kilograms and 11 kilograms respectively, luxury cars like Fortuner, Innova and i10 were recovered by the raiding party. In addition, documents related to several flats in Jammu, Delhi and Chandigarh were also reportedly seized during the raids.
On July 25, the High Court had stayed the investigations into the vigilance case and the judgement on Pranav’s plea, seeking quashment, was kept reserve.
With rejection of Pranav’s plea, the SVO can now proceed further in investigating FIR 21/18.
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