The Supreme Court on Friday quashed criminal proceedings against Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patriarch Parkash Singh Badal, who died two days ago, and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal in a forgery case, saying the summons issued by the trial court was "nothing but abuse of process of law".
A bench of justices M R Shah and C T Ravikumar, which had reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas filed by the Badals and senior Akali leader Daljit Singh Cheema on April 11, quashed the summons issued by the Hoshiarpur trial court in Punjab and upheld by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
"In view of the reasons, and even assuming the complaint's averments to be true, do not make out the ingredients of the offences, for which the trial court has passed the summoning order," the bench said.
It said, "Under the circumstances to continue the criminal proceedings against the appellants (Badals and Cheema)- accused arising out of the complaint and to face the trial by the accused as per the summoning order is nothing but an abuse of process of law and court and this is a fit case to quash the entire criminal proceedings arising out of the complaint filed by the respondent No. 1 (Balwant Singh Khera) including the summoning order passed by the trial court."
While allowing the appeals filed by the Badals and Cheema, the bench said that the impugned judgment and order passed by the high court dismissing the revision application is hereby quashed and set aside.
In its order, the bench clarified, "We may observe that we have set aside the summoning order on the aforesaid grounds only and we have not expressed anything on the Constitution of the Party - Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and the present order shall not affect the pending proceedings before the High Court of Delhi, which is reported to be pending against the order passed by the ECI."
In its verdict, the bench dealt with all the offences alleged that looking to the averments and allegations in the complaint, it is not appreciable at all, how the appellants are alleged to have committed the offence of cheating.
"The ingredients for the offence of cheating are not at all satisfied. There is no question of deceiving any person, fraudulently or dishonestly to deliver any property to any person... Therefore, even on bare reading of the averments and allegations in the complaint, no case even remotely for the offence under Section 420 IPC is made out", it said.
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Similarly, dealing with the offence under section 463 (forgery), the bench said that for the offence of forgery, there must be making of a false document with intent to cause damage or injury to the public or to any person and therefore, making the false documents is sine qua non.
"In the present case, no false document has been produced. What was produced was the Memorandum and no other documents were produced. Even according to the original complainant, the Memorandum and the claim made at the time of registration of the Party that it has adopted a Memorandum accepting the secularism, the same was contrary to the Constitution of the Party produced before the Gurudwara Election Commission. Making a false claim and creating and producing the false document both are different and distinct," it said and dealt with other alleged offences in the case.
The bench said that looking to the averments and allegations in the complaint and even the material/evidence collected/recorded during the course of the inquiry and even assuming the complaint's averments to be true, the ingredients of the offence punishable under sections 420, 465, 466, 467, 468, 471 are not at all made out.
It also noted that even the application under Section 29-A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 was made as far as back in 1989 and thereafter even Khera filed the complaint before the ECI, which came to be dismissed by the poll panel.
It said that thereafter Khera filed the present complaint in 2009, that is, after a period of 20 years from the date of filing of the application for registration under Section 29-A of the Act, 1951, which was made in 1989.
Akali stalwart Parkash Singh Badal died on Wednesday at a private hospital in Mohali. He was 95.
The Badals and Cheema had moved the top court challenging the August 2021 order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court refusing to quash the summons against them by additional chief judicial magistrate, Hoshiarpur in a private complaint filed by Social activist Balwant Singh Khera on the charges of forgery, cheating and concealing facts.
Khera had filed a complaint in 2009 alleging that the SAD has two constitutions -- one that it submitted to the Gurdwara Election Commission for registration as a party to manage gurdwaras and the other to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to seek recognition as a political party. He contended it amounted to cheating.
On April 11, the top court had said merely being religious does not mean a person cannot be secular.
It had reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas filed by Badals challenging summons issued against them in an alleged forgery case.
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