High Court can’t exercise power beyond the contours of Section 482 of CrPC, 1973 in a sweeping manner: SC

The Supreme Court ruled that the High Court cannot exercise power beyond the contours of Section 482 of CrPC, 1973 in a sweeping manner.

Background 

The State of Tamil Nadu issued a government order creating 36 Anti Land Grabbing Special Cells in the State of Tamil Nadu with one cell each at the State Police Headquarters, 7 Commissionerates and 28 Districts except Karur, Tiruvannamalai and Nagappattinam Districts. That consequent upon Government Order Special Courts were constituted exclusively to deal with Land Grabbing Cases. That the aforesaid Government Order was the subject matter of controversy before the High Court.

Decision 

The division bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna noted that when the Single Judge passed orders, no proceedings were pending before the Single Judge. The original Criminal O.P. was already disposed of by the Single Judge. The Single Judge had become functus officio insofar as the aforesaid matter was concerned. 

The court stated that it is not understandable, how in a disposed of matter with respect to only one case, further orders could have been passed by the High Court transferring approximately 864 cases pending in different Special Courts in different districts, that too, on a ‘special mentioning’. 

The court said that the procedure adopted by the Single Judge for passing orders directing to transfer 864 cases from the Special Courts in different districts to the concerned jurisdictional Courts is unknown to law. 

The court quashed and set aside the impugned judgment and orders passed by the Single Judge of the High Court of Judicature at Madras directing transfer of approximately 864 cases from the concerned Special Courts to the concerned jurisdictional Magistrates. 

The court said that the same shall be subject to the final outcome and the decision of the Court in the pending proceedings being Special Leave Petition.

The court observed that the High Courts ought to be mindful and conscious about the consequences of passing orders such as those impugned in these appeals. Though the powers of the High Court under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure are wide and are in the nature of inherent power yet, the said power cannot be exercised suo motu in a sweeping manner and beyond the contours of what is stipulated under the said Section.

Case title: Registrar General, High Court of Judicature at Madras v/s The State

Citation: CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 272-274 OF 2022

Click here to read the Order/Judgment

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