In a recent decision, the Supreme Court determined that, despite the allegations being taken seriously, the crime as claimed was not committed. It noted that the filing of several FIRs over time raised the possibility that the FIR was the product of personal resentment or vengeance. As a result, it dismissed the criminal charges that resulted from the FIR.
An FIR (First Information Report) was filed against Mahmood Ali and others in the case Mahmood Ali & Ors. v. State of U.P. & Ors., alleging serious offenses under the Indian Penal Code, including fraud, illegal appointments, exploitation of employees, and threats. Someone who claimed to have been taken advantage of by the accused filed the FIR. The complainant claims he was intimidated, forced to sign blank documents, and coerced into making false appointments. As a result, he resigned from the company where he had been falsely appointed as a director.
The accused argued that the allegations in the FIR were ludicrous, implausible, and without foundation, particularly in light of the significant 14-year gap between the alleged incident date in 2008 and the filing of the FIR. They contended that the State apparatus abused its authority to single out the accused and their families, filing several false complaints against them, especially following a political shift. In spite of the court protections, the accused said, the police continued to file new police reports against them and harassed not only them but also those who acted as sureties in bail cases. They asked for the FIR to be quashed on the grounds that the allegations contained within did not, even after the charge sheet was filed, constitute offenses under the relevant sections.
The State contended that a substantial body of evidence, comprising witness statements and gathered materials, implicated the accused in grave crimes like joining the mining mafia and taking advantage of weaker people. The State made the point that after the government changed, people who had previously been silenced or unsupported felt free to come forward and report the accused, leading to the filing of numerous FIRs. They claimed that the accused’s actions were against the community’s social interests and that legal action was therefore necessary, emphasizing the need of allowing criminal proceedings against them to proceed.
The prosecution’s complete case may be accepted, but the FIR omitted key details that would have made the charges what they are, the court observed. It stressed that there was a lack of evidence supporting any of the offenses listed in the FIR. The FIR appeared to have been fabricated, the court noted. It emphasized the 14-year delay in filing the first information report (FIR), the lack of time or date specifics for the alleged offenses, and the filing of multiple FIRs against the accused. The court recognized that it was its duty to examine cases in which it was claimed that the proceedings were pointless or drawn out.
It emphasized that in order to avoid abusing the legal system for personal grudges, it is important to look beyond the FIR’s content and take the surrounding circumstances into account. The court reaffirmed the requirements for dismissing false police reports (FIRs), citing the Bhajan Lal case as an example. It highlighted situations in which the accusations were ludicrous or blatantly frivolous, or in which it seemed that criminal charges had been maliciously filed.
The criminal proceedings based on the disputed FIR were quashed by the Supreme Court, who granted the appeal. It made it clear that its conclusions applied only to this particular case and had no bearing on any other ongoing legal actions or proceedings.
Mahmood Ali & Ors. v. State of U.P. & Ors. (Criminal Appeal No. 2341 of 2023)