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The Delhi High Court has refused to quash an FIR against two persons who assaulted Police personnel when they were stopped for loitering around without wearing a mask during the lockdown imposed to contain COVID-19. (Sunder Kumar & Anr vs State)
The order was passed by a Single Judge Bench of Justice C Hari Shankar.
As per the FIR, on the evening of April 20, 2020, one of the Petitioners, Rahul, who was a “bad character” of the area, was loitering around without wearing a mask which was in violation of the Compliance Advisory issued by the Central Government in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Complainant, Head Constable (HC), Rishi Kumar thus stopped Rahul and enquired as to why he was roaming without a mask. In response, Rahul retorted that the Complainant had no right to stop him from walking in the area without a mask.
When the Complainant attempted to control Rahul, with the assistance of Constable Pravin, "Rahul caught hold of the collar of the shirt being worn by the Complainant and tore the shirt".
FIR further alleged that Rahul also assaulted Constable Pravin by kicking him.
In the meantime, the second Petitioner i.e Rahul’s brother, Sundar arrived at the spot and joined Rahul in assaulting the Complainant by administering kicks and blows.
It is further alleged that they also bit the Complainant on his wrist and he bled profusely.
Thereafter, Rahul and Sunder were taken into custody and FIR was lodged for the commission of offences under Sections 188/269/186/353/332/506 read with Section 34 IPC.
On May 5, the Petitioners were enlarged on bail.
Seeking to quash the criminal proceedings initiated against them, the Petitioners contended that the Petitioners were assaulted by the police and not vice versa.
The Court observed that quashing criminal proceedings at the very inception was an extreme step, which had to be taken with due circumspection.
"The powers of this Court under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to quash criminal proceedings, though extremely wide, are to be exercised with a great degree of caution. The progress of the criminal law, once legitimately set in motion, should not be halted by judicial diktat, save in exceptional circumstances and with due cause.", the Court said.
In view of the facts of the case, the Court opined that the charges against the Petitioners were "unquestionably serious" and breach of lockdown conditions could not be tolerated.
The Court further recorded that the assertions made in the FIR were also supported by the MLC of the Complainant.
In response to the Petitioners' prayer to summon the CCTV footage of the area, the Court stated that in a petition under Section 482 CrPC, the Court could not enter into detailed appreciation of evidence.
The Court thus ordered that within the parameters of Section 482/Art 226, no case for quashing of the FIR and to eviscerate the proceedings against the Petitioners had been made out.
The Petition was accordingly dismissed.
The Petitioners were represented by Advocate Varun Tyagi.
State was represented by Additional Standing Counsel RS Kundu.
Read the Order: