In the case of Ranbir S. Arora vs. State, the High Court of Delhi, on 05.08.2014, held that even if there is a minor discrepancy in one version of the complaint qua the other it would definitely not make out a case for quashing the FIR and a criminal proceeding cannot be quashed even if departmental enquiry has concluded.
The facts of this case are such that in 2009, an Air hostess (“the Complainant”) complained of unprofessional behavior and physical abuse by Rajiv Arora, the pilot and Aditya Chopra, the co-pilot (“the Petitioners”) while the Complainant as well as the Petitioners were on a flight IC-884 operating from Sharjah to Delhi via Lucknow. In 2012, the matter was referred to the Delhi High Court (“DHC”) and Mediation Centre in order to come to a settlement, however, the parties could not settle the matter at that time. Later, the Petitioners sought quashing of the complaint made by the Complainant, by way of this writ petition before the DHC, in the year 2009.
The Petitioner argued that the writ petition should be quashed because the First Information Report (“FIR”) registered by the Complainant was actually a belated and improved version of her initial complaint that was written in the log book and contained a different statement. Petitioner also argued that he had already been exonerated by all three, National Commission for Women, the Departmental Enquiry as well as by the then Vishaka committee which conducted an inquiry and observed that the allegation of sexually coloured behavior against the Petitioner Ranbir Arora was baseless.
The Complainant argued that the statements of the Complainant in the FIR cannot be ignored as the log book entry was not supposed to expound detailed facts. It was also argued that the FIR also contained statements from two other eye witnesses, who were airhostesses and their statements were also important to be taken on record. The Complainant also argued that exoneration in the Departmental proceedings does not ipso facto result in the quashing of criminal prosecution. To support this argument, Complainant relied on State of NCT of Delhi Vs. Ajay Kumar Tyagi, 2012 (8) SCALE.
Stating that the power of quashing a criminal proceedings should be exercised sparingly, in the rarest of rare cases, the DHC rejected the writ petition to quash the FIR. It said that the FIR was prior in time compared to the departmental proceedings and therefore, the Petitioner cannot take shelter of the departmental proceedings even if it is in his favour.
Relying on Radheshyam Kejriwal vs. State of West Bengal and Another, (2011) 3 SCC 581 where the Supreme Court had culled out certain principles while dealing with the adjudication proceedings vis-à-vis criminal proceedings, the DHC noted that the yardstick to be adopted was whether the allegation in the adjudication proceedings and in the proceedings for prosecution were identical and exoneration of the person concerned in the adjudication proceedings was on its merits. It, therefore, held that although the statements of the two eye-witnesses had been recorded and noted by the Enquiry Officer yet the Enquiry Officer while concluding his finding had not given any merit to those statements; he had in fact totally ignored the statements and if these statements had been taken into account, coupled with the statement of the Complainant, there would have been little scope of exonerating the Petitioner.
It also held that, changing of statements from the log book to FIR holds no water as the log book merely contained the initial complaint whereas the FIR was detailed and FIR is what has to be ultimately looked at by the court.
– Adv. Shivangi Prasad – Corporate Lawyer, External Member & Trainer, Head – Legal & Compliance, Partner POSH at Work