BENGALURU: Stating that it could exercise powers to quash the criminal proceedings initiated for private and personal grudges, the High Court on Tuesday quashed criminal proceedings against six accused in connection with the murder of Father Thomas K J, a rector at St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary.
The High Court quashed criminal proceedings against Rita Reeni, editor of a Kannada monthly, Fr Anbu John, Fr A Thomas, President, Kannada Catholic Priests’ Conference, Raphaelraj, General Secretary, B A Anthony Prasad, Vice-President, Akhila Karnataka Catholic Christara Kannada Sangha, and I Anthappa.
Referring to the judgment of the apex court in Bhajan Lal’s case, Justice Anand Byrareddy said that when a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with malafides or where proceedings are maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite the accused due to private and personal grudges, the High Courts could exercise power under Article 221 or the inherent powers under Section 482 of CrPC to quash the proceedings.
“In the present case, when the case sought to be made out against the first five accused is itself on the basis of circumstantial evidence so that the case against the petitioners who are sought to be arrayed as accused no. 6 to 12 (accused no. 8 is dead) on the same evidence even more diluted,” the judge said.
The judge said even very strong suspicion on the basis that the petitioners had a long standing ill-will against the deceased, would not justify their arraignment as accused in the case. Nor the fact that they had closely associated with the first five over time would make out a case against them of the offence alleged.
The judge added that the half-hearted initiation of the proceedings against the petitioners, after considerable lapse of time, when the statement of witnesses on which reliance was placed in presenting the additional chargesheet, was already available when the main chargesheet was filed, is another circumstance that would militate against the proceedings initiated against the petitioners.
The Yeshwanthpur police registered a case on April 1, 2013 after Fr Thomas was found dead in the seminary with injuries to his body.