SC decries usurping of power by HCs

Dont entertain cases to be dealt by lower courts

The Supreme Court has lamented the tendency of high courts to allow writ petitions and grant bail in cases meant to be dealt by the regular criminal courts.

A bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra deprecated this practice as “usurping” of power by the HCs.

“We are sorry to note that in spite of the clear pronouncement of law by this court, still, the High Courts are passing similar orders... Of late, we notice that the High Courts are entertaining writ petitions under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, so also under Section 482 CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code) and passing and interfering with various orders granting or rejecting request for bail, which is the function of ordinary Criminal Court,” the bench said.

“Grant of bail or not to grant, is within the powers of the regular criminal court and the High Court, in its inherent jurisdiction, is not justified in usurping their powers. Once the criminal writ petition has been disposed of, the High Court becomes functus officio (an agency whose mandate has expired) and cannot entertain review petitions or miscellaneous applications except for carrying out correction of typographical or clerical errors,” the court added.

The bench passed the observation while allowing an appeal against an Allahabad High Court order saying that the High Court had committed a grave error in not only entertaining the criminal miscellaneous application after a writ petition had been disposed of, but also passing an order not to arrest a man till the conclusion of the trial in a dowry harassment case. The apex court said that the HCs should entertain writ petitions in exceptional cases.

“The jurisdiction vested with the High Court under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution as well as Section 482 CrPC are all exceptional in nature and to be used in most exceptional cases. The jurisdiction under Section 439 CrPC (for bail) is also discretionary and should be exercised with great care and caution,” it said.

In the instant case, the court directed the man to pay Rs 25,000 to his estranged wife.
The bench noted that the man succeeded in remaining out of jail by getting a bail from Allahabad High Court which in turn helped him in challenging the summons issued by a trial court. The trial court had issued summons following the closure report filed by the police. However, the intervention of HC helped him to stay out of jail.

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