The Kerala High Court has held that a second FIR cannot be registered when the first FIR based on the same allegations had been quashed on merits (VS Achuthanandan Vs. State of Kerala).
The Court, therefore, dismissed a petition filed by former Kerala Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan from the left front, seeking to overturn an order by the Enquiry Commissioner and Special Judge, Thiruvananthapuram dismissing the complaints filed by him.
“Special Judge was fully justified in rejecting the complaint, since a second FIR based on the very same allegations cannot be registered, more so when the first FIR has been quashed on merits,” Justice VG Arun held.
Congress leader and another former Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy was respondent no. 2 in the case.
By way of background, Achuthanandan had alleged in his original complaint that a sewerage line which was laid through the property of 6th respondent, Avruthi Mall Management Co. Ltd., was shifted to one side of the property in 2013-2014. Chandy was the Chief Minister at the time and the other petitioners were high ranking officials in the State.
It was alleged that this affected the construction by the Water Authority and gave all the respondents an unfair pecuniary advantage. The complaint contended that the respondents had committed offences punishable under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code read with Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
Before this complaint was filed, a public spirited person had lodged a complaint on the same grounds before the Lok Ayukta. The High Court had quashed that FIR on the grounds that the action of the accused will not attract the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act as the respondents did not gain any unfair monetary benefits.
The Enquiry Commissioner and Special Judge dismissed the complaint by Achuthanandan in light of the judgement of the High Court with respect to the previous FIR.
Advocate S Chandrasekharan Nair, appearing for the petitioner, challenged the order by the Special Judge, stating that it was improper to dismiss the complaint solely because the High Court had dismissed an earlier FIR.
He argued that the allegations in the FIR and the complaint are different and in any case the complaint should not have been rejected without conducting a preliminary enquiry.
Nair also relied on the judgement of the Supreme Court in Lalita Kumari v State of UP to substantiate his arguments.
However, Justice Arun noted that the contention based on Lalita Kumari is misplaced as the legality or otherwise of registering a second FIR based on the same set of facts had not arisen for consideration before the Constitution Bench.
The judgement in the case cannot be understood to be a declaration that in cases where FIR is already registered, preliminary enquiry should be conducted on any subsequent complaint filed on the same grounds, he opined.
The Court concluded that in the present case, the allegations in the complaints and allegations are substantially the same. Even though some additional details are mentioned in the complaint, they are immaterial in view of the settled legal position that an FIR need not be a compendium of all facts.
Therefore, the Court dismissed the petition.
Read Order here