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Delhi HC dismisses plea seeking criminal enquiry against former DU student for giving false evidence

Dismissing Sarvjeet Singh’s petition, the Delhi High Court held that ‘loss of reputation is not sufficient’ to initiate a criminal enquiry under Section 340 of the CrPC.

The counsel for DDA told the court that the authority has taken a decision to provide compensation to the families of the deceased. (File)

The Delhi High Court recently dismissed a man’s plea seeking a criminal enquiry against a former Delhi University student for allegedly giving false evidence against him before the trial court. Sarvjeet Singh, who was arrested in August 2015 after the woman, in a Facebook post, accused him of making indecent gestures and obscene comments at a traffic junction in Tilak Nagar, was later acquitted by a Delhi court.

Singh had challenged two trial court orders that dismissed his application under Section 340 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) seeking a preliminary criminal enquiry against the woman for offences under sections 195 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of offence punishable with imprisonment for life or imprisonment), 193 (punishment for false evidence), 209 (dishonestly making false claim before court) and 211 (false charges with intent to injure) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

A single-judge bench of Justice Sudhir Kumar Jain on September 19 held that both orders are well reasoned. Jain observed that the trial court was right in holding that mere acquittal of the petitioner is not enough to initiate proceedings for criminal enquiry under Section 340 CrPC. While acquitting Singh, the trial court in its 2019 judgment did not rule that the woman had made a false statement under oath.

“The anxiety of the petitioner [Singh] can be very well understood as the respondent no. 2 [the woman] has published the incident in the media which might have caused loss of reputation to the petitioner,” the court observed. Dismissing the petition, the court held that “loss of reputation is not sufficient” to initiate a criminal enquiry under Section 340 CrPC.

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The high court, however, granted Singh the liberty to initiate appropriate legal proceedings for defamation allegedly caused by the woman by registering an FIR or by initiating any other remedy as provided under the law.

In August 2015, Singh was arrested by the Delhi Police after the woman’s Facebook post,   accompanied by his photo, went viral on social media. The Delhi police registered an FIR against Singh under sections 354A (sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the IPC. He was acquitted by a Delhi court on September 28, 2019, after being given the “benefit of doubt”.

A March 2021 order of the Metropolitan Magistrate Mahila Court, Tis Hazari, dismissed Singh’s application for a preliminary enquiry under Section 340 CrPC observing that if the petitioner was acquitted after giving the benefit of the doubt, it does not mean that the woman has made false statements to implicate him. Singh challenged this order before an additional sessions judge-West Tis Hazari, who upheld the metropolitan magistrate’s order in February 2022, observing that there was no material irregularity and illegality in the impugned order.

First published on: 04-10-2022 at 02:03:02 pm
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