In a significant decision that underscores the importance of context and reasonableness in criminal cases, the Indian court recently ruled on Criminal Appeal No. 2255 of 2023. The case, known as Sunil Kumar versus State of U.P., was decided on August 3, 2023.
The appellant in the case, Sunil Kumar, was represented by Advocate Sandeep Singh, while the State of U.P. and another individual were the respondents, represented by a team of advocates that included Ardendumauli Kumar Prasad, Adarsh Upadhyay, Aman Pathak, Ashish Madan, Pallavi Kumari, and Ananya Sahu.
The judgement was delivered by Justice Bela M. Trivedi, bringing a contentious legal battle to its conclusion.
The Background of the Case
The case centred around a contentious event that occurred on September 11, 2014. At the time, Sunil Kumar was working as an Assistant Engineer at Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd., and the second respondent held a position as a peon in the same office.
Sunil Kumar had lodged an FIR alleging that an altercation between him and the respondent occurred over some articles meant for a consumer. He claimed the respondent became agitated, hurling abuses and threats, and attempted to assault him with a slipper.
However, the following day, the respondent lodged a counter complaint against Kumar, alleging assault, threats, and abusive language. Based on these allegations, a chargesheet was submitted against Kumar.
Kumar then filed an application to quash the chargesheet and the entire proceedings related to this case in the Allahabad High Court. Unfortunately for Kumar, the High Court dismissed his application.
The Appeal and Final Judgement
Not willing to accept the dismissal, Kumar appealed the High Court’s decision in the Supreme Court. During the hearing, the court noted that the respondent, though duly served, had not appeared to give any statement.
Upon thorough examination of the complaints filed by both parties and the chargesheet, the court found that the allegations against Kumar were of a trivial nature. Moreover, the court noted that the proceedings had been ongoing since 2015 with no progress, thus subjecting Kumar to ongoing harassment.
Justice Trivedi, in delivering the judgement, expressed the view that such a minor incident should have been resolved on the day it occurred, instead of being drawn out into a years-long legal battle.
As a result, the Supreme Court quashed the proceedings of the case no. 3354 of 2014 pending in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Fatehpur (U.P.), providing a much-needed relief to Kumar.
This judgement, by acknowledging the trivial nature of the accusations and the unnecessary prolongation of the case, has shone a light on the importance of judicial reasonableness and fairness. It is indeed a win for reason and reinforces the need for courts to remain vigilant against petty office disputes being escalated unnecessarily into the legal system.