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HC do not have power to pass orders of “not to arrest” while disposing of petition U/s 482 CrPC- SC

The Apex Court, in the case of M/s Neeharika Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. v State of Maharashtra, held that High Courts, while dismissing petitions under Section 482 CrPC or under Article 226, shall not pass orders of “not to arrest” and/or “no coercive steps”, either during the investigation or until the final chargesheet is filed under Section 173 CrPC.

In the instant case, Bombay HC gave an interim order on a writ petition, wherein it granted time for filing an affidavit and then passed an interim order that no coercive steps to be adopted against the respondents.

The bench observed that when the proceedings are at a juncture wherein the investigation is still going on or the facts are hazy or the entire evidence is not placed before the respective court, the HC should refrain itself from passing such interim orders.

Moreover, the respective court of law should relegate the said accused to apply for an anticipatory bail under the Section 438 of CrPC.

However, the bench issued certain guidelines and explained the circumstances wherein the HC would be justified in passing such interim orders of “not to arrest” or “no coercive steps.”

The bench stated that when the police officials have the right to conduct investigation according to the provisions enumerated Chapter XIV, in case of cognizable offences, and when the courts would not make an attempt to thwart any investigation into such offences, then such interim orders would be justified.

The bench also stated that such interim orders should not be of a nature that the criminal proceedings are scuttled with at their initial stage, and the quashing of FIR or complaint should act as an exception and not an ordinary rule.

The apex court noted that such interim orders were being passed by various High Courts without citing any reasons for the same.

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