Bhajan Lal v. State of Haryana & Others

August 19, 2023

“Bhajan Lal v. State of Haryana & Others” is a landmark judgment delivered by the Supreme Court of India in 1992. The case is significant for its interpretation of Article 226 of the Indian Constitution, which relates to the writ jurisdiction of High Courts, and its role in preventing abuse of power by the state government.
The Supreme Court, in its judgment, established guidelines to prevent misuse of power by state governments in cases like this. The court held that when a First Information Report (FIR) is lodged and a criminal case is pending against an individual, the state government cannot interfere with or withdraw the case in a mala fide (bad faith) manner. The court laid down a test to determine whether the decision to withdraw the case is mala fide or not:

  1. Whether the allegations in the FIR prima facie make out a cognizable offence.
  2. Whether the FIR does not disclose any cognizable offence but indicates the need for an inquiry.
  3. Whether the allegations in the FIR and other materials constitute a case for further investigation.
  4. Whether it is possible to form an opinion that the FIR has been lodged maliciously or for ulterior motives.
    The Bhajan Lal case is often cited as an important precedent in cases where the state government’s decisions are challenged as mala fide or politically motivated. It underscores the importance of preventing the misuse of power and protecting the integrity of the legal process.

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This article has been written by Shivani Singh, Faculty at Jyoti Judiciary.

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