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Saturday, January 12, 2013

for quashing the criminal proceedings launched by respondent no. 1 under Section 3(1)(viii) of the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Act 1989’). = that the land on which both parties claim title/interest had initially been allotted to one Anant Ram, a member of the Schedule Caste community, under the 20 Point Programme of the Government of India (Poverty Elevation Programme) and he sold it to one Ram Lal Aggarwal in the year 1989, who further transferred it to his son Anil Kumar Aggarwal in the year 1990. Anil Kumar Aggarwal sold the same to appellant Ravinder Singh in the year 2005. Respondent No. 1, who at the relevant time was holding a very high position in the Central Government, claimed that initial transfer by Anant Ram, the original allottee, in favour of Ram Lal Aggarwal was illegal and he could not transfer the land allotted to him by the Government under Poverty Elevation Programme and further that as the said land had been encroached upon by his father, he had a right to get his name entered in the revenue record. Thus, it is clear that the respondent no. 1, became the law unto himself and assumed the jurisdiction to decide the legal dispute himself to which he himself had been a party being the son of a rank trespasser. Transfer by the original allottee at initial stage, even if illegal, would not confer any right in favour of the respondent no.1. Thus, he adopted intimidatory tactics by resorting to revenue as well as criminal proceedings against the appellant without realising that even if the initial transfer by the original allottee Anant Ram was illegal, the land may revert back to the Government, and not to him merely because his father had encroached upon the same. In view of the above, the judgment of the High Court impugned herein dated 14.12.2011 as well as of the Revisional Court is set aside. Order of the Metropolitan Magistrate dated 13.8.2009 is restored. The complaint filed by respondent no.1 under the provisions of Section 3(1)(viii) of the Act 1989 is hereby quashed. The appeal is thus allowed. Before parting with the case, it may be necessary to observe that any of the observations made herein shall not affect by any means either of the parties in any civil/revenue case pending before an appropriate authority/court.


                                 REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 67 of 2013

      Ravinder Singh                               …Appellant


                                   Versus


      Sukhbir Singh & Ors.                         …Respondents




                               J U D G M E N T


      Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN, J.




      1.    This appeal has been preferred against the impugned judgment and
      order dated 14.12.2011, passed by the High Court of Delhi in  Crl.M.C.
      No. 1262 of 2011, by way of which the High  Court  has  dismissed  the
      said application preferred by the appellant
for quashing the  criminal
      proceedings launched by respondent no. 1 under Section  3(1)(viii)  of
      the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled  Tribes  (Prevention  of  Atrocities)
      Act, 1989 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Act 1989’).


      2.    Facts and circumstances giving rise to this appeal are that:
      A.    The appellant claims  to  be  the  owner  of  agricultural  land
      measuring 1 bigha and 4 biswas, situated  in  the  revenue  estate  of
      village Nangli Poona, Delhi. Respondent no.1 allegedly made an attempt
      to take forcible possession of the said land, and also filed  FIR  No.
      254 of 2005 on 6.4.2005 
under Sections 427, 447  and  506,  read  with
      Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred to  as
      the ‘IPC’).  
Though the appellant was arrested  in  pursuance  of  the
      said FIR, however, subsequently he was enlarged on bail.


      B.    Aggrieved, the appellant filed a  complaint  against  respondent
      no.1, as well as against the police officials  involved  and  in  view
      thereof, FIR No.569 of 2005 under Sections 447, 323, 429  and  34  IPC
      was registered.
The appellant  engaged  one  Pradeep  Rana,  Advocate,
      respondent no.2 and filed Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 1667 of 2005, inter-
      alia, seeking a direction for quashing of FIR No.  254  of  2005.  
The
      said  writ  petition  was  dismissed  in  limine   vide  order   dated
      29.9.2005. 
In the meantime, in the criminal  proceedings  launched  by
      the appellant, a charge sheet was filed  against  respondent  no.1  in
      December, 2005.


      C.    After investigating the allegations made in FIR No. 254 of  2005
      against the appellant, the  police  submitted  a  final  report  dated
      20.2.2006, under  Sections  173  and  169  of  the  Code  of  Criminal
      Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as  the  ‘Cr.P.C.’),  in  the
      court  of  the  Metropolitan  Magistrate,   Delhi.  
Respondent   no.1
      approached the revenue authorities  i.e.  Tahsildar,  Narela,  seeking
      the inclusion of his name  in  the  revenue  record  as  a  person  in
      possession/occupation of  the  said  land.   However,  his  claim  was
      rejected by the Tahsildar vide order dated 22.6.2006.


      D.    It is at this time, Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 2657  of  2006  was
      filed in the name of the appellant by Pradeep Rana, respondent no.2 as
       counsel  on 18.11.2006, on the basis of the  averments  made  in  the
      first writ petition i.e. Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 1667  of  2005,  and
      seeking the same relief sought therein.
The  said  writ  petition  was
      dismissed in default vide order dated 17.8.2007.
Meanwhile, respondent
      no.1 tried to get his name recorded in the revenue record as being  in
      cultivatory possession,  but  the  same  was  rejected  again  by  the
      Tahsildar, Narela, vide order dated 13.8.2007.


      E.    Respondent no.1 filed another complaint  under  Section  107/150
      Cr.P.C. on 18.9.2007, and filed a fresh FIR No.16 of 2007 on 21.9.2007
      under Sections 379,  427  and  34  IPC,  and  subsequently  added  the
      provisions of Section 3(1)(v) of the Act 1989.
Respondent  no.1  also
      filed an appeal against the order  of  the  Tahsildar,  rejecting  his
      application made for the purpose  of   recording   his   name  in  the
      revenue records.


      F.    Respondent no.1 also filed Contempt Case (Crl.)  No.10  of  2007
      before the High Court of Delhi against the appellant  for  filing  two
      criminal  writ  petitions  seeking  the  same  relief,  and  for   not
      disclosing the fact that he had filed the first writ  petition,  while
      filing the second  writ  petition,  owing  to  which,  the  said  writ
      petition stood dismissed in default vide order dated 17.8.2007.


      G.    On receiving notice from the High Court, the appellant  filed  a
      reply expressing  his ignorance regarding the  filing  of  the  second
      criminal writ petition, and further stated that he was  an  illiterate
      person, owing to which, he had given all requisite papers  to  Pradeep
      Rana, Advocate, respondent no. 2, and that respondent no.2 might  have
      filed the said petition, in collusion with respondent no.1.
Notice was
      then issued to Pradeep Rana, respondent no.2 by the  High  Court,  who
      appeared and tendered an  apology  for  filing  the  second  petition,
      without disclosing such facts pertaining to the filing  and  dismissal
      of the first petition.
      H.    The appellant filed a complaint before the Bar Council of  Delhi
      against respondent  no.2  for  filing  the  second  writ  petition  in
      collusion with respondent no.1 on 15.12.2008.
The High Court  accepted
      the version of events submitted by the appellant, and  simultaneously,
      also the apology tendered by respondent no.2 and thereafter, it closed
      the said  criminal proceedings at the  instance  of  respondent  no.1,
      vide order dated 16.2.2009.


      I.    After a period of six months thereof, respondent  no.1  filed  a
      criminal complaint under Section 3(1)(viii) of the Act 1989,  for  the
      filing of a false criminal writ petition by the appellant in the  High
      Court of Delhi, and further and more  particularly,  the  second  writ
      petition, without disclosing the factum of filing and dismissal of the
      aforementioned  first  writ  petition.  
The  Metropolitan  Magistrate
      rejected the said complaint vide order dated 13.8.2009 on  the  ground
      that the High Court had  closed  the  contempt  proceedings  initiated
      against the appellant, as well as  against  respondent  no.2,  at  the
      instance of  respondent no.1.


      J.    Aggrieved, respondent no.1 filed Revision Petition No.23 of 2009
      before the ASJ, Rohini Court, Delhi.  As regards FIR No. 16  of  2007,
      the Special  Judge (SC/ST) refused to proceed  against  the  appellant
      and  others,  making  serious  comments  regarding  the   conduct   of
      respondent no.1, as well as that of  the  investigating  officer.  
The
      revision  petition  filed  by  respondent  no.1  against  order  dated
      13.8.2009, was allowed  by  the  revisional  court  vide  order  dated
      25.10.2010, which was then challenged by  the  appellant,  before  the
      High Court by way of him filing a petition under Section  482  Cr.P.C.
      as Crl.M.C. No.1262 of 2011, which has  been  dismissed  by   impugned
      judgment and order dated 14.12.2011.
            Hence, this appeal.


      3.    Shri Shekhar Naphade, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf
      of the appellant, has submitted that filing the instant complaint case
      amounts to abuse of process of the court. The  criminal  complaint  is
      barred by the principle of issue estoppel, as the same issue has  been
      fully adjudicated by the High Court in a criminal contempt case before
      it, and the High Court was fully satisfied that the fault lay  in  the
      actions of Pradeep Rana, respondent no.2, counsel for  the  appellant.
      The High Court even  accepted  the  apology  of  the  respondent  no.2
      thereafter, and closed the said criminal proceedings at  the  instance
      of respondent no.1. As the issue has already  been  adjudicated,   and
      finally closed by the High Court, the Magistrate court cannot  sit  in
      appeal against the said order passed by the High  Court,  closing  the
      said case of criminal contempt, as the subject matter and  allegations
      of  the  case  before  him,   are  verbatim  and  have  already   been
      adjudicated.
            To invoke the provisions of the Act 1989, it is not enough  that
      the complainant belongs to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, as it
       must further be established that the alleged  offence  was  committed
      with the intention to cause harm  to  the  person  belonging  to  such
      category.  Moreover,  the  term   false,   malicious   and   vexatious
      proceedings must be understood in a strictly legal  sense  and  hence,
      intention (mens rea), to cause harm to  a  person  belonging  to  such
      category must definitely be established. Where genuine civil matter is
       sub-judice,  and parties  are  settling  their  disputes  in  revenue
      courts, such proceedings must not  be  entertained.   The  High  Court
      therefore,  committed  an  error  in  rejecting  the  application  for
      quashing criminal proceedings.


      4.    Per contra, Shri Mukul Sharma,  learned  counsel  appearing  for
      respondent no.1, has defended the  impugned  judgment  and  order  and
      submitted that the findings recorded in the case of criminal  contempt
      cannot  preclude  respondent  no.1  from  initiating   such   criminal
      proceedings and  that  whether  the  same  are  false,  malicious  and
      vexatious, is yet to be established during trial.   This  is  not  the
      stage where any inference in this regard can be  drawn.   Furthermore,
      pendency of the issue regarding the ownership of the said land  before
      the revenue court, is no  bar  so  far  as  criminal  proceedings  are
      concerned. Thus, the appeal is liable to be dismissed.


      5.    We have considered the rival submissions, and heard  both,  Shri
      Rakesh Khanna, learned ASG for the State of Delhi,  and  Shri  Prasoon
      Kumar, Advocate, for  respondent  no.2,  and  have  also  perused  the
      record.


      6.    So far as Contempt Case (Crl.) No.10 of 1007 is concerned, it is
      evident that the appellant, after becoming aware of the  fact  that  a
      second writ petition was filed in his name, filed a  complaint  before
      the Bar Council of Delhi, through  its  Secretary  against  respondent
      no.2 on 29.12.2007 (Annx. P/11), wherein it was stated that  the  said
      second  writ  petition  No.  1667  of  2005  was  filed  without   his
      instructions, using papers signed by him in good faith, in the  office
      of respondent no.2, at his instance. Upon considering the reply of the
      appellant, the High Court issued notice  to  Pradeep  Rana,  Advocate,
      respondent  no.2  in  Contempt  Case  (Crl.)  No.  10  of  2007,   and
      thereafter, respondent no.2 filed his reply, wherein he submitted that
      even though the second writ petition was filed on the instructions  of
      the appellant, however,  he inadvertently, failed to mention the  fact
      that he had filed the earlier writ petition and that the same had been
      dismissed, for which he tendered absolute and unconditional apology.


      7.    The High Court, vide judgment and order dated 16.2.2009 disposed
      of the said contempt proceedings. The order reads as under:
           “Learned counsel  for  Ravinder  Singh  admits  that  Crl.  Writ
           Petition No. 1667/2005 and Crl. Writ Petition No.2657/2006  were
           filed under his signatures but states that he  being  not  well-
           versed  in  English  would  sign  the  petition  and  supporting
           affidavits in Hindi and that he was being guided by his  counsel
           with respect to the contents of the petition.


                 Mr. Pradeep Rana, learned counsel for Mr.  Ravinder  Singh
           express his regrets  and  tenders  an  unqualified  apology  for
           filing two identical petitions  one  after  the  other  and  not
           disclosing in the second petition that the  first  petition  was
           filed and was dismissed.


                 Keeping in view the young age of Mr. Pradeep Rana, learned
           counsel for the petitioner states that in view of the fact  that
           Mr. Ravinder Singh has admitted that both petitions  were  filed
           under his signatures and given an explanation  as  to  what  had
           happened, the petitioner does not  want  to  pursue  the  remedy
           against the counsel, the instant petition may be disposed of  as
           not pressed.
                        We dispose of the petition as not pressed.”

           (Emphasis added)




      8.    The aforesaid order hence,  makes it crystal clear that the High
      Court was satisfied that the appellant had been guided by his  counsel
      and that  he himself  was not well-versed with  the  English  language
      and had also filed his supporting affidavit in Hindi and further  that
      it had accepted the unqualified  apology  tendered  by  Pradeep  Rana,
      respondent no.2, and that considering the fact that the  advocate  was
      of a young age, even though both petitions had been  filed  under  the
      signature  of  the  appellant,  it  had  decided  to  drop  the   said
      proceedings, as respondent no.1 did not wish to pursue his remedy  any
      further.  Hence, the petition was disposed of, as  the  same  was  not
      pressed.


      9.    In Masumsha Hasanasha Musalman v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 2000
      SC 1876, this Court has dealt with the application of the   provisions
      of the Act 1989, and  held that merely because the  victim/complainant
      belongs to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, the  same  cannot  be
      the sole ground for prosecution,  for  the  reason  that  the  offence
      mentioned under the said Act 1989 should be committed against  him  on
      the basis of the fact that such a person belongs to a Scheduled  Caste
      or Scheduled Tribe. In the absence  of  such  ingredient,  no  offence
      under Section 3 (2)(v) of the Act is made out.


      10.   Section 3(1)(viii) of the Act 1989 reads as under:
      “Punishment for offences of atrocities:(1) Whoever, not being a member
      of Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe,-


      (i)         xx         xx         xx
     viii) institutes false, malicious or vexatious  suit  or  criminal  or
           other legal proceedings against a member of a Scheduled Caste or
           a Scheduled Tribe;


       ix)            xx          xx         xx


      shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which  shall  not  be
      less than six months but which may  extend  to  five  years  and  with
      fine.”


      11.   The dictionary meaning of word `false’ means that, which  is  in
      essence, incorrect, or purposefully untrue, deceitful etc.  Thus,  the
      word ‘false’, is used to cover  only  unlawful  falsehood.   It  means
      something that is dishonestly, untrue and deceitful,  and  implies  an
      intention to perpetrate some treachery or fraud. In jurisprudence, the
      word ‘false’ is used to characterise a wrongful or criminal act,  done
      intentionally and knowingly, with knowledge, actual  or  constructive.
      The word false may also be used in a wide  or  narrower  sense.   When
      used in its wider sense, it means something that is untrue whether  or
      not stated intentionally or knowingly, but when used in  its  narrower
      sense, it may cover only such falsehoods, which are  intentional.  The
      question whether in a particular enactment, the word false is used  in
      a restricted sense or a wider sense, depends upon the context in which
      it is used.


      12.   In Commissioner of Sales Tax, Uttar Pradesh v.  Sanjiv  Fabrics,
      (2010) 9 SCC  630,  this  Court,  after  relying  upon  certain  legal
      dictionaries, explained that the  word  false  describes  an  untruth,
      coupled with wrong intention or an intention to  deceive.   The  Court
      further held that in case of criminal prosecution, where  consequences
      are serious, findings of fact must be recorded with  respect  to  mens
      rea in case a falsehood as a  condition  precedent  for  imposing  any
      punishment.


      13.   In the event that the appellant preferred an application for the
      purpose of quashing  the  FIR  lodged  by  respondent  no.1,  and  was
      unsuccessful therein, the same does not mean that  the  appellant  had
      filed a false case against respondent No. 1.   There is  a  difference
      between the terms `not proved’ and `false’.  Merely because a party is
      unable to prove a fact, the same cannot be  categorized  as  false  in
      each and every case.  (Vide: A. Abdul Rashid Khan  (dead)  &  Ors.  v.
      P.A.K.A. Shahul Hamid & Ors., (2000) 10 SCC 636).


      14.   Legitimate indignation does not  fall  within  the  ambit  of  a
      malicious  act.   In  almost  all  legal   inquiries,   intention   as
      distinguished from motive is  the  all  important  factor.  In  common
      parlance, a malicious act has been equated  with  an  intentional  act
      without just cause or excuse. (Vide: Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd. v.
      Girja Shankar Pant & Ors., AIR 2001 SC 24).


      15.   In West Bengal State Electricity Board v. Dilip Kumar  Ray,  AIR
      2007 SC 976, this Court dealt with the term “malicious prosecution” by
      referring to various dictionaries etc. as :
           ‘Malice in the legal  sense  imports  (1)  the  absence  of  all
           elements of justification, excuse or recognised mitigation,  and
           (2) the presence of either (a) an actual  intent  to  cause  the
           particular harm which is produced or harm of  the  same  general
           nature, or (b) the wanton  and  wilful  doing  of  an  act  with
           awareness of a plain and strong likelihood that  such  harm  may
           result.


                  ‘MALICE’ consists in a conscious violation of the  law  to
           the prejudice of another and certainly  has  different  meanings
           with  respect   to   responsibility   for   civil   wrongs   and
           responsibility for crime.


           Malicious prosecution  means - a desire to obtain  a  collateral
           advantage. The principles to be borne in mind  in  the  case  of
           actions for malicious  prosecutions  are  these:—Malice  is  not
           merely the doing of a wrongful act intentionally but it must  be
           established that the defendant was  actuated  by  malus  animus,
           that is to say, by spite or ill will or any indirect or improper
           motive. But if the defendant had reasonable or probable cause of
           launching the criminal prosecution no amount of malice will make
           him liable for damages. Reasonable and probable  cause  must  be
           such as would operate on the mind of a discreet  and  reasonable
           man; ‘malice’ and ‘want of reasonable and probable cause,’  have
           reference to the state of the defendant's mind at  the  date  of
           the initiation of criminal proceedings and the onus rests on the
           plaintiff to prove them.


      16.   Mala fides, where it is alleged, depends upon its own facts  and
      circumstances, in fact has to be proved.  It is a  deliberate  act  in
      disregard of  the  rights  of  others.  It  is  a  wrongful  act  done
      intentionally without just cause or excuse. (See : State of Punjab  v.
      V.K. Khanna & Ors.,  AIR  2001  SC  343;  State  of  A.P.  &  Ors.  v.
      Goverdhanlal Pitti, AIR 2003 SC 1941; Prabodh Sagar v.  Punjab  SEB  &
      Ors., AIR 2000  SC 1684;  and  Chairman  and  MD,  BPL  Ltd.  v.  S.P.
      Gururaja & Ors., AIR 2003 SC 4536).


      17.   The word "vexatious" means ‘harassment by the process  of  law',
      'lacking justification' or with 'intention to harass'.  It   signifies
      an action not having sufficient grounds,  and  which  therefore,  only
      seeks to annoy the adversary.
           The hallmark of a vexatious proceeding is that it has  no  basis
      in law (or at least no  discernible  basis);  and  that  whatever  the
      intention of the proceeding may be, its only effect is to subject  the
      other party to inconvenience, harassment  and  expense,  which  is  so
      great, that it is disproportionate to any gain likely to accrue to the
      claimant; and that it involves an abuse of process of the court.  Such
      proceedings are different from those that involve ordinary and  proper
      use of the process of the court.



      18.   The principle of issue-estoppel  is  also  known  as  ‘cause  of
      action estoppel’ and the same  is  different  from  the  principle  of
      double jeopardy or; autre fois acquit,  as  embodied  in  Section  403
      Cr.P.C. This principle applies where an issue of fact has  been  tried
      by a competent court on a former occasion,  and  a  finding  has  been
      reached in favour of an accused.  Such a finding would then constitute
      an estoppel, or res judicata against the  prosecution  but  would  not
      operate as a bar to the trial and conviction of  the  accused,  for  a
      different or distinct offence.  It would only preclude  the  reception
      of evidence that will disturb that finding of  fact  already  recorded
      when the accused is tried subsequently, even for a different  offence,
      which might be permitted by Section 403(2) Cr.P.C. Thus, the  rule  of
      issue estoppel prevents re-litigation  of  an  issue  which  has  been
      determined in a criminal trial between the parties. If with respect to
      an offence, arising out of a transaction, a trial has taken place  and
      the accused has been acquitted, another  trial  with  respect  to  the
      offence alleged to arise out of the transaction,  which  requires  the
      court to arrive at  a  conclusion  inconsistent  with  the  conclusion
      reached at the earlier trial, is  prohibited  by  the  rule  of  issue
      estoppel. In order to invoke the rule of issue estoppel, not only  the
      parties in the two trials should be the same but  also,  the  fact  in
      issue, proved or not, as  present   in  the  earlier  trial,  must  be
      identical to what is sought to be re-agitated in the subsequent trial.
      If the cause of action was determined to  exist,  i.e.,  judgment  was
      given on it, the same is said to be merged in the judgment. If it  was
      determined not to exist, the  unsuccessful  plaintiff  can  no  longer
      assert that it does; he is estopped per rem judicatam.  (See:  Manipur
      Administration, Manipur v. Thokchom, Bira Singh, AIR 1965 SC 87; Piara
      Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1969 SC 961; State of Andhra Pradesh  v.
      Kokkiligada Meeraiah & Anr., AIR 1970 SC 771; Masud Khan v.  State  of
      U.P., AIR 1974 SC 28; Ravinder Singh v. State of Haryana, AIR 1975  SC
      856; Kanhiya Lal Omar v. R.K. Trivedi & Ors., AIR 1986 SC  111;  Bhanu
      Kumar Jain v. Archana Kumar  &  Anr.,  AIR  2005  SC  626;  and  Swamy
      Atmananda and Ors. v. Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam and Ors., AIR 2005  SC
      2392).



      19.   While considering the issue at hand in  Shiv  Shankar  Singh  v.
      State of Bihar & Anr., (2012) 1 SCC 130, this Court, after considering
      its earlier judgments  in  Pramatha  Nath  Talukdar  v.  Saroj  Ranjan
      Sarkar  AIR 1962 SC 876; Jatinder Singh & Ors. v. Ranjit Kaur AIR 2001
      SC 784; Mahesh Chand v. B. Janardhan Reddy & Anr., AIR  2003  SC  702;
      Poonam Chand Jain & Anr. v. Fazru AIR 2005 SC 38 held:

           “It is  evident  that  the  law  does  not  prohibit  filing  or
           entertaining of the second complaint  even  on  the  same  facts
           provided the earlier complaint has been decided on the basis  of
           insufficient material or  the  order  has  been  passed  without
           understanding the nature of the complaint or the complete  facts
           could not be placed before the court or  where  the  complainant
           came to know certain facts after disposal of the first complaint
           which could have tilted the  balance  in  his  favour.  However,
           second complaint would not be maintainable wherein  the  earlier
           complaint has been disposed of on full consideration of the case
           of the complainant on merit.”



      20.   In Chandrapal Singh & Ors. v. Maharaj Singh & Anr., AIR 1982  SC
      1238,  this court has held that it is equally true that chagrined  and
      frustrated litigants should not be permitted to  give  vent  to  their
      frustration  by enabling them to invoke the jurisdiction  of  criminal
      courts in a cheap manner. In such a fact-situation, the court must not
      hesitate to quash criminal proceedings.


      21.   There can be no  dispute  with  respect  to  the  settled  legal
      proposition that a judgment of this Court  is  binding,  particularly,
      when the same is that of a co-ordinate bench, or of  a  larger  bench.
      It is also correct to state that, even if a particular issue  has  not
      been agitated earlier, or a particular argument was advanced, but  was
      not considered, the said judgment does not lose  its  binding  effect,
      provided that the  point  with  reference  to  which  an  argument  is
      subsequently  advanced,  has  actually  been  decided.  The   decision
      therefore, would not lose its authority, “merely because it was  badly
      argued, inadequately considered or fallaciously reasoned”.   The  case
      must be considered, taking note of the ratio  decidendi  of  the  same
      i.e., the general reasons, or the  general  grounds  upon  which,  the
      decision of the court is based, or on the test  or  abstract,  of  the
      specific peculiarities of the particular  case,  which  finally  gives
      rise to the decision. (Vide: Smt. Somavanti & Ors.  v.  The  State  of
      Punjab & Ors., AIR 1963 SC 151; Ballabhdas Mathuradas Lakhani  &  Ors.
      v. Municipal Committee, Malkapur, AIR  1970  SC  1002;  Ambika  Prasad
      Mishra v. State of U.P. & Ors., AIR 1980  SC  1762;  and  Director  of
      Settlements, A.P. & Ors. v. M.R. Apparao & Anr., AIR 2002 SC 1598).


      22.   In The Direct Recruit Class-II Engineering Officers’ Association
      &  Ors.  v.  State  of  Maharashtra  &  Ors.,  AIR  1990  SC  1607,  a
      Constitution Bench of this Court has taken a similar  view,  observing
      that the binding  nature  of  a  judgment  of  a  court  of  competent
      jurisdiction, is in essence a part of the rule of law on the basis  of
      which, administration of justice depends.  Emphasis on this  point  by
      the Constitution is well founded, and a judgment given by a  competent
      court on  merits must bind all parties involved until the same is  set
      aside in appeal, and an attempted change in the form of  the  petition
      or in its grounds, cannot be allowed to defeat the plea.    (See also:
      Daryao & Ors. v. State of U.P. & Ors., AIR 1961 SC 1457;  and  Forward
      Construction Co. & Ors. v. Prabhat Mandal (Regd.), Andheri & Ors.  AIR
      1986 SC 391).


      23.    The  instant  case  is  required  to  be  decided  taking  into
      consideration the aforesaid settled legal propositions.
            The complaint in dispute filed by the respondent no.1  is  based
      on the ground that there has been a false declaration by the appellant
      while filing the second writ petition as he suppressed the truth  that
      earlier for the same relief a writ petition had been filed and it  was
      done so to gain a legal advantage  and  therefore,  it  was  a  false,
      vexatious and malicious  one  attracting  the  provisions  of  Section
      3(1)(viii) of the Act 1989.  The High Court  while  dealing  with  the
      contempt case did not record such a finding.  The first writ  petition
      was dismissed in limine while the second  was  dismissed  in  default.
      The issue of filing a false affidavit has been dealt with by the  High
      Court in contempt  case  which  the  respondent  no.1  did  not  press
      further.


      24.   The facts on record make it evident
that the land on which  both
      parties claim title/interest had initially been allotted to one  Anant
      Ram, a member of the Schedule Caste  community,  under  the  20  Point
      Programme of the Government of India (Poverty Elevation Programme) and
      he sold it to one Ram Lal Aggarwal  in  the  year  1989,  who  further
      transferred it to his son Anil Kumar Aggarwal in the year 1990.  
      Anil Kumar Aggarwal sold the same to appellant Ravinder Singh in  the  year
      2005.  
Respondent No. 1, who at the relevant time was holding  a  very
      high position in the Central Government, claimed that initial transfer
      by Anant Ram, the original allottee, in favour of Ram Lal Aggarwal was
      illegal and
 he could not transfer the land  allotted  to  him  by  the
      Government under Poverty Elevation Programme and further that  as  the
      said land had been encroached upon by his father, he had  a  right  to
      get his name entered in the revenue record.  
Thus, it  is  clear  that
      the respondent no. 1, became the law  unto  himself  and  assumed  the
      jurisdiction to decide the legal dispute himself to which  he  himself
      had been a party being the son of a rank trespasser. 
Transfer  by  the
      original allottee at initial stage, even if illegal, would not  confer
      any  right  in  favour  of  the  respondent  no.1.  
Thus,  he  adopted
      intimidatory tactics by resorting  to  revenue  as  well  as  criminal
      proceedings against the appellant without realising that even  if  the
      initial transfer by the original allottee Anant Ram was  illegal,  the
      land may revert back to the Government, and not to him merely  because
      his father had encroached upon the same.

      25.   The High Court has dealt with the issue involved herein and  the
      matter stood closed  at  the  instance  of  respondent  no.1  himself.
      Therefore, there can be no justification whatsoever to launch criminal
      prosecution on that basis afresh.
The inherent power of the  court  in
      dealing with an extraordinary situation is in the larger  interest  of
      administration of justice and for preventing manifest injustice  being
      done. 
Thus, it is a judicial obligation on the court to undo  a  wrong
      in course of administration of justice and to prevent continuation  of
      unnecessary judicial process.  It may be  so  necessary  to  curb  the
      menace of criminal  prosecution  as  an  instrument  of  operation  of
      needless harassment. 
A person cannot be permitted to unleash  vendetta
      to harass any person needlessly. Ex debito justitiae is inbuilt in the
      inherent power of the court and the whole idea is to do real, complete
      and substantial justice for which the courts exist.  Thus, it  becomes
      the paramount duty of the court  to  protect  an  apparently  innocent
      person, not to be subjected to prosecution  on  the  basis  of  wholly
      untenable complaint.


            In view of the above, the judgment of the  High  Court  impugned
      herein dated 14.12.2011 as well as of  the  Revisional  Court  is  set
      aside.  Order  of  the  Metropolitan  Magistrate  dated  13.8.2009  is
      restored. The complaint filed by respondent no.1 under the  provisions
      of Section 3(1)(viii) of the Act 1989  is hereby quashed.   The appeal
      is thus allowed.
            Before parting with the case, it may  be  necessary  to  observe
      that any of the observations made herein shall not affect by any means
      either of the parties in any  civil/revenue  case  pending  before  an
      appropriate authority/court.


                                  ……………………………….J.
                                   (Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN)




                                   ………………………………J.
                                         (V. GOPALA GOWDA)


    New Delhi,
    January 11, 2013


    -----------------------
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