advocatemmmohan

My photo

ADVOCATEMMMOHAN -  Practicing both IN CIVIL, CRIMINAL AND FAMILY LAWS,Etc.,

WELCOME TO LEGAL WORLD

WELCOME TO MY LEGAL WORLD - FOR KNOWLEDGE IN LAW & FOR LEGAL OPINIONS - SHARE THIS

Friday, January 11, 2013

for quashing the proceedings in Complaint Case No.628 of 2011 (Sudha Kant Pandey v. K.L. Singh & Anr.) under Sections 403 and 406 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred to as the‘IPC’).=A complaint made after a lapse of 15 years is barred by the provisions of Section 468 Cr.P.C., and the High Court has erred in holding the same to be a continuing offence. As, in pursuance of the High Court’s order dated 25.5.2001, the representation of respondent no.2 dated 21.3.2001 was decided by the Managing Director, IFFCO vide order dated 15.10.2001, the limitation period began from the date of the said order, or at the most from 29.10.2001, that is, the date on which, the order of rejection was communicated. The initiation of criminal proceedings is nothing but an attempt by the frustrated litigant to give vent to his frustration, by invoking the jurisdiction of the criminal court and thus, the proceedings are liable to be quashed .= “In cases where there is a delay in lodging a FIR, the Court has to look for a plausible explanation for such delay. In absence of such an explanation, the delay may be fatal. The reason for quashing such proceedings may not be merely that the allegations were an afterthought or had given a coloured version of events. In such cases the court should carefully examine the facts before it for the reason that a frustrated litigant who failed to succeed before the Civil Court may initiate criminal proceedings just to harass the other side with mala fide intentions or the ulterior motive of wreaking vengeance on the other party. Chagrined and frustrated litigants should not be permitted to give vent to their frustrations by cheaply invoking the jurisdiction of the criminal court. The court proceedings ought not to be permitted to degenerate into a weapon of harassment and persecution. In such a case, where an FIR is lodged clearly with a view to spite the other party because of a private and personal grudge and to enmesh the other party in long and arduous criminal proceedings, the court may take a view that it amounts to an abuse of the process of law in the facts and circumstances of the case.-The instant appeals are squarely covered by the observations made in Kishan Singh (Supra) and thus, the proceedings must be labeled as nothing more than an abuse of the process of the court, particularly in view of the fact that, with respect to enact the same subject matter, various complaint cases had already been filed by respondent No.2 and his brother, which were all dismissed on merits, after the examination of witnesses. In such a fact-situation, Complaint Case No. 628 of 2011, filed on 31.5.2001 was not maintainable. Thus, the Magistrate concerned committed a grave error by entertaining the said case, and wrongly took cognizance and issued summons to the appellants. 34. In view of above, the appeals are allowed. The impugned judgment dated 13.3.2012 is set aside and the proceedings in Complaint Case No. 628 of 2011 pending before the Additional C.J.M., Allahabad, are hereby quashed.


REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 61 of 2013




      Udai Shankar Awasthi                             …Appellant


                                   Versus


      State of U.P. & Anr.                                  …Respondents


                                   WITH


                        CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 62 of 2013




                               J U D G M E N T


      Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN, J.


      1.    Both these appeals have  been  preferred  against  the  impugned
      judgment and order dated  13.3.2012,  passed  by  the  High  Court  of
      Judicature at Allahabad in Criminal Misc.  Application  No.  41827  of
      2011, by which the High Court has rejected the  petition  filed  under
      Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure,1973  (hereinafter  referred
      to as the ‘Cr.P.C.’) 
for quashing the proceedings  in  Complaint  Case
      No.628 of 2011 (Sudha Kant Pandey v. K.L. Singh & Anr.) under Sections 403 and 406 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred to as the‘IPC’).


      2.    Facts and circumstances giving rise to these appeals are:
      A.    M/s. Manish Engineering Enterprises of  which  respondent  No.2,
      Sudha Kant Pandey, claims to be the proprietor, was given a work order
      by  M/s.  Indian  Farmers  Fertilizer  Cooperative  Ltd.  (hereinafter
      referred to as “IFFCO”), Phulpur unit,  on 1.2.1996 for the purpose of
      conducting  repairs  in  their  plant  worth  an  estimated  value  of
      Rs.13,88,750/-. The said work  order  was  subsequently  cancelled  by
      IFFCO on 7.2.1996.
      B.     Aggrieved,  M/s.  Manish   Engineering   Enterprises   made   a
      representation  dated  21.3.2001,  to  IFFCO  requesting  it  to  make
      payments for the work allegedly done by it. As there was  no  response
      from the management of IFFCO, the said  concern  filed  Writ  Petition
      No. 19922 of 2001  before the  High  Court  of  Allahabad,  seeking  a
      direction  by  it  to  IFFCO  for  the  payment  of   an   amount   of
      Rs.22,81,530.22 for alleged work done by it.
      C.    The High Court disposed of the said  Writ  Petition  vide  order
      dated 25.5.2001, directing IFFCO  to  dispose  of  the  representation
      dated 21.3.2001, submitted by the said concern within a  period  of  6
      weeks.   In pursuance of the order of the High Court dated  25.5.2001,
      the  said  representation  dated  21.3.2001,  was  considered  by  the
      Managing Director of IFFCO and was rejected by way of a speaking order
      dated 15.10.2001, and the same was communicated to  the  said  concern
      vide letter dated 29.10.2001.
      D.    M/s. Manish Engineering Enterprises filed Writ Petition No. 7231
      of 2002 before the High Court of Allahabad for  the  recovery  of  the
      said amount, which stood disposed of vide order dated 20.2.2002,  with
      a direction to pursue  the  remedy  available  under  the  arbitration
      clause contained  in  the  agreement  executed  in  pursuance  of  the
      aforementioned work order.
      E.     M/s.   Manish   Engineering   Enterprises   filed   Arbitration
      Application No. 24 of 2002 before the High Court  of  Allahabad  under
      Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996  (hereinafter
      referred  to  as  ‘the  Act  1996’)  on  24.5.2002,  praying  for  the
      appointment of an arbitrator, in view of the fact that the application
      made by the said concern for the purpose of appointing an  arbitrator,
      had been rejected by IFFCO  as  being  time  barred.  The  High  Court
      therefore, vide judgment and  order  dated  17.10.2003,  appointed  an
      arbitrator. However, the said arbitrator expressed  his  inability  to
      work.  Thus,  vide  order  dated  13.2.2004,  another  arbitrator  was
      appointed.
      F.    M/s. Manish Engineering Enterprises filed a  Claim  Petition  on
      various counts, including one for an amount of  Rs.9,27,182/-  towards
      the alleged removal of  items  from  their  godown  within  the  IFFCO
      premises.
            The learned arbitrator so appointed, framed a  large  number  of
      issues and rejected in particular, the claim  of  alleged  removal  of
      items from the godown of M/s. Manish Enterprises, located  within  the
      IFFCO premises (being issue No.13),  though  he  accepted  some  other
      claims vide award dated 11.3.2007.
            IFFCO filed an application under Section 34 of the Act, 1996 for
      the purpose of setting aside the award  dated  11.3.2007,  before  the
      District Court, Allahabad and the matter is sub-judice.
      G.      Mr.   Sabha   Kant   Pandey,   the   brother   of   respondent
      no.2/complainant, filed Complaint Case No. 4948 of  2009  against  the
      officers of IFFCO on 23.11.2009 under Sections 323, 504, 506, 406  and
      120-B IPC before the  court  of  Special  Chief  Judicial  Magistrate,
      Allahabad. Therein, some witnesses including the said complainant were
      examined.
      H.    Sabha Kant Pandey, the brother of respondent no.2 filed  another
      Complaint  Case No. 26528 of 2009, against the appellants  and  others
      under Sections 147, 148, 323, 504, 506, 201 and 379 IPC. In  the  said
      complainant, the brother of respondent  no.2  was  examined  alongwith
      others as a witness.
      I.    Complaint case no. 4948  of  2009  was  rejected  by  way  of  a
      speaking order passed by the Special Chief Judicial  Magistrate,  vide
      order dated 20.3.2010 under Section 203 Cr.P.C.
      J.    Respondent no.2  filed  Criminal  Complaint  No.  1090  of  2010
      against the appellants and others on  2.4.2010,  under  Sections  323,
      504, 506,  406  and  120-B  IPC  before  the  Special  Chief  Judicial
      Magistrate, Allahabad. After  investigating  the  matter,  the  police
      submitted a report on 18.4.2010  stating  that,  allegations  made  in
      complaint case no. 1090 of 2010 were false.
      K.    The Additional  Chief  Judicial  Magistrate,  vide  order  dated
      18.8.2011 dismissed complaint case no. 26528  of  2009  filed  by  the
      brother of respondent no.2.
      L.    Respondent no.2 filed another complaint case no. 628 of 2011  on
      31.5.2011 under Sections 403 and  406  IPC,  in  which,  after  taking
      cognizance, summons  were  issued  to  the  present  appellants  under
      Sections 403 and 406 IPC on 16.7.2011, and vide order dated 22.9.2011,
      bailable warrants were issued against the appellants by the Addl. CJM,
      Allahabad. Subsequently, vide order dated   21.11.2011,   non-bailable
      warrants were also issued against one of the appellants by  the  Addl.
      CJM, Allahabad.
            In view of the fact that K.L. Singh, appellant  in the connected
      appeal, could not be served properly as the correct  address  was  not
      given, on being requested, the Addl.  CJM  withdrew  the  non-bailable
      warrants on 17.12.2011.
      M.    Aggrieved, the appellants filed Criminal Misc.  Application  No.
      41827 of 2011 under Section 482 Cr.P.C.  before  the  High  Court  for
      quashing the said criminal proceedings, which has been dismissed  vide
      impugned judgment and order.
            Hence, these appeals.


      3.    Shri Mukul Rohtagi and Shri Nagendra Rai, learned senior counsel
      appearing for the appellants, have submitted  that  as  the  complaint
      cases filed by the brother of the respondent no.2  in  regard  to  the
      same subject matter were dismissed by the  magistrate  concerned,  the
      question of entertaining a fresh complaint could not  arise.  A  fresh
      complaint cannot be entertained during the pendency of  the  complaint
      case filed by respondent No. 2, with  respect  to  which,  the  police
      filed a final report, stating the same to be a false  complaint.    It
      was further submitted, that there was suppression of  material  facts,
      as in Complaint Case  No.  628  of  2011,  dismissal  of  the  earlier
      complaint was not disclosed.
 Furthermore, as  the  matter  is  purely
      civil in nature, and in view of the fact that arbitration  proceedings
      with respect to the very same subject matter are presently sub-judice,
      and the claim of respondent  no.2  on  this  count  has  already  been
      rejected   by   the   arbitrator,   entertaining/continuing   criminal
      proceedings in the said matter is clearly an abuse of the  process  of
      the court.
Moreover, the alleged claim is related  to  the  period  of
      1996. 
A complaint made after a lapse of 15  years  is  barred  by  the
      provisions of Section 468 Cr.P.C., and the High  Court  has  erred  in
      holding the same to be a continuing offence.  As, in pursuance of  the
      High Court’s order dated 25.5.2001, the representation  of  respondent
      no.2 dated 21.3.2001 was decided by the Managing Director, IFFCO  vide
      order dated 15.10.2001, the limitation period began from the  date  of
      the said order, or at the most from  29.10.2001, that is, the date  on
      which, the order of rejection was communicated.
            The initiation  of  criminal  proceedings   is  nothing  but  an
      attempt by the frustrated litigant  to give vent to  his  frustration,
      by invoking the jurisdiction of  the  criminal  court  and  thus,  the
      proceedings are liable to be quashed.


      4.     Per  contra,  Shri  Devrrat,  learned  counsel  appearing   for
      respondent no.2, has submitted that the High Court  has  rightly  held
      that the same was in fact, a case of  continuing  offence.  Therefore,
      the question of limitation does not arise. The law does  not  prohibit
      the initiation of criminal proceedings where there has been breach  of
      trust and further,  in  such  a  case,  in  spite  of  the  fact  that
      arbitration  proceedings  are  pending,  a   criminal   complaint   is
      maintainable, and the court  concerned  has  rightly  entertained  the
      same. There is no prohibition in law as regards maintaining  a  second
      application, even though the earlier application has  been  dismissed.
      Thus, the appeals are liable to be dismissed.


      5.    We have considered the rival submissions made by learned counsel
      for the parties as well as by Shri Gaurav  Bhatia  and  Shri  Annurat,
      learned counsel appearing for the  State  of  U.P.  and   perused  the
      record.
            In light of the facts of these cases, it is  desirable  to  deal
      first, with the legal issues involved herein.


      LIMITATION IN CRIMINAL CASES- Section 468 Cr.P.C.:
      6.    Section 468 Cr.P.C. places an embargo  upon  court  from  taking
      cognizance of an offence after the expiry  of  the  limitation  period
      provided therein.
Section 469 prescribes when the period of limitation
      begins.
Section 473 enables the court to condone delay, provided  that
      the  court  is  satisfied  with  the  explanation  furnished  by   the
      prosecution/complainant, and  where,  in  the  interests  of  justice,
      extension of the period of limitation is called for.
The principle  of
      condonation of delay is based on the  general  rule  of  the  criminal
      justice system which states that a  crime  never  dies,  as  has  been
      explained by way of the legal maxim, nullum tempus aut locus  occurrit
      regi (lapse of time is no bar to the  Crown  for  the  purpose  of  it
      initiating proceeding  against  offenders).  
A  criminal  offence  is
      considered as a wrong against the State and  also  the  society  as  a
      whole, even though the same has been committed against an individual.


      7.    The question of delay in launching a criminal prosecution may be
      a circumstance to be taken into  consideration  while  arriving  at  a
      final decision, however, the same may  not  itself  be  a  ground  for
      dismissing the complaint at the  threshold.  
Moreover,  the  issue  of
      limitation must be examined in light of the gravity of the  charge  in
      question. (Vide: Japani Sahoo v. Chandra Sekhar Mohanty, AIR  2007  SC
      2762; Sajjan Kumar v. Central Bureau of Investigation,  (2010)  9  SCC
      368; and Noida Entrepreneurs Association v. Noida & Ors., AIR 2011  SC
      2112).


      8.    The court, while condoning delay has to record the  reasons  for
      its satisfaction, and the same must be manifest in the  order  of  the
      court  itself.  The  court  is  further  required  to  state  in   its
      conclusion, while condoning  such  delay,  that  such  condonation  is
      required in the interest of justice.  (Vide: State of  Maharashtra  v.
      Sharad  Chandra Vinayak Dongre & Ors., AIR 1995 SC 231; and  State  of
      H.P. v. Tara Dutt & Anr., AIR 2000 SC 297).


      9.          To sum up, the law  of  limitation  prescribed  under  the
      Cr.P.C., must be observed, but in certain  exceptional  circumstances,
      taking into consideration the gravity of the  charge,  the  Court  may
      condone  delay, recording reasons for the same, in the event  that  it
      is found necessary to condone such delay in the interest  of  justice.




      CONTINUING OFFENCE:
      10.   Section 472 Cr.P.C.  provides  that  in  case  of  a  continuing
      offence, a fresh period of limitation begins to run at every moment of
      the time period during which the offence  continues.
The  expression,
      ‘continuing offence’ has not been defined in the Cr.P.C. because it is
      one of those expressions which does not have a fixed connotation,  and
      therefore, the formula of universal application cannot  be  formulated
      in this respect.


      11.    In  Balakrishna  Savalram  Pujari  Waghmare  &  Ors.  v.  Shree
      Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Sansthan & Ors., AIR 1959 SC 798, this Court dealt
      with the aforementioned issue, and observed that a continuing  offence
      is an act which creates a continuing source of injury, and renders the
      doer of the act responsible and liable for  the  continuation  of  the
      said injury. In case  a   wrongful  act  causes  an  injury  which  is
      complete,  there  is  no  continuing  wrong  even  though  the  damage
      resulting from the said act may continue. If the wrongful  act  is  of
      such character that the injury caused by it itself continues, then the
      said act constitutes a continuing wrong. The distinction  between  the
      two wrongs therefore depends, upon the effect of the injury.
           In the said case, the court dealt with a case of  a wrongful act
      of forcible ouster, and held that the  resulting  injury  caused,  was
      complete at the date of the ouster itself,  and therefore there was no
      scope for the application of Section  23  of  the  Limitation  Act  in
      relation to the said case.


      12.   In Gokak Patel Volkart Ltd. v. Dundayya Gurushiddaiah Hiremath &
       Ors.,  (1991) 2 SCC 141, this Court dealt with the issue and held  as
      under:
               “According to the Blacks'  Law  Dictionary,  Fifth  Edition,
               'Continuing' means ‘enduring; not terminated by a single act
               or fact; subsisting for a definite  period  or  intended  to
               cover  or  apply  to  successive  similar   obligations   or
               occurrences.’ Continuing offence means ‘type of crime  which
               is committed over a span of time.’ As to period  of  statute
               of limitation in a continuing offence, the last act  of  the
               offence  controls  for  commencement  of  the   period.   ‘A
               continuing offence, such that  only  the  last  act  thereof
               within the period of the  statute  of  limitations  need  be
               alleged in the indictment or information, is one  which  may
               consist of separate acts or a course of  conduct  but  which
               arises from that singleness of thought,  purpose  or  action
               which may be deemed a single impulse.’ So also a 'Continuous
               Crime' means "one consisting of a continuous series of acts,
               which endures after the  period  of  consummation,  as,  the
               offence of  carrying  concealed  weapons.  In  the  case  of
               instantaneous crimes, the statute of  limitation  begins  to
               run with the consummation, while in the case  of  continuous
               crimes it only begins with the  cessation  of  the  criminal
               conduct or act."




      13.   While deciding the case in Gokak  Patel  Volkart  Ltd.  (Supra),
      this Court placed reliance upon its earlier judgment in State of Bihar
      v. Deokaran Nenshi & Anr., AIR 1973 SC 908, wherein  the  court  while
      dealing with the case of continuance of an offence has held as under:
               “A  continuing  offence  is  one  which  is  susceptible  of
               continuance and is distinguishable from  the  one  which  is
               committed once and for all. It  is  one  of  those  offences
               which arises out of a failure to obey or comply with a  rule
               or  its  requirement  and  which  involves  a  penalty,  the
               liability  for  which  continues  until  the  rule  or   its
               requirement is obeyed or complied with.  On  every  occasion
               that such disobedience or non-compliance occurs and  recurs,
               there is the offence committed. The distinction between  the
               two kinds of offences is between an act  or  omission  which
               constitutes an offence once  and  for  all  and  an  act  or
               omission which continues and therefore, constitutes a  fresh
               offence every time or occasion on which it continues. In the
               case of a continuing offence, there is thus  the  ingredient
               of continuance of the offence which is absent in the case of
               an offence which takes place when  an  act  or  omission  is
               committed once and for all.”


      (See also: Bhagirath Kanoria & Ors. v. State  of  M.P.,  AIR  1984  SC
      1688; and Amrit Lal Chum v. Devoprasad Dutta Roy, AIR 1988 SC 733).


      14.   In M/s. Raymond Limited & Anr.,  Etc.  Etc.  v.  Madhya  Pradesh
      Electricity Board & Ors., Etc. Etc., AIR 2001 SC 238, this Court  held
      as  under:
               “It  cannot  legitimately  be  contended   that   the   word
               "continuously" has  one  definite  meaning  only  to  convey
               uninterrupted ness in time sequence or essence  and  on  the
               other hand the very  word  would  also  mean  'recurring  at
               repeated intervals so as to be of repeated occurrence'. That
               apart, used as an adjective it draws colour from the context
               too.”




      15.   In Sankar Dastidar v. Smt. Banjula Dastidar & Anr., AIR 2007  SC
      514, this Court observed as under:
               “A suit for damages, in our opinion, stands on  a  different
               footing vis--vis a continuous wrong in respect of  enjoyment
               of one's right in a property. When a right of way is claimed
               whether public or private over a certain land over which the
               tort-teaser has no right of possession, the  breaches  would
               be continuing one. It is, however, indisputable that  unless
               the wrong is a continuing one, period of limitation does not
               stop running. Once the period begins to  run,  it  does  not
               stop except  where  the  provisions  of  Section 22  of  the
               Limitation Act would apply.”


           The Court further held:
               “Articles 68, 69 and 91 of the Limitation Act  govern  suits
               in  respect  of  movable  property.  For  specific   movable
               property  lost  or   acquired   by   theft,   or   dishonest
               misappropriation  or  conversion;   knowledge   as   regards
               possession of the party  shall  be  the  starting  point  of
               limitation in terms of Article 68. For  any  other  specific
               movable property, the time from which the period  begins  to
               run would be when the property is wrongfully taken, in terms
               of  Article  69.  Article  91  provides  for  a  period   of
               limitation  in  respect  of  a  suit  for  compensation  for
               wrongfully taking or injuring or  wrongfully  detaining  any
               other specific movable property. The  time  from  which  the
               period  begins  to  run  would  be  when  the  property   is
               wrongfully  taken  or  injured  or   when   the   detainer's
               possession becomes unlawful.”


      16.   Thus, in view of  the  above,  the  law  on  the  issue  can  be
      summarised  to the effect that, in the case of a  continuing  offence,
      the ingredients of the offence continue, i.e., endure even  after  the
      period of consummation,  whereas  in  an  instantaneous  offence,  the
      offence takes place once and for all i.e. when the same actually takes
      place.  In such cases, there is no continuing offence, even though the
      damage resulting from the injury may itself continue.
   
  SECOND COMPLAINT ON SAME FACTS-MAINTAINABILITY:
      17.   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.”


      18.   The present appeals require to be decided on the  basis  of  the
      settled legal propositions referred to hereinabove.


            Complaint Case No.4948 of 2009 was filed by Sabha  Kant  Pandey,
      brother of respondent no.2, wherein, he claimed to be a partner in the
      firm  M/s  Manish  Engineering  Enterprises,  against   one   of   the
      appellants and other officers of IFFCO, under Sections 323, 504,  506,
      406 and 120B IPC at  Police  Statition  Phulpur,  District  Allahabad,
      alleging that the said Firm had been given  a  separate  godown/office
      within the IFFCO compound, wherein their articles worth Rs.30-40 lacs,
      as well as  their  documents  were  kept.   The  complainant  was  not
      permitted to remove them and additionally,   even the payment for  the
      work done by the firm was not made, on certain technical grounds.  The
      officers of  IFFCO,  including  Mr.  U.S.  Awasthi  -  the  appellant,
      misbehaved with the complainant and kept the said articles worth Rs.30-
      40 lacs, as also the important documents, in  addition  to  the  entry
      gate pass required  to enter the plant  by  the  complainant  and  his
      brother  Sudhakant  (respondent  no.2  herein),  therefore  making  it
      impossible for them to access their godown.


      19.   The complaint was dealt  with  appropriately  by  the  competent
      court,  wherein  the  present  complainant  was  also  examined  as  a
      prosecution witness. The Court took note of the fact  of  pendency  of
      the Arbitration Proceedings with respect to the payment of  dues,  and
      came to the conclusion that  the  complaint  had  been  filed  to  put
      pressure  on  IFFCO  to  obtain  payments.   The  said  complaint  was
      dismissed on merits.


      20.   Complaint Case No.26528 of 2009  was  then  filed  by  Sabhakant
      Pandey, brother of respondent no.2, against one of the appellants  and
      also other officers of IFFCO under Sections 147, 148, 323,  504,  506,
      201 and 379 IPC in Police Statition Phulpur, Allahabad, making similar
      allegations, and giving full  particulars  of  the  outstanding  dues.
      That complaint was heard and  disposed  of  by  the  competent  court,
      taking note of the fact that there had been a cross-complaint  by  the
      officers of IFFCO, wherein allegations were made to the effect that on
      19.12.2008, Arbitration Proceedings in Case No.1 of 2007 took place at
      the residence of the Arbitrator, a retired Judge of the Allahabad High
      Court, wherein Sabha Kant Pandey and Sudha Kant Pandey misbehaved with
      the Arbitrator, and he was hence forced to adjourn the hearing of  the
      case.  Subsequently, they stood in front of  his   house  and  shouted
      slogans, abusing the officers of IFFCO and even tried to beat them up.
       The court dismissed the said complaint after recording the  following
      findings:
                 “In the opinion  of  the  court,  the  complaint  filed  by
                 Sabhakant  Pandey  is  imaginary,  a  bald  story  with  an
                 intention  to  put  illegal  pressure  and  by  suppressing
                 material facts in the complaint.”


      21.   Complaint  Case  No.1090  of  2010  was  filed  by  the  present
      complainant,  respondent  no.2  against  the  appellant  Udai  Shankar
      Awasthi and other officers of IFFCO under Sections 323, 504, 506,  406
      and 120B IPC, making similar allegations  as  were  mentioned  in  the
      first complaint, to the effect that articles worth  Rs.15-20  lacs  in
      each godown were  lying  in  the  premises  of  IFFCO,  and  that  the
      complainant was not permitted to remove the same.  In the  said  case,
      after investigation, the police filed the final  report  stating  that
      all the allegations made in the complaint were false.  The  concluding
      part of the report reads as under:
                       “For last 6 months no body has turned up to  get  his
                 statement recorded in spite of notice.  The application had
                 been  filed  on  false  facts  and  complaint  was   bogus,
                 forceless and baseless and was liable to be dismissed.”


      22.   So far as the present complaint is concerned, the same has  been
      filed under Sections 415, 406 and 403 IPC, wherein the allegation that
      their Bill had been cleared on 10.7.1996, but the  requisite  payment,
      to the tune of Rs.22,81,530/- was not made to the complainant.   Their
      claim for payment was wrongly rejected. Certain articles and documents
      belonging to the complainant were lying within the premises  of  IFFCO
      and the same were not returned to the complainant despite requests for
      the same.  In this case, after taking cognizance, summons were  issued
      on 16.7.2011, under Sections 403 and 406 IPC, though  the  case  under
      Section 415 IPC stood rejected.


      23.   It is evident that in the said complaint, no reference was  made
      by the complainant as regards the Arbitration Proceedings.  There  was
      also no disclosure of facts to show that earlier complaints in respect
      of the same subject matter, had been dismissed on merits by  the  same
      court.


      24.   A copy of the Award made by the Arbitrator was placed on record,
      wherein issue no.13 which dealt with  the  present  controversy,  i.e.
      some material and documents were placed in the premises of  IFFCO  and
      the return of the same was refused.  The claim as  regards  the  same,
      has been rejected.   There has been no mention of such claim  and  its
      rejection by the said concern, in either of the writ  petitions  filed
      before the High  Court  earlier  or  even  for  that  matter,  in  the
      application filed by the said concern before IFFCO, for the purpose of
      making appointment of an arbitrator, or in the application filed under
      Section 11 of the Act, 1996 before the High Court.


      25.   In the counter affidavit filed by respondent no.2, it  has  been
      submitted that the contract was terminated by IFFCO  fraudulently,  to
      usurp the entire amount towards the work done by  it  and  that  IFFCO
      took illegal possession of all the goods and articles belonging to the
      firm lying within its premises, and as the amount had not  been  paid,
      the officers  were  guilty  of  criminal  breach  of  trust  and  were
      therefore, liable to be punished.   However,  the  fact  that  earlier
      complaints had been filed by the brother of respondent no.2 Sabha Kant
      Pandey  has  been  admitted.   It  has  further  been  admitted   that
      Arbitration  Proceedings  are  still  pending,   but   it   has   also
      simultaneously been urged that criminal prosecution has nothing to  do
      with the Arbitral award.


      26.  The Magistrate had issued summons without meeting  the  mandatory
      requirement of Section 202 Cr.P.C., though the appellants were outside
      his  territorial  jurisdiction.    
The  provisions  of  Section  202 Cr.P.C. were amended vide Amendment Act 2005, making it  mandatory  to postpone the issue of process where the accused  resides  in  an  area beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the Magistrate  concerned.  
The
      same was found necessary in order to  protect  innocent  persons  from
      being harassed by unscrupulous persons and making it  obligatory  upon
      the Magistrate  to  enquire  into  the  case  himself,  or  
to  direct
      investigation to be made by a police officer, or by such other  person
      as he thinks fit for the purpose of finding out whether or not,  there
      was sufficient  ground  for  proceeding  against  the  accused  before
      issuing summons in such cases.. (See also: Shivjee Singh  v.  Nagendra
      Tiwary & Ors., AIR 2010 SC 2261; and National Bank of Oman v. Barakara
      Abdul Aziz & Anr., JT 2012 (12) SC 432).


      27.   Section 403 IPC provides for a maximum punishment of 2 years, or
      fine or both; and Section 406 IPC provides for a maximum punishment of
      3 years, or  fine  or  both.    The  limitation  period  within  which
      cognizance must be taken, as per the  provisions  of  Section  468  of
      Cr.P.C. is  three years.  In the case of an instantaneous offence,  as
      per the provisions of Section  469  of  the  Cr.P.C.,  the  period  of
      limitation commences on the date of offence.
In  the  instant  case,
      admittedly, the claim of the said  firm  was  rejected  by  way  of  a
      speaking order dated 15.10.2001, in pursuance of the order of the High
      Court dated 25.5.2001, and the said order was communicated vide letter
      dated 29.10.2001.
Respondent No. 2 correctly understood the nature of
      the offence and, therefore, subsequently approached the High Court for
      the purpose of seeking recovery of outstanding dues, wherein the  High
      Court  directed  him  to  pursue  the  remedy  available   under   the
      arbitration agreement between the parties.
 In such a fact  situation,
      it is beyond our imagination as to how the offence involved herein can
      possibly be termed as a  continuing  offence.
 In  fact,  the  damage
      caused by virtue of non-payment of their  dues,  if  any,  is  legally
      sustainable, may continue, but the offence is  most  certainly  not  a
      continuing offence, as the same has not recurred subsequent  to  order
      dated  15.10.2001,  even  though  the  effect  caused  by  it  may  be
      continuous in nature.


           In Arun Vyas & Ors. v. Anita Vyas, AIR 1999 SC 2071, this  Court
      held that in a case of cruelty, the starting point of limitation would
      be the last act of cruelty.  (See also: Ramesh  &  Ors.  v.  State  of
      Tamil Nadu, AIR 2005 SC 1989).


      28.   Approaching the court at a belated stage for a  rightful  cause,
      or even for the violation of the fundamental rights, has  always  been
      considered as a good ground for its rejection at the  threshold.   The
      ground taken by the learned counsel for  respondent  No.  2  that  the
      cause of action arose on 20.10.2009 and 5.11.2009, as  the  appellants
      refused to return money and other materials, articles and record, does
      not have substance worth consideration.  In case a  representation  is
      made by the person aggrieved and the same is rejected by the competent
      statutory authority, and such an order is communicated to  the  person
      aggrieved, making repeated representations will not enable  the  party
      to explain the delay.


      29.   In Rabindra Nath Bose & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors., AIR  1970
      SC  470,  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  the  Government  rejected  a
      representation  and  communicated  such  rejection  to  the  applicant
      therein,  his  subsequent  representations  were  entertained  by  the
      Government.  A Constitution Bench of this Court held as under:


               “He says that the representations were being received by the
               government all the time. But there is a limit  to  the  time
               which   can   be   considered    reasonable    for    making
               representations. If  the  Government  has  turned  down  one
               representation, the  making  of  another  representation  on
               similar lines would not enable the  petitioners  to  explain
               the delay.”                           (Emphasis added)




      30.   In State of Orissa v. Sri Pyarimohan Samantaray & Ors., AIR 1976
      SC 2617; State of Orissa etc. v. Shri Arun Kumar Patnaik & Anr.  etc.,
      etc., AIR 1976 SC 1639; and  Swatantar Singh v.  State  of  Haryana  &
      Ors., AIR 1997 SC 2105, a similar view has been reiterated.


      31.   The view taken by this Court in Rabindra Math Bose  (Supra)  has
      been approved and followed in Sri Krishna Coconut  Co.  etc.  v.  East
      Godavari Coconut and  Tobacco  Market  Committee,  AIR  1967  SC  973,
      Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd. & Anr. v. K. Thangappan &  Anr.,  AIR
      2006 SC 1581; and Eastern Coalfields Ltd. v. Dugal Kumar, AIR 2008  SC
      3000.


      32.   In Kishan Singh (dead) thr. Lrs. v. Gurpal Singh & Ors. AIR 2010
      SC 3624, this court while dealing with a case of inordinate  delay  in
      launching a criminal prosecution, has held as under:
               “In cases where there is a delay in lodging a FIR, the Court
               has to look for a plausible explanation for such  delay.  In
               absence of such an explanation, the delay may be fatal.  The
               reason for quashing such proceedings may not be merely  that
               the allegations were an afterthought or had given a coloured
               version of events. In such cases the court should  carefully
               examine the facts before it for the reason that a frustrated
               litigant who failed to succeed before the  Civil  Court  may
               initiate criminal proceedings just to harass the other  side
               with mala fide intentions or the ulterior motive of wreaking
               vengeance on  the  other  party.  Chagrined  and  frustrated
               litigants should not be permitted  to  give  vent  to  their
               frustrations by cheaply invoking  the  jurisdiction  of  the
               criminal court.  The  court  proceedings  ought  not  to  be
               permitted to degenerate into  a  weapon  of  harassment  and
               persecution. In such a case, where an FIR is lodged  clearly
               with a view to spite the other party because  of  a  private
               and personal grudge and to enmesh the other  party  in  long
               and arduous criminal proceedings, the court may take a  view
               that it amounts to an abuse of the process  of  law  in  the
               facts and circumstances of  the  case.  (Vide  :  Chandrapal
               Singh & Ors. v. Maharaj Singh &  Anr.,  AIR  1982  SC  1238;
               State of Haryana & Ors. v. Ch. Bhajan Lal & Ors.,  AIR  1992
               SC 604; G. Sagar Suri & Anr. v. State  of  U.P.&  Ors.,  AIR
               2000 SC 754; and Gorige Pentaiah v. State of  A.P.  &  Ors.,
               (2008) 12 SCC 531).”




      33.   The instant appeals are squarely  covered  by  the  observations
      made in Kishan Singh (Supra) and thus, the proceedings must be labeled
      as  nothing  more  than  an  abuse  of  the  process  of  the   court,
      particularly in view of the fact that, with respect to enact the  same
      subject matter, various complaint cases  had  already  been  filed  by
      respondent No.2 and his brother, which were all dismissed  on  merits,
      after  the  examination  of  witnesses.   
In  such  a  fact-situation,
      Complaint  Case  No.  628  of  2011,  filed  on  31.5.2001   was   not
      maintainable.  
Thus, the Magistrate concerned committed a grave  error by entertaining the said case, and wrongly took cognizance and  issued summons to the appellants.


      34.   In view  of  above,  the  appeals  are  allowed.   The  impugned
      judgment dated 13.3.2012 is set aside and the proceedings in Complaint
      Case No. 628 of 2011 pending before the Additional C.J.M.,  Allahabad,
      are hereby quashed.





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



     ............………............................J.
                                        (JAGDISH SINGH KHEHAR)



      New Delhi,
      January 9, 2013




No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.