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Monday, August 11, 2014

Sec.138 and sec.142 (b) of N.I.Act- Delay of 25 days in filing complaint after issuing a hand note - High court quashed the complaint as barred by limitation - Apex court held that since there is no opportunity for explaining delay as the complaint strongly believed that he filed complaint from statutory notice and since the accused not raised this plea during the trial of case and for the fist time raised before High court for quashing, the apex court granted time to file a separate application for condone the delay in the special circumstances of the case but not as precedent authorizing every one from not filing delay condone application = CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1684 OF 2014 ARISING OUT OF SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRL) NO. 8924 OF 2013 PAWAN KUMAR RALLI … APPELLANT VERSUS MANINDER SINGH NARULA … RESPONDENT = 2014 -Aug. Part- http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41820

Sec.138 and sec.142 (b) of N.I.Act- Delay of 25 days in filing complaint after issuing a hand note - High court quashed the complaint as barred by limitation - Apex court held that since there is no opportunity for explaining delay as the complaint strongly believed that he filed complaint from statutory notice and since the accused not raised this plea during the trial of case and for the fist time raised before High court for quashing, the apex court granted time to file a separate application for condone the delay in the special circumstances of the case but not as precedent authorizing every one from not filing delay condone application =  

he
had given a loan of Rs.60 lakhs to the respondent in the month of  November,
2011. In discharge of his obligation to the appellant, on 25th April,  2012,
the respondent issued (i) Cheque No. 889953, drawn on  Allahabad  Bank,  for
Rs.30 lakhs; (ii) Cheque No. 545420, drawn on ICICI Bank, for  Rs.20  lakhs;
and (iii) Cheque No. 545409, drawn on ICICI Bank, for  Rs.  10  lakhs.  When
the appellant presented the said cheques in his Bank for  realization,  they
were dishonoured by the respondent’s banker with remarks ‘Stop Payment’.
 The  High
Court expressed the view that the complaint was not filed  within  a  period
of one month after the expiry of 15 days of  receipt  of  the  notice  dated
27th April, 2012 and hence it was barred by limitation under Section  142(b)
of the Act and by the impugned judgment  quashed  the  criminal  proceedings
against the respondent.
(a)   Whether the handwritten note sent by  the  appellant  on  27th  April,
2012 to the respondent could be treated as ‘notice’ or the notice issued  by
the advocate on 24th May, 2012 could only be treated as ‘notice’ within  the
meaning of Section 138 of the Act?

(b)   If there was any delay in filing the Complaint in  the  present  case,
whether such delay could have been condoned by the High Court in  accordance
with the provisions of the Act?

(c)   Whether the High Court was right in quashing the criminal  proceedings
on the ground of limitation or instead of quashing the criminal  proceedings
it ought to have remitted the matter back to the Trial  Court  for  deciding
the issue of limitation?

 It  appears  that
the respondent contested the matter before the Trial Court  and  also  filed
an application  under  Section  91,  Cr.P.C.  warranting  the  appellant  to
produce various documents. He has also moved an  application  under  Section
410, Cr.P.C. seeking transfer of the Complaint to a different Court.  It  is
noteworthy that all through out  the  pendency  of  proceedings  before  the
Trial Court, the respondent did not raise the  issue  of  ‘limitation’.  The
issue was raised for the first time before the High Court  in  Section  482,
Cr.P.C. proceedings.
Apex court held that
Thus,  in  our  opinion,  the  handwritten
note dated 27th April,  2012  fulfilled  the  mandatory  requirements  under
clause (b) of proviso to Section 138  and  could  be  said  to  be  a  valid
‘notice’ in the light of this Court’s Judgment in Central Bank  of  India  &
Anr. (supra). Moreover, this document (Annexure P4) stands admitted  by  the
appellant in his cross examination also.  Therefore,  in  our  opinion,  the
High Court has committed no error in considering the handwritten note  dated
27th April, 2012 as ‘notice’ under Section 138 of the Act.
 In view of the settled principles of law in  Rakesh  Kumar  Jain,  MSR
Leathers.  Subodh  S.  Salaskar  (supra)  and  in  the  peculiar  facts  and
circumstances of the case, we are of the considered opinion  that  the  High
Court was not right in quashing the complaint  merely  on  the  ground  that
complaint is barred by limitation, that too a plea which was taken  for  the
first time before the High Court. On the other hand, the  High  Court  ought
to have remanded the matter to the Trial Court for  deciding  the  issue  of
limitation.
24.   At the same time,  we  want  to  make  it  very  clear  that  by  this
observation we are not laying down a legal  proposition  that  without  even
filing an application seeking condonation of  delay  at  an  initial  stage,
complainant can be given opportunity at any stage  of  the  proceeding.   As
already discussed by us in the foregoing paragraphs, we  have  come  to  the
irresistible conclusion, to afford an opportunity  for  the  complainant  to
move an application seeking condonation of delay, under the  peculiar  facts
and circumstances of the case.
25.   For all the aforesaid reasons, in order to meet the ends  of  justice,
we exercise our discretion under Article 142 of  the  Constitution  and  set
aside the  impugned  judgment  of  the  High  Court  quashing  the  criminal
proceedings and restore the criminal proceedings  before  the  Trial  Court.
The appellant is permitted to file an application for condonation  of  delay
before the Trial Court and if such an application is filed, the Trial  Court
shall be at liberty to consider the same on its own  merits,  without  being
impressed  upon  by  any  of  the  observations  by  this  Court,  and  pass
appropriate orders.
      2014 -Aug. Part- http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41820

                                                            REPORTABLE



                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION



                      CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1684  OF 2014
                               ARISING OUT OF
                SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRL) NO. 8924 OF 2013



PAWAN KUMAR RALLI                       …    APPELLANT

VERSUS

MANINDER SINGH NARULA             …     RESPONDENT




                                  JUDGMENT


N.V. RAMANA, J.


      Leave granted.
2.    This appeal arises out of the judgment and order dated  15th  January,
2013 of the High Court of Delhi passed in Criminal  Miscellaneous  Case  No.
2961 of 2012 filed by  the  respondent  herein  under  Section  482  of  the
Criminal Procedure Code. By the said judgment, the High  Court  quashed  the
criminal proceedings initiated by the appellant under  Section  138  of  the
Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (hereinafter  referred  to  as  ‘the  Act’)
against the respondent.
3.    The brief history of the case, according to the appellant, is that  he
had given a loan of Rs.60 lakhs to the respondent in the month of  November,
2011. In discharge of his obligation to the appellant, on 25th April,  2012,
the respondent issued (i) Cheque No. 889953, drawn on  Allahabad  Bank,  for
Rs.30 lakhs; (ii) Cheque No. 545420, drawn on ICICI Bank, for  Rs.20  lakhs;
and (iii) Cheque No. 545409, drawn on ICICI Bank, for  Rs.  10  lakhs.  When
the appellant presented the said cheques in his Bank for  realization,  they
were dishonoured by the respondent’s banker with remarks ‘Stop Payment’.
4.    The appellant, after  receiving  the  communication  from  his  banker
about the dishonour of Cheques, issued a handwritten  notice  (Annexure  P4)
to the respondent on 27th April, 2012 calling upon him to make the  payment.
Upon non-compliance by the respondent, a  formal  legal  notice  dated  24th
May, 2012 (Annexpure P5)  was  issued  under  Section  138/142  of  the  Act
requiring the respondent to pay the cheques amount along with  interest  and
costs. In his reply to the legal notice, the  respondent  totally  disagreed
with the allegation of taking loan from  the  appellant.  Subsequently,  the
appellant filed a Complaint Case against the  respondent  invoking  Sections
138, 141 and 142 of the Act and Section 420, of the Indian Penal  Code.  The
Metropolitan Magistrate took cognizance  and  summoned  the  respondent  who
pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried.
5.     During  the  pendency  of  trial,  the  respondent   filed   Criminal
Miscellaneous Case before the High Court  under  Section  482,  Cr.P.C.  for
quashing of criminal proceedings pending before the Trial  Court.  The  High
Court expressed the view that the complaint was not filed  within  a  period
of one month after the expiry of 15 days of  receipt  of  the  notice  dated
27th April, 2012 and hence it was barred by limitation under Section  142(b)
of the Act and by the impugned judgment  quashed  the  criminal  proceedings
against the respondent. Aggrieved by  the  order  of  the  High  Court,  the
appellant-complainant  approached  this  Court  by  way  of  Special   Leave
Petition.
6.    Before us, the case of the appellant is that the High  Court  was  not
justified in exercising  extra  ordinary  jurisdiction  under  Section  482,
Cr.P.C.  The High Court  incorrectly  considered  the  handwritten  note  as
legal notice and calculated the limitation period accordingly. Whereas,  the
handwritten note was only an intimation to the accused and according to  the
provisions of law, the actual  notice  within  30  days  from  the  date  of
dishonour of the cheques, was issued  on  24th  May,  2012  and  accordingly
criminal proceedings were initiated well within the limitation period.  But,
the High Court failed to take into  consideration  this  material  fact  and
merely on the  ground  of  25  days  delay  from  the  date  of  service  of
handwritten note, quashed the criminal proceedings. The High  Court  ignored
the fact that the Act clearly enables the Court to  condone  the  delay,  if
any, beyond 30 days of limitation period under proviso to Section 142(b)  of
the Act.
7.    During  the  course  of  hearing,  we  felt  it  justifiable  to  have
assistance of a senior counsel and  we  accordingly  appointed           Mr.
Huzefa Ahmadi, learned senior counsel as Amicus Curiae.
8.    Learned Amicus submitted that the handwritten note dated  27th  April,
2012 whereby the appellant called  upon  the  respondent  to  make  payment,
would fall within the four corners of ‘notice’ under Section 138(b)  of  the
Act and there was a delay of 25 days  in  filing  the  Complaint  under  the
provisions of the Act.  He further submitted that  the  proviso  to  Section
142(b) of the Act confers power on the Court to condone the  delay,  if  the
complainant satisfies the Court on the part of delay. As it was believed  by
the Trial Court that since the legal notice was issued  on  24th  May,  2012
the limitation period would come into force from that date only,  there  was
no occasion for the appellant to plead for sufficient cause for  condonation
of delay as the question of delay did not  arise  before  the  Trial  Court.
While issuing process, the Trial Court was clearly  of  the  view  that  the
Complaint was within limitation on  the  basis  of  averments  made  in  the
Complaint. Therefore, the occasion did not arise for the appellant to  raise
the plea of ‘sufficient cause’ for the delay. Moreover, the  respondent  had
also not raised the question of limitation before the Trial  Court  and  the
issue of limitation was raised for the first time before the High Court.
9.    Even otherwise,  before  quashing  the  criminal  proceedings  on  the
ground of limitation, the High Court could have decided  whether  sufficient
cause was made out by the appellant under the proviso to Section  142(b)  of
the Act, and if satisfied, it could have condoned the delay.  Alternatively,
the High Court could  have  remanded  the  matter  to  the  Trial  Court  to
determine the issue. In support of his submissions, he placed reliance on  a
judgment of this Court in Rakesh Kumar Jain Vs. State (Through  CBI)  (2000)
7 SCC 656, in  which  while  considering  the  provisions  of  Section  473,
Cr.P.C. and deciding the question whether on the ground of  limitation,  the
accused is entitled to seek his discharge, this Court held:
“The mere fact that the complaint was filed 25 days after the expiry of  the
period of limitation did not entitle  the  accused  to  seek  his  discharge
under Section 245, Cr.P.C because the complainant has, under  law,  a  right
to seek for extension of time under  Section  473  Cr.P.C.  The  complainant
could satisfy the Magistrate on the facts  and  circumstances  of  the  case
that the delay was explainable which was  occasioned  on  account  of  their
bona fide belief to obtain the  sanction  for  the  purpose  of  filing  the
complaint”.

10.   Learned Amicus  finally  submitted  that  the  legislative  intent  in
inserting the proviso to Clause (b) of Section 142 of the Act  was  only  to
protect the Cheque holders from the defaulters who issued  the  Cheques  and
the Court should act reasonably in providing an opportunity  to  the  Cheque
holder to present his version on the issue of delay  if  any.  After  taking
into consideration the reasons advanced by  the  Cheque  holder,  the  Court
should consider the question of delay  and  then  only  it  should  pass  an
order. But in  the  present  case,  the  High  Court  adopted  an  unhealthy
approach by passing the impugned order quashing the criminal proceedings  on
the ground of limitation, that too for a delay  of  only  25  days,  without
considering the appellant’s reasons for  the  delay.  He  further  submitted
that the observation of the High Court in the impugned order that  “allowing
the appellant to pursue the Complaint against the  respondent  would  be  an
abuse of process” is also not in the interest of justice.
11.   Learned counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, contended  that
there is no apparent error in the judgment of the  High  Court  in  quashing
the criminal proceedings on the ground of limitation.  The  High  Court  has
correctly treated the handwritten notice  sent  by  the  appellant  on  27th
April, 2012 as a valid notice in terms of Section 138  of  the  Act  as  the
appellant  had  given  the  notice  in  writing  within  fifteen   days   of
information of dishonour of the Cheuqes from his banker. In support of  this
contention learned counsel has cited the judgment of this Court  in  Central
Bank of India & Anr. Vs. Saxons Farms & Ors. (1999) 8 SCC 221  wherein  this
Court held that though no form of notice is  prescribed  in  Clause  (b)  of
Section 138 of the Act, the requirement is that notice  shall  be  given  in
writing within  fifteen  days  of  receipt  of  information  from  the  bank
regarding return of the Cheque as unpaid and in  the  notice  a  demand  for
payment of the amount of the Cheque has to  be  made.  So,  learned  counsel
argued that looking at this settled legal position, the first notice  issued
by the appellant on 27th April, 2012 had since fulfilled the  criteria  laid
down by this Court, the same has  to  be  treated  as  ‘notice’  within  the
meaning of Section 138(b) of the Act. Therefore, he submitted that the  High
Court was right in considering the handwritten  note  as  ‘notice’  for  the
purpose of  calculating  delay  in  filing  the  Complaint  and  it  rightly
declared that the Complaint was barred by limitation.
12.   Learned counsel for the respondent further contended that even  though
the proviso to Section 142(b) of the Act facilitates  condonation  of  delay
if the complainant satisfies the Court that he had cogent  reasons  for  not
making the complaint within the limitation period, in the present  case  the
complainant had made no request before the  High  Court  for  availing  such
benefit of condonation of  delay.  To  substantiate  his  argument,  learned
counsel relied upon the counter affidavit filed by the appellant before  the
High Court and submitted that there also the appellant, instead of  pleading
for condonation of delay, took the stand that the communication  dated  27th
April, 2012 shall not  be  treated  as  notice,  whereas  it  fulfilled  all
ingredients of a ‘notice’ under Section 138 of the Act. In  support  of  his
claim that the matter is barred by limitation and requires to  be  dismissed
at the threshold itself, he relied on this Court’s Judgment in Ramesh  Chand
Sharma Vs. Udham Singh Kamal & Ors. (1999) 8 SCC 304 and submitted  that  in
that  case  also  despite  the  objection  of  limitation  raised   by   the
appellants,  the  first  respondent  did  not  file  any   application   for
condonation of delay and this Court had dismissed  the  O.A.  filed  by  the
first respondent, on the ground of limitation.
13.   Learned counsel for the respondent therefore firmly opposed  the  plea
of the learned Amicus that the matter has to be remanded back to  the  Trial
Court for hearing the issue of limitation by  providing  an  opportunity  to
the appellant to avail the remedy envisaged under  the  proviso  to  Section
142(b) of the Act. He finally submitted that the High  Court  was  right  in
quashing the criminal proceedings and the impugned order does not  call  for
interference of this Court under Article 136 of the Constitution.
14.   We have heard learned counsel at length. In view  of  the  conflicting
approach adopted by the High Court in determining the  issue  of  limitation
which subsequently led to  the  quashing  of  criminal  proceedings  pending
before the Trial Court, the following issues emerge  for  our  consideration
for the disposal of this matter:
(a)   Whether the handwritten note sent by  the  appellant  on  27th  April,
2012 to the respondent could be treated as ‘notice’ or the notice issued  by
the advocate on 24th May, 2012 could only be treated as ‘notice’ within  the
meaning of Section 138 of the Act?

(b)   If there was any delay in filing the Complaint in  the  present  case,
whether such delay could have been condoned by the High Court in  accordance
with the provisions of the Act?

(c)   Whether the High Court was right in quashing the criminal  proceedings
on the ground of limitation or instead of quashing the criminal  proceedings
it ought to have remitted the matter back to the Trial  Court  for  deciding
the issue of limitation?

15.   Before embarking on the above issues, we may notice that  the  proviso
appended to Section 138 of the Act limits  the  applicability  of  the  main
provision stating:
138. Dishonour of cheque for insufficiency, etc. of funds in  the  account.—

                                …     …     …

Provided that nothing contained in this section shall apply unless—

(a)   the cheque has been presented to the  bank  within  a  period  of  six
months from the date on which it is  drawn  or  within  the  period  of  its
validity, whichever is earlier;

(b)   the payee or the holder in due course of the cheque, as the  case  may
be, makes a demand for the payment of the said amount of money by  giving  a
notice in writing, to the drawer of the Cheque, within thirty  days  of  the
receipt of information by him from the bank  regarding  the  return  of  the
Cheque as unpaid; and

(c)   the drawer of such Cheque fails  to  make  the  payment  of  the  said
amount of money to the payee or, as the case may be, to the  holder  in  due
course of the Cheque, within  fifteen  days  of  the  receipt  of  the  said
notice.”

16.   Section 142 of the Act also puts a limitation on the power of the
Court to take cognizance of the offences, which reads as under:

142. Cognizance of offences—Notwithstanding anything contained in  the  Code
of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974),—

(a)  no court shall take cognizance of any offence punishable under  Section
138 except upon a complaint, in writing, made by the payee or, as  the  case
may be, the holder in due course of the cheque;

(b)   such complaint is made within one month  of  the  date  on  which  the
cause of action arises under clause (c) of the proviso to Section 138:

Provided that the cognizance of a complaint may be taken by the Court  after
the prescribed period, if the complainant satisfies the court  that  he  had
sufficient cause for not making a complaint within such period.

(c)   no Court inferior to that of a Metropolitan Magistrate or  a  Judicial
Magistrate of the  First  Class  shall  try  any  offence  punishable  under
Section 138.

17.   Admittedly, in the case on hand, the Cheques in question  were  issued
by the respondent  and  the  same  were  dishonoured  by  the  Bank  on  his
instructions of ‘stop payment’. Two communications, one a  handwritten  note
dated 27th April, 2012 by the appellant himself   and  the  other  a  formal
legal notice dated 24th May, 2012 issued by the  advocate,  were  served  on
the respondent calling upon him to pay the Cheque  amounts.  The  respondent
did not respond to the handwritten communication, but  has  replied  to  the
legal  notice  issued  through  advocate  on  24th  May,  2012  denying  the
allegation.  Upon  failure  of  the  respondent  to  obey  the   handwritten
communication as well as the legal notice, the appellant initiated  criminal
proceedings by filing Complaint Case on 5th July,  2012.   It  appears  that
the respondent contested the matter before the Trial Court  and  also  filed
an application  under  Section  91,  Cr.P.C.  warranting  the  appellant  to
produce various documents. He has also moved an  application  under  Section
410, Cr.P.C. seeking transfer of the Complaint to a different Court.  It  is
noteworthy that all through out  the  pendency  of  proceedings  before  the
Trial Court, the respondent did not raise the  issue  of  ‘limitation’.  The
issue was raised for the first time before the High Court  in  Section  482,
Cr.P.C. proceedings. The High Court, considering the handwritten  note  sent
by the appellant on 27th April, 2012 as ‘notice’ under Section  138  of  the
Act, came to the conclusion that the complaint is barred by limitation.
18.   This Court has already clarified in  Central  Bank  of  India  &  Anr.
(supra) that Section 138 of the Act does not prescribe any specific form  of
notice, but mandates that it should be issued in writing within thirty  days
(w.e.f. 6-2-2003) of receipt  of  information  from  the  banker  about  the
dishonour of Cheque, with a demand to the drawer for making payment  of  the
said amount.
19.   We have perused the handwritten note dated 27th April, 2012  (Annexure
P4) and found that it was issued within the mandatory period of thirty  days
of  dishonour  of  cheques  and  contained  (a)  the   subject   amount   of
Rs.60,00,000/- given by the  appellant  as  loan  to  the  respondent  under
promissory notes; (b) the details of Cheque numbers and dates of issue  with
amounts and particulars of Bank; (c) Returning  of  Cheques  by  the  banker
dishonouring them on the ground of ‘Stop Payment’ by the respondent;  (d)  a
demand for immediate repayment of the amount;  and  (d)  a  caution  to  the
respondent that in case of failure on the part of respondent, the  appellant
would initiate legal proceedings. Thus,  in  our  opinion,  the  handwritten
note dated 27th April,  2012  fulfilled  the  mandatory  requirements  under
clause (b) of proviso to Section 138  and  could  be  said  to  be  a  valid
‘notice’ in the light of this Court’s Judgment in Central Bank  of  India  &
Anr. (supra). Moreover, this document (Annexure P4) stands admitted  by  the
appellant in his cross examination also.  Therefore,  in  our  opinion,  the
High Court has committed no error in considering the handwritten note  dated
27th April, 2012 as ‘notice’ under Section 138 of the Act.
20.   However, when the issue of limitation has come up for the  first  time
before the High Court, it ought to have dealt with the  same  on  merits  as
per proviso to Section 142(b) of the  Act.  The  said  proviso  appended  to
clause (b) of Section  142  of  the  Act  was  inserted  by  the  Negotiable
Instruments (Amendment and  Miscellaneous  Provisions)  Act,  2002  and  the
legislative intent was, no doubt, in order to overcome the  technicality  of
limitation period.  The Statement of Objects and  Reasons  appended  to  the
Amendment Bill, 2002 suggests that the introduction of this proviso  was  to
provide discretion to the Court to take cognizance  of  offence  even  after
expiry of the period of limitation [See  MSR  Leathers  Vs.  S.  Palaniappan
(2013) 1 SCC 177].  Only with a view to  obviate  the  difficulties  on  the
part of the Complainant, Parliament inserted the proviso to  clause  (b)  of
Section 142 of the Act in the year 2002. It confers a jurisdiction upon  the
Court to condone the delay [See Subodh S. Salaskar Vs.  Jayprakash  M.  Shah
(2008) 13 SCC 689].
21.   It is no doubt true that at the time  of  filing  the  complaint,  the
Magistrate has to take  cognizance  of  the  complaint  when  it  is  within
limitation and in case of delay in filing the complaint, the  complaint  has
to come up with the application  seeking  condonation  of  delay.  But,  the
peculiar fact of the present case is that in the complaint, the  complainant
had only averred that he has sent the legal notice dated 24th May, 2012  but
not mentioned about the handwritten note dated 27th April, 2012.  Basing  on
the said averment, the learned Trial Judge was satisfied that the  complaint
is within the prescribed period of limitation. Hence, in this case,  raising
the plea of limitation and Court exercising the discretion  to  condone  the
delay did not arise at all.
22.    In the peculiar facts and circumstances of the  case,  while  keeping
in mind the legislative intent  and  the  specific  plea  of  the  appellant
raised in the grounds for the Special Leave Petition  that  he  should  have
been allowed to move an application for  condonation  of  delay  before  the
Trial Court as the respondent has not suffered any prejudice  by  reason  of
25 days delay, we strongly feel that the  appellant  should  not  have  been
deprived of the remedy provided by the Legislature. In fact, the  remedy  so
provided was to enable a genuine litigant  to  pursue  his  case  against  a
defaulter by overcoming the technical difficulty of limitation.  Hence,  the
High  Court  has  committed  an  error  by  not  considering  the  issue  of
limitation on merits.
23.   In view of the settled principles of law in  Rakesh  Kumar  Jain,  MSR
Leathers.  Subodh  S.  Salaskar  (supra)  and  in  the  peculiar  facts  and
circumstances of the case, we are of the considered opinion  that  the  High
Court was not right in quashing the complaint  merely  on  the  ground  that
complaint is barred by limitation, that too a plea which was taken  for  the
first time before the High Court. On the other hand, the  High  Court  ought
to have remanded the matter to the Trial Court for  deciding  the  issue  of
limitation.
24.   At the same time,  we  want  to  make  it  very  clear  that  by  this
observation we are not laying down a legal  proposition  that  without  even
filing an application seeking condonation of  delay  at  an  initial  stage,
complainant can be given opportunity at any stage  of  the  proceeding.   As
already discussed by us in the foregoing paragraphs, we  have  come  to  the
irresistible conclusion, to afford an opportunity  for  the  complainant  to
move an application seeking condonation of delay, under the  peculiar  facts
and circumstances of the case.
25.   For all the aforesaid reasons, in order to meet the ends  of  justice,
we exercise our discretion under Article 142 of  the  Constitution  and  set
aside the  impugned  judgment  of  the  High  Court  quashing  the  criminal
proceedings and restore the criminal proceedings  before  the  Trial  Court.
The appellant is permitted to file an application for condonation  of  delay
before the Trial Court and if such an application is filed, the Trial  Court
shall be at liberty to consider the same on its own  merits,  without  being
impressed  upon  by  any  of  the  observations  by  this  Court,  and  pass
appropriate orders.
26.   We are thankful to Mr. Huzefa Ahmadi, learned amicus curiae,  for  his
able assistance.
27.   The appeal stands allowed with the aforesaid observations.

                                                           ….……………………………….J.
                                                     (RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI)


                                                         .....………………………………J.
                                            (N.V. RAMANA)
NEW DELHI
AUGUST  11,  2014
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