Bombay HC quashes a frivolous criminal complaint against Hoteliers for not paying Rs.5/- balance

Bombay HC quashes a frivolous criminal complaint against Hoteliers for not paying Rs.5/- balance

What will you do if you are not paid Rs.5/- balance? One ‘gentleman’ from Goa initiated criminal proceedings which got quashed yesterday by High Court of Bombay at Goa, on a petition before it, by the accused.  The events which led to lodging of complaint, apparently for non-payment of Rs.5/-, is narrated below.

The Complainant along with his friends went to have a tea at a restaurant. He paid anamount of Rs.40/- consisting of four currency note of Rs.10/-each  against the bill of tea to the extent of Rs.35/-. So instead of refund of Rs.5/-, the waiter from the hotel gave him a paper having stamp of Rs.5/-, apparently a coupon. The complainant told the saidwaiter that he did not want the coupon and want Rs.5/- back.Upon which the said waiter told him that the said coupon is onlyRs.5/- and thereafter there was hot discussion on this issue. The hotel staff hasrefused to give him a cash of Rs.5/- and had insisted him that heshould take the coupon. This made him complaint to the Police. Police refused to take action since it was of the opinion that it is not a fit case to register an offence. The complainant moved his complaint in Magistrate court, and police was directed to register FIR and it was done. The accused were charged under Sections 489-E and 420 of Indian PenalCode.

According to complainant “paper having stamp of Rs.5/-“is a counterfeit currency and the act of non-paying Rs.5/- in currency, amounted to cheating. The High Court found that no offence is made out against the accused. It said “on mere look of the coupon, at any stretch of imagination wedo not think that the said coupon is a counterfeit currency note orbank note nor it is resemblance of currency note or imitation ofcurrency note or valuable security”.  Holding that nothing is on record to prove the offence of cheating, the Court held: “At the most, it can be said that the waiter or staff of the hotel adopted improper practice to refund the amount.”

The High Court reiterated the need to ensure that the criminal prosecution is not meant to be used as an instrument of harassment for seeking private vendetta or with an ulterior motive to pressurise the accused. The Court also found that the criminal proceedings initiated by the complainant are an abuse of process of law to implicate the petitioners in a criminal case.

Read the Judgment here.