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Initiating Litigation Cannot Be Treated As An Act Of Criminal Conspiracy: Kerala High Court

Hannah M Varghese
7 April 2022 7:53 AM GMT
Initiating Litigation Cannot Be Treated As An Act Of Criminal Conspiracy: Kerala High Court
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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday while quashing proceedings against two individuals who were accused of forging the 1934 Constitution of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church observed that Initiating litigation cannot be treated as an act of conspiracy as contemplated under Section 120B of the CrPC. Justice Ziyad Rahman A.A found that the offence of criminal conspiracy is not attracted in...

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday while quashing proceedings against two individuals who were accused of forging the 1934 Constitution of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church observed that Initiating litigation cannot be treated as an act of conspiracy as contemplated under Section 120B of the CrPC. 

Justice Ziyad Rahman A.A found that the offence of criminal conspiracy is not attracted in the case since the offence of forgery was not established in the case and particularly because filing a suit cannot be treated as an illegal act.

"... one of the reasons for alleging conspiracy is that the accused have filed a suit. Initiating litigation cannot be treated as an act of conspiracy, as section 120B is always in respect of the commission of an offence or an illegal act. I have already found that no other offence is attracted. Similarly, filing a suit cannot be treated as an illegal act or doing a legal act by illegal means."

The petitioners herein and some others instituted a suit before a sub court seeking a declaration that St.Johns Besphage Orthodox Syrian Church, Pulinthanam is a constituent parish church of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and is to be administered in accordance with the provisions of the 1934 Constitution of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.

In the said suit, they produced a document claiming to be the Constitution of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. According to the 2nd respondent herein, this document is a forged one as it contains certain marked differences in certain clauses when compared with its original.

The respondent also alleged that the document did not contain any registration number, stamp paper or the necessary declaration as required under Section 3 of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867 to print the same. Therefore, he lodged a complaint and a crime was consequently registered against the petitioners.

The petitioners moved the High Court praying that the said proceedings are liable to be quashed. The Court found that the offence of forgery as contemplated under Sections 468 and 471 IPC was not attracted against the petitioners since the matter was already settled by the Supreme Court. 

This is in light of the fact that the Apex Court had already clarified that the non-registration or the indicated modifications made in the 1934 Constitution cannot be a valid contention to challenge the validity of the document if any petitioner places reliance on it.

Regarding the charge of criminal conspiracy to illegally alter the 1934 Constitution and file a suit, it was observed that criminal conspiracy, since the offence or forgery was not established, the allegation of criminal conspiracy also does not arise.

Moreover, it was laid down that initiating litigation cannot be treated as an act of conspiracy as section 120B is always in respect of the commission of an offence or an illegal act. Since it was already found that no offence was attracted, the Court dropped the proceedings pending against the petitioners and allowed their plea.

Case Title: M.S Paulose & Anr v. State of Kerala & Anr.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 168

Click Here To Read/Download The Judgment


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