15 Feb 2023 11:15 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has quashed the criminal proceedings initiated against two Bank managers for changing the access of a locker, purportedly on the application of one of the joint holders.A single judge bench of Justice V Srishananda said that no intention of criminality can be attributed to Bank managers for merely acting on the mandate of the customer.Ramchandra and Gururaj Deshpande...
The Karnataka High Court has quashed the criminal proceedings initiated against two Bank managers for changing the access of a locker, purportedly on the application of one of the joint holders.
A single judge bench of Justice V Srishananda said that no intention of criminality can be attributed to Bank managers for merely acting on the mandate of the customer.
Ramchandra and Gururaj Deshpande of the Pragati Krishna Grameen Bank were booked under Sections 420, 409, 120(B) of IPC.
The accused were charged based on a complaint given by one Shridhar R Banare, who claimed that his mother Kamala and he had a joint account with the services of a safe locker in their joint names. Banare said that after his mother died, he gave an application to the Bank Manager seeking permission to operate the safe locker alone. However, he was informed that the safe locker operations were made in the name of the his elder brother (first accused) vide a written mandate given by his mother.
Banare then lodged an FIR alleging foul play, stating that the Bank managers in connivance with his elder brother misused the locker articles. It was averred that the Ombudsman had warned the duo as to their illegalities in allowing the first accused to operate the safe locker.
The High Court noted that by issuing a letter on 27.11.2013, Smt. Kamala wanted a modification in the joint operation of the locker whereby, name of the complainant was removed and in that place, she wanted the joint operation of the locker by herself and the first accused.
“Being the Managers of the Bank, under the Banking rules, the petitioners were bound to adhere to the mandate issued by the customer. Accordingly, they did not suspect any foul play in the letter dated 27.11.2013 and modified the joint operation of the safe locker which was standing in the name of Smt. Kamal,” the Court observed.
It added that the dispute is only between the complainant and his brother for which unnecessarily the Managers were arraigned as additional accused by making a "vague allegation of collusion".
Further referring to the irregularities noted by the Ombudsman qua the petitioners, the bench opined “There is a thin line of difference between the irregularity and illegality. However, the said thin line is subtle. Every irregularity would not per se amount to illegality.”
As regards invoking of section 420 of the IPC against the accused the bench held “Neither the complaint nor the charge sheet material makes out a case that the petitioners are the beneficiaries of the wrongful gain. Nor any wrongful loss has occurred to the complainant by an act which is attributable to the petitioners herein. To make out a case under Section 420 of IPC, wrongful loss occurred to the complainant and wrongful gain made by the accused persons is a sine qua non.”
Further it said “In the case on hand, petitioners have simply adhered to the mandate issued by the accountholder Smt. Kamala on 27.11.2013 as dutiful bank officials.”
It added, “Merely acting on the mandate of the customer, no intentions of criminality can be attributed so as to proceed against the petitioners in the trial.”
Allowing the petition the bench said “Continuation of the criminal proceedings as against the petitioners herein would definitely result in abuse of process of law.” However, it clarified that the case against the first accused would continue.
Case Title: Ramachandra & ANR And State Of Karnataka
Case No: CRIMINAL PETITION No.201596/2022
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 62
Date of Order: 02-02-2023
Appearance: Avinash A Uplaonkar, Advocate for petitioners.
Maya T.R, HCGP FOR R1.
Sudarshan M, Advocates for R2.
Click Here To Read/Download Order