8 Feb 2023 5:45 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court recently held that principles of res judicata and constructive res judicata would squarely apply not just to civil proceedings but to criminal proceedings as well.Justice A. Badharudeen was hearing a petition filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to quash a complaint pending before Magistrate Court, where she was alleged to have committed...
The Kerala High Court recently held that principles of res judicata and constructive res judicata would squarely apply not just to civil proceedings but to criminal proceedings as well.
Justice A. Badharudeen was hearing a petition filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to quash a complaint pending before Magistrate Court, where she was alleged to have committed offences under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 for dishonour of two cheques worth Rs.15,00,000/- and Rs.11,00,000/-.
The main contention of the petitioner in the case was that the complainant suffers from mental insanity. To emphasise this point, the petitioner drew attention of the court to the medical certificate produced by the complainant in another case where he was booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 and had applied for bail, pleading the ground of mental instability. The petitioner argued that since a mentally ill person is not capable of entering into a contract, there could be no transaction between the petitioner and complainant.
The above contention was vehemently opposed by the counsel for the complainant, who stated that the complainant was diagnosed with bipolar affective mental disorder and was under treatment for episodic psychiatric illness for more than 8 years. However, it was also submitted that the complainant had approached the Kerala High Court for quashing the complaint against him on the ground of mental instability and the same was rejected. The counsel averred that the complainant was now facing trial in the NDPS case as an ordinary person and court records would show the same.
The court observed that there was no convincing material to show that the complainant was mentally ill and did not have the capacity to contract. The court accepted the specific contention of the complainant that the petition was barred by res judicata or by constructive res judicata as the complainant had earlier raised the contention regarding mental disorder before the same court for quashing of a complaint against him in an NDPS case. The previous petition was dismissed by the court in an earlier order. Since the earlier petition was dismissed, it is to be assumed that the plea of mental insanity was considered in the negative by the court. In such circumstances, the very same contention is barred by res judicata or constructive res judicata, the court observed.
The court relied on the decision of the Apex Court in P.Reghuthaman v. State of Kerala & Ors [Manu/KE/0880/2016] to observed that that principles of res judicata and constructive res judicata would apply to criminal proceedings also.
“Therefore, the law is well settled that the principles of res judicata and constructive res judicata would squarely apply in criminal proceedings as well, and it is equally settled that where a person, who is convicted or acquitted, not to be tried for same offence since the said trial is barred under Section 300 of Cr.P.C. Further the same is double jeopardy, which is prohibited”
The court concluded that since the current petition was filed on the ground of the mental insanity of the complainant and since the same ground had already been contended before the court in an earlier petition and had been dismissed, the current petition would fail too as it would be hit by the principle of res judicata.
Cause Title: Mrs. Sasikala Menon V. State of Kerala and Another
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Ker) 68
Click Here To Read Order