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Attempt To Get Civil Dispute Resolved By Invoking Criminal Court's Jurisdiction Amounts To Abuse of Process of Court: Rajasthan High Court

ANIRUDH VIJAY
25 May 2022 5:00 AM GMT
Rajasthan High Court, Prefix, title, cause title, Jaipur Bench, Raja, Nawab, Maharaja, Rajkumar, privy purse, abolished, 26th Amendment in the Constitution of India, Article 363-A, Article 14, Equality before law, Justice Sameer Jain, centre, Rajasthan government, Constitutional,
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The Rajasthan High Court has observed that the attempt of a complainant to get the civil dispute resolved by resorting to invoking jurisdiction of a criminal court amounts to abuse of the process of the court. In the present case, the court noted that the real dispute between the parties is prima facie of civil nature which cannot be adjudicated by a criminal court.

Justice Birendra Kumar, while allowing the petition filed by the accused and quashing the FIR and subsequent proceedings arising-therein, observed,

"After hearing the learned counsel for the parties and considering the material on record, this Court is of the prima facie view that real dispute between the parties is of civil nature which cannot be adjudicated by a criminal court, hence the attempt of the complainant to get the civil dispute resolved by resorting to invoking jurisdiction of a criminal court amounts to abuse of the process of the Court."

Background

Essentially, the private respondent entered into separate agreements with the petitioners to purchase their individual share in some plots. Each agreement mentioned that for the plots, a case is pending before this Court and the petitioners would get the said case disposed of and thereafter get their respective names mutated in the revenue records and then send a notice of these developments through a registered post to the respondent.

On receipt of notice from the petitioners, respondent No.2 would make payment of the remaining consideration money within six months and get the sale deed registered. If the petitioners would not abide by the terms and conditions between the parties, respondent No.2 would have a right to get the sale deed registered by order of the Court. If the respondent No.2 would fail to get the documents registered within six months aforesaid, the petitioners would have a right to utilise the earnest consideration money and the agreement would be deemed to have been cancelled automatically.

In furtherance, the petitioners sent legal notices to the respondent-complainant informing him about the disposal of the pening case and asked him to make payment of the remaining consideration money and get the registered sale deeds otherwise the agreement would be deemed to be cancelled. The complainant did not send any reply to those legal notices and thereafter the petitioners sold a portion. For that the complainant got FIR No. 36/2019 registered. The police submitted a negative report and the case is pending for hearing on the protest petition of the complainant. Later on, the petitioners sold other portions of the land and thereafter, the present FIR was lodged.

As per the FIR, the part consideration money was paid and it was decided that the petitioners would get their names recorded in the revenue records and thereafter send a notice of the same to the complainant and the complainant would within six months get the sale deed executed after paying the remaining consideration money. The FIR mentioned as to in which mutation case, who of the petitioners was recorded with respect to which number of the plot. The allegation is that one sister and the mother of some of the petitioners were co-sharers, were not mutated in the process of mutation of names of the petitioners on the aforesaid plots and fraudulent intention was there of the petitioners in not getting the name of the petitioners' sister and mother recorded. Allegation is that petitioners misappropriated the part consideration money paid to them and they have sold the land to some other person just to defraud the complainant.

Arguments

The petitioners' counsel submitted that the matter in dispute is performance /non-performance of the agreement to sale between the parties and responsibility of the party to not act as per agreement and the whole issue can be decided only by a competent civil court and not by a criminal court. He added that the ingredients of offences are not made out as at no point of time, the petitioners had any dishonest intention i.e. at the inception of the agreement or at any stage subsequent thereto which would be evident from the facts narrated. He contended that this is the second FIR for the same cause of action which is not permissible in law.

The complainant-respondent's counsel argued that it has been settled by the Supreme Court that the High Court, while exercising jurisdiction under Section 482 Cr.P.C, are required to be more cautious as the jurisdiction is more onerous and more diligent duty is cast on the courts. The FIR disclosing cognizable offence should not be quashed at the threshold unless the rarest of rare case is made out, he submitted. He also argued that while considering quashing of one of the two identical FIRs, the court cannot embark on a detailed examination of the facts contained in the FIR by acting as an appellate Court.

Findings

The court opined that merely because the petitioners failed to honour the agreement, it cannot be said that the petitioners had cheated the respondent. Moreover, the court said that it was known to the complainant, the intervening circumstances of pendency of writ petition before the High Court for deciding revenue claim of the same property and pendency of the mutation matter.

The court added that the complainant was aware of the legal notices sent to him by the petitioners through registered post disclosing details of the developments of the pending matter but respondent No.2 did not choose to send a reply and kept mum till petitioners sold some of the property which was subject matter of agreement to some other person after expiry of period of six months as agreed in the agreement.

In this regard, the court said that there is no case of the prosecution that any document was forged by the petitioner. The court noted that Forgery is defined under Section 463 IPC which includes making of false documents as defined under Section 464 IPC and use of that forged document punishable under Section 471 IPC. The court opined that there is no averment at all that the petitioners were involved in making any false document or used the said forged document as genuine document. Therefore, offences under Sections 468, 469, 471 and 120-B IPC are also not made out, added the court.

Further, the court observed that the complainant had separately entered into an agreement with all the petitioners knowing the fact well that the petitioners have transferable right in the property, the legal notices sent by the petitioners separately through registered post to the complainant shows that they were always willing and ready to perform their part of the agreement. Thus, totality of the material available on record discloses the ingredients of none of the offences for which the FIR was registered, therefore, the FIR is not sustainable, for this reason also, added the court.

The counsels for the petitioners include Mr. Rajneesh Gupta, Mr. Nishant Sharma and Ms. Shashi Bala Jain. PP Prashant Sharma appeared for the respondent-state and Advocates HV Nandwana and Yash Vardhan Nandwana appeared for the respondent-complainant.

Case Title: Pradeep Kumar & Ors. v. State Of Rajasthan & Anr.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Raj) 170

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