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Section 482 CrPC: HC Should Examine Whether The Complaint Is A Civil Dispute Cloaked With Criminal Nature: SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
16 Feb 2019 12:36 PM GMT
Section 482 CrPC: HC Should Examine Whether The Complaint Is A Civil Dispute Cloaked With Criminal Nature: SC [Read Judgment]
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"Where the ingredients required to constitute a criminal offence are not made out from a bare reading of the complaint, the continuation of the criminal proceeding will constitute an abuse of the process of the court."

The Supreme Court has reiterated that a High Court, while exercising jurisdiction under 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, can examine whether a matter which is essentially of a civil nature has been given a cloak of a criminal offence Where the ingredients required to constitute a criminal offence are not made out from a bare reading of the complaint, the continuation of the...

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The Supreme Court has reiterated that a High Court, while exercising jurisdiction under 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, can examine whether a matter which is essentially of a civil nature has been given a cloak of a criminal offence

Where the ingredients required to constitute a criminal offence are not made out from a bare reading of the complaint, the continuation of the criminal proceeding will constitute an abuse of the process of the court, liable to be quashed, the bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hemant Gupta said in a judgment delivered on Friday.

In Prof RK Vijayasarathy vs. Sudha Seetharam, the High Court of Karnataka had rejected the prayer of the accused to quash the criminal proceedings against them. The facts of the case reveal that the dispute is between two families. Daughter of the Complainant is the wife of son of the Accused. The Daughter's divorce petition was dismissed by the Family Court. An amount of Rs 20 lakhs was transferred by the Son of the Accused to the bank account of his mother in law on 17 February 2010. Later, as marital relations broke down, he filed a suit seeking recovery of money against his mother in law for the return of the money.

Mother in law, then filed a criminal complaint alleging that the said amount was returned in cash to the parents and they had not issued any receipt. They alleged that the accused (their son in law) and his parents have colluded to siphon the money and that the civil suit filed is without merit. Following Magistrate's order, First Information Report was registered under Sections 405, 406, 415 and 420 read with Section 34 of the Penal Code. The High Court refused to quash the complaint and FIR.

The apex court bench explained how the High Court should examine a petition under Section 482 CrPC. The court observed that the complaint must contain the basic facts necessary for making out an offence under the Penal Code. It said:

"The High Court, in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, is required to examine whether the averments in the complaint constitute the ingredients necessary for an offence alleged under the Penal Code. If the averments taken on their face do not constitute the ingredients necessary for the offence, the criminal proceedings may be quashed under Section 482. A criminal proceeding can be quashed where the allegations made in the complaint do not disclose the commission of an offence under the Penal Code. The complaint must be examined as a whole, without evaluating the merits of the allegations. Though the law does not require that the complaint reproduce the legal ingredients of the offence verbatim, the complaint must contain the basic facts necessary for making out an offence under the Penal Code."

Examining the complaint, the bench said that the complainant in this case, have attempted to cloak a civil dispute with a criminal nature despite the absence of the ingredients necessary to constitute a criminal offence. While holding that the said complaint constitutes an abuse of process of court and is liable to be quashed, the bench added:

"The jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure has to be exercised with care. In the exercise of its jurisdiction, a High Court can examine whether a matter which is essentially of a civil nature has been given a cloak of a criminal offence. Where the ingredients required to constitute a criminal offence are not made out from a bare reading of the complaint, the continuation of the criminal proceeding will constitute an abuse of the process of the court."

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