The Supreme Court has held that a private complaint under Section 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure cannot be filed alleging offences under Section 191 [Giving false evidence] and 192 [Fabricating false evidence] of the Indian Penal Code, even if false evidence is created outside the Court premises.
The bench comprising Justices RF Nariman and Navin Sinha observed that the offence punishable under these sections does not have to be committed only in any proceeding in any Court but can also be an offence alleged to have been committed in relation to any proceeding in any Court.
In this case, the complainant first filed two complaints under Section 340 read with Section 195 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 alleging offences under Sections 191 and 192 IPC. It was alleged therein that the accused had given false evidence, and had forged debit notes and made false entries in books of accounts. Later, relying on Iqbal Singh Marwah and Anr. v. Meenakshi Marwah and Anr. (2005) 4 SCC 370, the complainant filed an application praying that the complaints be converted to private complaints. The magistrate converting the said complaints into private complaints, issued process under Sections 191, 192 and 193 of the IPC. Allowing the revision petition filed by the accused, the Additional Sessions Judge held that the bar under Section 195(1)(b)(i) of the CrPC was attracted, and that the provisions under Section 340 of the CrPC, which were mandatory, had to be followed. The writ petition challenging the Sessions Court order was dismissed.
The crux of the contention of the complainant before the Apex Court was that, reasoning adopted in Iqbal Singh Marwah with regard to offences which fall under Section 195(1)(b)(ii) of the CrPC, ought to apply to cases falling under Section 195(1)(b)(i) of the CrPC. In Iqbal Singh Marwah, it was held that, in cases which fall under Section 195(1)(b)(ii) of the CrPC, the document that is said to have been forged should be custodia legis after which the forgery takes place. If it was not custodia legis, a private complaint would be maintainable. It was contended that, being victims of forgery, ought not to be rendered remediless in respect of the acts of forgery which are committed before they are used as evidence in a court proceeding, and that therefore, a private complaint would be maintainable in the fact circumstance mentioned in the two criminal complaints.
To answer this contention, the bench noted the difference between the offences mentioned in Section 195(1)(b)(i) and Section 195(1)(b)(ii) of the CrPC. The bench said:
Where the facts mentioned in a complaint attracts the provisions of Section 191 to 193 of the IPC, Section 195(1)(b)(i) of the CrPC applies. What is important is that once these sections of the IPC are attracted, the offence should be alleged to have been committed in, or in relation to, any proceeding in any Court. Thus, what is clear is that the offence punishable under these sections does not have to be committed only in any proceeding in any Court but can also be an offence alleged to have been committed in relation to any proceeding in any Court.
Contrasted with Section 195(1)(b)(i), Section 195(1)(b)(ii) of the CrPC speaks of offences described in Section 463, and punishable under Sections 471, 475 or 476 of the IPC, when such offences are alleged to have been committed in respect of a document produced or given in evidence in a proceeding in any Court. What is conspicuous by its absence in Section 195(1)(b)(ii) are the words "or in relation to", making it clear that if the provisions of Section 195(1)(b)(ii) are attracted, then the offence alleged to have been committed must be committed in respect of a document that is custodia legis, and not an offence that may have occurred prior to the document being introduced in court proceedings.
The court also referred to Narendra Kumar Srivastava v. State of Bihar and Ors. (2019) 3 SCC 318, and observed:
"When Section 195(1)(b)(i) of the CrPC is attracted, the ratio of Iqbal Singh Marwah (supra), which approved Sachida Nand Singh and Anr. v. State of Bihar and Anr. (1998) 2 SCC 493, is not attracted, and that therefore, if false evidence is created outside the Court premises attracting Sections 191/192 of the IPC, the aforesaid ratio would not apply so as to validate a private complaint filed for offences made out under these sections."
Referring to the contents of the complaints, the bench observed that they do not make out a case under Section 463 and 464 of the IPC, but instead clearly attract the provisions of 191 and 192 of the IPC. Disposing the appeal, the bench further observed:
"It seems to us that the baby and the bath-water have both been thrown out together. While it is correct to say that the order of conversion and issuing of process thereafter on a private complaint may not be correct, yet the two complaints as originally filed can still be pursued. Once the Magistrate's order had been set aside, the learned Additional Sessions Judge ought to have relegated the parties to the position before the original complaints had been converted into private complaints. Since this has not been done, we find that Shri Mishra is right in stating that even though allegedly serious offences have been made out under Sections 191 and 192 of the IPC, yet the complaints themselves have now been quashed."
Therefore, the bench reinstated the two complaints in their original form so that they may be proceeded with further, following the drill of Sections 195 and 340 of the CrPC.
Case name: M/S BANDEKAR BROTHERS PVT. LTD. & ANR vs. PRASAD VASSUDEV KENI,Case no.: CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 546-550 OF 2017Coram: Justices RF Nariman and Navin SinhaCounsel: Advocates Anil Kumar Mishra, Yogesh Nadkarni