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V. Ravi Kumar Vs. State and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (14 Dec 2018)

If dismissal of complaint was not on merit, but on default of complainant, moving Magistrate again with a second complaint on same facts is maintainable



Present appeal is against the final judgment passed by the High Court allowing Criminal Original Petition filed under Section 482 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) and quashing the criminal proceedings against the Petitioners before the High Court and also against the first Accused company, which was not party before the High Court. The short question in instant appeal is whether the High Court should have quashed the criminal proceedings being Crime No. 54 of 2005 on the grounds that the Appellant had withdrawn an earlier complaint without assigning reasons; the transactions being commercial in nature, the ingredients of an offence under the Sections referred to above were absent; and that the remedy of the Appellant lay in filing a civil suit.

It is well settled that, a judgment is a precedent for the issue of law which is raised and decided. Phrases and sentences in a judgment are to be understood in the context of the facts and circumstances of the case and the same cannot be read in isolation.

Every breach of contract does not give rise to an offence of cheating. The language and tenor of Vesa Holdings (P) Ltd., particularly, the observation that breach of contract would give rise to an offence of cheating only in those cases where there was any deception played at the very inception, is to be understood in the context of the facts of that case and accordingly construed. The phrase "in those cases where there was any deception played at the very inception" cannot be read out of context. This is not a case of breach of contract simplicitor but there are serious allegations of forgery of documents, use of blank letterhead, papers and cheque leaves of the Appellant.

In this case, it cannot be said that there were no allegations which prima facie constitute ingredients of offences Under Sections 420, 409 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) in complaint. There were clear allegations of fraud and cheating which prima facie constitute offences under Section 420 of the IPC. The correctness of the allegations can be adjudged only at the trial when evidence is adduced. At this stage, it was not for the High Court to enter into factual arena and decide whether the allegations were correct or whether the same were a counter-blast to any proceedings initiated by the Respondents.

In Jatinder Singh and Ors. v. Ranjit Kaur, this Court clearly held that, if dismissal of the complaint was not on merit, but on default of the complainant, moving the Magistrate again with a second complaint on the same facts is maintainable. But if the dismissal of the complaint Under Section 203 of the Code was on merits, the position could be different.

The failure to mention the first complaint in the subsequent one is also inconsequential as held, in effect, in Jatinder Singh. Mentioning of reasons for withdrawal of an earlier complaint is also not a condition precedent for maintaining a second complaint. The High Court clearly erred in law in dismissing the complaint, which certainly disclosed an offence prima facie. It was not for the High Court to enter the factual arena and adjudicate the merits of the allegations. Impugned order of the High Court quashing the complaint is set aside. Appeal allowed.


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