Showing posts with label Complaint. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Complaint. Show all posts

09 September 2020

Complaint u/s. 138 of N.I. Act for cheque bounce is maintainable if cheque is presented and gets dishonoured for the second time after the period of first demand notice is expired

The expression ‘cause of action’ appearing in Section 142 (b) of the Act cannot therefore be understood to be limited to any given requirement out of the three requirements that are mandatory for launching a prosecution on the basis of a dishonoured cheque. Having said that<, every time a cheque is presented in the manner and within the time stipulated under the proviso to Section 138 followed by a notice within the meaning of clause (b) of proviso to Section 138 and the drawer fails to make the payment of the amount within the stipulated period of fifteen days after the date of receipt of such notice, a cause of action accrues to the holder of the cheque to institute proceedings for prosecution of the drawer.[Para No.20]

    There is, in our view, nothing either in Section 138 or Section 142 to curtail the said right of the payee, leave alone a forfeiture of the said right for no better reason than the failure of the holder of the cheque to institute prosecution against the drawer when the cause of action to do so had first arisen. Simply because the prosecution for an offence under Section 138  must on the language of Section 142 be instituted within one month from the date of the failure of the drawer to make the payment does not in our view militate against the accrual of multiple causes of action to the holder of the cheque upon failure of the drawer to make the payment of the cheque amount. In the absence of any juristic principle on which such failure to prosecute on the basis of the first default in payment should result in forfeiture, we find it difficult to hold that the payee would lose his right to institute such proceedings on a subsequent default that satisfies all the three requirements of Section 138.[Para No.21]

Complaint u/s. 138 of N.I. Act for cheque bounce is maintainable if cheque is presented and gets dishonoured for the second time after the period of first demand notice is expired
    That brings us to the question whether an offence punishable under Section 138 can be committed only once as held by this Court in Sadanandan Bhadran’s case (supra). The holder of a cheque as seen earlier can present it before a bank any number of times within the period of six months or during the period of its validity, whichever is earlier. This right of the holder to present the cheque for encashment carries with it a corresponding obligation on the part of the drawer to ensure that the cheque drawn by him is honoured by the bank who stands in the capacity of an agent of the drawer vis-à-vis the holder of the cheque. If the holder of the cheque has a right, as indeed is in the unanimous opinion expressed in the decisions on the subject, there is no reason why the corresponding obligation of the drawer should also not continue every time the cheque is presented for encashment if it satisfies the requirements stipulated in that clause (a) to the proviso to Section 138. There is nothing in that proviso to even remotely suggest that clause (a) would have no application to a cheque presented for the second time if the same has already been dishonoured once. Indeed if the legislative intent was to restrict prosecution only to cases arising out of the first dishonour of a cheque nothing prevented it from stipulating so in clause (a) itself. In the absence of any such provision a dishonour whether based on a second or any successive presentation of a cheque for encashment would be a dishonour within the meaning of Section 138 and clause (a) to proviso thereof. We have, therefore, no manner of doubt that so long as the cheque remains unpaid it is the continuing obligation of the drawer to make good the same by either arranging the funds in the account on which the cheque is drawn or liquidating the liability otherwise. It is true that a dishonour of the cheque can be made a basis for prosecution of the offender but once, but that is far from saying that the holder of the cheque does not have the discretion to choose out of several such defaults, one default, on which to launch such a prosecution. The omission or the failure of the holder to institute prosecution does not, therefore, give any immunity to the drawer so long as the cheque is dishonoured within its validity period and the conditions precedent for prosecution in terms of the proviso to Section 138 are satisfied.[Para No.22]

03 September 2020

Once a Magistrate takes cognizance of the offence, he is, thereafter, precluded from ordering an investigation under Section 156(3) of CrPC

After calling report u/s.202 of CrPC, Magistrate can not order investigation u/s.156(3) of CrPC.

   I may first deal with the question as to whether the Magistrate ought to have proceeded under Section 156(3), after receipt of enquiry report from Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar, sought on taking cognizance of complaint and after deferment of process or was required to proceed under Section 202(1) and what are the parameters for exercise of power under the two provisions.[Para No.12]

     The two provisions are in two different chapters of the Code, though common expression 'investigation' is used in both the provisions. Normal rule is to understand the same expression in two provisions of an enactment in same sense unless the context otherwise requires. Heading of Chapter XII is "Information to the Police and their Powers to Investigate" and that of Chapter XV is "Complaints to Magistrate". Heading of Chapter XIV is "Conditions Requisite for Initiation of Proceedings". The two provisions i.e. Sections 156 and 202 in Chapters XII and XV respectively are as follows :
"156. Police officer's power to investigate cognizable case.
(1) Any officer in charge of a police station may, without the order of a Magistrate, investigate any cognizable case which a Court having jurisdiction over the local area within the limits of such station would have power to inquire into or try under the provisions of Chapter XIII.
(2) No proceeding of a police officer in any such case shall at any stage be called in question on the ground that the case was one which such officer was not empowered under this section to investigate.
(3) Any Magistrate empowered under section 190 may order such an investigation as above- mentioned.
202. Postponement of issue of process.-
(1) Any Magistrate , on receipt of a complaint of an offence of which he is authorized to take cognizance or which has been made over to him under section 192, may, if he thinks fit, [and shall in a case where the accused is residing at a place beyond the area in which he exercises his jurisdiction] postpone the issue of process against the accused, and either inquire into the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by a police officer or by such other person as he thinks fit, for the purpose of deciding whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding:
Provided that no such direction for investigation shall be made, -
(a) where it appears to the Magistrate that the offence complained of is triable exclusively by the Court of Sessions; or
(b) where the complaint has not been made by a Court, unless the complainant and the witnesses present (if any) have been examined on oath under section 200.
(2) In an inquiry under sub-section (1), the Magistrate may, if he thinks fit, take evidence of witnesses on oath:
Provided that if it appears to the Magistrate that the offence complained of is triable exclusively by the Court of Session, he shall call upon the complainant to produce all his witnesses and examine them on oath.
(3) If an investigation under sub-section (1) is made by a person not being a police officer, he shall have for that investigation all the powers conferred by this Code on an officer in charge of a police station except the power to arrest without warrant."[Para No.13]

   Cognizance is taken by a Magistrate under Section 190 (in Chapter XIV) either on "receiving a complaint", on "a police report" or "information received" from any person other than a police officer or upon his own knowledge.
    Chapter XV deals exclusively with complaints to Magistrates. Reference to Sections, 202, in the said Chapter, shows that it provides for "postponement of issue of process" which is mandatory if accused resides beyond the Magistrate's jurisdiction (with which situation this case does not concern) and discretionary in other cases in which event an enquiry can be conducted by the Magistrate or investigation can be directed to be made by a police officer or such other person as may be thought fit "for the purpose of deciding whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding". I am skipping the proviso as it does not concern the question under discussion. Clause (3) provides that if investigation is by a person other than a police officer, he shall have all the powers of an officer incharge of a police station except the power to arrest.[Para No.14]

   Chapter XII, dealing with the information to the police and their powers to investigate, provides for entering information relating to a 'cognizable offence' in a book to be kept by the officer incharge of a police station (Section 154) and such entry is called "FIR". If from the information, the officer incharge of the police station has reason to suspect commission of an offence which he is empowered to investigate subject to compliance of other requirements, he shall proceed, to the spot, to investigate the facts and circumstances and, if necessary, to take measure, for the discovery and arrest of the offender (Section 157(1).[Para No.15]

    Power under Section 202 is of different nature. Report sought under the said provision has limited purpose of deciding "whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding". If this be the object, the procedure under Chapter XV of the Code of Criminal Procedure are required to be adhered to in letter and spirit.[Para No.19]

    Admittedly the Magistrate has taken cognizance and find it necessary to postpone issuance of process, therefore, directed for enquiry by the Police and on receipt of the report from SSP, Srinagar, the Magistrate was required to proceed in terms of the provisions contained in Chapter XV of the Criminal Procedure Code. Thus, I answer the first question by holding that the direction under Section 156(3) is to be issued, only after application of mind by the Magistrate. When the Magistrate does not take cognizance and does not find it necessary to postpone instance of process and finds a case made out to proceed forthwith, direction under the said provision is issued, when Magistrate takes cognizance and postpones issuance of process, the Magistrate has yet to determine "existence of sufficient ground to proceed" and these cases fall under Section 202. Subject to these broad guidelines available from the scheme of the Code, exercise of discretion by the Magistrate is guided by interest of justice from case to case.[Para No.20]

    To reiterate for the guidance of all the Magistrates in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh, it has become necessary to refer the Judgment reported in (2010) 4 Supreme Court Cases 185 titled Rameshbhai Pandurao Hedau Vs. State of Gujrat, which postulates that while the power to direct a police investigation under Section 156(3) is exercisable at the pre-cognizance stage, the power to direct an investigation or an enquiry under Section 202(1) is exercisable at the post-cognizance stage, when the Magistrate is in seisin of the case.[Para No.21]

Once a Magistrate takes cognizance of the offence, he is, thereafter, precluded from ordering an investigation under Section 156(3) of CrPC
    The settled legal position has been enunciated by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in several decisions and has observed that the Courts are ad idem on the question that the powers under Section 156(3) can be invoked by the Magistrate at a pre-cognizance stage, whereas powers under Section 202 of the Code are to be invoked after cognizance is taken on a complaint, but before issuance of process. Such a view has been expressed in Suresh Chand Jain case reported in (2001) 2 SCC 628: 2001 SCC (Cri) 377 as well as in Dharmeshbhai Vasudevbhai case, reported in (2009) 6 SCC 576: (2009) 3 SCC (Cri) 76 and in Devarapalli Lakshminarayana Reddy case, reported in (1976) 3 SCC 252: 1976 SCC (Cri) 380.[Para No.22]

01 September 2020

Trial is not vitiated if investigation is conducted by the informant/police officer who himself is the complainant

Now we consider the relevant provisions of the Cr. P. C. with respect to the investigation.

    Section 154 Cr.P.C. provides that every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction.

    Section 156 Cr.P.C. provides that any officer in charge of a police station may investigate any cognizable offence without the order of a Magistrate. It further provides that no proceeding of a police officer in any such case shall at any stage be called in question on the ground that the case was one which such officer was not empowered under this section to investigate. Therefore, as such, a duty is cast on an officer in charge of a police station to reduce the information in writing relating to commission of a cognizable offence and thereafter to investigate the same.

    Section 157 Cr.P.C. specifically provides that if, from information received or otherwise, an officer in charge of a police station has reason to suspect the commission of an offence which he is empowered under Section 156 to investigate, he shall forthwith send a report of the same to a Magistrate empowered to take cognizance of such offence upon a police report and shall proceed in person to the spot to investigate the facts and circumstances of the case and, if necessary, to take measures for the discovery and arrest of the offender.

Trial is not vitiated if investigation is conducted by the informant/police officer who himself is the complainant
    Therefore, considering Section 157 Cr.P.C., either on receiving the information or otherwise (may be from other sources like secret information, from the hospital, or telephonic message), it is an obligation cast upon such police officer, in charge of a police station, to take cognizance of the information and to reduce into writing by himself and thereafter to investigate the facts and circumstances of the case, and, if necessary, to take measures for the discovery and arrest of the offender. Take an example, if an officer in charge of a police station passes on a road and he finds a dead body and/or a person being beaten who ultimately died and there is no body to give a formal complaint in writing, in such a situation, and when the said officer in charge of a police station has reason to suspect the commission of an offence, he has to reduce the same in writing in the form of an information/complaint. In such a situation, he is not precluded from further investigating the case. He is not debarred to conduct the investigation in such a situation. It may also happen that an officer in charge of a police station is in the police station and he receives a telephonic message, may be from a hospital, and there is no body to give a formal complaint in writing, such a police officer is required to reduce the same in writing which subsequently may be converted into an FIR/complaint and thereafter he will rush to the spot and further investigate the matter. There may be so many circumstances like such. That is why, Sections 154, 156 and 157 Cr.P.C. come into play.[Para No.9]

07 August 2020

Casual remarks or replies on social media or press note does not amount to defamation if it does not cause serious harm or potential ill effect on reputation of a person

Defamation - Sec. 499 and 500 of IPC -  Whether a particular statement or words are defamatory or not? How it can be decided and what criteria can be applied?



 On the point what constitutes defamation, it is useful to refer to the ratio laid down in S. Khushboo (supra), which is as follows:
In the case of S. Khushboo (supra), the Supreme Court considered whether a particular statement or words are defamatory or not, how it can be decided and what criteria can be applied. In the said case, the appellant made certain statements about the sexual behaviour of people in Tamil Nadu which were published in a magazine, so many organizations filed the complaint against her on Sections 411 and 500 of Indian Penal Code. The Supreme Court held that a morally provocative statement does not make out any offence. So also the general statement made about the sexual habits of the people in Tamil Nadu does not make out any offence. The Supreme Court gave guidelines that any remark which could reasonably amount to the offence of defamation, is to be verified. The defamation though is a factual question and the statutory defences are available to the accused, the imperative question is whether the allegations in the complaint supported a prima facie case of defamation in the first place.[Para No.39]


    Defamation is broadly defined as false statement, damaging one's goodwill or reputation or image. Article 19 of the Constitution of India i.e., right to freedom, speech and expression gives no licence to any person to defame others as the fundamental right is enjoyed with reasonable restrictions. Generally, there is not much difference in goodwill and reputation of the company. It means a credibility and trustworthiness. Even something true may be also defamation in certain circumstances. Thus, lowering down one's estimation in the eyes of a public is defamation. A person may be dishonest, but he may be holding a reputation of high values. Thus, the right is jus in rem. However, the statement must be understood as defamatory by right thinking or reasonable minded persons. Therefore, there are certain yardsticks to decide whether the statement is defamatory or not, which are as follows :

(i) The statement to be read and understood with a context. It is to be read in its entirety.

(ii) Natural and ordinary meaning of the words is to be followed. What meaning the words would convey to the ordinary man is a litmus test.

(iii) Whether the statement brings hatred, stress, contempt and ridicule, will decide whether it is defamatory or not.

(iv) Imputation of fraud, dishonesty and corruption by rendering sub quality services, causing damage, sub quality manufacturing goods, use of abusive language are the glaring examples of defamation.

(v) Every incorrect statement or written statement or every statement which is disapproved or not liked is not necessarily defamatory statement. In such a case, defamation is taken very subjectively, but the Court has to use reasoning of the ordinary man and adopt objective approach.


    There are certain statements involving shades of irony, innuendo and sarcasm where indirectly or impliedly a person is defamed.[Para No.40]


    At the outset, it is made clear that while assessing the legality of the issuance of process in the offence of defamation, the exceptions laid down in section 499 of the Indian Penal Code are not to be taken into account as that is a defence available to the accused. Therefore, whether the order of issuance of process is correct or not is to be judged only after considering the averments made and the alleged statements made in the complaint.[Para No.41]

Casual remarks or replies on social media or press note does not amount to defamation if it does not cause serious harm or potential ill effect on reputation of a person
    Whether innocuous gossip or trivial accusation will be defamation or whether casual remarks or replies on social media is defamation, etc. are the issues that crop up before the Courts. However, a Judge has to see whether serious harm is caused to the person or it has a potential ill effect on his or her reputation. In the present case, the statements and the words do not manifest ill- will to damage the reputation of the complainant-company but it is a denial of the actions taken by Shapoorji Pallonji Group and Mr.Cyrus Mistry. The Judge has to be cautious while looking at the defamatory statements and has to control personification of his views about public feelings and opinion. It should be strictly a reasonable person's opinion. It is also to be kept in mind that a reasonable person is not a lawyer or a Judge but a common man; a right thinking common man. Thus, the test can be objectively applied.[Para No.44]


20 July 2020

Criminal proceedings are not a short cut of other remedies available in law

Growing tendency in business circles and family disputes to convert purely civil disputes into criminal cases and apply pressure though criminal prosecution should be deprecated and discouraged.


   While on this issue, it is necessary to take notice of a growing tendency in business circles to convert purely civil disputes into criminal cases. This is obviously on account of a prevalent impression that civil law remedies are time consuming and do not adequately protect the interests of lenders/creditors. Such a tendency is seen in several family disputes also, leading to irretrievable break down of marriages/families. There is also an impression that if a person could somehow be entangled in a criminal prosecution, there is a likelihood of imminent settlement. Any effort to settle civil disputes and claims, which do not involve any criminal offence, by applying pressure though criminal prosecution should be deprecated and discouraged. In G. Sagar Suri vs. State of UP  [2000 (2) SCC 636], this Court observed :
"It is to be seen if a matter, which is essentially of civil nature, has been given a cloak of criminal offence. Criminal proceedings are not a short cut of other remedies available in law. Before issuing process a criminal court has to exercise a great deal of caution. For the accused it is a serious matter. This Court has laid certain principles on the basis of which High Court is to exercise its jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code. Jurisdiction under this Section has to be exercised to prevent abuse of the process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice."

Criminal proceedings are not a short cut of other remedies available in law
 While no one with a legitimate cause or grievance should be prevented from seeking remedies available in criminal law, a complainant who initiates or persists with a prosecution, being fully aware that the criminal proceedings are unwarranted and his remedy lies only in civil law, should himself be made accountable, at the end of such misconceived criminal proceedings, in accordance with law. One positive step that can be taken by the courts, to curb unnecessary prosecutions and harassment of innocent parties, is to exercise their power under section 250 Cr.P.C. more frequently, where they discern malice or frivolousness or ulterior motives on the part of the complainant. Be that as it may.[Para No.10]

01 May 2020

Subsequent complaint can be clubbed with existing F.I.R.

F.I.R. made by the father of victim girl that she might have been kidnapped/abducted. After registration of FIR, complaint made by the victim girl about her sexual exploitation with detail incident.

   Can such complaint be clubbed with existing FIR?


   If the FIR lodged by her father is the skeleton, victim's complaint is the flesh and blood to it.

   If the investigating agency had taken a decision to club the subsequent complaint with earlier FIR it cannot be said that the investigating agency violated any provision of law. In fact, such clubbing was legally justified. 

Subsequent-complaint
 It is well settled that a first information report need not necessarily be lodged by the victim of a sexual offence. Any person having information of the offence can report. It is equally well settled that an FIR need not be an encyclopedia of all the facts and allegations describing an offence. The object of lodging a first information report is to report an offence, cognizable in nature, so that the matter is investigated and a police report is submitted in court to enable it to take cognizance and proceed against the accused.

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