CrPC does not bar Second Complaint if First Complaint not disposed of on merits

V Ravi Kumar Vs State, Rep by Inspector of Police, District Crime Branch, Salem, Tamil Nadu & Ors

Supreme Court

14/12/2018

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 111 OF 2011

About/from the judgment:

The Apex Court reiterated that there is no provision in the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) or any other statute which debars a complainant from making a second complaint on the same allegations, when the first complaint did not lead to conviction, acquittal or discharge.

 

It is only when a complaint is dismissed on merits after an inquiry, that a second complaint cannot be made on the same facts, a Bench of Justices R Banumathi and Indira Banerjee held.

 

The case was an appeal against a judgment of the Madras High Court which had allowed a petition under Section 482 of the CrPC and quashed criminal proceedings against the petitioners which were pending in the High Court.

 

The appellant, Ravi Kumar was into the business of cotton ginning and conversion of cotton into yarn at Salem, Tamil Nadu as proprietor of “Saravana Yarn Traders”. The appellant entered into transactions with Sri. Rajendran Mills Ltd (Mill).

 

The Mill requested the appellant to supply cotton lint to the Mill for conversion of the same into yarn. A Memorandum of Understanding was entered into between the appellant and the Mill pursuant to which the appellant supplied 1,03,920 Kgs of cotton lint to the Mill for conversion into yarn.

 

According to the appellant, the Mill did not take any step to convert the lint into yarn in spite of repeated requests. The appellant later came to know that all the accused had connived with each other and in criminal breach of trust sold the entire cotton lint weighing about 1,08,920/- kgs of the value of about Rs.62,19,850.50 and appropriated the sale proceeds.

 

The appellant then lodged a complaint at the Edapadi Police Station, Salem district against respondents for offences under Sections 420 and 409 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code.

 

As the Police failed to register any case, the appellant invoked Section 156(3) of the CrPC to seek orders of the learned Judicial Magistrate II, Sankagiri for registration of the complaint.

 

Even after orders under Section 156(3) of the CrPC, the Police did not register any complaint. Thereafter, the appellant filed a petition praying for direction to the Inspector of Police to register a case on the basis of the complaint made by the appellant.

 

Since the amount involved exceeded the limit for invocation of the pecuniary jurisdiction of the local Police Station, the Superintendent of Police transferred the investigation to the District Crime Branch

 

According to the appellant, since the police did not conduct the investigation properly, the appellant was constrained to file a Criminal Original Petition in the High Court of Madras for direction to be issued to the Investigation Officer to arrest the accused mentioned in the FIR, complete the investigation and file a final report. The High Court disposed of the same by directing the Police to file a final Report within three months.

 

Subsequently, the respondents filed a Criminal Original Petition under Section 482 CrPC for quashing FIR in the case.

 

The High Court allowed the same observing that the complainant had, without assigning any reason, withdrawn the first complaint and launched prosecution by filing a fresh complaint. It also held that the complaint arose out of a commercial transaction and that the complainant would have to approach the Civil Court for recovering dues if any.

 

This judgment was challenged in Supreme Court.

 

The short question before the Supreme Court was whether the High Court could have quashed the criminal proceedings on the grounds that the appellant had withdrawn an earlier complaint without assigning reasons and that the remedy of the appellant lay in filing a civil suit.

 

Addressing the first question, the Court held that there is no law which bars a complainant from making a second complaint unless the first complaint was disposed of on merits.

 

“There is no provision in the Criminal Procedure Code or any other statute which debars a complainant from making a second complaint on the same allegations, when the first complaint did not lead to conviction, acquittal or discharge.”

 

The Court placed reliance on the judgment in Jatinder Singh and Others v. Ranjit Kaur to assert this point.

 

“As held by this Court in Jatinder Singh and Others v. Ranjit Kaur, it is only when a complaint is dismissed on merits after an inquiry, that a second complaint cannot be made on the same facts. Maybe, as contended by the respondents, the first complaint was withdrawn without assigning any reason. However, that in itself is no ground to quash a second complaint.”

 

Regarding the aspect of the case being of commercial nature, the Court held that the same was not correct. 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, the Court held.

 

“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 in complaint. There were clear allegations of fraud and cheating which prima facie constitute offences under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code.”

 

The correctness of the allegations can be adjudged only at the trial when evidence is adduced, the Court ruled.

 

Thus, it was wrong on the part of the High Court to enter into the factual arena and decide whether the allegations were correct or whether the same was a counter-blast to any proceedings initiated by the respondents.

 

It, therefore, allowed the appeal and set aside the judgment of the High Court.

Read the Judgment

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