2015 ALL SCR 2194
(SUPREME COURT)

PRAFULLA C. PANT AND DIPAK MISRA, JJ.

D. P. Gulati Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr.

Criminal Appeal No.1550 of 2014

31st March, 2015.

Petitioner Counsel: Ms. PRAVEENA GAUTAM
Respondent Counsel: Mr. O.P. BHADANI, Mr. SOM RAJ CHOUDHURY, Mr. ABHISTH KUMAR

Criminal P.C. (1973), S.482 - Inherent powers - Object of exercise of power is to prevent abuse of process of law and to secure ends of justice - Complaint filed against appellant and other directors of appellant company for having committed offences punishable u/Ss.420, 467, 471 and 406 of Penal Code - Earlier complaint was filed by appellant against respondent for offence of dishonour of cheque - Clear case of abuse of process of law on part of respondent - Complaint quashed. (Paras 7, 9, 10)

Cases Cited:
Rajiv Thapar and Ors. Vs. Madan Lal Kapoor, 2013 ALL MR (Cri) 1107 (S.C.)=(2013) 3 SCC 330 [Para 7]
Rishipal Singh Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and Anr., 2014 ALL SCR 2572=(2014) 7 SCC 215 [Para 8]


JUDGMENT

PRAFULLA C. PANT. J. :- This appeal is directed against order dated 4.3.2014, passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, in Criminal Misc. Application (S. 482) No. 6667 of 2014 whereby said Court has disposed of the same declining to quash the proceedings of criminal complaint case No. 1446/9 of 2013, relating to offences punishable under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 406 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), P.S. Nauchandi, pending in the Court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate-4, Meerut, with certain observations.

2. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and perused the papers on record.

3. Succinctly, facts of the case are that appellant is Manager Accounts with M/s. Jetking Infotrain Ltd. There was a franchisee agreement between the appellant's company and M/s. SVS Computers Ltd., of which respondent No. 2 Vishal Sharma (complainant) is one of the directors. Said franchisee agreement expired on 29.6.2011. There was some dispute as to the clearance of outstanding dues of M/s. Jetking Infotrain Ltd., due to which, it appears that it sent a notice for payment before renewal of the agreement of franchisee. It is pleaded before us that respondent No. 2 tendered two cheques towards franchisee fee for the year 2013-14, on behalf of M/s. SVS Computers Ltd. Out of the two cheques, one bearing No. 63873 dated 27.6.2013 drawn on Union Bank of India, Noida, for an amount of Rs.7,86,641/-, when presented before the Bankers, was dishonoured on account of "payment stopped by the drawer" endorsement. However, another cheque for an amount of Rs.1,10,400/- was honoured. On this, appellant's company issued notice dated 13.7.2013 to respondent No. 2 calling upon to make payment of dishonoured cheque on behalf of M/s. SVS Computers Ltd. When respondent No. 2 ignored the same, on behalf of M/s. Jetking Infotrain Ltd. a criminal complaint case No. 630 of 2013 was filed against respondent No. 2 Vishal Sharma, before the Metropolitan Magistrate, Karkardoma Courts, Delhi, in respect of offence punishable under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (for short "the Act").

4. It is stated that after the above complaint was filed, respondent No. 2, as a counter blast, filed allegedly frivolous criminal complaint case No. 1446 of 2013, relating to offences punishable under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 406 IPC, before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate-4, Meerut against the appellant and other directors of the appellant's company. It is further pleaded that filing of the complaint in question, subsequent to the complaint filed by the appellant, is nothing but harassment and abuse of process of law on the part of respondent No. 2. As such, the appellant filed a petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short "the Code") before Allahabad High Court for quashment of the proceedings before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate-4, Meerut, which was dismissed by said court. Hence this appeal through special leave.

5. Learned counsel for the appellant argued that the High Court has erred in law in ignoring the fact that a criminal complaint was already filed against respondent No. 2 in respect of offence punishable under Section 138 of the Act. It is contended that said fact is admitted between the parties. It is further contended that to pressurize the appellant in said criminal case, impugned criminal proceedings were initiated at Meerut which is nothing but abuse of process of law.

6. Per contra, learned counsel for the respondent, defending the impugned order, submitted before us that the High Court has rightly observed that the appellant can raise the objections as to whether offences alleged against him are made out or not at the time of framing of charge before the trial court. It is further pointed out that the High Court has already protected the interest of the appellant by observing that if he appears before the trial court within thirty days, his bail would be disposed of expeditiously, if possible, on the same day.

7. We have carefully considered the rival submissions made before us. From bare perusal of Section 482 of the Code, it is clear that the object of exercise of power under the Section is to prevent abuse of process of law, and to secure ends of justice. In Rajiv Thapar and others v. Madan Lal Kapoor, (2013) 3 SCC 330 : [2013 ALL MR (Cri) 1107 (S.C.)], this Court has enumerated the steps required to be followed before invoking inherent jurisdiction by the High Court under Section 482 of the Code as under: -

"30. Based on the factors canvassed in the foregoing paragraphs, we would delineate the following steps to determine the veracity of a prayer for quashment raised by an accused by invoking the power vested in the High Court under Section 482 CrPC:

30.1. Step one: whether the material relied upon by the accused is sound, reasonable, and indubitable i.e. the material is of sterling and impeccable quality?

30.2. Step two: whether the material relied upon by the accused would rule out the assertions contained in the charges levelled against the accused i.e. the material is sufficient to reject and overrule the factual assertions contained in the complaint i.e. the material is such as would persuade a reasonable person to dismiss and condemn the factual basis of the accusations as false?

30.3. Step three: whether the material relied upon by the accused has not been refuted by the prosecution/complainant; and/or the material is such that it cannot be justifiably refuted by the prosecution/complainant?

30.3. Step three: whether the material relied upon by the accused has not been refuted by the prosecution/complainant; and/or the material is such that it cannot be justifiably refuted by the prosecution/complainant?

30.5. If the answer to all the steps is in the affirmative, the judicial conscience of the High Court should persuade it to quash such criminal proceedings in exercise of power vested in it under Section 482 CrPC. Such exercise of power, besides doing justice to the accused, would save precious court time, which would otherwise be wasted in holding such a trial (as well as proceedings arising therefrom) specially when it is clear that the same would not conclude in the conviction of the accused."

8. In Rishipal Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh and another, (2014) 7 SCC 215 : [2014 ALL SCR 2572], explaining the law in the similar circumstances, as in the present case, this Court observed, in paragraph 17, as under: -

"It is no doubt true that the courts have to be very careful while exercising the power under Section 482 CrPC. At the same time we should not allow a litigant to file vexatious complaints to otherwise settle their scores by setting the criminal law into motion, which is a pure abuse of process of law and it has to be interdicted at the threshold."

In Rishipal Singh, [2014 ALL SCR 2572] (supra), the complainant, who was an accused in connection with an offence punishable under Section 138 of the Act, had filed a criminal complaint relating to offences punishable under Sections 34, 379, 411, 417, 418, 467, 468, 471 and 477 IPC.

9. In view of above position of law, and having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case in hand, and after going through the criminal complaint filed against respondent No. 2 and thereafter, one filed by him against the appellant, we are of the view that it is a clear case of abuse of process of law on the part of respondent No. 2.

10. Therefore, we are of the opinion that this appeal deserves to be allowed. Accordingly, the same is allowed. The impugned order dated 4.3.2014, passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad in Criminal Misc. Application (S. 482) No. 6667 of 2014 is hereby set aside. The impugned proceedings of criminal complaint No. 1446/9 of 2013, pending before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate-4, Meerut, between the parties, are hereby quashed in respect of offences punishable under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 406 IPC.

Appeal allowed.