Merely because a civil claim is maintainable does not mean that criminal complaint cannot be maintained

High Court of Himachal Pradesh: While deciding a petition filed under S. 482 of CrPC seeking to quash the criminal complaint filed by the respondent and the order passed by the learned Trial Court whereby the petitioners were summoned, a Single Judge Bench of Chander Bhusan Barowalia, J. declined to interfere with the impugned order holding that the learned trial court had the jurisdiction to pass the impugned order.

The allegation against the petitioners in the complaint under various sections of IPC was that the petitioners dishonestly induced the respondent to invest in a housing project. The petitioners made false assurances and managed to induce the respondent to invest his whole life’s earnings in the project. The petitioners dishonestly used the money of the respondent to their own use, thereby causing wrongful loss to the respondent. The action of petitioners caused harassment, humiliation to the respondent and it also caused mental tension, agony and hardship to him.

The petitioners, inter alia, argued that the matter was pending before the Consumer Forum and thus the Trial Court had no jurisdiction. The trial court without taking into consideration the fact that the dispute was a consumer dispute, which was still pending in appeal, wherein the rights of the parties were to be decided, had issued process against the petitioner. He argued that the proceedings were liable to be quashed.

The Court, after going through the record, came to the conclusion that the petitioners fully knew that the facilities, which the respondent was made to believe, were not likely to come. They should have disclosed to the respondent that these facilities would not come in future. The facilities/amenities, which the respondent was made to believe were nothing but inducement.

The Court cited the Supreme Court decision in (2001) 2 SCC 17, to hold that merely because a civil claim is maintainable does not mean that the criminal complaint cannot be maintained. In view of what was held in the above mentioned case, the contention that the matter was pending adjudication before the Consumer Forum was without any basis and the same was not sustainable in the eyes of law. Accordingly, the petitions were dismissed and no relief was granted to the petitioner. [Vijay Goyal v. Vivek Gupta,  2017 SCC OnLine HP 1453, decided on 22.09.2017]

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