Madhya Pradesh High Court: Atul Sreedharan, J. allowed a petition which was filed for quashing of Crime which was registered for an offence under Section 420 of IPC.

The FIR was filed by Sunita Singh daughter of late Vishwanath Singh, Villa Mohidpur, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh wherein she stated that she and her brother (current petitioner) had equal share in the property of her late father and in this respect her brother had given her some cheques after taking her signature on some paper. She deposited the seven cheques but all the seven cheques had been dishonoured due to closure of account. Thus, her case was that her brother cheated her of total of 64 lakhs.

Counsel for the State has read out from the 161 statement of the complainant and contended that in addition to what was stated in the FIR she suffered the loss of her Chequebook against which she has given stop payment instructions to her Bank and thereafter she says, that she suspects that perhaps, it is her brother i.e., the petitioner no.1 and her sister-in-law, the petitioner no.2 who may have taken away these chequebooks with the intent of defrauding her. it was brought to the notice of the Court that she does not say that any of the cheques from the said chequebook have been used by anyone on account of which she suffered a loss. The second set of allegations in the 161 statement was conspicuous by its absence in the FIR and appears to have been introduced in the police statement as an afterthought so as to implicate the petitioners for theft.

Counsel for the petitioners has submitted that the petitioner 1 and the petitioner 2 were related to each other. Father of the petitioner 1 and the respondent 2 had two wives. From the first wife, a son (Jai Prakash Singh) was born. The second wife was Saraswati Singh, from whom the petitioner 1 and the respondent 2 were born. There was a partition in 2006 by which 50% of the share in the father’s property went to Jai Prakash Singh and 25% went to the petitioner 1 Shree Prakash Singh and the remaining 25% went to second wife, the mother of the petitioner 1 and the respondent 2, Saraswati Singh. Subsequently in 2009, there was an MOU between Shree Parkash Singh (the petitioner 1) and Sunita Singh (the respondent 2). As per which Shree Prakash Singh got 60% share in the property of Saraswati Singh and 40% of the share went to Sunita Singh.

Only point to be considered by this Court was whether the dishonour of the cheques could have only given a cause of action to register an FIR for an offence u/s. 420 IPC or whether the cause of action was only for the filing of an offence u/s. 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act?

The Court stated it is a well settled principle of law that the general law will not prevail over the Special Law as enshrined in the maxim generalia specialibus non derogant. The Court was of the opinion that relief available to respondent 2 may be under the civil law by way of a suit for specific performance, rather than to contort and strain the facts to bring it under the purview of the criminal process. Under the circumstances, the registration of this case was ex-facie malicious and deserves to be quashed.

It was also noted that husband of respondent 2 is a senior police officer in the Indian Police Service belonging to the Madhya Pradesh Cadre and that the possibility of the FIR having been filed under his influence cannot be discounted. The Court in this aspect observed that where the police is reluctant to register the FIR if a poor man approaches the police station with a genuine grievance, the registration of an FIR in a case like the one at hand is rather unthinkable to which Senior Counsel Shri Mrigendra Singh retorted by saying that this Court should rescue itself because of bias.

The Court took great umbrage to the conduct of the senior counsel who has cast aspersions on the neutrality of the Court without adequate cause however it refused to recuse itself and condemned his conduct in strongest possible terms. The Court ordered before the Chairman of the Madhya Pradesh State Bar Council with a request to take the strictest possible action against the senior counsel for his intemperate and unpardonable conduct.

The petition was allowed and the FIR was quashed.[Prakash Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2022 SCC OnLine MP 670, decided on 07-04-2022]

For petitioners: Mr Surendra Singh Sr. Adv, Mr Simon Benjamin, Mr Sivam Singh

For respondents: Mr A.S. Pathak Govt. Adv., Mr Mrigendra Singh Sr. Adv., Ms Guncha Rasool

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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