Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a major relief to Samajwadi Party Leader Azam Khan, the 3-judge bench of L. Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai and AS Bopanna, JJ has granted him interim bail in a cheating case.

Azam Khan, who,  in the case at hand, was accused for committing offences punishable under Sections 420 and 120B of the Penal Code, 1860, was accused in 87 criminal cases when he approached the Supreme Court and was granted bail in 84 cases at that point of time. He, however, has now been granted bail in all 87 cases.

Interestingly, though the FIR was registered on 18th March, 2020 and the charge-sheet in the said FIR was filed on 10th September, 2020, Azam has only now been implicated, i.e., after a period of 1 year and 7 months, by order dated 6th May, 2022 passed by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Rampur.

“It is not as if that the allegations which are now sought to be made against the petitioner could not have been made at that point of time. The main allegation against the petitioner in the said FIR No.70 of 2020 is that the certificates are forged. Further allegation is that the person who had issued the certificates was not authorized to issue those certificates.”

Hence, taking into consideration the delay in implication of Azam Khan and the nature of the allegations made therein, the Court was of the view that it will not be in the interest of justice to deprive him of his personal liberty, particularly when in respect of 87 criminal cases/FIRs, he has already been released on bail.

While the Court directed Azam Khan to be released on interim bail, he is directed to file an application for regular bail before the Competent Court within a period of two weeks from the date of order.

It has, however, been made clear that the interim bail granted to the petitioner by the present order shall continue to operate till the decision of the Competent Court in the application for regular bail and in the event that the regular bail application is decided against the interest of Azam Khan, the present interim bail shall continue to operate for a further period of two weeks from the date of the order passed by the Competent Court in the application for regular bail.

[Md. Azam Khan v. State of Uttar Pradesh, WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO.39 OF 2022, order dated 19.05.2022]


Counsels

For Appellant: Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal

For State: Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench S. Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari*, JJ., reversed the impugned order of the Calcutta High Court for being affected with the vice of forum shopping. The Bench expressed,

“The timeline of filing complaints clearly indicates the malafide intention of Respondent 2 which was to simply harass the petitioners so as to pressurise them into shelling out the investment made by Respondent 2.”

The entire origin of the dispute emanated from an investment made by Respondent 2, amounting to Rs. 2.5 crores in lieu of which 2,50,000 equity shares were issued in the year 25-03-2008, finally culminating into the MOU dated 20-08-2009. Based on the MOU, respondent 2 filed three complaints, two at Delhi and one at Kolkata. Thus, two simultaneous proceedings, arising from the same cause of action i.e. MOU dated 20-08-2009 were initiated, amounting to an abuse of the process of the law which is barred.

Power of High Court under S. 482 of CrPC

By the said judgment, the High Court exercised the powers under Section 482 as well as Section 401 of CrPC to dismiss the prayer for quashing of the proceedings and held that continuance of criminal proceedings against the present appellant/accused would not be an abuse of the process of the court. In G. Sagar Suri v. State of UP, (2000) 2 SCC 636, it had been observed that it is the duty and obligation of the criminal court to exercise a great deal of caution in issuing the process, particularly when matters are essentially of civil nature. This Court has time and again cautioned about converting purely civil disputes into criminal cases.

In the instant case, respondent 2 alleged that the appellants were responsible for the offence punishable under Section 420, 405, 406, 120B IPC. The Bench opined that the High Court failed to examine the ingredients of the said offences and whether the allegations made in the complaint, read on their face, attract those offences under the Penal Code. The Bench remarked,

“…in order to attract the ingredients of Section of 406 and 420 IPC it is imperative on the part of the complainant to prima facie establish that there was an intention on part of the petitioner and/or others to cheat and/or to defraud the complainant right from the inception. Furthermore it has to be prima facie established that due to such alleged act of cheating the complainant had suffered a wrongful loss and the same had resulted in wrongful gain for the accused.”

Observing that the averments in the FIR and the allegations in the complaint against the appellant did not constitute an offence under Section 405 & 420 IPC, 1860, the Bench clarified that even in a case where allegations are made in regard to failure on the part of the accused to keep his promise, in the absence of a culpable intention at the time of making promise being absent, no offence under Section 420 IPC can be said to have been made out. Therefore, the Bench rejected the findings of the High Court holding that there was no material to indicate that Appellants had any malafide intention against the Respondent.

Forum Shopping

Noticeably, the application under Section 156(3) CrPC filed before the Metropolitan Magistrate, Tis Hazari Court, Delhi was dismissed and there was no further challenge against the same. Instead, Respondent 2 chose to file a complaint with the same cause of action in Calcutta which was the exact reproduction of the complaint filed before Tis Hazari Court, New Delhi with the only difference or what may be termed as ‘Jurisdictional improvement’. The Bench noted that the jurisdiction had been created in Delhi as the Appellants used to visit Respondent 2 in order to persuade them to invest in their company and special emphasis can be laid on the fact that Respondent 2 himself accepted/agreed to the fact that all the transactions took place in Delhi. Therefore, the Bench observed,

“…registering a complaint in Kolkata is way of harassing the appellant as a complaint has already been filed in Delhi with all the necessary facts, apart from the jurisdictional issue at Kolkata.”

In Krishna Lal Chawla v. State of U.P., (2021) 5 SCC 435, it was observed that, “…permitting multiple complaints by the same party in respect of the same incident, whether it involves a cognizable or private complaint offence, will lead to the accused being entangled in numerous criminal proceedings. As such he would be forced to keep surrendering his liberty and precious time before the police and the courts, as and when required in each case.” Hence, the Bench observed,

“This Court has condemned the practice of forum shopping by litigants and termed it as an abuse of law and also deciphered different categories of forum shopping.”

The Bench observed that in spite of this Court condemning the practice of forum shopping, Respondent 2 filed two complaints i.e., a complaint u/s 156(3) CrPC before the Tis Hazari Court, New Delhi and a complaint which was eventually registered as FIR u/s 406, 420, 120B IPC in Kolkata i.e., one in Delhi and one complaint in Kolkata, which was abuse of process.

Findings

The Bench held that the order of the High Court was seriously flawed due to the fact that in its interim order it was observed that two complaints were filed on the same cause of action at different places but the impugned order overlooked the said aspect and there was no finding on that issue. Additionally, the Bench noted,

“…it is apparent that the complaint was lodged at a very belated stage (as the entire transaction took place from January 2008 to August 2009, yet the complaint has been filed in March 2013 i.e., after a delay of almost 4 years) with the objective of causing harassment to the petitioner and is bereft of any truth whatsoever.”

Accordingly, the impugned order was set aside and the FIR registered in Kolkata was also quashed.

[Vijay Kumar Ghai v. State of W.B., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 344, decided on 22-03-2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Krishna Murari


Appearance by:

For the Appellants: Menaka Guruswamy, Senior Advocate

For the Respondents: Anjana Prakash, Senior Advocate


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together

Case BriefsDistrict Court

Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Thane: Noting the fact that a man suppressed the material fact of his private life before marriage i.e., about him being a homosexual, Rajesh S. Gupta, J., found that, the whole life of a young girl had been spoiled due to the material suppression, if the same would have been shared prior to the marriage then the consequence would be different.

In the present matter, the applicant/accused had preferred anticipatory bail for the offences punishable under Sections 420, 465, 467, 468, and 506 of IPC.

Advocate for applicant/accused submitted that de facto complainant and applicant/accused were husband and wife, and their marriage was solemnized.

During the period of marriage, the applicant/accused was working and earning around Rs 8 lakh per annum and as there were bright chances of increments in near future, de facto complainant accepted and agreed to the job profile of the applicant/accused and marriage was performed by mutual consent.

It was submitted that only with the intent to put the applicant/accused behind the bar, a false complaint was lodged.

On the other hand, APP submitted that there were specific allegations that the applicant/accused suppressed the material facts before the marriage as he being gay and indulged in homosexuality and thereby committed cheating and played fraud in the complainant and had ruined the life and future of the complainant and was not interested in the opposite sex.

IO submitted that there were chat messages between the applicant/accused and his other male partners which clearly indicated that the accused/applicant was interested in same-sex.

Original complainant submitted that the applicant by suppressing the incriminating facts before the marriage was only interested in financial assistance from the parent of the de facto complainant.

Analysis and Decision

“It is consciously taken note Hindu Marriage is a religious sacrament in which a man and a woman are bound in permanent relationship for a physical, social and spiritual purpose of Dharma, procreation and sexual pleasure.”

Court noted the allegation regarding the bogus job offer of the applicant/accused, further, it was also noted that the accused/applicant was indulging in telephonic sex with his male partners, which revealed that he was gay and interested in homosexuality, hence till date, he did not consummate a marriage with the de facto complainant and disinterested in the opposite sex.

Prima Facie it appeared that the applicant/accused had suppressed the material fact of his private life before marriage and thereby caused a wrongful loss to the parent and the complainant.

Bench expressed that,

No doubt, every individual has its dignity to live in the society. No other person can interfere into lifestyle but that does not mean that a person gets liberty to spoil the life of either of spouse.

Additionally, the Court remarked that the damage caused to the de facto complainant was irreparable and could not be compensated in money.

Prima facie, the Court opined that fraudulent intention by suppressing material fact was noted. Court also stated that prima facie, the applicant committed cheating by causing wrongful financial loss to the parent of the complainant and as well as irreparable damage to the life of the complainant.

Lastly, concluding the matter, Court observed that if released on bail, the applicant/accused will tamper with the evidence, hence no case of pre-arrest bail was made out. [Rohan Pradeep Shinde v. State of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine Dis Crt (Bom) 7, decided on 5-4-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

Shri. Valinjkar, Advocate for the applicant/accused.

Shri. V. A. Kulkarni for the respondent.

De facto complainant present in-person.

Shri. Sagar Kadam Ld. Advocate for the intervener.

Bombay High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of V.M. Deshpande and Amit Borkar, JJ., expressed that a transaction by a natural guardian of a minor with respect to his immovable properties is valid till a Court strikes it down.

It was stated that one Arvindkumar Narayandas Khandelwal had gifted property by registered gift-deed in favour of the complainant. On the date of execution of the said deed, the complainant was three years old and therefore, the gift deed was executed in favour of the complainant through a natural guardian – accused 1.

The Complainant was the absolute owner and in possession of the land given to him by the above-said gift deed. In February 2020 the complainant came to know that the accused 1 had sold out a plot to accused 4 to 6.

It was alleged that after getting knowledge of the said transaction, on enquiry by the complainant, it was revealed that the accused 1 permitted Narayandas Hiralal to seek permission for conversion of gifted property and started using the said property for his personal use without obtaining permission from the Court.

Further, accused 1 transferred the minor’s property to the society established by him without obtaining permission from the competent Court.

It was alleged that accused 1 showed that the complainant had purchased the property from the housing society with the intention to cheat the complainant. Hence, accused 1 committed a criminal breach of the complainant’s trust.

Issues for Consideration:

Whether the natural guardian having executed the sale-deed of property of a minor in favour of a third party and thereafter repurchased part of it, can be prosecuted for offences under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 of the Penal Code, 1860 that too, after more than 35 years from the date of attaining majority by the minor and after more than 48 years from the date of execution of sale-deed?

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court referred to the decision of the Supreme Court in Dhurandhar Prasad Singh v. Jai Prakash University, (2001) 6 SCC 534, wherein the distinction between void and voidable was explained.

Well Settled Principle of Law

Transfer of immovable property by the natural guardian of a Hindu minor far from being void or being a nullity is, in fact, one which fully binds the other party unless set aside by a competent Court. The minor can always enjoy the benefit thereof and enforce the contract after ratifying or accepting the same. Such a transaction is perfectly valid until duly avoided by the minor before a competent Court.

Bench expressed that, the transfer is by the minor as the principal through the agency of his guardian.

Coming to the facts of the present matter, an FIR was registered against the applicants who include the father, mother, sister and purchasers.

To attract Section 420 IPC, there should be deception or fraudulent inducement of a person to deliver property. As a consequence of such cheating, the accused should have dishonestly induced the person who is deceived to deliver such property to any person or to have made, altered or destroyed the whole or any part of a valuable security or anything which is signed or sealed and being capable of converted into a valuable security.

Further, to hold a person guilty of cheating under Section 415 IPC, it is necessary to show that he had the fraudulent or dishonest intention at the time of making the promise with an intention to retain the property and the inducement must be intentional.

As per the facts of the case, it was not the case of non-applicant 2 (complainant) that the applicants by fraudulent and dishonest inducement, deceived him either by making a false or misleading representation to deliver any property or to give consent to retention thereof or intentionally induced him to do or omit to do anything, which he would not do or omits, if he were not so deceived.

As the position of law on the alienation of the property of minor stands, the sale deed in favour of housing society was de jure executed by the minor (non-applicant 2) through natural guardian applicant 1.

High Court opined that it could not be transpired that by execution of sale deed and thereafter, repurchasing part in the form of individual plots by applicants 1 to 3 it cannot be said that the applicants 1 to 3 had altered or tampered with the documents nor it can be said that applicants had obtained documents by practicing deception.

No false documents were executed; hence no question of forgery arose under Section 468 IPC.

Further, the High Court referred to the decision of the Supreme Court in Mohammed Ibrahim v. State of Bihar, (2009) 8 SCC 75.

In Murugan v. Kesava Gounder (Dead), (2019) 20 SCC 633 summarised law as regards alienation of the immovable property by natural guardian holding that, disposal of immovable property of minor by his natural guardian (father) by registered sale-deeds in contradistinction of Section 8(2) are voidable under Section 8(3).

Bench found that the FIR was filed against applicants 1, 2 and 3 in order to cause pressure on them and to cause harassment.

“Criminal proceedings cannot be allowed to be used for settling, coercing or causing harassment to the accused persons.” 

While concluding the matter, Court quashed and set aside the FIR registered with non-applicant 1 for the offences punishable under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and Section 34 of the Penal Code, 1860. [Vasantkumar v. State of Maharashtra, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 712, decided on 28-3-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

In Cr.APL No.91/2021.

Shri S. V. Manohar, Senior Advocate assisted by Shri M.G. Sarda, Advocate for Applicants.

Shri S. M. Ghodeswar, A.P.P. for Non-applicant/State.

Shri Avinash Gupta, Senior Advocate Assisted by Shri Aakash Gupta, Advocate for Non applicant No.2.

In Cr.APL No.312/2021.

Shri H. M. Mohata and Shri S. P. Bhave, Advocates for applicants Shri S. M. Ghodeswar, A.P.P. for Non-applicant/State.

Shri S. P. Bhandarkar, Advocate for Non-applicant No.2.

Case BriefsDistrict Court

Court of XXXII Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Bengaluru: Padmakar Vanakudre, XXXII Addl. CMM, in a case wherein a woman, alleged that she was sexually harassed on the promise to marry, Court found that she was in habit of filing multiple complaints alleging commission of similar offences which is not just a coincidence.

Factual Background

As per the allegations, the Father of the accused had contacted the complainant over the phone and spoke regarding the marriage of his son. The accused met the complainant and said that he would marry the complainant. Thereafter, the accused took the complainant for watching a movie and while during that, the accused forcible touched the private parts of the complainant, hugged and kissed her.

After a few days, the accused sent a message stating, “we cannot proceed” and denied marrying the complainant.

Hence, the accused submitted that she was sexually harassed on promise to marry her and thereby the accused committed an offence punishable under Sections 354-A, 509 and 417 of the Penal Code, 1860.

Analysis and Decision

Court noted that, while stating that the alleged offence occurred in Inox Theater, PW.2 could not state the number of people present in the theatre. Further investigating officer could not produce any material like a movie ticket, etc. to show that the complainant and accused had been to the theatre where the office was alleged and occurred.

Adding to the above, the newspaper in which the advertisement in the matrimonial column was published and seeing which the father of the accused contacted the complainant was also not produced.

Another significant point that created serious doubt in the case of the prosecution was that the incident occurred on 22-6-2019 and the complaint was lodged on 2-7-2019, which created serious doubt in the case of the prosecution.

In the instant case, the complainant did not depose regarding the offence of cheating, and it was not her case that the accused intruded upon her privacy and subjected her to sexual harassment by making a false promise to marry her.

Bench found the accused successfully established that the complainant was in habit of filing similar complaints and the fact that she had made four other complaints making the allegation regarding outrage of modesty, sexual harassment, cheating and rape makes it clear that the accused was not guilty.[State v. Iyer Ramanathan K., CC No. 24888 of 2019, decided on 12-1-2022]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Chandra Dhari Singh, J., granted bail while referring to a catena of Supreme Court decisions with regard to the law on bail.

An application under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 was filed seeking regular bail in an FIR registered for the offences punishable under Sections 406/420/120B of the Penal Code, 1860.

Factual Matrix

In 2014, Auto Web approached the complainant at the office of HDFC Bank Limited for the grant of Credit Facilities in the nature of Inventory Funding and Cash Credit Facilities by the complainant. It was represented that Auto Web was the ‘Authorized Dealer’ of Hyundai and engaged in the business of ‘sales’ and ‘service’ of vehicles manufactured by Hyundai since the year 2013.

Complainants processed and sanctioned the credit facilities on the basis of the request and representation made by the director of Auto Web. Consequent thereto, the loan agreement was executed between the complainant and Auto Web, in relation to the credit facilities.

The stocks of the vehicles (inventory) were the primary security of the complainant, in addition to the cross collateral. Accordingly, from time to time, on the request of Directors, existing facilities were modified/enhances/renewed and other facilities were granted on the basis of the documents. In the balance sheets of Auto-Web, it was shown that the company was generating profits.

As per the last enhancement/renewal, the complainant had sanctioned an amount of Rs 15 Crores towards Inventory funding, Rs 1.50 crores as CC Limit and adhoc limits of Rs 3.50 crore to Auto Web duly utilized said limits sanctioned by the complainant.

Based on the request of the accused persons for disbursal of funds, the complainant used to disburse the amounts directly into the account of manufacturer, whereupon the stocks (cars) got released to the dealer, which stock was hypothecated to the complainant.

Further, in terms of the arrangement between the complainant and Auto Web, proceeds from the sale of the inventory (Cars) were to be credited into the inventory funding account of the dealer for the purposes of repayment of the limits utilized by the dealer.

In 2019, the officials of the Bank noted stress in the accounts of Auto Web and certain gaps in the stock audit report.

After a point of time, the directors of Auto Web failed to regularize the accounts and remained evasive and thereafter started avoiding contact with the bank officials.

In 2020, upon reconciling accounts, it was found that Auto Web utilized a major portion of the credit facilities granted by the complainant towards the purchase of 143 vehicles amounting to Rs 11,40,75,861 from Hyundai.

The Bank found that the vehicles available in stocks was much less than the inventory received from the manufacturer, pursuant to the disbursals made by Complainant. Hence, there was a gap of about Rs 11.45 crores which was not accounted for.

The stock of only 34 Vehicles at 2.35 Crores was found available with accused persons and Vehicles amounting to Rs. 11.45 Crores had been found to been fraudulently misappropriated.

Therefore, the vehicles worth more than 11 crores which were purchased from the funds made available by the complainant had been sold by the accused without crediting the sale proceeds into the inventory funding account of the Bank.

It was clear that the vehicles purchased from the funds of the complainant had been illegally sold without crediting the payments to the complainant and the sale proceeds had been criminally misappropriated.

Accused/borrower illegally removed all the hypothecated vehicles and misappropriated an amount of Rs 13,60,72,600.

The petitioner/applicant was arrested on 5-8-2021, therefore the bail application before the Additional Sessions Judge and the same was dismissed.

Analysis, Law and Decision

In the present matter, the wife of the petitioner/applicant filed an affidavit in pursuance of the order of this Court and disclosed the mode of repayment to the financial institutions at his place/address of residence once he was enlarged on bail.

The investigation had been completed, charge sheet had been filed and the petitioner languished in jail since 5-8-2021.

All the incriminating evidences/materials against the Petitioner/Applicant were documentary in nature and had already been seized by the investigating agency. As per the statutory provisions, the maximum sentence for the offence punishable under Section 420 of the IPC was upto seven years.

Supreme Court in Joginder Kumar v. State of U.P., (1994) 4 SCC 260, had dealt with the contours of Article 21 of the Constitution of India with regard to the arrest of an accused to the effect that the power to arrest cannot be exercised in isolation, and that it must have justification for the exercise of such power, as no arrest can be made in a routine manner on a mere allegation of commission of an offence made against a person, without reasonable satisfaction reached after some investigation as to the genuineness and bonafides of a complaint and a reasonable belief qua the person’s complicity and the need to necessitate such arrest.

Further, in Arnab Manoranjan Goswami v. State of Maharashtra, (2021) 2 SCC 427, Supreme Court reiterated the value of the personal liberty enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court further emphasized that the basic rule behind bail jurisprudence is “to bail not jail”. The Court went on to observe that it is our earnest hope that our courts will exhibit acute awareness of the need to expand that footprint of liberty and use our approach as a decision-making yardstick for further cases for the grant of bail.

High Court observed that the consequences of pre-trial detention are grave and keeping an under trial in custody would necessarily impact his right to defend himself during the trial in as much as he will be clearly denied the right to a fair trial, which was guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Settled Law

The fraudulent and dishonest intention should be present since inception for an offence of Cheating.

In the present case, a non-payment of miniscule amount in comparison to the huge amounts paid over the years had been deliberately given a criminal colour.

Further, it was stated that since the investigation was complete, there was no apprehension of tampering with any documents, influencing witnesses or absconding from the trial. Hence, Court satisfied the triple test laid down by the Supreme Court in P. Chidambaram v. Directorate of Enforcement, (2020) 13 SCC 791.

Bench noted that it was an admitted fact that the evidence to be adduced in the instant case was substantially documentary in nature, which were already in the custody of the Investigation Agency. The petitioner had been languishing in jail for more than five months.

Conclusion

High Court opined that the petitioner should be enlarged on bail.

The Bench held that,

Let the petitioner be released on regular bail pending trial on his furnishing of personal bond in the sum of Rs. 1,00,000/- (Rupees One Lacs only) with two solvent sureties of like amount to the satisfaction of the Trial Court, subject to the further conditions as follows:-

(a) he shall surrender his passport, if any, to the Investigating Officer and shall under no circumstances leave India without prior permission of the Trial Court;

(b) he shall cooperate in the trial and appear before the Trial Court of the case as and when required;

(c) he shall not directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case;

(d) he shall provide his mobile number(s) and keep it operational at all times;

(e) he shall drop a PIN on the Google map to ensure that his location is available to the Investigating Officer;

(f) he shall commit no offence whatsoever during the period he is on bail;

(g) In case of change of residential address and/or mobile number, the same shall be intimated to the Investigating Officer/Court concerned by way of an affidavit.

[Vikas Chawla v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 382, decided on 7-2-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For the petitioner:

Mr Vikas Pahwa, Sr. Advocate with Mr Sumer Singh Boparai, Mr Abhishek Pati, Mr Sidhant Saraswat and Mr Shadman Siddiqui, Advocates

For the Respondent:

Ms Kusum Dhalla, APP for State Mr Tushar Jarwal, Mr Rahul Sateeja, Mr Ambar Bhushan and Mr Anurag Soan, Advocates for BMW Finance/Complainant

Mr Kunal Tandon and Mr Chetan Roy, Advocates for HDFC Bank/ Complainant

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Subramonium Prasad, J., addressed whether the magnitude of offence can be the only criterion for granting bail and further explained the object of bail.

“Object of bail is to secure the presence of the accused at the time of trial, object is this, neither punitive nor preventative, and a person who has not been convicted should only be kept in custody if there are reasons to believe that they might flee from justice or tamper with the evidence or threaten the witnesses.”

Petitioner sought regular bail in an FIR registered under Sections 406, 420, 409, 120B of the Penal Code, 1860.

Factual Matrix

An ex-servicemen filed a complaint stating, ‘Hello Taxi’ and its Directors/Officials and other unknown persons had committed cheating and fraud.  The complainant had received a message and an email from the said company stating that if he invested his money, they would give him a 200% return within 1 year. The Directors called the complainant and invited him to a place where they explained to him about the Company and their plans to expand on the lines of Uber/Ola.

After much insistence, the complainant invested Rs 9,00,000. Further, even the complainant’s friends invested rs 15 to 20 lakhs. It is stated that on the 10th of every month, installment would be sent to the account of the investors, however, he did not receive any instalments and on calling the company a clip was shown to the complainant that the Company’s accounts had been frozen.

Stating that the Complainant and many others had been defrauded of their money, the complaint was filed on the basis of which the FIR was registered.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court on perusal of the charge sheet noted that both the petitioners were involved in the multi-person scam involving more than Rs 200 Crores from the inception of the same and that both were instrumental in misleading the public into investing in the scheme with no intention of returning the money.

It was also noted that more 900 complaints have been made till date pertaining to the scam and the investigation revealed that the petitioner played an integral role, right from inducing the public to siphoning off of the cheated money.

It was added that the gravity of the offences was such that if the petitioners were subsequently convicted, they would be liable to be sentenced to undergo imprisonment for life.

Gravity of the Offence: Can it be the sole ground?

The Bench stated that gravity of the offence cannot be the sole ground to deny bail to the petitioners. Supreme Court’s decision in Sanjay Chandra v. CBI, (2012) 1 SCC 40, was referred.

Therefore, the magnitude of the offence cannot be the only criterion for denial of bail.

Object of Bail

Bench opined that if there is no apprehension of interference in the administration of justice in a criminal trial by an accused, then the Court should be circumspect while considering depriving the accused of their personal liberty.

Mere vague belief that the accused may thwart the investigation cannot be a ground to prolong the incarceration of the accused.

High Court noted that the petitioners were in custody for over a year now and observed that,

“Charge sheet as well as supplementary chargesheet have been filed, and all the evidence available is documentary in nature and in custody of the investigation agency. Whether or not the cheated money was entrusted to the petitioners is a matter of trial and cannot be taken into consideration at this juncture.”

Therefore, Court concluded that continued custody of the petitioner was no longer required and enlarged them on bail.

Conditions laid down for bail

  • Each petitioner shall furnish a personal bond in the sum of Rs 1,50,000 with two sureties of the like amount, one of them should be a relative of the petitioner, to the satisfaction of the trial court
  • Petitioners are directed to reside at their respective address till further orders.
  • Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday the petitioners are directed to report the Police Stations concerned
  • Petitioners should provide their mobile numbers to the investigating officer and keep the same operational at all times.
  • Petitioners shall not tamper with evidence or try to influence the witness
  • In case it is established that the petitioners have tried to influence the witnesses or tamper with the evidence, the bail granted to the petitioners shall stood cancelled.

In view of the above bail applications were disposed of.[Sunder Singh Bhati v. State, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 134, decided on 17-1-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner: Pradeep Singh Rana, Ankit Rana, Abhishek Rana, Nitish Pande, Advocates

For the Respondent: Amit Chadha, APP for the State with SI Shiv Dev, P S EOW

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of A.S. Chandurkar and G.A. Sanap, JJ.,  refused to exercise jurisdiction under Section 482 CrPC for quashing an FIR in offences of cheating and rape in the matter wherein the applicant/accused committed sexual intercourse with the girl against her will in the pretext of the false promise of marriage.

Instant application was made under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to quash and set aside the FIR for the offences punishable under Sections 376 and 417 of the Penal Code, 1860.

Factual Matrix

The crime had been registered on the basis of the report lodged by the non-applicant 2 against the applicant/accused. It was stated that the applicant and the non-applicant 2 got engaged. Due to the second wave of COVID-19 and the lockdown declared by the government, the marriage of fixed between the non-applicant 2 and accused was postponed. Marriage was again fixed for 3-5-2021, however, the non-applicant 2 was detected COVID positive and therefore, the marriage could not be performed.

Later in June, applicant arranged a party wherein non-applicant 2 and her family also enjoyed the party and later went to their respective rooms. Non-applicant 2 went to the room of the applicant with the luggage and saw that applicant was in drunken condition and complained of headache. In view of the said, non-applicant 2 gave a head massage to the applicant.

It was stated that the applicant had sexual intercourse with non-applicant 2 against her consent and under the pretext that non-applicant 2 would be her wife after a few days. Again, the next morning, applicant had sexual intercourse with non-applicant 2 and thereafter, everyone went to their respective destination.

Applicant after the above incident started avoiding non-applicant 2 and after a few days came to her house and stated that non-applicant 2 was addicted to liquor and her mental condition was such that she could not be shown pity.

In view of the above, the applicant refused to perform the marriage with non-applicant 2.

Further, it was stated that, the applicant/accused under the false promise to marry established sexual relations with non-applicant 2 and cheated her.

On the basis of the above, crime was registered.

Investigating Officer stated that the facts presented by non-applicant 2 have been reiterated and even the medical officer submitted that the sexual intercourse cannot be ruled out. Hence prima facie there was material to establish the involvement of the applicant in crime.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Settled Position

Powers under Section 482 of the CrPC can be exercised where the allegations made in the First Information Report even if they are taken on their face value and accepted in their entirety do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused.

If the uncontroverted allegations made in the First Information Report or complaint and the evidence collected in support of the same do not disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the accused, then the accused cannot be made to undergo the rigmarole of the criminal trial.

In the Supreme Court decision of Vineet Kumar v. State of U.P., (2017) 13 SCC 369, it was held that the Court cannot permit prosecution to go on if the case falls in one of the categories as illustratively enumerated by this Court in the case of State of Haryana v. Bhajanlal, 1992 Supp (1) SCC 335.

It is a settled legal position that where there is material to indicate that the criminal proceeding is manifestly actuated with malafide and the proceedings are maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive, the High Court will not hesitate in the exercise of its jurisdiction and discretion under Section 482 of the CrPC to quash the proceedings in the process of exercise of powers under Section 482 of the CrPC. Prima facie evaluation of the facts stated in the FIR and other material is only permissible.

In Court’s opinion, on a prima facie analysis it was found that the conduct of the applicant/accused coupled with the facts stated in the FIR indicated that the applicant under the guise of the false promise to marry in future with the non-applicant 2 established sexual intercourse with the non-applicant 2.

Further, the Bench added that the intention and the motive of the applicant appeared to be sinister. Applicant/accused established the sexual relations against the will of the non-applicant 2 by obtaining her consent under the promise to marry.

Hence, the above-said consent cannot be said to be free consent.

The accused under the pretext of hosting the party on the eve of her birthday took the non-applicant 2 to the Resort and committed sexual intercourse with the non-applicant 2.

It was also the Court’s prima facie opinion that the instant matter not just involved the offence of cheating, infact it will be coupled with the offence of rape.

“…applicant/accused had hidden intention not to marry with the applicant once his sexual lust is satisfied.”

Concluding the matter, the Court denied exercising jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. [Navneet v. State of Maharashtra, Criminal Application (APL) No. 853 of 2021, decided on 22-12-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Shri J. B. Gandhi, Advocate for the applicant.

Mrs S. S. Jachak, Additional Public Prosecutor for non-applicant No.1.

Shri S. V. Deshmukh, Advocate for non-applicant No.2.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-Judge Bench of N.V. Ramana, CJ., Surya Kant* and Hima Kohli, JJ., held that the Bank is not the trustee of the money that a customer deposits in a bank and the same is not held by the former on trust for him. The money so deposited becomes a part of the banker’s funds who is under a contractual obligation to pay the sum deposited by a customer to him on demand with the agreed rate of interest. Such a relationship between the customer and the Bank is one of a creditor and a debtor.

Background

The prosecution case was that the Appellant-N. Raghavender, Branch Manager of Sri Rama Grameena Bank along with accused 2 abused their respective position in the Bank and conspired with accused 3-Treasurer of the Nishita Educational Academy and brother-in-law of Appellant, by allowing withdrawal of amounts up to Rs. 10,00,000 from the account of the Academy in spite of availability of requisite funds for such withdrawal.

The prosecution contested that the Appellant, in his capacity as a Branch Manager, issued three loose-leaf cheques and despite withdrawal of the said amount, the debit was deliberately not entered into the ledger book. The endorsement on the third cheque showed the payment in favour of the accused 3; however, the signature on the cheque did not tally with that of accused 3. The Appellant was further accused of prematurely closing two FDRs for a sum of Rs. 10,00,000 and 4,00,000 respectively, and stood in the name of one B. Satyajit Reddy. The case was referred to CBI for offences under Sections 409, 477(A), and 120B Penal Code, 1860 and Section 13(2) read with 13(1)(c) & (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

The Courts below acquitted all the accused of offences under Section 120B IPC. Further accused 2 and accused 3 were acquitted of all the other charges, while the appellant was held guilty and was convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment along with various fines.

Observation and Analysis

A. Fraudulent and unlawful withdrawal of Rs. 10 Lakhs from Account No. 282 in the year 1994

Noticeably, the record though clearly revealed that issuance of a loose cheque was a departure from the standard operating procedure followed at the Bank, but no evidence had been led that it was an ‘illegal practice’ as in certain contingencies the Bank could issue loose cheques also. Therefore, the Bench stated,

“Since no explicit prohibition on issuing of loose cheques has been proved, the mere fact that the Appellant issued those loose cheques, is not sufficient to conclude that he acted unlawfully or committed a ‘criminal misconduct’.”

The case of the Prosecution rested heavily on the premise that the three cheques in question were passed even though there weren’t adequate funds in account however, the Auditor and the accountant had testified about there being sufficient funds in account throughout which was corroborate the Current Account Ledger for account in question. Therefore, the Bench held that the Bank did not suffer any loss.

With respect to the charge of ‘deceit’, the depositions of the Auditor and Accountant unveiled that though the relevant entries were missing in the Current Account Ledger, they did find a mention in the Officer’s Cash Scroll and the Cashier Payment Register. Noticing the non-production of these relevant ledgers by the Bank, the Bench was of the view that,

“Since the direct and relevant evidence has been withheld, the benefit of doubt for such failure ought to be accorded to the Appellant.”

Similarly, in order to substantiate the charge under Section 477-A IPC, the primary contention of the Prosecution was that despite passing the three cheques, the Appellant did not make the relevant entries into the Current Account Ledger of the account in other to conceal the withdrawals as there were insufficient funds in the account of the Academy. Rejecting that argument, the Bench noted that the expression ‘intent to defraud’ as given under Section of 477-A, contains two elements, deceit and injury. So far as the second element was concerned, no financial injury was caused to the Bank.

B. Unauthorised premature encashment of the two FDRs belonging to B. Satyajit Reddy

The allegation of premature withdrawal was also accompanied by the averment that despite the premature withdrawal, the interests relating to the two FDRs continued to be deposited into savings account of one B. Satyajit Reddy. Notably, the interest amount was transferred from the joint account of the Appellant and his wife which according to the prosecution was to ‘deceive’ the FDR holder into believing that the FDRs were still alive.

Observing that misappropriation with this dishonest intention is one of the most important ingredients of proof of ‘criminal breach of trust’, the Bench opined that relationship between the customer and the Bank is one of a creditor and a debtor and not of a trustee. Further, relying on the following grounds the Bench stated that there was no fraudulent intention as  no financial loss was caused to B. Satyajit Reddy, since:

  • Satyajit Reddy had made no complaint alleging any loss to him;
  • His written requests dated 22.02.1995 and 24.2.1995 for premature encashment of his FDRs and to deposit the amount in the account of the Academy had gone unrebutted;
  • The payment of interest on those FDRs even after pre-mature closure was made by the Appellant from his personal account and no public fund had been divested for such payment;
  • Satyajit Reddy might or might not have got undue monetary gain but definitely he suffered no loss in any manner.

Findings and Conclusion

In the backdrop of above, the Bench opined that in the absence of any reliable evidence that could unfold a prior meeting of minds, the High Court erred in holding that Appellant and other accused orchestrated the transactions in question to extend an undue benefit to Accused 3. Having held so, the Bench added that the appellant acted brazenly contrary to the norms and internal instructions of the Bank.

“Although he was clever enough to not trespass into the prohibited area(s) of Sections 409, 420 and 477-A IPC, he ran the risk of causing financial loss to the Bank.”

Therefore, the Bench held that the actions of the appellant constituted gross departmental misconduct and were unbecoming of a senior Bank Officer and hence, his dismissal from service of the Bank was fully legitimised and the punishment so awarded, was proportionate to the proven misconduct. The Bench, though acquitted the appellant of all the charges, it stated that acquittal would not entitle him for reinstatement. [N. Raghavender v. State of A.P., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1232, decided on 13-12-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together


Appearance by:

For the Appellant: Sidharth Luthra, Senior Counsel

For CBI: Jayant K. Sud, Additional Solicitor General


*Judgment by: Justice Surya Kant

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Anuja Prabhudessai, J., examines whether on mere refusal to marry the offence of cheating be constituted under Section 417 of the Penal Code, 1860.

Additional Sessions Judge had decided that the appellant (referred to as ‘accused’) was guilty of offences punishable under Section 417 of the Penal Code, 1860.

Instant appeal was filed against the above-stated decision.

Prosecutrix had lodged an FIR alleging that the accused had sexual relationship with her with the promise of marriage and he subsequently declined to marry her. Crime against the accused was registered under Sections 376 and 417 of the IPC.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court noted that the prosecutrix was known to the accused and had a sexual relationship for over about 3 years.

Evidence on record revealed that the sexual relationship between the prosecutrix and the accused was consensual.

The accused had been held guilty of the offence under Section 417 IPC solely for the reason that he refused to marry the prosecutrix, hence the question that arose was whether in such circumstances refusal to marry would constitute the offence of cheating?

In the Supreme Court decision of Maheshwar Tigga v. State of Jharkhand, (2020) 10 SCC 108, it was examined whether the prosecutrix had consented to the physical relationship under any misconception of fact with regard to promise of marriage or whether her consent was based on fraudulent misrepresentation of marriage. The Supreme Court has held that under Section 90 of IPC a consent given under a misconception of fact is no consent in the eye of the law. But the misconception of fact has to be in proximity of time to the occurrence and cannot be spread over a period of four years.

High Court stated that the evidence of the prosecutrix did not indicate that she had sexual relationship with the accused under the misconception of fact, with regard to the promise of marriage or that her consent was based on fraudulent misrepresentation of marriage.

Elaborating further, the Bench also noted that there was no evidence to prove that the prosecutrix had consented for physical relationship on a misconception of fact, as stipulated under Section 90 IPC, there mere refusal to marry would not constitute offence under Section 417 IPC.

Therefore, the impugned judgment could not be sustained in view of the above discussion and the appeal was allowed. [Kashinath Narayan Gharat v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 5910, decided on 9-12-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Ms Vrishali Raje for the Appellant.

Mr. S.V. Gavand, APP for Respondent -State

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Getting indulged in Virtual Currencies even after receiving public notices not to deal in the same and further duping several people, the accused applied for bail. Anu Malhotra, J., denied application of the accused concerned by expressing that,

“…alleged commission of economic offences corrode the fabric of democracy and were committed with total disregard to the rights and interest of the nation and were committed by breach of trust and faith and were against the national economy and national interest, whereby a large number of innocent investors had been duped of their hard-earned money…”

Bail was sought through the present application with respect to an FIR under Sections 420, 406, 120B of the Penal Code, 1860.

Applicant along with the co-accused Bharat Verma and other associates were running a Crypto Currency chit fund company and held various meetings to explain their cryptocurrency business and also the alleged high rate of return being given to clients whereby they allegedly induced the complainants to invest in the cryptocurrency in their firm on the assurance of high return up to 20-30% per month.

Adding to the above, it was also stated that complainants were further allured on the assurance of extra commission, if more clients were brought for the investment in the firm.

Complainants gave their hard-earned money but never received the return on their respective investments as assured by the allege persons and later it was learnt that the accused persons including the present applicant closed the office of their firm and fled to Dubai without returning the amount of the complainants.

EOW sought the dismissal of the bail application as the applicant had collected huge amounts from gullible investors.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court noted that the applicant had indulged in trade of cryptocurrency despite public notices issued by the RBI as also issued on cautioning users/holders and traders of virtual currency including bitcoins regarding various risks associated in dealing with such virtual currencies with regulated entities already providing such services having been called upon to exit the relationship within 3 months.

In view of the associated risks, it was decided by the RBI with immediate effect that the entities regulated by the RBI would not deal in VCs or provide services for facilitating any person or entity in dealing with or settling VCs and that such services included maintaining accounts, registering, trading, settling, clearing, giving loans against virtual tokens, accepting them as collateral, opening accounts of exchanges dealing with them and transferring/receipt of money in accounts relating to purchase/ sale of VCs with the transactions entered into by the applicant, coupled with the aspect that apart from the investments received by the applicant prior to the circular dated 06.04.2018, the applicant continued to take investments even after the RBI’s circular dated 06.04.2018 as per the statement of amount invested by complainants along with receipts as submitted by the applicant.

Court expressed that,

“…taking into account the allegations levelled against the applicant of he with his associates having duped the complainants allegedly to the tune of Rs 2.5 Crores in the instant case which were related to an alleged commission of an economic offence, which offences corrode the fabric of democracy and were committed with total disregard to the rights and interest of the nation and were committed by breach of trust and faith and were against the national economy and national interest, whereby a large number of innocent investors had been duped of their hard-earned money, it is not considered appropriate to release the applicant on bail.”

 In view of the above discussion, bail application was dismissed. [Umesh Verma v. State, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 4800, decided on 26-10-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

Mr Raman Gandhi, Mr Anand Kumar Dubey, Advocates with applicant.

For the Respondent:

Ms Aashaa Tiwari, APP for State with SI Deepak Kumar.

Mr Archit Kaushik, Advocate for complainant

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Bharati Dangre, J., addressed a matter wherein a mother was cheated of an amount Rs 16,50,000 by a man who assured her that her son will be released on bail in 15 days.

A complaint was filed wherein she stated that her son 20 years of age was in love with a minor girl and an offence was registered against him by invoking relevant provisions of the Penal Code and POCSO Act. She tried to get him released on bail.

Later, she was introduced to the present applicant through some common friends of her son, who assured her to secure the release of her son on bail and the impression given was that his father was a well-known lawyer and he will guarantee that bail is secured in fifteen days. In the moment of desperation, the Complainant allege that, she parted with an amount of Rs 16,50,000/- in total, sometimes in cash and sometimes by way of cheques. However, when her son could not walk free and when inquiries were made with the Applicant, who gave evasive response, she lodged the complaint, which resulted in invocation of Section 420 of the IPC.

Prima facie, the offence was of ‘Cheating’, it seemed that cheating is for the purpose of manipulation of Court proceedings and what had been assured was that the settlement will be worked and the term ‘settlement’ can very well be appreciated in light of the nature of the proceeding.

It is not uncommon feature that when the matter is pending before the particular Court, the parties indulge into transaction under the guise of ‘settlement’ and sometimes it so happens, even without the knowledge of counsel on record, who may prefer to argue the case on its merit. This tendency of guaranteeing the decision to come in favour of one party or the other, amounts to maligning a particular Judge and at large, the institution itself by giving an impression that justice can be bought and the Prosecutors and Judges can be sold.

 For the above-stated, High court held that vexatious attempts are rampant and the same need to be nipped in the bud.

Bench observed that the offence punishable was under Section 420 IPC, the nature of allegations levelled against applicant complainant was duped for an amount on assurance that bail will be sought by effecting ‘settlement’ makes the offence grave and the particular fact disentitled the applicant to be released on bail.

Hence, application was rejected. [Minol Anil Hudda v. State of Maharashtra, Criminal Bail Application no. 920 of 2021, decided on 21-09-2021]


Advocates before the Court:  

Mr A.I.Mookutiar with Mr Adnan A. Mookutiar i/b Mr Sanjay Bhatia for the Applicant.

Ms J.S.Lohokare, APP for the State.

Kerala High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Shircy V., J., dismissed the bail application of one Sessy Xavier, the infamous fake lawyer. The Bench stated,

“The illegal activities adopted by her that too before the court of law has to be dealt with an iron hand. If leniency is taken, just considering the fact that she is a young lady, it will be a shame for the whole Judicial system and would shake the confidence of the public in judicial system.”

Background

The allegation against the petitioner was that the petitioner, who was not a law graduate, had fraudulently approached the Bar Association, Alappuzha with someone else’s enrolment number and secured membership.  She had also submitted applications before the civil courts and thus her name was also included in the panel of Commissioners and was appointed as Commissioner in so many cases. She was also said to have appeared before the Sessions courts for the accused as State brief. Shockingly, she had contested the election of the Bar Association and was elected as an office bearer of the Association.

Thus, apprehending arrest in the case registered against her under Sections 417, 419 and 420 of the IPC, the petitioner had approached the Court seeking anticipatory bail. The definite case of the petitioner was that she never appeared as an Advocate or attended the courts as an Advocate wearing the uniform prescribed for a lawyer. But she joined only as a law intern in the office of an Advocate at Alappuzha.

Eligibility of an Advocate

Section 24 (1) (c) of the Advocates Act, 1961 says that a person who has obtained a degree in law is qualified to be admitted as an Advocate, if he fulfills the conditions narrated therein. Therefore, only a person holding a Law Degree is entitled to get his name enroled in the roll as an Advocate and only after enrolment as an Advocate, one could practise the profession of law as an Advocate as reflected in the Act. Admittedly, this petitioner was not holding a degree in law and so she never enrolled as an Advocate before the Bar Council of Kerala. Rejecting the argument of the petitioner she had only joined the office of a Senior Advocate as law intern, the Bench stated the same appeared to be a false statement as revealed from the records.

Opinion and Analysis

Noticeably, the petitioner never completed her course in LL.B, though she was a student at Law Academy Law College at Thiruvananthapuram for a short period but clandestinely produced the enrolment number of another Advocate and the said number was exhibited by her as her roll number in all her activities as an Advocate before the courts. Hence, prima facie, the petitioner had not only cheated the Bar Association, the District judiciary, the general public, but also the entire judicial system.

“Doubtless that the gravity of the offences alleged against her is grave and serious in nature…The allegations levelled against her are highly serious and sensitive having grave repercussions in the society.”

The held that the Advocates’ first responsibility is towards their clients and then to the courts. So, misrepresenting or presenting as an Advocate before a client and obtaining his/her brief as if she is an Advocate, itself would amount to cheating towards the public. Noticing that she had also functioned as the librarian of the Bar Association and she was in charge of the records of the association, the Bench directed the Bar Associations to cross check and verify with the Bar council before admitting a new member, so that such incidents could be prevented in future. The Bench stated,

“If leniency is taken, just considering the fact that she is a young lady, it will be a shame for the whole judicial system and would shake the confidence of the public in judicial system.”

Conclusion

Since, application submitted by her for admission before the association was also found missing from the records along with some other applications submitted the investigating agency was directed to go deep into the matters so as to ascertain what were the offences committed by the petitioner apart from the offences she had been booked by the prosecution.

Hence, holding that to probe into those details, definitely custodial interrogation of the petitioner was essential and inevitable, her bail application was dismissed. [Sessy Xavier v. State of Kerala, Bail Appl. No. 5868 of 2021, decided on 17-09-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance by:

For the Petitioner: By Adv Roy Chacko

For the State of Kerala: Adv. P.K. Vijayakumar, Sr. Pp Smt. Sreeja V

For Addl. Respondent 3: Adv. B Pramod

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where the detenu was accused of committing a series of criminal offences from October, 2017 to December, 2019 such as cheating in the guise of providing good profit to people by investing their money in stock market and collecting huge amounts to the tune of more than Rs. 50 lakhs, the bench of RF Nariman and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ quashed the detention and held that in such a case,

“… at the highest, a possible apprehension of breach of law and order can be said to be made out if it is apprehended that the Detenu, if set free, will continue to cheat gullible persons. This may be a good ground to appeal against the bail orders granted and/or to cancel bail but certainly cannot provide the springboard to move under a preventive detention statute.”

The case that revolved around Section 3(2) of the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act, 1986[1], led to a wider discussion on the true import of “public order” and the Court held that a possible apprehension of breach of law and order cannot be a ground to move under a preventive detention statute.

The Court explained,

“When a person is preventively detained, it is Article 21 and 22 that are attracted and not Article 19. Further, preventive detention must fall within the four corners of Article 21 read with Article 22 and the statute in question. To therefore argue that a liberal meaning must be given to the expression ‘public order’ in the context of a preventive detention statute is wholly inapposite and incorrect. On the contrary, considering that preventive detention is a necessary evil only to prevent public disorder, the Court must ensure that the facts brought before it directly and inevitably lead to a harm, danger or alarm or feeling of insecurity among the general public or any section thereof at large.”

Public order is defined in the Explanation to Section 2(a) of the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act to be a harm, danger or alarm or a feeling of insecurity among the general public or any section thereof or a grave widespread danger to life or public health.

Explaining that the expressions ‘law and order’, ‘public order’, and ‘security of state’ are different from one another, the Court said that,

“Mere contravention of law such as indulging in cheating or criminal breach of trust certainly affects ‘law and order’ but before it can be said to affect ‘public order’, it must affect the community or the public at large.”

Further, while it cannot seriously be disputed that the Detenu may be a “white collar offender” as defined under Section 2(x) of the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act, yet a Preventive Detention Order can only be passed if his activities adversely affect or are likely to adversely affect the maintenance of public order.

In the case at hand, what was alleged in the five FIRs pertained to the realm of ‘law and order’ in that various acts of cheating are ascribed to the Detenu which are punishable under the three sections of the Penal Code set out in the five FIRs. A close reading of the Detention Order showed that the reason for the said Order is not any apprehension of widespread public harm, danger or alarm but is only because the Detenu was successful in obtaining anticipatory bail/bail from the Courts in each of the five FIRs. In such circumstances, the Court held that,

“If a person is granted anticipatory bail/bail wrongly, there are well-known remedies in the ordinary law to take care of the situation. The State can always appeal against the bail order granted and/or apply for cancellation of bail. The mere successful obtaining of anticipatory bail/bail orders being the real ground for detaining the Detenu, there can be no doubt that the harm, danger or alarm or feeling of security among the general public spoken of in Section 2(a) of the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act is make believe and totally absent in the facts of the present case.”

[Banka Sneha Sheela v. State of Telangana, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 530, decided on 02.08.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice RF Nariman

Know Thy Judge| Justice Rohinton F. Nariman

For petitioner: Advocate Gaurav Agarwal

For State: Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar


[1] Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Boot-leggers, Dacoits, Drug-Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders Land-Grabbers, Spurious Seed Offenders, Insecticide Offenders, Fertiliser Offenders, Food Adulteration Offenders, Fake Document Offenders, Scheduled Commodities Offenders, Forest Offenders, Gaming Offenders, Sexual 1 Offenders, Explosive Substances Offenders, Arms Offenders, Cyber Crime Offenders and White Collar or Financial Offenders Act, 1986

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of V.K. Jadhav and Shrikant D. Kulkarni, JJ., observed that,

“…in the case of cheating, the intention of cheating right from the inception is important.”

Instant matter was directed towards quashing the FIR registered for the offence punishable under Sections 420, 323, 504, 506 of Penal Code, 1860.

Respondent 2 dealt used to sell onion collected from small farmers in the wholesale market on commission. Allegedly the applicants had purchased a huge quantity of onion. Respondent 2 submitted that the amount to the tune of Rs. 30,77,431/- towards the price of purchased onion remained unpaid.

Even after repeated demands for the said amount, applicant did not pay the said amount.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court expressed that the power of quashing the criminal proceeding should be exercised very sparingly and with circumspection and that too in a rarest of rare cases.

Court is not justified in embarking upon the inquiry as to the reliability or genuineness or otherwise of the allegations made in the F.I.R. or the complaint and that extraordinary or inherent powers do not confer an arbitrary jurisdiction on the Court to act according to its whim and caprice. 

Court noted that respondent 2 did not dispute about the filing of the complaints against the deceased for having committed the offence punishable under Section 138 NI Act.

Bench was surprised to note that the allegations were made against the deceased alone with the specific contention that he was the proprietor and in that capacity, he had issued the cheques for the balance amount.

Adding to the above, Court observed that it was not stated in those complaints that deceased Selvakumar, being a power of attorney, had issued the cheques in favour of respondent 2 for the balance amount on behalf of the firm and therefore, since he being the signatory of the cheques, the complaints under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 came to be filed against him.

After the death of the deceased, respondent 2 changed his stand and instituted the suit wherein the applicants have been implicated as defendants.

In Court’s opinion, respondent 2 had filed the complaint with some ulterior motive and mala fide intention.

“…lodging of the complaint in the police station with some mala fide intention is nothing but an attempt to convert a civil dispute into a criminal dispute.” 

In Supreme Court’s decision of Anand Kumar Mohatta v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2019) 11 SCC 706, it was ruled that where a civil dispute is converted into a criminal case to harass the accused, the exercise of power to quash criminal proceedings warranted.

Dispute in the present matter was purely of civil nature and it did not constitute a criminal offence.

Hence, Court opined that the F.I.R. lodged by respondent 2 is nothing but an abuse of the process of the court and the same is necessary to be quashed and set aside in the interest of justice.

In view of the above discussion, criminal application was disposed off. [Thirumalai Prabhu R v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 874, decided on 18-06-2021]


Advocates who appeared in this case:

Advocate for Applicants: Mrs. Sonawane Sunita G.

APP for Respondent No. 1-State: Mr. G.O. Wattamwar

Advocate for Respondent No. 2: Mr. Rahul R. Karpe

Case BriefsDistrict Court

Abhinav Pandey, MM, Tis Hazari Court directs Delhi Police to lodge FIR and investigate allegations of fraud in crypto transactions.

Complainant sought directions to the police for registration of FIR and commencement of investigation, into the offences alleged by the complainant to have been committed by the accused.

It was submitted by the complainant that he deals in the sale and purchase of bitcoins, and while doing that he always takes proof of identity before entering into any trade transactions and that he also pays taxes on the gains that he makes in such trade.

Further, it was added that the accused had purchase bitcoins on several occasions, and he used to transfer funds to the bank account of the complainant, in return for which, complainant used to transfer bitcoin to the accused’s virtual wallet on the online transaction portal “Binance”.

Complainant submitted that his bank accounts were frozen on the ground of his transaction in bitcoins to be marked as illegal transactions.

On confronting accused on the legality of the money paid by the accused against bitcoins, the accused admitted that the payments were a ‘scam’ and further he refused to return the bitcoins transferred by the complainant.

Complainant states that he was cheated by the accused and Court intervention was sought in view of the same.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Bench on perusal of the facts and submissions of the matter opined that its jurisdiction was made out in view of the provisions of Section 179, 180 and 182 of CrPC, and due to the absence of any material filed by the police to suggest to the contrary.

CRUX

Whether the complainant himself was carrying out a lawful activity, and whether he himself has come to this Court with clean hands?

Bench noted that RBI in its’ circular dated 6-04-2018 had cautioned the users, holders and traders of virtual currencies while directing the banks and financial institutions regulated by it, not to deal in virtual currencies and not to provide services eg. maintaining accounts, registering, trading, settling, clearing, giving loans and accepting VCs as collaterals, opening accounts of exchanges dealing with them etc., for facilitating any person or entity in dealing with virtual currencies.

Though, the above-stated circular was set aside by the Supreme court in its decision of Internet & Mobile Assn. of India v. Reserve Bank of India, (2020) 10 SCC 274.

But another fact observed by the Court was that the above decision of the Supreme Court did not adjudicate upon the legality of the virtual currency and there was no specific legislation too, as on date, specifically dealing with the legality and regulation of cryptocurrency.

Further, the Bench remarked that the cryptocurrency transaction will comply with the general law in force including PMLA, IPC, FERA, NDPS Act, Tax laws, and with the RBI regulations regarding KYC (know your customer), CFT (Combating of funding of terrorism) and AML (Anti-money laundering requirements).

KYC is the responsibility of the intermediary and cannot be left to the individuals be it institutional transfer or person to person trade, with the intermediary shying away from the responsibility to ensure legitimacy of the source of money and establishment of real identity of the parties.

BINANCE

Responsibility of ‘BINANCE’ is to ensure adequate safeguards against activities such as ‘mixing’ and other random cryptocurrency exchanges, which change the identity of bitcoins being held by a virtual wallet, making tracing of any illegal proceeds and any bitcoins, purchased through it, extremely difficult.

Legal and Regulatory Escape: Is there an existence?

Proceeding to make some more significant observations, Court stated that the opportunistic activities, aimed at exploiting the lack of legal regulation, with utter disregard to the identity of parties, sources and destination of funds, and illegal purposes e.g. terrorism, narcotics, illegal arms, cross-border illegal transactions for which it may be used, still do not enjoy any route for legal and regulatory escape.

Therefore, the aforementioned aspects have to be investigated in detail, and any negligence or complicity of the online VC transaction portal “BINANCE” in perpetration of hiding the proceeds of crime, and in the funding of any illegal activities through cryptocurrency has to be inquired into.

Culpability of accused

Prima facie the screenshots of the conversation with the accused imply the knowledge of the accused regarding the source of money.

Bench noted that the accused was already an accused in two other cybercrime FIRs, hence,

it is quite possible that apart from being involved in the aforesaid cyber offences, the accused may have hid the factum of illegality of money from the complainant, thereby inducing him to deliver bitcoins in exchange of money, while being aware of the fact that it may, sooner or later come under the radar of the banking system, and so it is better to get rid of the same, purchase bitcoins and multiply/ mix transactions to hide its source, and to encash it from ‘safe haven’ countries, where there is absence or lack of regulations.

 As per the Court, there was a possibility that the complainant was unaware of the designs of the accused and fell into his trap.

But complainant’s possibility of giving his consent in the entire gamut of activities could not be ruled out since he did not reveal the complete facts to the Court as he went on accepting the amount from different accounts which may not have been a mere lack of caution or due diligence.

In one of the WhatsApp conversations annexed alongwith the complainant, the accused is seen advising the complainant to clear his bank accounts immediately on receipt of any consideration against sale of bitcoins, and the complainant fails to be alarmed, thanks the accused for such advice, and admits that he immediately converts any such consideration back to cryptocurrency.

 Yet, the complainant on being fully aware of the legal consequences has approached the Court.

While concluding the matter, Bench held that cognizable offence under Sections 403, 411 and 420 of Penal Code, 1860 were prima facie committed and the real culprits need to be identified.

Bench made another crucial observation that the possibility of the complainant, accused and the online intermediary, being hand in glove cannot be denied too, whereby the accused may have been involved in hacking/cyber-crimes against unsuspecting persons, and transferring the same immediately to the complainant against bitcoins, thus creating a chain of transactions difficult to follow up till the amount is invested in any illegal activity, or is withdrawn in a ‘safe haven’ jurisdiction. The exchange intermediary may either be involved, or may just be keeping its eyes shut to all such activities carried out through it.

Lastly, the Court stated that it is possible that any of the said persons/intermediaries may come out to be innocent or just negligent, hence there is a need for police investigation to be extremely technical.

Registration of FIR does not mean that the accused is to be automatically arrested, and the concerned provisions of CrPC shall apply.

Status of investigation to be informed on 6-08-2021. [Hitesh Bhatia v. Kumar Vivekanand, Case No. 3207 of 2020, decided on 1-07-2021]


Counsel for the Complainant: Mr. Bharat Chugh and Advocate Sai Krishna.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Answering the “hotly debated” question as to in what circumstances and categories of cases, a criminal proceeding may be quashed either in exercise of the extraordinary powers of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution, or in the exercise of the inherent powers of the High Court under Section 482 CrPC, the bench of Indu Malhotra* and Ajay Rastogi, JJ has held that in the matter of exercise of inherent power by the High Court, the only requirement is to see whether continuance of the proceedings would be a total abuse of the process of the Court

“… the exercise of inherent power of the High Court is an extraordinary power which has to be exercised with great care and circumspection before embarking to scrutinise the complaint/FIR/charge-sheet in deciding whether the case is the rarest of rare case, to scuttle the prosecution at its inception.”

The Court observed that in order to exercise powers under Section 482 CrPC, the complaint in its entirety shall have to be examined on the basis of the allegation made in the complaint/FIR/charge-sheet and the High Court at that stage was not under an obligation to go into the matter or examine its correctness. Whatever appears on the face of the complaint/FIR/charge-sheet shall be taken into consideration without any critical examination of the same. The offence ought to appear ex facie on the complaint/FIR/charge-sheet and other documentary evidence, if any, on record.

“The Criminal Procedure Code contains a detailed procedure for investigation, framing of charge and trial, and in the event when the High Court is desirous of putting a halt to the known procedure of law, it must use proper circumspection with great care and caution to interfere in the complaint/FIR/charge-sheet in exercise of its inherent jurisdiction.”

The Court was dealing with a case where a property, belonging to 2nd Respondent was mortgaged with State Bank of Patiala and the total legal liability payable to the Bank was Rs. 18 crores. In order to clear the said dues, 2nd respondent hatched a conspiracy with a broker so as to cheat and defraud the appellants/complainants and to further misappropriate the amounts paid by the complainants as part of the deal, the 2nd respondent breached the trust of the appellants/complainants deliberately and falsely stating to the appellants/complainants that the 2nd respondent would be liable to pay a sum of Rs. 25.50 crores to the complainant if the deal is not carried forward by the 2nd respondent.

While an FIR was lodged in the case at hand for offence of cheating, arbitral proceedings were also initiated at the instance of the appellants/complainants.

On a careful reading of the complaint/FIR/charge-sheet, the Court noticed that the ingredients of the offences under Sections 406 and 420 IPC cannot be said to be absent on the basis of the allegations in the complaint/FIR/charge-sheet.

“… whether the allegations in the complaint are otherwise correct or not, has to be decided on the basis of the evidence to be led during the course of trial. Simply because there is a remedy provided for breach of contract or arbitral proceedings initiated at the instance of the appellants, that does not by itself clothe the court to come to a conclusion that civil remedy is the only remedy, and the initiation of criminal proceedings, in any manner, will be an abuse of the process of the court for exercising inherent powers of the High Court under Section 482 CrPC for quashing such proceedings.”

The Court noticed that the facts narrated in the present complaint/FIR/charge-sheet indeed reveal the commercial transaction but that is hardly a reason for holding that the offence of cheating would elude from such transaction. In fact, many a times, offence of cheating is committed in the course of commercial transactions and the illustrations have been set out under Sections 415, 418 and 420 IPC. So far as initiation of arbitral proceedings is concerned, there is no correlation with the criminal proceedings.

The Court, hence, held that the issue involved in the matter under consideration is not a case in which the criminal trial should have been short-circuited. The High Court was not justified in quashing the criminal proceedings in exercise of its inherent jurisdiction. The High Court has primarily adverted on two circumstances,

(i) that it was a case of termination of agreement to sell on account of an alleged breach of the contract and

(ii) the fact that the arbitral proceedings have been initiated at the instance of the appellants.

The Court held that both the alleged circumstances noticed by the High Court are unsustainable in law.

[Priti Saraf v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 206, decided on 10.03.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice Indu Malhotra

Appearances before the Court by:

For appellants: Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi,

For Second Respondent: Senior Advocate P. Chidambaram,

For State: Additional Solicitor General  Aishwarya Bhati

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Sandeep K. Shinde, J., addressed a matter wherein the appellant challenged the conviction and sentence passed by Additional Sessions Judge for his conviction under Section 417 of Penal Code, 1860.

In the present matter, it has been stated that the appellant was convicted under Section 417 of the Penal Code, 1860.

Prosecutrix while working on the construction site be-friended with the accused and in a short span, they engaged in sexual relations, more than one time.

Further, she alleged that the appellant did not disclose his marital status but presuming, he would marry her, she submitted to his sexual desires on more than one occasion, by the time she learnt that the appellant was married, she was pregnant.

In 1990, prosecutrix lodged a complaint about the offence punishable under Section 376 IPC, pending investigation, prosecutrix delivered a baby girl.

Trial Court upon appreciating the evidence of the prosecutrix, recorded the finding, that it was a consensual act and, thus, acquitted the accused of the offence punishable under Section 376 of the IPC. Trial Judge, however, convicted the accused of the offence punishable under Section 417 of the IPC and sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for six months.

Analysis and Decision

Bench while analysing the facts and circumstances of the case noted that prosecutrix submitted in her testimony that she was living on construction site and be-friended with the accused, whereafter they fell in love with each other.

Further, Court observed that the evidence of the prosecutrix did not suggest that the appellant made a false promise to marry her. Hence, it cannot be said that the appellant lured the prosecutrix to engage in sexual relations with him on the false promise of marrying her.

Question for consideration:

Whether conviction of the accused under Section 417 of the IPC is sustainable?

“…here was no ‘promise to marry’ nor intentional deception by misrepresentation or deceitfulness practised before establishing physical relationship with prosecutrix.”

In fact prosecutrix’s evidence suggested that she presumed that the appellant was not married and further assumed that he would marry her.

Therefore, the absence of ‘dishonest concealment of fact’, which is an essential ingredient of offence, within the meaning of explanation, appended to Section 415 of IPC, a conviction under Section 417 of IPC is not sustainable.

Lastly, Court concluded by stating that the impugned conviction and sentence by the Additional Sessions Judge be quashed and set aside. [Jagdish Raghunath Mankar v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 269, decided on 24-02-2021]


Advocates who appeared before the Court:

Advait M. Sethna appointed advocate with Pravan A. Gohil with Eshaan Saroop for the appellant.

Sharmila Kaushik, APP for the Respondent- State.


Read more:

[Section 417 IPC] Punishment for cheating.—Whoever cheats shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

[Section 415 IPC] Cheating.—Whoever, by deceiving any person, fraudulently or dishonestly induces the person so deceived to deliver any property to any person, or to consent that any person shall retain any property, or intentionally induces the person so deceived to do or omit to do anything which he would not do or omit if he were not so deceived, and which act or omission causes or is likely to cause damage or harm to that person in body, mind, reputation or property, is said to “cheat”.

Explanation.—A dishonest concealment of facts is a deception within the meaning of this section.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: N. Anand Venkatesh, J., while addressing a matter expressed that:

“…a transaction hit by lis pendens would not result in the same being rendered void or illegal or of no effect. It will only be subject to the result of the litigation and the purchaser would be bound by the same.”

The instant case was with regard to the property originally belonging to a partnership firm which was subsequently dissolved and the same was said to have been vested on the de facto complainant by virtue of decree. Thereafter the building in the property was demolished to put up new construction and a joint venture agreement was also entered into with a developer.

But since the agreement did not go through the property continued to be vacant.

Prosecution’s case was that the petitioner’s vendor had trespassed into the property and had created documents and managed to obtain a patta.

Petitioner knew about the dispute between the parties and the pending criminal case against the vendor, yet they entered into the sale agreements and agreed to purchase properties including the property belonging to respondent 2. Ultimately, a registered sale Deed was executed in favour of the petitioners by undervaluing the property, after which the petitioners started taking steps to take possession of the property and on coming to know of the same, respondent 2 gave a complaint on the basis of which an FIR was registered against the vendor and petitioners.

Analysis and Decision

Bench noted that the petitioners came into the scene in 2016 when they entered into a sale agreement with the vendor Mr Iqbal. On agreeing to purchase certain items of properties which also included the subject property for a total sale consideration of Rs 4 crores.

Further, it was seen that out of the total sale consideration of Rs 4 crores, more than ninety percent of the sale consideration has been paid by way of RTGS transfer from the bank account maintained by the Petitioners. Thereafter, the patta has also been transferred in favour of the Petitioners. That apart, there was also a name transfer by the Corporation in the property tax records from the name of Mr Iqbal to the names of the Petitioners, respectively.

FIR was registered for the offences of making a false document and cheating. Without undertaking the exercise of a mini investigation, it had to be seen whether the offence was made out against the petitioners or not?

Dispute was with regard to the right and title over the subject property between respondent 2 and the vendor of the petitioners.

Vendor of the petitioners was positively claiming a right and title over the subject property and he believed that he was the owner of the property.

Further, it was observed that at the time when the sale deed was executed, in favour of the

Petitioners, and at the time when the parties entered into an agreement of sale, the suit filed by the 2nd Respondent had been dismissed for default, hence no compelling material was available that could have prevented the petitioners from purchasing the subject property.

Property was free from any encumbrance after it was purchased by Mr Iqbal in the year 2010.

It is now a well-settled position of law that even when a document is executed by a person claiming a property which is not his, that does not by itself satisfy the requirements of a false document as defined under Section 464 IPC. If it does not satisfy the requirements of Section 464 IPC, there is no forgery and if there is no forgery, automatically neither Section 467 nor Section 471 IPC will be attracted. 

For the above position of law, Supreme Court referred to the decision in Mohd. Ibrahim v. State of Bihar, (2009) 8 SCC 751, Sheila Sebastian v. R. Jawaharaj, 2018 (3) MLJ (Crl) 39.

Even in the extreme case of branding the Petitioners as speculative buyers of the subject property, knowing fully well about the dispute in title over the subject property, that by itself does not amount to an offence of cheating, forgery and making of false document.

Allegations made by respondent 2 did not make out any offence against the petitioners and the continuation of investigation against the petitioners would be an abuse of process of law, which requires interference of the Court.

Hence in view of the above discussion, present petition was allowed.[Dr Subba Somu v. Inspector of Police, 2021 SCC OnLine Mad 877, decided on 01-03-2021]


Advocates who appeared before the Court:

For Petitioners: Mr ARL. Sundaresan, Senior Counsel and Mr R. Umasuthan

For 1st Respondent: Mr A. Natarajan, State Public Prosecutor for R1

Asstd: by Mr M/Mohamed Riyaz Additional Public Prosecutor

Mr G. Mohanakrishnan Mr S. Janarthanan for R 2

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Gautam Chourdiya, J., upheld the decision of the trial court in a matter with regard to Section 379 Penal Code, 1860.

The present appeal was filed under Section 374(2) of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 challenging the legality, validity and propriety of the Judgment passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, whereby the appellant stands convicted under Section 379 of the Penal Code, 1860.

Complainant was working as a Secretary at Gram Panchayat and on the same day after the meeting, he went to the bank and withdrew a sum of Rs 12, 250. Thereafter, while he was returning home, on the way accused and co-accused met him and all of them together went to have mutton and consumed liquor.

From there, they reached the place near nursery where they stopped the motorcycle and both the accused started quarrelling with the complainant and after threatening him of life, assaulted upon him by stone and committed marpeet with him, as a result of which sustained injuries on his body and became unconscious.

After the above incident, accused and co-accused looted the amount of Rs 12,250 from complainant’s possession and fled from there.

Complainant lodged FIR against the accused and co-accused. Accused was arrested and achrge sheet was filed against the accused persons under Sections 307, 394 read with 34 and 397 of IPC.

Trial Court acquitted the co-accused of the said offence and convicted and sentenced the accused.

Counsel for the appellant submitted that the appellant had been falsely implicated in the case. No witness had seen the incident. Complainant lodged the FIR after the delay of 2 days. Hence the impugned judgment of conviction and order of sentence deserves to be set aside and the appellant be acquitted of the charges.

Bench held that in the totality of facts and circumstances of the present case, it stands proved beyond all reasonable doubt that it is the accused who looted complainant’s money. No explanation was given by the accused regarding the seizure of money from him and he did not claim anywhere in his statement that the said amount belonged to him.

It is a well settled principle of law that statements of police officers cannot be discarded or looked with suspicion merely because they are involved in the investigation.

If their statements are found free from the suspicion of falsity and have a ring of truth, they can safely be relied upon.

In the instant case, defence did not allege that the investigating officer was in any way inimical to the accused or was having any ill-will against him.

With regard to the delay in lodging FIR, the same happened due to the complainant was admitted in the hospital in an unconscious condition.

In view of the above-stated, High Court opined that conviction of the appellant under Section 379 IPC awarded by the trial court was just and proper warranting not interference by the Court.

The appeal being without any substance was liable to be dismissed. [Raju v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2020 SCC OnLine Chh 433, decided on 19-10-2020]