Sunday, 11 October 2015

Whether dismissal of complaint case for non-appearance of complainant will amount of discharge of accused?

Equivalent Citation: 1996CivilCC592, 1996CriLJ29, 1996(2)MhLj463
IN THE HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY
Criminal Application No. 1061 of 1994
Decided On: 17.08.1995
Appellants:Narayandas S/o Gulabchand Agrawal 
Vs.
Respondent: Rakesh Kumar S/o Nem Kumar Porwal
Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
R.M. Lodha, J.

Criminal - non-appearance - Sections 249 and 256 (1) of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 - dismissal of complaint for non-appearance of complainant in warrant case would result in discharge - it would be final Order - dismissal of complaint for non-appearance of complainant in summons case would result in acquittal - it would also be final Order - in absence of any specific provision in Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 Magistrate cannot revive said Orders - in present case making of application by complainant for restoration of complaint was wholly misplaced and misconceived - it cannot be said to be done in good faith - Order passed by Trial Court on that application restoring and reviving complaint was erroneous and without jurisdiction - further proceedings pursuant thereto were also non est and void.



ORDER
1. Heard the learned counsel for the parties on the application for condonation of delay in filing the appeal on 31-8-1994 against the order of acquittal dated 21-9-1991 passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Nagpur, in Criminal Complaint No. 518/1990 Mr. V. V. Bhangde, the learned counsel for the applicant, submits that the applicant filed the Criminal Complaint No. 518 of 1990 under Section 138 of Negotiable Instrument Act, 1881 against the respondent No. 1 on 20-2-1990 and in the said complaint summonses were served on the accused. When the case was fixed for 21-9-1991 and at the time it was called, the applicant had gone to inform his counsel but the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Nagpur, in the absence of the complainant/applicant and his counsel dismissed the complaint since neither of them was present at the time the case was called. Mr. Bhangde further submits that on that very day the complaint moved an application for restoration of the complainant which was allowed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Nagpur, on that very day and the proceedings in the complaint continued and the accused/non-applicant No. 1 participated in the proceedings. According to Mr. Bhangde, on 19-6-1992 the accused/non-applicant No. 1 moved an application before the trial Court that the complaint which was dismissed on 21-9-1991 by the Court for want of prosecution could not have been restored and the further proceedings are non-est and, therefore, the proceedings should be dropped. That application which was filed by the non-applicant accused No. 1 on 19-6-1992 was contested by the applicant on various grounds and the trial Court rejected the said application filed by the non-applicant No. 1/accused on 21-7-1992. Mr. Bhangde further submits that aggrieved by the order dated 21-7-1992, the accused/non-applicant No. 1 herein filed criminal revision before the 3rd Additional Sessions Judge, Nagpur, on 26-8-1992 and the said criminal revision application was allowed by the 3rd Additional Sessions Judge, Nagpur, on 23-6-1994 and at that time it occurred to the complainant that he ought to have filed an appeal against the order of acquittal dated 21-9-1991 and according to Mr. Bhangde, thereafter the present appeal has been filed on 31-8-1994. The learned counsel for the applicant thus submits that the applicant was prosecuting his remedy in good faith and bona fide and, therefore, delay in filing the present appeal against the order of acquittal should be condoned and appeal should be heard on merits.
2. Opposing the submissions made by Mr. Bhangde, on the other hand, the learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of the non-applicant No. 1/accused submitted that despite the settled position of law, the complainant contested the application filed by the accused on 19-6-1992 on untenable grounds and, therefore, it cannot be said that the complainant was prosecuting the remedies in good faith. Mr. Sen, the learned senior counsel for the non-applicant No. 1 submits that the complainant did not act in good faith and only to harass the accused/non-applicant No. 1, this appeal against the order of acquittal has been filed almost after 33 months. Mr. Sen, the learned senior counsel also contended that the cause shown by the applicant is not sufficient cause and, therefore, the application deserves to be dismissed. In support of his contention, the learned senior counsel relied upon the decision of the Apex Court in Ravindra Nath v. Sivakami, MANU/SC/0465/1972 : AIR1972SC730 . The learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of the non-applicant No. 1 also brought to my notice that the complainant has already filed civil suit for recovery of the disputed amount in the year 1992 and the said civil suit is registered as Special Civil Suit No. 268/1992 and the same is pending in the Court of 3rd Jt. Civil Judge, Senior Division, Nagpur, and the next date fixed in the matter is 14-9-1995.
3. The facts are not in dispute. It is an admitted case that the complaint was filed by the applicant under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instrument Act, 1881 against the non-applicant No. 1/respondent on 20-3-1990 and the summonses were issued to the non-applicant No. 1/accused. The matter was fixed on 21-9-1991 and when it was called by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, neither the complainant nor his counsel appeared and, therefore, the Chief Judicial Magistrate by the order dated 21-9-1991 dismissed the complaint for want of prosecution and discharged the accused. The complainant made an application for restoration of the complaint on 21-9-1991 though it was not maintainable in law and still the trial Court allowed the said application on that very day and proceeded with the complaint. As a matter of law after the order was passed on 21-9-1991 dismissing the complaint for want of prosecution and accused was discharged, the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Nagpur, became functus officio in the matter but on the misconceived application filed by the complainant, the complaint was restored. Though the accused on restoration of the complaint appeared before the Court on some dates of hearing, and it was found by the accused/non-applicant No. 1 that the proceedings before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Nagpur, pursuant to the complaint was non est. Accordingly an application was made for dropping the proceedings since the said proceedings were void and non est. This application filed by the non-applicant No. 1 was rejected by the Chief Judicial Magistrate on 21-7-1992. Obviously the order passed by the trial Court on 21-7-1992 was erroneous and when the accused/non-applicant No. 1 challenged the said order in criminal revision, the revisional Court set aside the erroneous order passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate and set right the illegality committed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate by passing the order dated 23-6-1994. The wisdom dawned on the complainant then and this criminal appeal against order of acquittal has been preferred by him before this Court on 31-8-1994 along with an application for condonation of delay. The question is whether in view of the aforesaid facts, can it be said that the complainant acted bona fide and in good faith firstly in making the application on 21-9-91 for restoration of complaint and secondly in opposing the application filed by the accused/applicant on 19-6-1992 and the remedy prosecuted by the complainant was bona fide and in good faith and the delay for the period from 21-9-91 to 18-6-92 and then 19-6-1992 to 31-8-1994 deserves to be condoned or not.
4. Section 2 sub-section (h) of the Limitation Act defines good faith and according to it nothing shall be deemed to be done in good faith which is not done with due care and attention.
5. In Maj Genl. A. S. Gauraya v. S. N. Thakur, MANU/SC/0185/1986 : 1986CriLJ1074 the Apex Court held as under :
"9. Section 249 of the Criminal P.C. enables a Magistrate to discharge the accused when the complainant is absent and when the conditions laid down in the said section are satisfied. S. 256(1) of the Criminal P.C. enables a Magistrate to acquit the accused if the complainant does not appear. Thus, the order of dismissal of a complaint by a Criminal Court due to the absence of a complainant is a proper order. But the question remains whether a Magistrate can restore a complaint to his file by revoking his earlier order dismissing it for the non-appearance of the complainant and proceed with it when an application is made by the complainant to revive it. A second complaint is permissible in law if it could be brought within the limitations imposed by this Court in Pramatha Nath Taluqdar v. Saroj Ranjan Sarkar, MANU/SC/0149/1961 : AIR1962SC876 filing of a second complaint is not the same thing as reviving a dismissed complaint after recalling the earlier order of dismissal. The Criminal P.C. does not contain any provision enabling the criminal Court to exercise such an inherent power.
10. In B. D. Sethi v. V. P. Dewan, MANU/DE/0105/1970 : 7(1971)DLT162 , a Division bench of the Delhi High Court held that a Magistrate could revive a dismissed complaint since the order dismissing the complaint was not a judgment or final order. In para 9, the Court observes as follows :
"9. As long as the order of the Magistrate does not amount to a judgment or a final order there is nothing in the Criminal P.C. prohibiting the Magistrate from entertaining a fresh application asking for the same relief on the same facts or reconsidering that, order. During the course of the proceedings, a Magistrate has to pass various interlocutory orders and it will not be correct to say that he has no jurisdiction to reconsider them ....."
We would like to point out that this approach is wrong. What the Court has to see is not whether the Code of Criminal Procedure contains any provision prohibiting a Magistrate from entertaining an application to restore a dismissed complaint, but the task should be to find out whether the said Code contains any provision enabling a Magistrate to exercise an inherent jurisdiction which he otherwise does not have. It was relying upon this decision that the Delhi High Court in this case directed the Magistrate to recall the order of dismissal of the complaint. The Delhi High Court referred to various decisions dealing with S. 367 (old Code) of the Criminal Procedure Code as to what should be the contents of a judgment. In our view, the entire discussion is misplaced. So far as the accused is concerned, dismissal of a complaint for non-appearance of the complainant or his discharge or acquittal on the same ground is a final order and in the absence of any specific provision in the Code, a Magistrate cannot exercise any inherent jurisdiction."
From the aforesaid judgment of the Apex Court no doubt is left and rather law has been settled that dismissal of a complaint for non-appearance of the complainant in the warrant case would result in discharge and that would be final order and similarly the dismissal of the complainant for non-appearance of the complainant in the summons case would result in acquittal and the same would be final order and in the absence of any specific provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the Magistrate cannot revive the said order. That being the settled legal position, making of an application by the complainant on 21-9-1991 for restoration of the complaint was wholly misplaced and misconceived and therefore cannot be said to be done in good faith and the order passed by the trial Court on that application restoring and reviving the complaint was also not only erroneous but without jurisdiction and further proceedings pursuant thereto were also non est and void. However, the matter did not end there. This legal position was brought to the notice of the complainant as well as before the trial Court by the accused/non-applicant No. 1 by moving an application on 19-6-1992 that proceedings should be dropped since the said proceedings are non est after the order was passed on 21-9-1991 dismissing the complaint in default for non-appearance of the complainant and the accused was discharged. The trial Court erroneously rejected the said application but the mistake was set right by the revisional Court by passing the order on 23-6-1994. At no stage the complainant, despite the settled position of law laid down by the Supreme Court challenged the order of acquittal dated 21-9-91 nor he conceded that the proceedings before the trial Court after 21-9-1991 after the dismissal of the complaint for want of prosecution and discharge of the accused, was without jurisdiction and rather contested the application filed by the accused on 19-6-1992 tooth and nail on various grounds including that the accused participated in the proceedings after the complaint was restored on 21-9-1991 and thus acquiesced and also that the order passed by the trial Court on 21-9-1991 reviving the complaint was proper and proceedings in the matter could not be dropped. It is thus clear that the complainant took chance by contesting the application filed by the accused on 19-6-1992 on all possible grounds and it was only after the criminal revision was allowed by the 3rd Additional Sessions Judge, Nagpur, holding that the proceedings in the complaint case after 21-9-1991 were without jurisdiction and the first order passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate on 21-9-1991 discharging the accused was restored, that the complainant filed the present appeal before this Court on 31-8-1994 against the order dated 21-9-1994 passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Nagpur, dismissing the complaint for want of prosecution and discharging the accused as an order of acquittal. Conduct of the complainant, therefore, cannot be said to be bona fide and in good faith in prosecuting the matter when he took every chance to contest the application filed by the accused on 19-6-1992. Merely because the said application was erroneously rejected by the trial Court on 21-7-1992 and the mistake was set right by the revisional Court on 23-6-1994, the complainant cannot take any advantage of the erroneous order passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate on 21-7-1992 and it cannot be said that the complainant/applicant was prevented by sufficient cause in filing this appeal in time against the order of acquittal.
6. It may also be noted here that the complainant has already filed a civil suit for recovery of the disputed amount involved in the cheque which was dishonoured and the said civil suit is pending in the Court of 3rd Jt. Civil Judge, Senior Division, Nagpur, and the next date fixed in the matter is 14-9-1995.
7. Taking the conspectus of the circumstances aforesaid into consideration, I am of the view that the applicant has not been able to show the sufficient cause for filing this appeal against the order of acquittal belatedly.
8. The application for condonation of delay, therefore, has no merit and is liable to be dismissed and is accordingly dismissed. Consequent upon the dismissal of the application for condonation of delay, the special leave for criminal appeal against the order of acquittal also stands rejected.
9. Petition dismissed.
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