Does Criminal Complaint for settling Civil Dispute is an abuse of process of law?

Does Criminal Complaint for settling Civil Dispute is an abuse of process of law?

The Supreme Court bench comprising of the Justices Aruna MishraS Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah passed an order in an appeal against a verdict of the Delhi High Court. The main issue raised in the matter before the Supreme Court was whether the filing of a criminal complaint about settling the civil dispute amounts to an abuse of process of law or not?

Facts of the Case

A person (Respondent No. 1) agrees into an agreement to sell in respect of house instituted at WZ1179, Plot No. 11, Rani Bagh, Shakur Basti, Delhi with two other people (Respondent No. 2 & 3) for the consideration of Rs.54 lakhs. The full payment was done to the agreement sellers.

On 31.07.2013 respondent No. 1 found out that the said property was mortgaged to Andhra Bank. He settled the dues with the Bank for the amount of Rs. 16,93,059/- and also paid the registration charges of sale deed of Rs. 7,81,941/-. Thereafter the Respondent No. 1 filed a complaint in the Police Station against Respondent No. 2 & 3  under Section 420/34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. The first preliminary inquiry conducted suggested that a prima facie case was made out in the complaint.

After the investigation was completed, it was concluded by the sub-inspector Yogender Kumar that a fresh process of preliminary inquiry will be started on the same set of facts. It was said that that the Respondent paid the amount of mortgage and registration charges to the Bank, despite the knowing the said facts on 31.07.2013. Therefore, the FIR was not taken into action and was dismissed.

The respondent No. 1 filed a writ petition before the High Court praying for directions to the Commissioner of Police to take action against the concerned Officials for not registering the FIR, and a direction to the officials to register an FIR.

The High Court allowed the petition whereupon the Commissioner of Police and other concerned officials approached the Supreme Court in appeal.

What was Held?

The High Court directed that the Commissioner of Police would be advised to resort to course correction by directing that the earlier preliminary inquiry be taken to its logical conclusion and the steps in that regard by taken within two weeks.

The High Court has also observed that the complainant shall also be entitled to costs quantified at Rs. 25,000/- to be paid by the State.

The Supreme Court was of the opinion that the criminal proceedings initiated by respondent No. 1 are nothing but an abuse of the process of law for settling a civil dispute.

For settling a civil dispute, the criminal complaint was filed, which is nothing but an abuse of the process of law.

The Supreme Court in the judgment not only quashed the impugned judgment and order of the High Court on 13.01.2017 but also quash the criminal proceedings pending before the learned Magistrate.

Therefore, the Supreme Court stated that the filing of the criminal complaint about settling civil suit amount to an abuse of a process of law.

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