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Nityanand A. Shetty Vs. Vikram Jayantilal Bangdiwala and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Application No. 658 of 1981
Judge
Reported in1982(1)BomCR513
ActsIndian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 - Sections 420; Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1973 - Sections 203, 245 and 482; Constitution of India - Article 227
AppellantNityanand A. Shetty
RespondentVikram Jayantilal Bangdiwala and anr.
Appellant AdvocateS.V. Shetty and ; G.A. Joseph, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateV.A. Thorat, Adv. for respondent No. 1; K.H. Chopda, P.P.
Excerpt:
.....proceedings - accused made telephone call to complainant and told him that he was officer from indian airlines and ordered for supply of groundnut oil - complainant supplied tins of groundnut oil to indian airlines canteen presuming that call was from indian airlines itself - complainant did not contend that accused had made any false representations - complainant's firm presumed that call was from indian airlines so they supplied goods - transaction purely of civil character - held, criminal proceedings initiated was abuse of process of court and quashed. - - that at best a perusal of the entire proceedings shows that even bharat distributors proceeded on the footing that the transaction between the bharat distributors and the accused who was the 2nd defendant therein was of a..........referred to as 'the complainant') that he carries on business in the firm name and style of bharat distributors. that his firm deals in oils. that on the 3rd of july, 1980 he received a telephone-call from the accused. that the accused told him that he was an officer from the indian airlines and that the complainant should supply 200 tins of postman brand refined groundnut oil to the indian airlines canteen. that the accused had agreed to make payment for the goods against delivery. that on the 4th of july 1980, he, the complainant supplied 109 tins. that on the 10th of july, 1980 he supplied another 91 tins. that on the 10th of july, 1980 he, the complainant furnished a consolidated bill for 200 tins. that on that very day the accused gave a post-dated cheque. that on seeing this.....
Judgment:

N.K. Parekh, J.

1. The petitioner in this matter is the original accused in case No. 108/S of 1980 on the file of the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate, 22nd Court, Andheri, Bombay (for brevity's sake the petitioner herein is referred to as 'the accused'). Being aggrieved by the proceedings in the said case, the petitioner has filed the present petition for quashing and/or setting aside the said proceedings.

2. It is the case of one Vikram Jayantilal (for brevity's sake hereinafter referred to as 'the complainant') that he carries on business in the firm name and style of Bharat Distributors. That his firm deals in oils. That on the 3rd of July, 1980 he received a telephone-call from the accused. That the accused told him that he was an officer from the Indian Airlines and that the complainant should supply 200 tins of Postman Brand Refined Groundnut Oil to the Indian Airlines Canteen. That the accused had agreed to make payment for the goods against delivery. That on the 4th of July 1980, he, the complainant supplied 109 tins. That on the 10th of July, 1980 he supplied another 91 tins. That on the 10th of July, 1980 he, the complainant furnished a consolidated bill for 200 tins. That on that very day the accused gave a post-dated cheque. That on seeing this post-dated cheque the complainant was taken aback for, he thought that he was dealing with Indian Airlines and not with the accused individually. That on the very next day i.e. on the 11th of July, 1980 the complainant wrote to the Manager of the Indian Airlines, Old Airport, that the accused had telephoned to M/s. Bharat Distributors, stating that 'he was of Indian Airlines Canteen and that Bharat Distributors should supply 200 tins of refined Postman G. N. Oil. That Bharat Distributors presumed that the call was from the Indian Airlines itself and accordingly had supplied 200 tins of oil. That when they received the post-dated cheque from the said Shetty, they made enquiries only to learn that the said Shetty was a contractor of the Indian Airlines Canteen and that he was about to leave this contract work within a short time. That Bharat Distributors were therefore, Doubtful whether the cheque given by the accused could be encashed and that Indian Airlines should assists Bharat Distributors to see that their dues are recovered. 'That on the 30th of August, 1980 Bharat Distributors filed a suit in the Bombay City Civil Court at Bombay, being Summary suit No. 4780 of 1980 against the Indian Airlines (Who was the 1st defendant) and the accused (as the 2nd defendant). In this suit Bharat Distributors claimed the price of the goods from Indian Airlines and in the alternative from 2nd defendant i.e. the accused. After the filing of the suit Bharat Distributors adopted proceedings for attachment before judgement and pursuant to a warrant issued, Bharat Distributors proceeded to attach the movables belonging to the accused and lying in the canteen of the Indian Airlines. However, it was discovered at that time that the accused's contract with the Indian Airlines had already terminated and no execution was hence levied. That Bharat-Distributors then made enquires and learnt that the accused had entered a contract with the Shipping Corporation of India. That they hence obtained another warrant for attachment before judgement. That on the 26th of September, 1980 they attached the moveables of the accused lying and being in the canteen of the Shipping Corporation of India. That on the 21st of October, 1980 the accused applied for raising of the attachment, inter alia, contending that an aggregate of about Rs. 4,00,000/- was due to him by the Shipping Corporation of India and Indian Airlines put together. On the 29th of October, 1980 this attachment before judgement proceedings were heard when a statement was made on behalf of the accused that he will not recover a sum of Rs. 45,000/- lying with the Indian Airlines. On this statement being made the Court was pleased to raise the attachment. That a Summons for judgement was thereafter taken out. This Summons for judgement was contested by the accused. After hearing both the parties, the Court was pleased to make an order requiring the accused to deposit a sum of Rs. 43,000/- in the said proceedings. Being aggrieved by the said order, the accused preferred a revision application in the High Court.

3. It is also the complainant's filed case that pending these civil proceedings, the complainant filed a criminal complaint in the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate, 22nd Court, Andheri, Bombay. This criminal complaint came to be numbered as Case No. 108/S of 1980. In this criminal complaint, the complainant averred (a) that the accused had made a false representation that he was an officer of the Indian Airlines; (b) that the accused had undertaken to make payment in cash of the goods; (c) that it is on this representation that Bharat Distributors had supplied the goods; (d) that they discovered that the representations were false. In this complaint, the accused was inter alia charged for having committed an offence under section 420 of the Indian Penal Code. After verifying the complaint, the learned Magistrate issued process. Being aggrieved by these criminal proceedings, the original accused /petitioner has now filed the present petition.

4. At the hearing of this petition, Mr. Shetty, the learned advocate for the accused, narrated the facts pertaining to the civil proceedings, viz., the filing of suit in the City Civil Court, the proceedings adopted regarding attachment before judgement, the undertaking given by the accused in the said attachment before judgement proceedings, the taking out of the Summons for judgement and the order made thereon and the fact of the accused having preferred a revision against the said order. Mr. Shetty contended that a perusal of the complaint in Suit no. 4780 of 1980 must go to shows that the case of Bharat Distributors whereof the complainant is a partner, is two fold; (a) that the goods were ordered for and on behalf of the Indian Airlines, and that the Indian Airlines was responsible to make payment; (b) that in any event the accused having bought these goods, the accused was liable to make payment in respect of the price of the goods and/or in the alternative on the footing of the cheque which he had given and was returned dishonoured. Mr. Shetty argued that the cause of action was crystalised in paragraph 6 of the plaint, and a perusal of the averments made therein shows that the case against the accused is one of principal to principal. That throughout the entire civil proceedings wherein affidavits and counter-affidavits have been filed, it is not the case of Bharat Distributors of which the complainant is a partner that any false representation was made by the accused and/or that the accused had procured goods by deception. That at best a perusal of the entire proceedings shows that even Bharat Distributors proceeded on the footing that the transaction between the Bharat Distributors and the accused who was the 2nd defendant therein was of a civil nature.

5. Mr. Shetty urged that having filed this suit, Bharat Distributors through its partner Vikram Jayantilal Bangdiwala who is the complainant herein filed a complaint on the 1st September, 1980. In this complaint the complainant tried to make out a case that the accused had made false representations to Bharat Distributors and on the basis of these presentations had managed to get the goods from Bharat Distributors. That it is on the basis that the complainant had charged the accused with an offence under section 420 of the Indian Penal Code. That was never the burden of the song when he filed the civil suit. As a matter of fact, at the time of the filing of this complaint, no mention was made of these civil proceedings which were then pending. Mr. Shetty urged that this itself must satisfy the position that the complaint was filed with an oblique motive, and if process has been secured on this complaint, it was merely to twist the arm of the accused, and must tantamount to gross abuse of the process for he Court.

6. Mr. Shetty further urged that Bharat Distributors had written a letter dated 11th July, 1980 to the Manager, Personal services, Indian Airlines. That a copy of this letter has been annexed as Exh. 'B' to the plaint. That what has been stated in this letter is as follows :---

'We have to bring to your kind notice that there was a phone call from Mr. Shetty of Indian Airlines Canteen on or about 3-7-1980 saying that we should supply then 200 tins of refined Postman G.N. Oil. We have presumed that this call is from Indian Airlines itself and hence supplied 109 tins on 4-7-1980 vide our Bill No. 11923 and another 91 tins on 9-7-1980 vide Bill No. 17301.'

That in this letter, Bharat Distributors have gone on to add that they have come to know that Mr. Shetty, the accused was about to leave the contract and that Indian Airlines should assist Bharat Distributors in recovering their dues. That the paragraph quoted above clearly shows that no representations were made by the accused, as is being tried to make out in the complaint. On the other hand, their own letter is to effect that 'we have presumed that this call is from Indian Airlines itself'. That this must believe the very basis on which the complaint is filed. That this must make it obvious that the averments made in the complaint are not true averments but have been calculated to make out a case to pressurise the accused. That if the complainant has obtained process on these basis then this must make it clear that there has been a gross abuse of the process of the Court.

7. Mr. Shetty urged that the transaction is clearly of a civil nature. The filing of this complaint has been with a view to pressurise the accused in making the payment. The process has also been taken by suppressing the true facts and if there has been abuse of the process of the Court, then the proceedings need to be quashed.

8. Mr. Thorat, the learned Advocate for the respondent No. 1 urged that it is the case of respondent No. 1 that the accused had obtained the goods by making false representations. That it is true that in the plaint filed in the Bombay City Civil Court, no mention has been made about these representations but this was because it was not necessary. That it is only when the 1st-respondent wanted to file a complaint, it was necessary to set this out, and accordingly it was incorporated in the complaint. That on reading the complaint as a whole the averments made therein must be deemed to have made out a prima facie case against the accused, and if, in these circumstances, the learned Magistrate has proceeded to issue a process, the same would be in order. Mr. Thorat argued that the learned Magistrate could have discharged the accused pursuant to the provisions of section 203, but he has not done so. That it is now open for the accused to appear before the learned Magistrate and satisfy him that no case has been made out and the accused can be discharged under section 245 of the Criminal Procedure Code. That in view of this, Court will not exercise its powers under section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, or under Article 227 of the Constitution of India.

9. Considering the rival contentions, it must be stated that it is now well settled that the powers under section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code and/or under Article 227 of the Constitution must be sparingly used and in the rarest of cases. Hence, in view of the facts what needs to be considered in this matter is, is the complaint being used to pressurise the accused. In other words, is the process in the Criminal Court being abused. Now, this context, it may be stated that it is an admitted position that in the letter dated 11th July, 1980 addressed by Bharat Distributors (of which firm the complainant is a partner) to the Manager, Personal Services, it is not the complainant's story that the accused had made any false representations. On the other hand, the complainant's firm makes it clear that it is the firm who presumed that the call was from Indian Airlines and hence they supplied the goods. This must put an end to all pretensions that the accused had made certain representations, to the complainant's firm and /or that acting on false representations, the accused had secured the goods. Furthermore, even in the suit that has been filed in the City Civil Court, there is not an averment made in the plaint that the accused who was the 2nd defendant, had made any representation to the firm of M/s. Bharat Distributors and/or that relying or acting on the said representations, the said firm or its partners had delivered the goods. Mr. Shetty, the learned Counsel for the accused, even went to the length of saying that even in the affidavits that came to be filed in the proceedings of the Summons for judgment, there is no such case made out that the accused made any such representations. This position has not been refuted by the 1st respondent's advocate. If this be so, then looking to these proceedings, it is abundantly clear that the proceedings in the Criminal Court have been instituted with a view to pressurise the accused. The transaction is purely of a civil character and a twist has been given to the same in the complaint to give it colour and make out that there has been a criminal offence.

10. If this be the position, the question must now arise is will this Court exercise its powers under section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Court and/or Article 227 of the Constitution. In this context, it would be necessary to look out to the ratio laid down in the case of Trilok Singh and other v. Satya Deo Tripathi, 1980 Criminal Law Journal 822. In that case the dispute between the parties related to the purchase of a truck by the complainant (respondent). A hire-purchase agreement was entered into between the -respondent and a Finance Corporation accused (appellants). The loan was payable in monthly instalments. According to the agreement, on default of any one instalment the financier had the right to terminate hire-purchase agreement even without notice and seized the truck. The complainant's case was that only a blank form was got signed by him. His further case was that on default of the third instalment the truck was forcibly seized and removed by the appellants. The respondent filed a complaint against the appellant in this connection for certain offences. After enquiry the Magistrate directed the issue of Summons. The appellants moved an application under section 482, Criminal Procedure Code. Their case in the nutshell was that the respondent's case that they had committed any offence was absolutely false and the proceedings should be quashed. Considering the facts, the Court held that the proceedings initiated was clearly an abuse of the process and that it was a case where any process ought not to have been directed to be issued against the accused and that it was a suitable case where the High Court should have exercised its inherent powers and quashed the proceedings.

11. A similar position accrues here. The matter is purely of a civil nature and the proceedings have been initiated in the Magistrate's Court. Bearing in mind the aforesaid ratio, it must be held that the proceedings initiated is clearly an abuse of the process of the Court and must now be quashed.

12. In the circumstances, the rule is made absolute. Stay if any is vacated.


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