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Roopchand and anr. Vs. the State - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1966CriLJ1367
AppellantRoopchand and anr.
RespondentThe State
Excerpt:
.....failed to cruch sugarcane at the bel of the complainant and instead supplied sugarcane to the co-operative cane society under an agreement dated 17.10.1962 at a premium. 4. the magistrate who tried the case, as well as the learned sessions judge who heard the appeal, accepted the prosecution story and held that the defence put forward by the accused was false. makes it abundantly clear that where property is obtained by an accused by misrepresentation it will be safe to infer that his intention was to deceive the other person into the belief that he would perform his part of the contract. illustration f to section 415 clearly brings out the circumstances in which an accused person may be held guilty of cheating in respect of a future act......future conduct. in my opinion the offence of cheating is committed if property is obtained by a false statement or misrepresentation. it is no doubt true that to constitute deception the false statement must be of an existing fact. but a statement as to future conduct which amounts to misrepresentation of fact is none the less a statement of an existing fact.in edginton v. fitzmaurice (1885) 29 ch d 459 at p. 483. bowen l.j. stated the law thus:there must be a mis-statement of an existing fact; but the state of a man's mind is as much a fact as the state of his digestion. it is true that it is very difficult to prove what the state of a man's mind at a particular time is, but if it can be ascertained it is as much a fact as anything else. a misrepresentation as to the slate of a man's.....
Judgment:
ORDER

D.P. Uniyal, J.

1. This criminal revision has been filed by two persons who have been convicted under Section 420 I.P.C. and each of them sentenced to six months' R.I. and a fine of Rs. 250, in default three months' further R.I.

2. On 3.5.1962 the applicants entered into an agreement with the complainant by which they agreed to crush their sugarcane at his Bel (sugarcane crusher) and supply sugarcane juice to him. On this representation they obtained an advance of Rs. 800 from the complainant. The supply of sugarcane was to begin in October 1962 and was to continue until March 1963. The prosecution case was that the applicants failed to cruch sugarcane at the Bel of the complainant and instead supplied sugarcane to the Co-operative Cane Society under an agreement dated 17.10.1962 at a premium.

3. The applicants pleaded not guilty. They asserted that they had crushed sugarcane at the complaintant's Bel and had supplied sugarcane juice worth Rs. 143 and that the balance of the money had been paid to the complainant in cash. The applicants denied having supplied sugarcane to the Co-operative Society.

4. The Magistrate who tried the case, as well as the learned Sessions Judge who heard the appeal, accepted the prosecution story and held that the defence put forward by the accused was false. It was found that the applicants had entered into agreement with the Co-operative Cane Society on 17.10.1962 and had made supplies to the said Society on 9.12.1962 and 2.2.1963. The applicants were found guilty and convicted and sentenced as said above.

5. The learned Counsel for the applicants contended that the breach of contract committed by the applicants was of a civil nature and no criminal offence was committed by them. It was said that the liability incurred by the accused under the agreement made in favour of the complainant was of a civil nature and conviction of the applicants was unwarranted. It was next contended that the deception envisaged under Section 415 I.P.C. must be a dishonest intention which implies a statement of intention at the time of the execution of the contract and not a promise as to future conduct.

6. The argument that the breach of agreement committed by the accused gave rise only to a civil liability and the complainant should have taken recourse to civil proceedings to enforce his right is, in my opinion, wholly misconceived. Money obtained by a person through deception may give rise to civil liability, but that does not and cannot mean that he is immune from a criminal charge even if the prosecution succeeds in proving that he intended to dishonestly obtain money by misrepresentation.

7. The main argument of the learned Counsel was that the intention to deceive on the part of the accused must exist at the time of the alleged contract and that dishonest intention cannot be inferred from his future conduct. In my opinion the offence of cheating is committed if property is obtained by a false statement or misrepresentation. It is no doubt true that to constitute deception the false statement must be of an existing fact. But a statement as to future conduct which amounts to misrepresentation of fact is none the less a statement of an existing fact.

In Edginton v. Fitzmaurice (1885) 29 Ch D 459 at p. 483. Bowen L.J. stated the law thus:

There must be a mis-statement of an existing fact; but the state of a man's mind is as much a fact as the state of his digestion. It is true that it is very difficult to prove what the state of a man's mind at a particular time is, but if it can be ascertained it is as much a fact as anything else. A misrepresentation as to the slate of a man's mind is, therefore, a mis-statement of fact.

8. It follows that every promise by a person as to his future conduct implies a statement of intention about it. Therefore, if a person makes a false representation regarding his future conduct and thereby obtains property from another, the misrepresentation made by him would be of an existing fact and would fall within the mischief of Section 415 I.P.C. The explanation to Section 415 says that a dishonest concealment of facts is a deception within the meaning of this section. If an accused person makes a false representation that he would deliver goods to the complainant on a future date which he knows he has no intention of doing; and thereby obtains property from the complainant, it would be reasonable to infer that the accused was acting dishonestly. In the instant case the performance of the contract by the accused was to start from October 1962. In complete violation of the agreement to supply sugarcane juice to the complainant from October the accused started supplying sugarcane to the Co-operative Cane Society, The circumstances in which the contract was to be performed was an important' element in judging the intention of the accused. The fact that they deliberately broke the contract and diverted the supply of sugarcane to the Cane Society is proof positive of their dishonest intention. The defence taken by the accused was not that they were unable to make the supply for reasons beyond their control, or that the price of sugarcane which had been paid by the complainant was inadequate. On the other hand, they pleaded, and pleaded falsely, that they had made part of the supplies according to the agreement and had returned the balance of the money to the complainant. The false statement made by the accused touching the performance of the contract discloses; their state of mind, both at the time of the agreement and at the time when the performance was to be made.

9. The language of Section 415 I.P.C. makes it abundantly clear that where property is obtained by an accused by misrepresentation it will be safe to infer that his intention was to deceive the other person into the belief that he would perform his part of the contract. Illustration F to Section 415 clearly brings out the circumstances in which an accused person may be held guilty of cheating in respect of a future act. It is in these words:

A intentionally deceives Z into a belief that A means to repay any money that Z may lend to him and thereby dishonestly induces 2 to lend him money, A not intending to repay it. A cheats.

Illustration G makes the legal position further clear. That illustration reads thus:

A intentionally deceives Z into a belief that A means to deliver to Z a certain quantity of indigo plant which he does not intend to deliver and thereby dishonestly induces Z to advance money upon the faith of such belief. A cheats.

10. On the facts proved by the prosecution in this case it has been established that money was obtained by the applicants from the complainant by committing deception and making a false representation that the accused meant to deliver sugarcane juice to him which they never intended to do. The facts found against the accused go to show that they never intended to supply sugarcane juice to the complainant and had obtained money from him by false representation.

11. The learned Counsel for the appellants referred to the case of R. v. Den (1955) 2 All ER 806 at p. 808 and contended that a statement of intention about future conduct whether or not it be a statement of existing fact is not such a statement as will amount to 'false pretence' in criminal law. The statement of the law as to false pretence in England had no application in India. The English law is narrower in its implication than the Indian law as given in Section 415 of the Indian Penal Code. Under the Indian Penal Code a promise as to future conduct not intended to be kept amounts to cheating as much as a false representation as to present intention. I am in respectful agreement with the view expressed by Mr. Justice James in Nadir Ali v. State of U.P. : AIR1960All103 that a false representation by an accused with respect to future conduct amounts to cheating in terms of Section 415 I.P.C.

12. The learned Counsel invited my attention to a large number of authorities. I do not propose to cite them because the facts of the present case are entirely distinguishable from the facts on the basis of which those cases came to be decided.

13. On a consideration of the facts and circumstances of this case I am of the opinion that the prosecution had fully succeeded in bringing home the charge to the applicants.

14. I, therefore, dismiss the revision and uphold the conviction and sentences passed on the applicants. The applicants are on bail. They shall surrender to their bail and serve out the sentences awarded to them.


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