Filing 2nd complaint when first pending a disturbing trend: HC

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 16

Taking cognisance of the tendency of filing the “second” complaint even when the “first” is pending, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asserted that the “disturbing trend” was affecting the justice delivery system. The Bench recently ruled that the practice prima facie amounted to abusing the process of the court and directed the subordinate judiciary to come down “very heavily” on such attempts if its view was found to be true.

The directions by Justice Anil Kshetarpal came on a petition by Rajesh Kumar against the State of Haryana and another respondent. The case has its genesis in a complaint alleging cheating, criminal conspiracy and other offences filed under Sections 420, 406, 506 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code against Kumar and four others.

The complainant had alleged that he was induced to enter into an “agreement to sell”. He, later, came to know that Kumar was not having the power of attorney to sell an owner’s share of land in Kurukshetra district.

Justice Kshetarpal observed the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) prima facie came to the conclusion that the matter was civil in nature and the ground was not made out for exercising powers under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. A Magistrate, under the provision, can direct the registration of an FIR and also direct proper investigation in a case.

Justice Kshetarpal observed the complaint remained pending. But the complainant filed a fresh complaint for cheating, criminal breach of trust and other offences under Sections 406, 420 and 506 of the IPC — impleading only the petitioner as an accused. The same story on agreement to sell was repeated.

But the Chief Judicial Magistrate, this time, sent the complaint to the Station House Officer concerned under Section 156 (3) and an FIR was registered on its basis. The petitioner filed a revision petition against the order, but that was dismissed by Kurukshetra Additional Sessions Judge.

Justice Kshetarpal added it was apparent that the complainant filed two complaints, one in 2016 and the second in 2018. But the filing of the first complaint was not disclosed in the second. Even the pendency of the first complaint on the “same subject matter” was not disclosed.

“This is clearly a very disturbing trend and in the considered view of this court, prima facie amounts to the abuse of the process of the court. This court is not giving any final opinion, however, if the prima facie view of this court is correct, the courts must come down very heavily on such attempts to abuse the process of the court…” Setting aside the earlier orders, Justice Kshetarpal directed re-decision on the complaint’s maintainability and stayed proceedings pursuant to the FIR till decision by the CJM.

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