Simultaneous filling of a Civil Complaint cannot be a ground to quash a criminal complaint: Odisha High Court

Where the factual foundation for an offence is laid down, the court must be reluctant and should not hasten to quash the proceedings even on the premise that one or more ingredients have not been stated or do not appear to be satisfied. A single bench comprising of Justice S.K. Panigrahi adjudicating the matter in Prasanta Kumar Patra & another v. State of Odisha & Another (CRLMC-Appeal u/s-482 CrPC No.200 of 2021) dealt with the issue of quashing the pending proceedings filed u/s 482 CrPC.

The Petitioner in the present case prays before the HC to quash the proceeding pending before the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate against him under section 420,406,465,468/34 of IPC. The petitioner & the Respondent in the said case entered into an agreement on 31.05.2015 with a landowner to jointly purchase a plot for a consideration of Rs 1,35,00,000/- but were only able to pay Rs 44,00,000/-. There was an agreement and mutual understanding between the parties that they would eventually sell the plot and the sale proceeds would be shared by both the parties in the ratio of 59:41. But they failed to pay the balance amount i.e. Rs. 91,00,000 in the stipulated time which led the landowner to file a suit against both parties. The suit was dismissed on 22.10.2016 and a compromise between the landlord and both the parties were done and it was decided that the sum of Rs. 64,00,000/- would be remitted and Rs.31,00,000/- is to be paid within two and half months. It was also agreed that the amount will be raised by sub-dividing the plot and selling those plots to various buyers. The respondents later learned that the landlord had died and the Petitioners have jointly purchased the plot in their name and re-sold the property to multiple buyers without their consent and have retained all the sale proceeds themselves and in response, the Respondents filed a case against the Petitioner claiming the share of net profit earned by the Petitioners. Also, the Respondents after the institution of the suit filed an FIR against Petitioner for investigation.

The petitioner in response contended that the suit is filed to harass and humiliate the petitioners and alleged that the Respondents had requested that the amount invested by them be refunded back by the said owner. They also contended that the complaint is mala fide and is made out of a personal grudge.

The court after examining the allegation of the FIR and contents of the joint compromise petition filed by the deceased landowner found that it was nowhere mentioned that the Respondents were desirous to exit out of the agreement or had requested to get back their initial deposit of Rs.26,00,000/-. Also, some documents support the fact that the Petitioners had sold sub-plots through various sale deeds and received consideration. On multiple requests only Rs. 17,12,400/- was transferred to the Respondent which is lesser than her share from the net profit arising out of the sale. The petitioner also didn’t participate in the investigation process and failed to appear before the Investigation officer. And hence there is a prima facie case against the Petitioner even without looking into the merits of the case.

The Court relied upon the judgments Lee Kun Hee v.  State of U.P ,  Medchi Chemicals Pharma Pvt. Ltd. v. Biological E. Ltd. and permitted the simultaneous filing of a civil complaint and held that it cannot be ground quash a criminal complaint.

Also looking into the prayer of the Petitioner to quash the proceeding at an initial stage, the court relied upon Rashmi Kumar v. Mahesh Kumar Bhada and Amit Kapoor v. Ramesh Chander and it was held that “If the records disclose the commission of a criminal offence and the ingredients of the said offence are satisfied, then such criminal proceedings would not be quashed merely because a civil wrong has also been committed. The power cannot be invoked to stifle or scuttle a legitimate prosecution. The factual foundation and ingredients of an offence being satisfied, the Court will not either dismiss a complaint or quash such proceedings in exercise of its original jurisdiction.”

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