Wednesday, June 28, 2017

‘No criminal cases in disputes of civil nature’

In an important order, Gujarat high court has held that criminal cases with "overwhelmingly and predominantly civil flavour" can be quashed.

The high court elaborated on what kind of cases can be quashed. It said that the court may interfere in cases of offences particularly those arising from "commercial, financial, mercantile, civil and partnership or such type of transactions".

The high court further said that there is no need to put the accused person in cases with civil nature to "great oppression and prejudice" by putting him on criminal trial because there is not even a remote chance of conviction.
The high court had made it clear that a criminal case lodged due to any business transaction or payment related issue, wherein criminal intention is not substantiated at the outset of the deal, may be quashed. Justice BN Karia observed: "Extreme injustice would be caused to him (accused) by not quashing the criminal trial."

The high court quashed an FIR against Vasudev Agrawal and three others who were accused of theft and encroachment on another person's land. The land in dispute is situated on the highway at Sanathal on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. The dispute was related to ownership of the plot, which was allegedly sold in the 1980s. The complainant, who lives abroad, accused Agrawal of trying to usurp land that was actually in his ownership.

On the other hand, Agrawal supplied documents revealing that they were bona fide purchasers of the plot and had issued public notice thrice before the purchase. The land parcel was later sold twice. Agrawal's advocate  submitted that they were implicated in the case by the complainant to usurp the land and extort money. A civil case was also filed in this matter and the civil court had rejected the arguments by the complainant in this case.

After hearing the case, Justice Karia noted: "It would be unfair to continue with criminal proceedings, and it would cause abuse of the process of law."

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