Supreme Court quashes case registered u/s 420 IPC where civil dispute was sought to be given colour of criminal wrongdoing

Supreme Court quashes case registered u/s 420 IPC where civil dispute was sought to be given colour of criminal wrongdoing

The Supreme Court quashed the case registered u/s 420 IPC where civil dispute was sought to be given colour of criminal wrongdoing.

Background 

The appellant claims title to certain immovable property on the basis of a gift deed. A person by the name of Azim Wasif instituted a suit, in the Court of the Civil Judge (Senior Division), Kanpur Nagar against the appellant seeking a declaration of title and possession of the suit property. The plaintiff in that suit has founded his claim on the basis of a Will alleged to have been executed by the brother of the appellant’s maternal grandfather. Initially, the First Additional Civil Judge allowed the application under Order XXXIX Rules 1 and 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 and directed the parties to the suit to maintain status quo over the disputed property. The appellant entered into an agreement to sell the property with Mohd Naeem and Nitin Gupta, which was to take effect after the disposal of the suit in favour of the appellant. The suit was dismissed in default. On an application for restoration filed by the plaintiff, the suit was restored to file on 21 April 2016. On 24 November 2014, the appellant is alleged to have executed a sale deed in respect of the suit property which was registered on 2 January 2015.

Arguments 

Advocate Gaurav Khanna, appearing for the appellant, contended that the entire dispute is of a civil nature. The charge-sheet which has been submitted before the competent court specifically contains a recital that a suit is pending before the court of the Civil Judge (Senior Division). 

He further argued that it has been stated therein that the issue as to whether the appellant is entitled to claim under the deed of gift would be resolved in the trial, while, on the other hand, the claim of the second respondent which is based on the Will would also have to be tested on the basis of evidence in the suit.  

Advocate Sanjay Singh, appearing for the respondent, contended that since the sale took place during the pendency of the suit, doctrine of lis pendens will apply. 

Decision 

The division bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant said that the contention of the respondent is itself an indicator of the position that it is essentially a dispute of a civil nature. The execution of a sale deed, during the pendency of the suit, may attract the doctrine of lis pendens , but, from reading the charge-sheet as it stands, it is evident that there is no element of criminality which can stand attracted in a matter which essentially involves a civil dispute between the appellant and the second respondent. 

The court stated that insofar as the appellant is concerned, none of the ingredients of the offence punishable under Section 420 of the IPC have been found to exist after the investigation was complete. Neither the FIR nor the charge-sheet contain any reference to the essential requirements underlying Section 420. 

The court held that the continuation of the prosecution against the appellant would amount to an abuse of the process where a civil dispute is sought to be given the colour of a criminal wrongdoing. 

The  court allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned judgment and order of the Single Judge of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad. In consequence, the petition under Section 482 of CrPC stood allowed by quashing the charge-sheet, confined only to the appellant. 

Case title: Syed Yaseer Ibrahim v/s State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr

Citation: Criminal Appeal No 295 of 2022 

Click here to read the Order/Judgment

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