SUPREME COURT QUASHES CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS INITIATED AGAINST THE ACCUSED FOR THE OFFENCE OF CHEATING IN THE ABSENCE OF ALLEGATIONS THEREOF
A Two Judge Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India comprising of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna in the matter of Rekha Jain v. The State of Karnataka and Anr. Criminal Appeal No. 749 of 2022 passed a Judgment dated May 10th, 2022 and allowed the present Appeal by quashing the Criminal Proceedings initiated against the Appellant-Accused- Rekha Jain for offence of Cheating under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
One Mr. Pinku Maiti (Complainant), a gold smith running a jewellery making shop in Bengaluru had given 500 gms of gold jewellery on January 22nd, 2020 and 1.527 kgs of gold jewellery on February 2nd, 2020 for certain purpose to Kamalesh Mulchand Jain (Accused no. 1), another gold smith. However, the Accused no. 1 did not return the said jewellery to the Complainant. Hence the Complainant filed a Complaint before Halasur Gate Police Station, Bengaluru against the Accused no. 1 and his wife, Mrs. Rekha Jain (Accused no. 2). The said Complaint was registered as Crime No. 75/2020 for the offence of cheating under Section 420 IPC before I Additional C.M.M, Bengaluru.
Thereafter the Accused filed a Criminal Petition No. 3442 of 2020 before the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka at Bengaluru seeking quashing of Criminal Proceedings under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 (Cr.PC) initiated against them in Crime No. 75/2020. The High Court passed a Judgment dated September 15th, 2020 and held that as the investigation in the said proceedings were ongoing, the High Court refused to quash the said proceedings in Crime No. 75/2020.
Aggrieved by the High Court Judgment dated September 15th, 2020, the Accused filed an Appeal before the Supreme Court. The Apex Court vide Order dated January 8th ,2021 dismissed the Special Leave Petition in respect of the Accused No. 1 (reasons not mentioned thereof in the said Order). The Supreme Court has heard the Appeal in respect of the Accused No. 2 and made the following observations vide Judgment dated May 10th, 2022:
That the Counsel for the Appellant- Accused – Rekha Jain argued that there are no allegations stating that the Accused Rekha Jain induced the Complainant to deliver the gold jewellery. Further, the Complaint was made against Kamalesh Mulchand Jain for the alleged crime and there were no allegations against Rekha Jain, hence, it was argued that Accused No. 2 has not committed any offence under Section 420 IPC.
The Counsel appearing on behalf of the Original Complainant argued that the gold jewellery was found to be in possession of the Accused No. 2 Rekha Jain. It was argued that the Appellant -Accused No.2 cannot be said to have committed no crime at all and that the Appellant – Accused No. 2 is to be charged with keeping the gold jewellery, which was obtained by her husband by deception and cheating.
The Supreme Court observed as follows:
- At the outset, it is required to be noted that the offence alleged against the appellant – accused – Rekha Jain is for the offence under Section 420 of IPC. She has been now chargedsheeted for the said offence. However, considering the allegations in FIR/complaint, it can be seen that the entire and all the allegations are against the accused Kamalesh Mulchand Jain. In the complaint/FIR, there are no allegations whatsoever to the effect that the accused Rekha Jain induced the complainant to part with the gold jewellery. Therefore, in the absence of any allegation of inducement by the accused Rekha Jain, she cannot be prosecuted for the offence under Section 420 of IPC. There must be a dishonest inducement by the accused.
Hence, based on the aforesaid observations, the Supreme Court acquitted the Accused No. 2 and also observed that the High Court had committed a grave error in not quashing the Criminal Proceedings against Rekha Jain for the offence committed under Section 420 IPC.
Thus, the present Appeal has been allowed and the Criminal Proceedings initiated against Appellant- Accused No. 2 – Rekha Jain has been quashed. It was also clarified that what is quashed is the Criminal Proceedings for the offence under Section 420 of IPC only and not for any other offences, if any, committed by the Accused No.2 – Rekha Jain.
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