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Kuljit Singh Sethi vs The State Of Assam And Anr on 18 January, 2019

Page No.# 1/12

GAHC010212292018

THE GAUHATI HIGH COURT
(HIGH COURT OF ASSAM, NAGALAND, MIZORAM AND ARUNACHAL PRADESH)

Case No. : Crl.Pet. 971/2018

1:KULJIT SINGH SETHI
S/O SABINDRAJIT SINGH SETHI, R/O P.E.K APARTMENT, NEAR NLR
PETROL PUMP, DIMAPUR, PO DIMAPUR, DIST. DIMAPUR, NAGALAND

VERSUS

1:THE STATE OF ASSAM AND ANR.
REP. BY PP, ASSAM

2:AMRIT KAUR
W/O SRI KULJIT SINGH SETHI
D/O LATE JAGADISH SINGH
R/O GARHALI
RAKHARA GALI
JORHAT
PO JORHAT
PS JORHAT
DIST. JORHAT (ASSAM) 78500

Advocate for the Petitioner : MR A TEWARI

Advocate for the Respondent : MR. B B GOGOI(ADDL.PP, ASSAM)

BEFORE
HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE MIR ALFAZ ALI

JUDGMENT ORDER (CAV)
Date : 18-01-2019

By this application u/s 482 CrPC , the petitioner prays for setting aside the order dated
02-07-2018 passed in C.R. Case No. 85 of 2018, whereby, learned magistrate took cognizance
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against the petitioner, as well as for quashing the proceeding in the said CR Case No. 85 of
2018.

2. Learned counsel, Mr. A. Tiwari for the petitioner and Ms. Beauty Talukdar for the

respondent No. 2 were heard.

3. The respondent No. 2, as complaint, lodged a complaint against the present petitioner,

which was registered as CR Case No. 85 of 2018. On the basis of said complaint and upon

enquiry made under Section 200 Cr.P.C., learned Magistrate took cognizance of offence u/s

406 IPC against the petitioner.

4. Learned counsel for the petitioner, Mr. Tiwari submitted that no part of the cause of

action for the offence arose within the jurisdiction of Addl. Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jorhat,

and as such, learned Judicial Magistrate lacked territorial jurisdiction to try the case. Further

contention of Mr. Tiwari was that the petitioner/respondent was the resident outside the

jurisdiction of the learned Addl. Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jorhat, and as such, the order

taking cognizance and issuing process stood vitiated for non-compliance of the mandatory

provision of Section 202 (1) Cr.P.C. It was also contended by the learned counsel for the

petitioner that the allegations made in the complaint did not make out any offence u/s 406

IPC.

5. Learned counsel for the respondent, Ms. Beauty Talukdar, placing reliance on a

decision of this Court in Bala Kishan Dhandania and Ors.-VS- Nidhi Dhandhania

reported in 2016 (2) GLT 100, contended, that as the Stridhana were to be returned at the

paternal home of the respondent no. 2 at Jorhat, the court at Jorhat certainly had the

territorial jurisdiction to try the case. As regards the contention of the learned counsel

regarding non-compliance with the provision of Section 202 (1) CrPC, counsel for the
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respondent contended that even in the event of holding the provision of Section 202 (1)

Cr.P.C. to be mandatory, entire proceeding cannot be quashed and the matter may be

remitted back to the trial magistrate for compliance with the provision of Section 202(1)

Cr.P.C.

6. From the rival submission made by the parties, the following points fell for

consideration in this criminal petition :

i) Whether the allegations made in the complaint makes out an

offence u/s 406 IPC ?

ii) Whether non-compliance of the provision of Section 202 (1)

vitiates the criminal proceedings, rendering the same liable to be

quashed ?

iii) Whether the Addl. Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jorhat has the

territorial jurisdiction to try the case ?

Point No. 1.

7. It is the settled principle as held by the Apex Court in a catena of decisions, that when a

criminal proceeding is sought to be quashed at the initial stage, the test to be applied, is

whether the uncontroverted allegations made in the complaint or FIR makes out any

offence ? If the answer is yes, there is no scope for quashing the proceeding. As a corollary

to the same, when the allegations made in the complaint in their face value fails to make out

any offence, the court should not hesitate to quash a criminal proceeding, if it is considered

necessary to secure the ends of justice or to prevent the abuse of the process of the court. It

is therefore, necessary to have a look at the complaint sought to be quashed.

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8. The respondent No. 2 is the wife of the present petitioner. It has been alleged in the

complaint that the petitioner and respondent No. 2 were married on 23-02-2014 and the

marriage was solemnised at Jorhat. After marriage, the respondent No. 2 started living with

the petitioner as husband and wife at Dimapur and spent three months of conjugal life

smoothly. Thereafter, the petitioner started to torture the respondent No. 2 physically and

mentally and as such, the respondent No. 2 was compelled to file a criminal case against the

petitioner u/s 498-A IPC and eventually the respondent No. 2 was thrown out of the

matrimonial home. Consequently, the respondent No. 2 took shelter in her parents’ house. All

the cloths, ornaments and other articles of the respondent No. 2 remained with the petitioner,

which the petitioner and the members of his family refused to return to the respondent No.

2. Hence, the complaint was lodged. The proposition that refusal of the spouse to return the

stridhana to the wife constitute the offence of criminal breach of trust, is well settled by long

line of decision of the Apex Court (see AIR 1985 SC 628). Therefore, from the above

allegations made in the complaint, it is hard to say that no prima facie case u/s 406 IPC was

made out.

9. The allegations made in the complaint were of course denied by the petitioner and

stated that the allegations were false and concocted. It is the trite law, that while dealing

with the petition u/s 482 Cr.P.C. for quashing a criminal proceeding, the High Court cannot

embark upon an enquiry as to the merit of the case or as to the veracity of the allegations

made in the complaint or FIR, which is something to be done by the trial court (see ( 1993) 3

SCC 54, Radheshyam Khemka and Another-VS- State of Bihar : (2002) 3 SCC 89,

State of Karnataka -VS- Devendrappa and Another ). If the allegations made in the

complaint prima facie make out any offence, the High court is supposed to stay its hand
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leaving the matter to the Investigating Agency or the court, as the case may be, to take to

its culmination. Therefore, the point no. 1 apparently does not favour the petitioner for

quashing the proceeding.

Point No. 2

10. Section 177 Cr.P.C. provides that every offence shall ordinarily be inquired into and

tried by a court, within whose local jurisdiction it was committed. Section 179 of the Cr.P.C.

provides that when an act is an offence by reason of anything which has been done and of a

consequence, which has ensued, the offence may be inquired into or tried by a court, within

whose local jurisdiction such thing has been done or such consequence has ensued. Section

181 of the Cr.P.C. provides for place of trial in respect of certain specific offence. Section 181

(4) of the Cr.P.C. provides, that any offence of criminal misappropriation, or criminal breach of

trust may be enquired into or tried by a court within whose local jurisdiction, the offence was

committed or any part of the property, which is the subject of the offence, was received or

retained or was required to be returned or accounted for by the accused persons. Therefore,

in view of specific provision contained in subsection (4) of Section 181 Cr.P.C. an offence of

criminal breach of trust may be enquired into and tried by the following courts :-

i) the court within whose local jurisdiction the offence was committed.

ii) the court within whose local jurisdiction any part of the property
being the subject of the offence was received.

iii) The court within whose local jurisdiction any part of the property
being subject of offence was retained.

iv) the court within whose local jurisdiction the property or any part of
the property, which is the subject of offence was required to be returned
or accounted for by the accused persons.

11. The offence of criminal breach of trust has been defined in Section 405 IPC, which

reads as under :

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Section 405. Criminal breach of trust — Whoever, being in any manner

entrusted with property, or with any dominion over property, dishonestly

misappropriates or converts to his own use that property, or dishonestly

uses or disposes of that property in violation of any direction of law

prescribing the mode in which such trust is to be discharged, or of any

legal contract, express or implied, which he has made touching the

discharge of such trust, or wilfully suffers any other person so to do,

commits “criminal breach of trust”.

12. The basic ingredients of the offence of criminal breach of trust as per the above

definition are entrustment of property or dominion over the property and dishonest

misappropriation of the property. Dishonest misappropriation of the property can be done

either by converting the property for own use of the accused or disposing of the property in

violation of the directions or stipulation in which the trust is to be discharged. In order to

make out an offence of criminal breach of trust, the complainant needs to aver in the

complaint as to how or where the entrustment took place or where the property was received

or retained, how the accused misappropriated the property and what was the mode of

discharge of the trust or in other words, when the property was to be returned or accounted

for.

13. From the allegations made in the complaint, as indicated above, admittedly after the

marriage the respondent, no. 2 was living with the petitioner in his house at Dimapur and the

marital boat having moved into rough weather, the respondent no. 2 was forced to leave the

matrimonial home at Dimapur leaving all her articles including ornaments. cloths, etc., in the

custody of the petitioner. It was also alleged in the complaint that on 05-05-2018, mother,
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brother and aunt of the respondent No. 2 went to the house of the petitioner at Dimapur to

bring the goods of the respondent no. 2, but the petitioner refused to give the articles. The

above allegations show, that the subject of offence were retained at Dimapur and the offence

of misappropriation, if any, was also committed at Dimapur as the petitioner refused to return

the articles of the respondent no. 2. There is no allegation in the complaint that the articles in

respect of which the offence is said to have been committed were entrusted with the

petitioner at Jorhat or the petitioner received the property at Jorhat. Rather, the allegations

that the respondent no. 2 left the matrimonial home leaving her belongings including

ornaments with the petitioner suggests, that the property was entrusted or the petitioner

received the property at Dimapur. There was also no allegation in the complaint regarding

any stipulation of returning the articles to the respondent no. 2 at Jorhat. Therefore, from the

allegations made in the complaint it transpires, that no part of the offence or cause of action

arose at Jorhat. Since there is no allegation or material to show, that either the offence was

committed at Jorhat or the property was received or retained at Jorhat or the articles were to

be returned at Jorhat, apparently, the court at Jorhat did not have the territorial jurisdiction

to enquire into and try the offence, in view of specific provision contained in sub-section (4)

of Section 181 of the Cr.P.C.

14. In Y. Abraham Ajith Ors.- VS- Inspector of Police, Chennai reported in

(2004) 8 SCC 100, the Apex Court held in para 12, 13 19 as under :

“12. The crucial question is whether any part of the cause of action arose
within the jurisdiction of the court concerned. In terms of Section
177 of the Code, it is the place where the offence was committed.
In essence it is the cause of action for initiation of the proceedings
against the accused.

13. While in civil cases, normally the expression “cause of action” is
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used, in criminal cases as stated in Section 177 of the Code,
reference is to the local jurisdiction where the offence is committed.
These variations in etymological expression do not really make the
position different. The expression “cause of action” is, therefore, not
a stranger to criminal cases.

19. When the aforesaid legal principles are applied, to the factual
scenario disclosed by the complainant in the complaint petition, the
inevitable conclusion is that no part of cause of action arose in
Chennai and, therefore the Magistrate concerned had no jurisdiction
to deal with the matter. The proceedings are quashed. The
complaint be returned to respondent No. 2 who, if she so chooses,
may file the same in the appropriate court to be dealt with in
accordance with law. The appeal is accordingly allowed.”

15. Following the decision in Y. Abraham Ajith’s case, the Apex Court in Bhura Ram

Ors.-VS- State of Rajasthan and Ors., reported in (2008) 11 SCC 103 held that court

cannot try the offence at a place, where no part of the offence was committed within its

jurisdiction. In the said case, the Apex Court having quashed the proceeding, on the ground,

that no part of the offence was committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the Magistrate,

the complaint was directed to be returned to the complainant enabling him to file the same in

appropriate court, having territorial jurisdiction. As no part of the offence or cause of action

arose within the territorial jurisdiction of Jorhat, I find force in the submission of the learned

counsel for the petitioner, that the Judicial Magistrate, Jorhat did not have the jurisdiction to

enquire into or try the case in hand. Learned counsel for the respondent placing reliance on

Balkishan Dhandhania-VS- Nidhi Dhandania (supra) submitted, that members of the

family of the husband were under obligation to return the stridhana to the wife/respondent

no. 2, in her place at Jorhat, and as such, the place, where such properties were to be

returned, has the jurisdiction to try the offence under Section 406 IPC.

16. The question whether there was any stipulation to return the property at the paternal

home of the wife, is a question of fact and has to be decided on the basis of the evidence
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and facts and circumstances of each case. In the present case, there is no material on record

to show that the properties were to be returned to the wife at her paternal home at Jorhat.

There is even no averment in the complaint to that effect. Therefore, on factual matrix the

decision of this Court in Balkishan Dhandhania’s case has no application in the instant case.

On the facts of the case, it was decided in Balkishan Dhandhania, that the properties were to

be returned at the place, where the wife was residing and no ratio was laid down that there

shall always be a presumption that properties shall be returned to the wife at the place of her

residence or paternal home. Since there was no material or averment in the complaint,

wherefrom it could be discerned, that the properties were to be returned to the respondent

no. 2 at her paternal home at Jorhat, there could not be any presumption, that properties

were to be returned at Jorhat. What is therefore, abundantly clear from the allegations made

in the FIR and the other materials is that no part of the offence or the cause of action arose

within the territorial jurisdiction of Jorhat, and as such, the court at Jorhat lacks jurisdiction to

enquire into and try the case. Accordingly, this point is decided against the respondent no. 2.

Point No. 3

17. Admittedly, as would appear from the complaint, the petitioner is the resident of

Lahorijan Karbi Anglong, which is not within the jurisdiction of the Judicial Magistrate, Jorhat.

Section 202 (1) Cr.P.C. provides that any magistrate on receipt of a complaint of an offence,

of which, he is authorised to take cognizance or which was made over to him u/s 192 Cr.P.C.,

may, if he thinks fit, and shall in case, where the accused is residing at a place beyond the

area, in which he exercises his jurisdiction, postpone the issue of process against the accused

and either inquire into the case himself, or direct an investigation to be made by a police

officer, or by such other person, as he thinks fit for the purpose of deciding whether or not
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there is sufficient ground for proceeding. Sub-section (2) of Section 202 CrPC provides that in

an enquiry under sub-section (1) the magistrate if he thinks fit may take evidence on oath.

The word “shall” used in subsection (1) of Section 202 CrPC clearly indicates that when the

accused is the resident of a place which is beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the magistrate,

the enquiry under subsection (1) of Section 202 is mandatory.

18. The Apex Court in Uday Sankar Awasti-VS- State of U.P . reported in (2013) 2

SCC 435 held in paragraph 40 of the judgment as under :

“40. The Magistrate had issued summons without meeting the mandatory
requirement of Section 202 Cr.P.C., though the appellants were outside his
territorial jurisdiction. The provisions of Section 202 Cr.P.C. were amended
vide Amendment Act, 2005, making it mandatory to postpone the issue of
process where the accused resides in an area beyond the territorial
jurisdiction of the Magistrate concerned. The same was found necessary in
order to protect innocent persons from being harassed by unscrupulous
persons and making it obligatory upon the Magistrate to enquire into the
case himself, or to direct investigation to be made by a police officer, or by
such other person as he thinks fit for the purpose of finding out whether or
not, there was sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused before
issuing summons in such cases.”

19. This Court in Balkishan Dhandhania (supra) also held that when the accused resides at

a place beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the magistrate taking cognizance of an offence,

enquiry u/s 202 (1) CrPC is mandatory and it’s non-compliance will render the order of

issuance of process illegal. In the present case admittedly the accused/petitioner was not a

resident within the jurisdiction of the learned magistrate, and inquiry u/s 202 (1) Cr.P.C. was

not conducted. Therefore, the order of taking cognizance and issuance of process stood

violated for violation of the mandatory provision of Section 202 (1) of the CrPC, and as such,

the order of taking cognizance and issuing process is liable to be set aside. Accordingly, the

third point is also decided in favour of the petitioner.

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20. In Balkishan Dhandhania (supra), this Court after having set aside the order of

cognizance and issuance of process, remitted the case to the trial court for passing a fresh

order after complying with the provision of Section 202 (1) Cr.P.C., as the complaint otherwise

disclosed criminal offence. The decision of Balkishan Dhandhania’s case was also followed by

a learned Single Bench of this Court in Bajay Kumar Jalan, son of Ramawatar Jalan Ors.-VS-

State of Assam reported in 2017 (5) GLT 811, wherein, this Court after setting aside the

order of taking cognizance and issuing process for non-compliance with the provision of

Section 202 (1) Cr.P.C. and for lack of territorial jurisdiction, directed the magistrate to return

the complaint to the complainant for presenting it before the court having jurisdiction. In

Y. Abraham Ajith Ors.- VS- Inspector of Police (supra), the Apex Court, after having

quashed the proceeding for lack of territorial jurisdiction of the magistrate directed the

complaint to be returned for enabling the complainant to file it before the court having

jurisdiction. The same course was followed by the Apex Court in Bhura Ram and Another-VS-

State of Rajasthan (supra).

21. In the instant case, though, the allegations made in the complaint prima facie

disclosed an offence u/s 406 IPC, the impugned order of taking cognizance, was vitiated

because of lack of territorial jurisdiction of the magistrate and also for violation of the

mandatory provision of Section 202 (1) Cr.P.C. Therefore, the proceeding in C.R. Case No. 85

of 2018 is quashed. However, following the principle laid down by the Apex Court in

Abraham’s case as well as Bhura Ram’s case and also the decision of the learned Single

Bench of this Court in Bijay Kumar Jalan (supra), it is directed that the complaint be returned

with liberty to the respondent no. 2 to file the same afresh in appropriate court having

jurisdiction, if so desires.

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22. With the above observation, the criminal petition stands allowed.

JUDGE

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