J. Vedhasingh VERSUS R.M. Govindan & Ors.

J. Vedhasingh VERSUS R.M. Govindan & Ors.

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.            OF 2022
ARISING OUT OF SLP (CRL.) NO.2864 OF 2019
J. Vedhasingh                  …..APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
R.M. Govindan & Ors.              ..…RESPONDENT(S)
J U D G M E N T
J.K. Maheshwari, J.
Leave granted. 
2. The instant appeal has been filed assailing the final order
dated   06.12.2018   passed   by   the   High   Court   of   Madras   in
CRL.O.P. No. 6750 of 2017, whereby the High Court allowed the
criminal petition filed by the respondents no.1 to 4 under Section
482 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short “Cr.P.C”) and
quashed proceedings under Sections 120B, 406, 420 and 34 of
the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (for short “IPC”)  being C.C. No. 33
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of   2017   pending   before   Judicial   Magistrate   Court   No.   III,
Coimbatore.
3. The brief facts necessary for the instant appeal are that the
appellant herein was working as a Civil Engineer in Saudi Arabia.
On his return back to India in the year 2011, he purchased a site
from respondent no.2 who is the father of respondent no.1 in
Coimbatore.   Apart   from   this,   the   respondents   owned   7   other
house sites in total in V.C.K. Layout, Trichy Road, Coimbatore
City,   which   all   were   mortgaged   to   Tamil   Nadu   Industrial
Investment Corporation, way back from 12.10.2006. Appellant
contended that the respondents approached and asked him to
invest money for the development of the land of the said 7 sites
and assured that profit shall be divided amongst the appellant
and respondents. Pursuant to it a profit­sharing agreement was
executed between the parties. The appellant made the investment
of a sum of Rs.62,32,754/­, but neither profit was shared nor
any piece of land was given to the appellant. Consequently, the
appellant asked to repay the amount. Under guise of assurance
of re­payment by respondent no.1, the appellant did not lodge
any criminal prosecution as per his request. The respondent no.1
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handed   over   a   cheque   dated   09.09.2015   for   an   amount   of
Rs.87,00,000 in lieu of repayment of principal sum and interest. 
4. On   presenting   the   said   cheque   to   the   bank   it   was
dishonored on account of insufficient funds on 09.09.2015. Being
aggrieved,   a   demand   notice   was   issued   on   30.10.2015   and
complaint under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881
(for short “NI Act”) being S.T.C. No.792 of 2015 renumbered as
C.C. No.199 of 2016 on the file of Fast Track Magistrate No.1 of
Coimbatore   (for   short   “138   Proceedings”)   was   lodged   by   the
appellant on 07.12.2015. Prior to initiating 138 proceedings, the
appellant lodged a complaint under section 156(3) Cr.P.C being
CMP   No.   5083   of   2015   before   Judicial   Magistrate   No.   III
Coimbatore on 30.10.2015. The Magistrate directed respondent
no. 5 to register the FIR but by filing a report dated 29.01.2016,
it was said that no offence is made out against the respondents.
The appellant challenged the same by filing CRL.O.P. No. 6766 of
2016   before   the   High   court   of   Madras   and   also   prayed   for
direction against respondent no.5 to conduct fresh investigation.
The High Court disposed of the same with an observation that
the appellant may raise objection on closure report by way of
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protest   petition.   In   pursuance   thereof,   the   appellant   filed   a
protest   petition   being   Crl.M.P.   No.   3891   of   2016,   which   was
allowed by the Magistrate vide order dated 24.09.2016 directing
the respondent no. 5 to register the case against the respondent
no. 1 to 4 and to complete the investigation. Thereafter only, the
respondent no.5 registered the case against respondent no.1 to 4
at Crime No.49 of 2016 for the offences under Sections 120B,
406, 420 and 34 of IPC on 01.10.2016, and after investigation,
challan   was   filed   before   the   competent   Magistrate   on   which
cognizance was taken by him. 
5. The   respondents,   being   aggrieved   by   the   same,   filed
CRL.O.P. No. 6750 of 2017 before the High Court of Madras for
quashment of the aforesaid proceedings. The High Court by the
impugned   order   allowed   the   said   petition   and   quashed   the
proceedings   taking   into   consideration   that   proceedings   under
Section 138 of the N.I. Act pertaining to the same cause of action
and on the same facts and grounds are pending, prior to the
registration  of  the  present   proceedings.  It  was  observed  that,
looking to the allegations made in the FIR, only offence under
section 138 of NI Act can be made out and continuance of the
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present proceedings for offences under sections 406, 420, 120B
and 34 of IPC would amount to abuse of process of the Court.
The   said   order   passed   by  the   High  Court   is   assailed  by   the
appellant in the instant appeal.
6. Learned senior counsel Mr. S. Nagamuthu contends that in
the facts of the present case the plea of double jeopardy or bar of
Section 300(1) of Cr.P.C. would attract only when the earlier
offence and the later offence is same or have same ingredients.
The identity of the allegations on fact is not relevant, in fact, the
identity of the ingredients of the offence is relevant. The plea
taken by respondent no.1 to 4 that a person who is previously
acquitted  cannot   be   tried  for   the  same   offence  subsequently,
shall apply only when it is shown that acquittal for the previous
charge would lead to acquittal in the subsequent charge. In an
offence under Section 138 of the NI Act, requirement to prove
mens rea is not necessary although for an offence under Section
420, fraudulent and dishonest intention i.e. mens rea is relevant
to prove. In support of the said contention, reliance has been
placed on the judgment of Sangeetaben Mahendrabhai Patel v.
State   of   Gujarat   and   Anr,   (2012)   7   SCC   621.   The   said
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judgment has also been relied in the case of M/s V.S. Reddy and
Sons v. Muthyala Ramalinga Reddy and Anr. (Crl Appeal No.
1285   of   2015)   decided   on   28.09.2015.   Therefore,   urged   the
quashment of the proceedings for an offence under Sections 420,
406, 120(B) and 34 IPC as directed by the High Court is wholly
unjustified. 
7. On the other hand, learned counsel for the respondents
contends that as per the judgment of Kolla Veera Raghav Rao
v. Gorantla Venkateswara Rao and Anr, (2011) 2 SCC 703,
this Court has held that if the offences are different and the facts
are the same, the prosecution under Section 420 of the IPC is
barred by virtue of Section 300(1) of the Cr.P.C. Further reliance
has been placed on a judgment of this Court in the case of  G.
Sagar Suri and Anr. v. State of UP and Others, (2000) 2 SCC
636, wherein also the offences under Section 138 of NI Act as
well as the offence under Sections 406 and 420 of IPC were
allegedly committed by the accused of that case. After lodging the
complaint under Section 138 of NI Act, a petition under Section
482   before   the   High   Court   was   filed   for   quashment   of   the
complaint   which   was   dismissed.   On   filing   the   special   leave
6
petition before this Court, it was allowed and the Court directed
that the prosecution under Sections 420 and 406 is not tenable
and quashed. 
8. After having heard learned counsel appearing on behalf of
the appellant as well as the respondents who have advanced their
contentions   relying   upon   the   judgments   of   this   Court.   The
reliance   placed   by   the   appellant   is   on   a   judgment   of
Sangeetaben Mahendrabhai Patel (supra) wherein this Court
has considered various judgments. The relevant portion of the
judgment   of  Sangeetaben   Mahendrabhai   Patel   (supra)  is
reproduced as thus:
“35. The learned counsel for the appellant has further
placed   reliance   on   the   judgment   in G.   Sagar
Suri v. State of U.P. [(2000) 2 SCC 636 : 2000 SCC
(Cri)   513]   wherein   during   the   pendency   of   the
proceedings   under   Section   138   of   the   NI   Act,
prosecution   under   Sections   406/420   IPC   had   been
launched.   This   Court   quashed   the   criminal
proceedings under Sections 406/420 IPC, observing
that it would amount to the abuse of process of law. In
fact, the issue as to whether the ingredients of both
the offences were same, had neither been raised nor
decided. Therefore, the ratio of that judgment does not
have application on the facts of this case.
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36. Same   remained   the   position   so   far   as   the
judgment   in Kolla   Veera   Raghav   Rao v. Gorantla
Venkateswara Rao [(2011) 2 SCC 703 : (2011) 1 SCC
(Cri) 882 : (2011) 1 SCC (Civ) 547] is concerned. It has
been   held   therein   that   once   the   conviction   under
Section   138   of   the   NI   Act   has   been   recorded,   the
question of trying the same person under Section 420
IPC or any other provisions of IPC or any other statute
is   not   permissible   being   hit   by   Article   20(2)   of   the
Constitution and Section 300(1) CrPC.
37. Admittedly, the appellant had been tried earlier
for the offences punishable under the provisions of
Section 138 of the NI Act and the case is sub judice
before   the   High   Court.   In   the   instant   case,   he   is
involved under Sections 406/420 read with Section
114 IPC. In the prosecution under Section 138 of the
NI   Act,   the  mens   rea  i.e.   fraudulent   or   dishonest
intention   at   the   time   of   issuance   of   cheque   is   not
required to be proved. However, in the case under IPC
involved   herein,   the   issue   of  mens   rea  may   be
relevant. The offence punishable under Section 420
IPC is a serious one as the sentence of 7 years can be
imposed. 
38. In   the   case   under   the   NI   Act,   there   is   a   legal
presumption   that   the   cheque   had   been   issued   for
discharging   the   antecedent   liability   and   that
presumption can be rebutted only by the person who
draws the cheque. Such a requirement is not there in
the offences under IPC. In the case under the NI Act, if
a fine is imposed, it is to be adjusted to meet the
legally enforceable liability. There cannot be such a
requirement in the offences under IPC. The case under
the NI Act can only be initiated by filing a complaint.
However, in a case under IPC such a condition is not
necessary. 
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39. There may be some overlapping of facts in both
the   cases   but   the   ingredients   of   the   offences   are
entirely different. Thus, the subsequent case is not
barred by any of the aforesaid statutory provisions. 
40. The   appeal   is   devoid   of   any   merit   and   is
accordingly dismissed.”
On perusal of the same, it is clear that the judgment of G. Sagar
Suri   (supra)  has   been   considered   but   because   the   issue
regarding   the   ingredient   of   both   offences   were   same   was   not
raised or decided, it has been said that the ratio of that judgment
does not have application in the facts of the case. Similarly, the
judgment of  Kolla   Veera   Raghav   Rao   (supra)  has also been
considered but distinguished on fact while observing that when a
conviction under Section 138 of the NI Act has been recorded, the
prosecution to try the same person under Section 420 of the IPC
is not permissible as per Section 300(1) of Cr.P.C. The judgment
of Sangeetaben Mahendrabhai Patel (supra) has been relied in
the case of M/s. V.S. Reddy and Sons (supra).
9. Learned counsel for the respondents have relied upon the
judgment of G. Sagar Suri (supra) and contended that the said
9
issue has been settled more than two decades prior. The relevant
paragraphs of the said judgment are reproduced as thus: 
“13. In   the   circumstances   of   the   case   in   hand   the
conclusion is inescapable that invoking the jurisdiction
of   a   criminal   court   for   allegedly   having   committed
offences   under   Sections   406/420   IPC   by   the
appellants is certainly an abuse of the process of law.
In   the   counter­affidavit   filed   on   behalf   of   the
complainant it is now admitted that none of the two
appellants   is  a  Director  of  Ganga  Automobiles   Ltd.
Only in respect of the first appellant it is stated that he
is the authorised signatory of that Company and that
in   fact   he   had   signed   the   cheques   which   were
returned dishonoured. Apart from making the omnibus
statement   that   the   first   appellant   with   dishonest
intentions  and   misrepresentations   got   a  loan   of   Rs
50,00,000 from the complainant Company for Ganga
Automobiles Ltd. there is nothing said as to what were
those   misrepresentations   and   how   the   complainant
Company was duped. The only part attributed to the
second appellant is that the first appellant along with
Ashwani   Suri,   Managing   Director   and   Mukender
Singh, Director approached the complainant in June
1996 and had represented that they and Shalini Suri,
Shama Suri (Appellant 2), Charanjit Singh and M.L.
Kampani   were   the   Directors   of   Ganga   Automobiles
Ltd. There is nothing stated in the counter­affidavit
about the role, if any, played by the second appellant.
A   complaint   under   Section   138   of   the   Negotiable
Instruments   Act   has   already   been   filed   by   the
complainant.   There   is   no   allegation   of   any   corrupt
practice by any of the accused as if they duped the
Finance Company in parting with the amount of Rs
50,00,000. As normally understood, the business of a
finance company is to invite deposits, pay interest on
that   and   also   to   give   loans   and   earn   interest.   A
finance company also advances short­term loans. In
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that case it is essentially a commercial transaction.
After   the   first   two   cheques   were   dishonoured   two
cheques   were   again   issued,   which   again   were
dishonoured   resulting   in   filing   of   complaint   under
Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. None of
the respondents has been able to explain as to why
offences under Sections 406/420 IPC were not added
in   the   complaint   filed   under   Section   138   of   the
Negotiable Instruments Act and why resort was had
to filing of a separate first information report. A certain
motive has been attributed to the investigating officer
but we think we need not go into that. There is also no
answer as to why the investigation against the three
other Directors was still stated to be pending when the
same role is assigned to all the accused. In the FIR it
is   Sukhvinder   Singh,   who   first   approached   the
complainant, but later it is Mukender Singh. There is
no answer as to why there are two different names.
As to who are the Directors of Ganga Automobiles Ltd.
could have been easily found by the complainant after
going   through   the   records   of   the   Registrar   of
Companies and also about its status. As noted above,
in the subsequent statement by the complainant he
does not assign any role to the first appellant. The
allegation   that   in   the   first   instance   three   persons
contacted   the   complainant   Company,   who   told   the
complainant   of   other   Directors   with   whom   the
complainant   conversed   on   telephone   appears   to   be
rather improbable.
14. We agree with the submission of the appellants
that the whole attempt of the complainant is evidently
to rope in all the members of the family particularly
those who are the parents of the Managing Director of
Ganga Automobiles Ltd. in the instant criminal case
without   regard   to   their   role   or   participation   in   the
alleged offences with the sole purpose of getting the
loan due to the Finance Company by browbeating and
tyrannising the appellants with criminal prosecution.
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A   criminal   complaint   under   Section   138   of   the
Negotiable Instruments Act is already pending against
the appellants and other accused. They would suffer
the   consequences   if   offence   under   Section   138   is
proved against them. In any case there is no occasion
for the complainant to prosecute the appellants under
Sections 406/420 IPC and in his doing so it is clearly
an   abuse   of   the   process   of   law   and   prosecution
against the appellants for those offences is liable to be
quashed, which we do.
15. The appeal is allowed and the judgment of the
High   Court   dated   6­5­1999   is   set   aside   and
prosecution of the appellants under Sections 406/420
IPC in Criminal Case No. 674 of 1997 (now Criminal
Case No. 6054 of 1998) and pending in the Court of
Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ghaziabad is quashed.”
10. Similarly in the case of  Kolla Veera Raghav Rao (supra)
this Court reaffirmed the view taken in the said case. The relevant
paragraphs are reproduced as thus:
“4. It   may   be   noticed   that   there   is   a   difference
between   the   language   used   in   Article   20(2)   of   the
Constitution of India and Section 300(1) CrPC. Article
20(2) states:
“20. (2) No person shall be prosecuted and punished
for the same offence more than once.”
On the other hand, Section 300(1) CrPC states:
“300. Person   once   convicted   or   acquitted   not   to   be
tried for same offence.—(1) A person who has once
been tried by a court of competent jurisdiction for an
offence   and   convicted   or   acquitted   of   such   offence
shall, while such conviction or acquittal remains in
force,  not   be   liable   to   be   tried   again   for   the   same
12
offence, nor on the same facts for any other offence for
which a different charge from the one made against
him might have been made under sub­section (1) of
Section   221,   or   for   which   he   might   have   been
convicted under sub­section (2) thereof.”
5. Thus, it can be seen that Section 300(1) CrPC is
wider   than   Article   20(2)   of   the   Constitution.   While
Article 20(2) of the Constitution only states that “no
person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same
offence more than once”, Section 300(1) CrPC states
that no one can be tried and convicted for the same
offence or even for a different offence but on the same
facts. 
6. In   the   present   case,   although   the   offences   are
different but the facts are the same. Hence, Section
300(1)   CrPC   applies.   Consequently,   the   prosecution
under Section 420 IPC was barred by Section 300(1)
CrPC.”
11. In that case, on similar set of allegations, cognizance under
Section 138 of NI Act on filing a private complaint was taken and
accused were tried, while in other complaint it is alleged that the
offence under Sections 406 and 420 is also made out, however, as
directed by Court separate prosecution was lodged. On filing the
quash petition, this Court held that on the same set of allegations
two   different   offences   i.e.,   under   NI   Act   and   IPC   cannot   be
proceeded with and the proceedings under Sections 420 and 406
of IPC is liable to be quashed. 
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12. On perusal of the judgment of Sangeetaben Mahendrabhai
Patel   (supra)  relied in the case of  M/S.  V.S.  Reddy  and  Sons
(supra)  by the appellant and the judgments relied upon by the
respondents in the case of  G.   Sagar   Suri   (supra)  and  Kolla
Veera Raghav Rao (supra)  as afore quoted, the facts and the
allegations   were   similar   and   that   too   the   prosecution   for   the
offences under Section 138 of the NI Act and, under Sections 406
and   420   of   the   IPC   were   also   similar.   In   the   judgment   of
Sangeetaben Mahendrabhai Patel (supra) it was held that the
requirement to prove an offence under the NI Act and an offence
under the IPC is different, and it was observed that there may be
some overlapping of facts but the ingredients of the offences are
entirely different, therefore, the subsequent cases are not barred
by any statutory provisions. While in the case of G. Sagar Suri
(supra)  and  Kolla   Veera   Raghav   Rao   (supra),   the   Court
concluded that as per Section 300(1) Cr.P.C. no one can be tried
and convicted for the same offence or even for a different offence
on the same facts, therefore, the prosecution under Section 420
of the IPC is barred by Section 300(1) of Cr.P.C and accordingly
liable   to   be   quashed.   It   is   to   observe   that   in   the   case   of
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Sangeetaben Mahendrabhai Patel (supra) the judgments of G.
Sagar Suri (supra) and Kolla Veera Raghav Rao (supra) have
been referred but distinguished on the ground that it was not
raised and decided that ingredients of both offences were not
same, and the bar of Section 300(1) of Cr.P.C. would not attract.
It is relevant to note here that the judgments cited by both the
parties   are   rendered   by   benches   having   the   strength   of   two
Judges. In our considered view, the bench of this Court in the
case of  Sangeetaben  Mahendrabhai  Patel  (supra)  followed in
M/s.  V.S.  Reddy  and  Sons  (supra)  has taken a different view
from the previous judgments of G. Sagar Suri (supra) and Kolla
Veera Raghav Rao (supra) rendered by the bench of the same
strength. The view taken in both the cases are conflicting to each
other. Needles to observe that it is a trite law, if any issue is
decided in a previous judgment by a bench of the same strength,
conflicting   view   in   the   subsequent   judgment   should   not   be
rendered on the pretext that the issue has not been raised or
considered in the previous judgment. In this regard the judgment
in District Manager, APSRTC, Vijaywada v.  K. Sivaji, (2001)
2 SCC 135, Chandra Prakash v. State of U.P., 2002 AIR SCW
15
1573  can   be   profitably   referred   whereby   it   is   observed   that
judicial   decorum   demands   that   if   judgments   passed   by   twojudges’ bench of equal strength are conflicting, the issue of law
involved   must   be   referred   to   a   larger   bench   as   the   same   is
desirable to avoid confusion and maintain consistency of law. In
our view, the aforesaid judgments cited by the respective parties
are conflicting, however, to avoid any further confusion and to
maintain consistency, we deem it appropriate to refer this issue
for   decision   by   the   larger   bench   to   answer   the   following
questions:
(1) Whether the ratio of the judgment, in the case of G. Sagar
Suri (supra) and Kolla Veera Raghav Rao (supra) lay down the
correct law?
or
The   view   taken   in   the   case   of  Sangeetaben   Mahendrabhai
Patel (supra) as followed in M/s V.S. Reddy and Sons (supra)
which   is   subsequent   and   conflicting,   lay   down   the   correct
proposition of law? 
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(2) Whether on similar set of allegations of fact the accused can
be tried for an offence under NI Act which is special enactment
and also for offences under IPC unaffected by the prior conviction
or acquittal and, the bar of Section 300(1) Cr.P.C. would attract
for such trial? 
13. In view of the above discussion, in our view, the judgments
relied by learned counsel for both the parties are in conflict with
each other on the legal issue. Therefore, the above questions of
law   have   been   formulated   for   answer   by   a   larger   bench   for
decision. In such circumstances, we request the Registry to place
the file before Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India for orders.   
       ..………….……………….J.
           (S. ABDUL NAZEER)
       ……...……………………J.
(J.K. MAHESHWARI)
NEW DELHI;
AUGUST 11, 2022.      
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