HYDERABAD: The courts cannot punish the accused if the case concerned is based on vague allegations and in absence of concrete evidence. The affected parties or the complainants have to approach the courts with proper evidence or material to prove their case. The courts come to the rescue of such parties only if the contents of the complaint are not vague and that their plea is legally enforceable.
Two criminal petitions were filed in the Hyderabad High Court, seeking quashing of a case registered against the petitioners at Chandragiri police station in Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh under Section 420 of IPC (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property).
The de facto complainant (respondent in the above case) filed a complaint before the third additional first class judicial magistrate, Tirupati against the accused (petitioners) for offence punishable under Section 420 of IPC. It was referred to the Chandragiri police station and, accordingly, a case was registered by the police. The registration of the case by the police was challenged by the accused in the High Court.
The complainant is the sole proprietor of a petrol and diesel service station and catered to the vehicles of the company of the accused persons. He also supplied fuel for the latter’s factory furnace. Having acquaintance with the complainant, the accused, being reputed businessmen in Tirupati town, requested the complainant to fill their factory vehicles with fuel and also supply fuel for the factory furnace on credit. Payments were made one a week or once in 15 days by cheque.
According to the complainant, the businessmen had to pay him several lakhs of rupees for their transactions. A number of cheques issued by them in the name of the fuel service station were dishonoured and returned by the bank. Then he stopped supplying fuel to the businessmen. The latter then assured him that they would pay the dues in cash and take back all the dishonoured cheques. Believing them, the petrol dealer did not proceed against them under the Negotiable Instruments Act, considering that such an action would damage the reputation of the accused. When the accused failed to clear the dues in time even then, he filed a complaint seeking the defaulters’ punishment under Section 420 of IPC.
Justice T Amarnath Goud found that the complainant had filed the complaint in his individual capacity whereas the petrol station, which had supplied the fuel and obtained cheques, was not the complainant before the lower court. In the FIR too, the petrol station was not the complainant. Likewise, the complainant showed both the accused in their individual capacity but did not name their company as the accused. Even in the FIR, the accused were shown in their individual capacity and their company was not shown as accused.
Besides, the complainant did not mention in his complaint about specific transactions that took place between him and the accused. No details were provided in the complaint about supply of fuel, and the payments made or to be made by the accused. There was no evidence placed on record to show that the complainant made any demands to the accused to pay the amount. Even the copies of cheques issued earlier in favour of the petrol station did not indicate for what purpose the cheques had been issued. Thus, the complainant failed to establish that the debt was legally enforceable, he noted.
The judge pointed out that the complainant failed to explain the inordinate delay in filing the complaint though transactions had taken place six years ago. Therefore, the ingredients of Section 420 of IPC did not attract and the contents of the complaint were