Read Order: Prem Bansal v. State of Haryana and Another
Chandigarh, February 24, 2022: In a cheque bounce case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has set aside an order declaring the petitioner as a proclaimed offender and has also quashed an FIR which was directed to be registered by the Trial Court against the petitioner under Section 174-A of the IPC for his non-appearance in pursuance of the proclamation issued against him.
The Bench of Justice Vikas Bahl allowed the quashing plea on the ground of withdrawal of the complaint under Section 138 NI Act and subsequent compromise between the parties. The Bench opined in this respect, “Once the proceedings under Section 138 of the Act of 1881 have been withdrawn, then, keeping the present FIR registered under Section 174-A of the IPC alive would be an abuse of process of the Court. Even, order (…) vide which the petitioner has been declared as proclaimed person in the proceedings under Section 138 of the Act of 1881, deserves to be set aside.”
In arriving at this conclusion, reliance was placed by the Court on earlier decisions of Punjab and Haryana High Court itself in cases of Baldev Chand Bansal v. State of Haryana and Another, CRM-M-43813-2018 and Ashok Madan vs. State of Haryana and Another, 2020(4) RCR (Criminal) 87.
The factual scenario of the case was such that a complaint was made by the complainant against the petitioner under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act for the dishonour of a cheque. Due to the non-appearance of the petitioner in the proceedings under Section 174-A of the IPC, the petitioner was proclaimed as an offender and on the very same day a direction for the registration of an FIR against the petitioner under Section 174-A of the IPC, was issued.
Hence, the petitioner filed a petition under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. for quashing of the said FIR along with the order of proclamation against the petitioner.
It was the case of the petitioner’s counsel that in the proceedings initiated for cheque bounce, the petitioner was never served and that the orders of declaring the petitioner as a proclaimed offender and of directing the registration of an FIR against him, were illegal. It was further contended that the moment, the petitioner learnt about the said proceedings, he compromised the matter with the complainant and resultantly, the compliant case was withdrawn. It also argued that since the complaint was withdrawn, thus, the continuation of the proceedings under Section 174-A of the IPC instituted in pursuance of the order declaring the present petitioner as a proclaimed person was an abuse of the process of the Court and same was liable to be quashed/set aside.
The State counsel opposed the petition and submitted that the impugned orders declaring the petitioner as a proclaimed person as well as registration of FIR were in accordance with the law.
After perusing the matter, the Court observed at the outset that the petitioner was never duly served in the said proceedings and also that the petitioner was declared as a proclaimed person on the same day when direction for registration of an FIR against him was issued. Further, the fact that the petitioner compromised the matter with the said complainant and thus the complaint was withdrawn, also weighed with the Court.
Therefore, while opining that keeping the FIR alive after the withdrawal of the very complaint which resulted in the issuance of proclamation and the resultant FIR, would be an abuse of the process of the Court, the Court decided to set aside both the impugned order and direction.
Thus, the quashing plea was allowed. The FIR was quashed and the order of proclamation was set aside.