Mansimran Kaur

New Delhi, June 9, 2022: The Delhi High Court has held that if a complaint reveals a pure civil dispute and no criminal offence is disclosed, then the FIR cannot stand in such circumstances.

The Single Bench of Justice Asha Menon observed that impugned orders directing the registration of the FIR reflected non-application of mind, which resulted in grave miscarriage of justice with respect to the petitioners. 

The factual background of the case was such that there was a dispute between the parties with respect to six plots of land which was owned by the father of the petitioner- Jagjit Singh Bawa.  Thereafter, Jagjit Singh Bawa died and thereafter his son Pawanjit inherited the estate. The petitioner, Pawanjit, sold 39.17% undivided/unspecified share to the petitioner Asha Rani. It was the case of the petitioner that there was a tenant in a portion of the ground floor of the suit property and legal heirs of the original tenant namely, second respondent-Gurvinder and his brother (Bhirjit) inherited the tenancy.

The dispute arose when the attornment notices were issued to the occupants by the new purchasers and the petitioner Asha Rani also issued demand notices to the second respondent claiming user charges at the market rate of rent.  She also submitted complaints to the NDMC for initiating action against the  second respondent  for misusing the residential premises for commercial activity and the second respondent also  filed a police complaint alleging that the petitioner committed cheating, forgery and used forged documents for the purpose of transferring the suit property.

Consequently, all three of them approached the Court and moved application under Section 156 (3) of Cr.P.C. The application of the second respondent was dismissed by the ACMM, the application moved by the petitioner Asha Rani was allowed and directions were issued for registration of FIR  against the second respondent. As a result,the application moved by the petitioner Pawanjit Singh was also disposed of.  Aggrieved by all three orders, the second respondent preferred two revision petitions before the Additional Sessions Judge. Through the impugned order, the Additional Sessions Judge upheld the order of the ACMM wherein the directions for registration of FIR were stated, however at the same time , the revision petition directing the registration of FIR against the petitioners was also allowed.  Thus, aggrieved by these orders through which directions were issued to register the FIR under Sections 420/468/471/34 IPC against the petitioners Pawanjit and Asha Rani, the petitioner preferred these petitions.

The Court observed that ASJ while upturning the orders of the MM overlooked the fact that version of the second respondent was less believable, as the fact was that admittedly Jagjit Singh Bawa was the owner of the entire property and petitioner Pawanjit Singh Bawa is his son, who had inherited the entire estate through a registered Will. The claim of the second respondent on the basis of certain documents would be subordinate to the legal status of the petitioner Pawanjit Singh, the Court noted. It was further observed by the Court that the registered Will executed by the Late Jagjit Singh couldnot be considered to be a forged document. Nor for that matter the sale deeds which were also duly registered, the Court remarked. 

Next, the Court pointed out that another factor that was neglected by the ASJ was that the second respondent filed a civil suit for declaration of his title. It was also observed that if the Trial Court would have found merit in the claim of the second respondent, he would have been able to enforce his rights against both the petitioners. 

In light of the aforesaid, observations the Court opined that since the complaint of the second respondent revealed a pure civil dispute and since assertion of title by petitioner Pawanjit Sigh Bawa resting on the Will of his father who was the original owner, and the documents not evidently being fabricated, no criminal offence being disclosed, the FIR cannot stand.  Accordingly, the impugned order was quashed and set aside. 

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