Read Order: Satish Kumar v. State Of Haryana

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, May 19, 2022: On the scope of revisional jurisdiction of a High Court, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has recently held that the revisional jurisdiction of the High Court is restricted to examining whether there is any manifest error of law or procedure and such a power is to be exercised only when there is apparent illegality, gross procedural irregularity or impropriety leading to miscarriage of justice, legal infirmity or gross misappreciation of the evidence that does not reconcile to the conclusion drawn by the Court. 

The above-stated observations were made by the Bench of Justice Vinod S. Bhardwaj while dealing with a revision petition by a convict who was sentenced for executing a sale deed in favour of the complainant and subsequently receiving earnest money in respect of the same even when an earlier agreement in respect to the same property was subsisting with another person. 

The Bench also expounded, “The High Court in a revisional jurisdiction would not interfere in the opinion of the Courts below if such an opinion is a possible opinion on the basis of the evidence brought on record and would not substitute its own opinion merely because such opinion is also a possible opinion.”

Essentially, on August 17, 2005, the accused-Satish Kumar executed an agreement to sell agricultural land in favour of the complainant-Ramesh and received earnest money of Rs.1 lakh. The sale deed was to be executed on or before March 31, 2006. 

The petitioner-accused allegedly executed another agreement to sell with one Naresh Dhimanin in June 2005, the information of which reached the complainant via Court summons when he was impleaded as the second defendant by the said Naresh Dhiman. 

An FIR was registered against the accused under Sections 417, 420, 467, 468, 471, 423, and 426 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’). The Trial Court came to the conclusion that despite having entered into a prior agreement to sell with Naresh Dhiman, the petitioner hid this fact and induced the complainant to pay the earnest money in lieu of the land. The petitioner was thus convicted by the judgment and was sentenced. 

Aggrieved, the petitioner preferred an appeal which was dismissed. Hence, the present revision petition was filed. 

The counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner argued that no offence of cheating was committed by the petitioner and that in the civil suit filed by the complainant against the petitioner, it was clearly held that the agreement in question was duly executed in favour of the complainant as well. It was further argued that owing to a decree passed by the Civil Court in favour of Naresh Dhiman, he could not execute the sale deed in favour of the complainant-Ramesh Kumar and that there was no criminality on his part. Rather it is a case of civil dispute between the parties.

The State counsel, on the other hand, argued that the Courts below passed detailed judgments dealing with the submissions advanced by the petitioner and validly recorded the judgment of conviction against the petitioner. He further submitted that the revisional jurisdiction could not be invoked unless there was any illegality, infirmity, impropriety or the judgment suffered from gross misapprehension of the evidence, resulting in the conclusions which were otherwise not sustainable on an objective reading of the evidence. The Revisional Court does not interfere with the opinion of the Courts below merely because any other view is also possible, the Counsel argued. 

The Court while observing that the agreement to sell executed between the complainant and the petitioner falsely stated that there was no prior agreement pertaining to the land, opined that the claim of the petitioner that he did not intend to defraud the complainant was apparently misconceived inasmuch as both the agreements were established to have been executed by the petitioner and that he could not claim that he was unaware of the agreement to sell executed with Naresh Dhiman on the date when the agreement to sell was executed with the complainant. 

Further, the Court added that even otherwise, in case the claim of the petitioner is to be accepted that he had no intent to defraud the complainant and even the suit in favour of the petitioner was decreed by the Civil Court, there is no reason why the petitioner could not bring on record the execution of any sale deed in favour of the petitioner with respect to the land in question. 

Also, Justice Bhardwaj asserted that the fact that the petitioner acknowledged the execution of the agreement to sell in favour of the complainant despite subsistence of prior agreement to sell and the consequent hiding of this fact, established the prosecution case against him. The Court added that the filing of the civil suit for seeking specific performance of the contract by Naresh Dhiman or the subsequent decree in favour of the complainant about the agreement to sell being valid does not in any manner prove the innocence of the petitioner and it cannot be said that the dispute in question was civil in nature.

“Rather, the civil proceedings arose on account of the fraudulent acts committed by the petitioner against the complainant-Ramesh Kumar”, the Bench highlighted. 

Lastly, on the scope of revisional jurisdiction of the High Court, the Court was of the opinion that the revision jurisdiction is being restricted to examining whether there is any manifest error of law or procedure, such a power is to be exercised only when there is apparent illegality, gross procedural irregularity or impropriety leading to miscarriage of justice, legal infirmity or gross misappreciation of the evidence that does not reconcile to the conclusion drawn by the Court. 

The Bench further asserted that the High Court in a revisional jurisdiction would not interfere in the opinion of the Courts below if such an opinion is a possible opinion on the basis of the evidence brought on record and would not substitute its own opinion merely because such opinion is also a possible opinion.

Thus, in view of the facts and the scope of revisional jurisdiction noticed above, the Court found no illegality, perversity, infirmity or impropriety in the judgments passed by the Courts below. Accordingly, the present revision petition was dismissed.

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