Surender Kaushik and Ors v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors

A person should not be vexed twice.

Case name:Surender Kaushik and Ors v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors
Case number/Citation:Criminal Appeal No. 305 Of 2013
Court:Supreme Court of India Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction
Bench:HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE K.S. RADHAKRISHNAN HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE DIPAK MISRA
Decided on:February 02, 2013
Relevant Act/Sections:Section 2(c) and 156(3) of CrPC
  • BRIEF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
  • FIR No. 274 of 2012 was lodged by the appellant No. 1, Surender Kaushik, as the Secretary of Sanjeev Memorial Education Society on 29.5.2012 against Dr. Subhash Gupta, Dr. Harshu Gupta and Yunus Pahalwan, members of the society, alleging that in collusion with one Surya Prakash Jalan, they had prepared fake and fraudulent documents. It was further alleged that their signatures had been forged indicating their participation in various general/executive meetings of the society, though they had not attended the said meetings. On the basis of the said FIR, a crime under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC was registered.
  • One Dr. Subhash Gupta filed an application before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Meerut, under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (for brevity “the Code”) alleging, inter alia, that he was never a member of the Sanjeev Memorial Education Society, Ghaziabad and further he was neither present in the meetings of the society which were held on 1.10.2008 and 16.4.2009 nor was he a signatory to the resolutions passed in the said meetings.
  • It was further asseverated in the application that the accused persons, namely, P.C. Gupta, Seema Gupta, Surender Kaushik, Kamlesh Sharma and Vimal Singh, had fabricated an affidavit on 15.12.2008 with forged signatures and filed before the Deputy Registrar, Society Chit and Fund, Mohanpuri, Meerut.
  • FIR No. 442 of 2012 which gave rise to Crime No. 491 of 2012 was registered on 4.9.2012 and it is apt to note that the said FIR came to be registered on the basis of an order passed by the learned Magistrate under Section 156(3) of the Code.
  • In the said case, the complainant was Smt. Nidhi Jalan, one of the members of the Governing Body of the society, and it was alleged that she is a member of the society which runs an educational institution, namely, Mayo International School, and the accused persons, namely, P.C. Gupta, Seema Gupta, Vikash Jain, Bhawna Jain, Sushil Jain, Shubhi Jain, Surender Kaushik, Kamlesh Sharma, Rajender Sharma, Virender Bhardwaj, Vimal Singh and Renu Sharma, having entered into a conspiracy had prepared forged documents regarding meetings held on different dates, fabricated signatures of the members and filed before the competent authority with the common intention to grab the property/funds of the society.
  • The members had filed affidavits before the competent authority that they had never taken part in the meetings of the school management and had not signed any papers. As already stated, the said FIR pertained to offences punishable under Sections 406, 420, 467, 468, 471, 504 and 506 of the IPC.
  • ISSUE BEFORE THE COURT:
  • Whether the FIR in question concerned the same cause of action?
  • RATIO OF THE COURT
  • The counsel for the appellants argued that the law prohibits lodgment of the second FIR in respect of the same cognizable offence and it was propounded by him that when there is a legal impediment for setting the criminal law in motion, the decision in State of Haryana and others v. Bhajan Lal and others [1992 Supp (1) SCC 335] gets attracted.
  • The counsel for the state submitted that there is no absolute prohibition in law for lodgment of a second FIR and, more so, when allegations are made from different spectrum or, for that matter, when different versions are put forth by different persons and there are different accused persons. It was urged by him that the decisions relied upon by the appellants are distinguishable on facts and the proposition of law laid down therein is not applicable to the case at hand.
  • In T.T. Antony v. State of Kerala and others [(2001) 6 SCC 181] that a case of fresh investigation based on the second or successive FIRs, not being a counter-case, filed in connection with the same or connected cognizable offence alleged to have been committed in the course of the same transaction and in respect of which pursuant to the first FIR either investigation is under way or final report under Section 173(2) has been forwarded to the Magistrate, may be a fit case for exercise of power under Section 482 of the Code or under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution.
  • In Pandurang Chandrakant Mhatre and others v. State of Maharashtra [(2009) 10 SCC 773] Surender Kaushik and Ors v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors, the Court referred to T.T. Antony (supra), Ramesh Baburao Devaskar v. State of Maharashtra [(2007) 13 SCC 501] and Vikram v. State of Maharashtra [(2007) 12 SCC 332] and opined that the earliest information in regard to the commission of a cognizable offence is to be treated as the first information report and it sets the criminal law in motion and the investigation commences on that basis.
  • Although the first information report is not expected to be an encyclopaedia of events, yet an information to the police in order to be first information report under Section 154(1) of the Code, must contain some essential and relevant details of the incident. A cryptic information about the commission of a cognizable offence irrespective of the nature and details of such information may not be treated as first information report.
  • This court relied upon above cases and held that the lodgment of two FIRs is not permissible in respect of one and the same incident. The concept of sameness has been given a restricted meaning. It does not encompass filing of a counter FIR relating to the same or connected cognizable offence. What is prohibited is any further complaint by the same complainant and others against the same accused subsequent to the registration of the case under the Code, for an investigation in that regard would have already commenced and allowing registration of further complaint would amount to an improvement of the facts mentioned in the original complaint.
  • In the case at hand, the appellants had lodged the FIR No. 274 of 2012 against four accused persons alleging that they had prepared fake and fraudulent documents. The second FIR came to be registered on the basis of the direction issued by the learned Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate in exercise of power under Section 156(3) of the Code at the instance of another person alleging, inter alia, that he was neither present in the meetings nor had he signed any of the resolutions of the meetings and the accused persons, five in number, including the appellant No. 1 herein, had fabricated documents and filed the same before the competent authority. FIR No. 442 of 2012 (which gave rise to Crime No. 491 of 2012) was registered because of an order passed by the learned Magistrate.
  • It was noted that the complaint was filed by another member of the Governing Body of the Society and the allegation was that the accused persons, twelve in number, had entered into a conspiracy and prepared forged documents relating to the meetings held on different dates. There was allegation of fabrication of the signatures of the members and filing of forged documents before the Registrar of Societies with the common intention to grab the property/funds of the Society. On analyzing the the involvement of the number of accused persons and the nature of the allegations, it became clear that every FIR had a different spectrum.
  • At last the court held that the appellants or any of the other complainants or the accused persons may move the appropriate court for a trial in one court but to say that it is a second FIR relating to the same cause of action and the same incident and there is sameness of occurrence and an attempt has been made to improvise the case is not correct.
  • DECISION HELD BY COURT:

FIR lodged by the fourth respondent was quashed and petition dismissed.

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