Wrongfully encashed Rs 2242, 26 years ago, man asked to pay Rs 55 lakh

In a curious case, where 26 years ago, a man who allegedly wrongfully enchased Rs. 2242 has arrived at a settlement with the Complainant for Rs. 50 Lakhs to withdraw the Criminal Proceedings, but to his hard luck, when he approached the Delhi High Court, the Court dismissed the Petition, and in an appeal before the Supreme Court, the Court imposed a cost of Rs. 5 Laks for waisting ‘two decades of judicial time’.

Twenty-six years ago, Mahendra Kumar Sharda who was employed as a manager with the Complainant Hari Om Maheshwari, who was a member of the Delhi Stock Exchange for the period from 1990 to 1995. He was doing his business in the name & style of H. Maheshwari & Co. at 5/5761, Dev Nagar, Karol Bagh, New Delhi as a sole proprietor, where Mahendra Kumar Sharda worked as a Manager in the said firm from October 1990 till 9.5.1992. Shada left the firm of the Complainant after allegedly committing various frauds. Through the status reports and charge sheet, it was further reported that the Complainant had shifted his office to Essel House, 10, Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi during January/February 1997. During this it came to his awareness that one company has posted a cheque of brokerage and commission in the name of his firm, i.e., H. Maheshwari & Co. which was delivered at his address, i.e., 5/5761, Dev Nagar, Karol Bagh, New Delhi for a sum of Rs.2242.50 issued by M/s Triveni Engineering Works Ltd., which was allegedly received by the Sharda, who deposited the same with the Punjab & Sindh Bank, Kashmere Gate, in the account No. 3546 opened by him in the name of H. Maheshwari & Co. by showing himself as the Proprietor and also encashed the same. Consequently, FIR No. 575/1997 lodged at Police Station Kashmere Gate, under Sections 420 and 468 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and Charge Sheet was submitted by the Police after completion of the Investigation.

It was submitted by the State that:

1. The Petitioner was arrested, and the relevant documents were seized, and the statements of the witnesses were recorded and the seized documents in question, i.e., the cheque no. 142045, were sent to FSL for expert opinion and that the Account Opening Form was also obtained by the Investigating Officer on which the photograph of the Petitioner herein was affixed bearing his signatures and the said document was also sent to the FSL and his signatures Q1 on the backside of the cheque and his signatures Q2 and Q3, on the account opening form were found to be the same and matched with his specimen signatures. 

2. The charges against the Petitioner dated 1.4.2009 are to the effect that on 04.04.94 at Kashmere Gate, Delhi, the Petitioner herein opened a current account with the Punjab &. Sindh Bank bearing no. 3546 in the name of H. Maheshwari &. Co., 5/5761, Dev Nagar, Karol Bagh, New Delhi, declaring himself as Proprietor thereof, despite the knowledge that the title H. Maheshwari &. Co. was registered with Delhi Stock Exchange Association Ltd. whose Proprietor was Hari Om Maheshwari (Membership Code No. 05/0273) and where he was employed as a Manager from October 1990 to 09.05.1992. 

3. Thus allegedly cheated and defrauded Hari Om Maheshwari and thereby committed an offence punishable u/s 420 IPC and that on 8.4.94 at Kashmere Gate, Delhi, he deposited the cheque bearing No.142045 dated 17.1.1994 for Rs.2242.50 issued by M/s Triveni Engineering Works Ltd. in the name of H. Maheshwari & Co., in the current account No. 3546 with Punjab & Sindh Bank after putting his signatures at the back of the cheque as a payee thereof, despite the knowledge that the said cheque did not belong to him and that the Petitioner herein also got the cheque encashed thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 468 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. 

The Petitioner submitted that in view of the settlement that has been arrived at between the Petitioner and the Complainant vide agreement dated 13.5.2019 through which it has been agreed that an amount of Rs.50,00,000/- has been decided to be paid by the Petitioner to the Complainant, the FIR deserves to be quashed.

The State submitted that though undoubtedly the averments in the FIR were made concerning the cheque dated 17.1.1994 for a sum of Rs.2242.50 which is alleged to have been received by the Petitioner fraudulently concerning the account of H.Maheshwari & Co., the Petitioner had deposited the cheque in the account No. 3546 opened by the Petitioner at the Punjab & Sindh Bank fraudulently, in the name of H. Maheshwari & Co. at 5/5761, Dev Nagar, Karol Bagh, New Delhi, declaring himself to be the Proprietor, thereof, the Petitioner had thus allegedly committed the offences punishable under Sections 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and 468 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. 

The Delhi High Court refused to quash the FIR and dismissed the Petition, observing that the allegations levelled against the Petitioner are grave and given Judgments of Supreme Court, it would not be appropriate to quash the proceedings.

Feeling aggrieved, Sharda approached the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the High Court seeking quashing of the FIR No. 575/1997. After hearing, a Bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Aniruddha Bose, in SLP (Criminal) No. 3882/2020, ordered that more than two decades of judicial time has been utilized and as such the Court is of the view that the Petitioner should pay the cost for having consumed the judicial time. Thereof, an additional sum of Rs. 5 lakhs have to be deposited with the Delhi High Court Mediation Centre within one week from today.

Now the matter has been posted for 15 September 2020, for the decision on quashing of FIR.

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