Private complaint alleging offence of Sec 191-193 IPC maintainable?

A Bench of Justice R.F. nariman and Justice Navin Sinha, while deciding the Criminal Appeal Nos. 546-550 of 2017 (M/S Bandekar Brothers Pvt. Ltd. vs Prasad Vassudev Keni Etc.), laid down the law with on procedure of initiating process for offence under Section 191 to 193 of Cr.P.C. The Court considered the difference between Section 195(1)(b)(i) and Section 195(1)(b)(ii) of the CrPC and emphasised upon the mandatory requirement of following the procedure prescribed under Section 340 Cr.P.C. for the offences punishable under Section 191 to 193 Cr.P.C.

Issues:

  1. What is the difference between Section 195(1)(b)(i) and Section 195(1)(b)(ii) of the CrPC?
  2. Whether the Judgment of Supreme Court in the case of lqbal Singh Marwah (2005) 4 SCC 370 is applicable for process of cognizance under Section 195(1)(b)(i)?
  3. Whether a private complaint can be entertained for offence under Section 191 to 193 of Cr.P.C.?
  4. Whether procedure prescribed under Section 340 Cr.P.C. can be bypassed?

The Court held:

  1. It is important to understand the difference between the offences mentioned in Section 195(1)(b)(i) and Section 195(1)(b)(ii) of the CrPC. Where the facts mentioned in a complaint attracts the provisions of Section 191 to 193 of the IPC, Section 195(1)(b)(i) of the CrPC applies. What is important is that once these sections of the IPC are attracted, the offence should be alleged to have been committed in, or in relation to, any proceeding in any Court. Thus, what is clear is that the offence punishable under these sections does not have to be committed only in any proceeding in any Court but can also be an offence alleged to have been committed in relation to  any proceeding in any Court.
  2. Contrasted with Section 195(1)(b)(i), Section 195(1)(b)(ii) of the CrPC speaks of offences described in Section 463, and punishable under Sections 471, 475 or 476 of the IPC, when such offences are alleged to have been committed in respect of a document produced or given in evidence in a proceeding in any Court. 
  3. What is conspicuous by its absence in Section 195(1)(b)(ii) are the words “or in relation to”, making it clear that if the provisions of Section 195(1)(b)(ii) are attracted, then the offence alleged to have been committed must be committed in respect of a document that is custodia legis, and not an offence that may have occurred prior to the document being introduced in court proceedings. 
  4. lqbal Singh Marwah (2005) 4 SCC 370, is clear authority for the proposition that in cases which fall under Section 195(1)(b)(ii) of the CrPC, the document that is said to have been forged should be custodia legis after which the forgery takes place. 
  5. If false evidence is created outside the Court premises attracting Sections 191/192 of the IPC, the ratio of lqbal Singh Marwah (2005) 4 SCC 370 would not apply so as to validate a private complaint filed for offences made out under these sections.
  6. Equally important to remember is that if in the course of the same transaction two separate offences are made out, for one of which Section 195 of the CrPC is not attracted, and it is not possible to split them up, the drill of Section 195(1)(b) of the CrPC must be followed. 
  7. It seems to us that the baby and the bath-water have both been thrown out together. While it is correct to say that the order of conversion and issuing of process thereafter on a private complaint may not be correct, yet the two complaints as originally filed can still be pursued. Once the Magistrate’s order had been set aside, the learned Additional Sessions Judge ought to have relegated the parties to the position before the original complaints had been converted into private complaints. 
  8. We, therefore, reinstate the two complaints in their original form so that they may be proceeded with further, following the drill of Sections 195 and 340 of the CrPC.

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