‘Settling civil disputes through criminal prosecution should be discouraged’

Srinagar Court sets aside criminal proceedings against respondent
‘Settling civil disputes through criminal prosecution should be discouraged’
Representational Pic

Srinagar, Aug 31: A local court here on Tuesday set aside criminal proceedings against a man, observing that any effort to settle civil disputes by applying pressure through criminal prosecution should be deprecated and discouraged.

After hearing petitioner through his counsel advocate Marouf Khan and respondent in a criminal revision petition, the court of Fourth Additional District and Sessions Judge Naushad Ahmad Khan Srinagar observed that it is not permissible to settle civil liability by initiating criminal proceedings.

The court was hearing Criminal revision petition filed by aggrieved person against whom Special Mobile Magistrate Passenger Tax Shops and Establishment Act and Electricity, Srinagar has taken cognizance for the offences of cheating and criminal breach of trust.

“Any effort to settle civil disputes and claims, which do not involve any criminal offence, by applying pressure through criminal prosecution should be deprecated and discouraged. Not permissible to settle civil liability by initiating criminal proceedings,” the court said.

Referring to various provisions of law and Supreme Court judgments, the court said that it quite happens of a growing tendency in business circles to convert purely civil disputes into criminal cases.

“This is obviously on account of a prevalent impression that civil law remedies are time consuming and do not adequately protects the interests of lenders/creditors. There is also an impression that if a person could somehow be entangled in a criminal prosecution, there is a likelihood of imminent settlement,” court observed.

“I have no hesitation to hold that order impugned passed by learned trial magistrate of taking cognizance in the complaint and issuance of process cannot be sustained. Order impugned is set aside. Trial court is directed to pass fresh order after hearing the parties strictly in accordance with law,” the court said.

Earlier, advocate Marouf Khan who represented the petitioner submitted before court that his client owe Rs eight lakh to the respondent and in this regard the duo entered into an agreement under which petitioner had to liquidate the amount within a period of eight months by paying one lakh rupees on the expiry of every succeeding calendar month.

“The transaction between the petitioner and respondent is purely civil in nature, the respondent was having the remedy available to file recovery suit against the petitioner instead of filing the criminal proceedings against the petitioner,” advocate Khan submitted before the court.

Seeking setting aside of criminal proceedings, he further submitted that there were no such hard and fast terms and conditions laid down in the agreement in question which would lead the civil transaction towards the criminal side.

“That the plain reading of the agreement and its terms and conditions speak volumes that the transaction is purely civil and recovery of damages, if any, shall be sought under civil proceedings,” he pleaded before court.

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