The Division bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice UU Lalit and Justice Vineet Saran held that a second complaint on the same facts as that of the first complaint shall not be maintainable. The Bench said, “If the earlier disposal of the complaint had been on merits and in a manner known to law, the second complaint on almost identical facts which were raised in the first complaint would not be maintainable.” The Court was of the opinion that if the core of both the complaint was the same, the second complaint ought not to be maintained.
In this present case, the appellant’s father-in-law passed away on December, 2001. He passed away leaving behind his widow, three sons and a daughter. He was also the owner of a Maruti 800 vehicle. The brother-in-law of the appellant, who is the complainant in this particular case, filed a complaint against the appellant and her husband under Section 409, 420, 467, and 471 of the Indian Penal Code. The Complainant alleged that the appellant forged signatures of his father on the affidavit and sold the Maruti 800.
When the matter came before the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, of Jabalpur, the Magistrate dismissed the petition on the ground that there was no prima facie case against the appellant and her husband. A revision was filed by the Complainant before the VIII Additional Sessions Judge. However, he later withdrew the revision seeking liberty to file a fresh complaint on the basis of new facts. The Court said that no permission was required as a fresh complaint can be filed at any time on the basis of new facts.
After that the Complainant filed a fresh complaint alleging the same allegations, but this time relied on additional material to substantiate the allegations made in the complaint. It was submitted in the complaint that cognizance should be take of the complaint under Section 201, 409, 420, 467, and 471 of the Indian Penal Code. Cognizance was taken of the matter by the Judicial Magistrate of First Class, but only in respect to offence punishable under Section 420 of the IPC, other offences of the complaint were rejected.
The complainant challenged the said order through a criminal revision. The revision was allowed and the Magistrate was directed to reconsider the documents available and pass appropriate order taking cognizance of appropriate offences. This was challenged by the appellant before the High Court. In view of this the Judicial Magistrate took cognizance of all the offences in the complaint and charges were framed accordingly. As a result the appellant challenged the order of framing charges as well in the High Court. The High Court dismissed the revision petition opining that the second complaint was maintainable, aggrieved by this the appellant approached the Supreme Court.
- The Supreme Court held that, second complaint on the same facts as that of the first complaint shall not be maintainable.
- The Apex Court said if the core of both the complaint was the same, the second complaint ought not to be maintained.
The Supreme Court’s decision
The Division bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice UU Lalit and Justice Vineet Saran allowed the appeal and set aside the order passed by the High Court. The Court held that a second complaint on the same facts as that of the first complaint shall not be maintainable. The Court opined of this relying on the judgment passed on Pramatha Nath Taluqdar v. Saroj Ranjan Sarkar, and pointed out that,
“There was no legal infirmity in the first complaint filed in the present matter. The complaint was filed more than a year after the sale of the vehicle which meant the complainant had reasonable time at his disposal. The earlier complaint was dismissed after the Judicial Magistrate found that no prima facie case was made out; the earlier complaint was not disposed of on any technical ground; the material adverted to in the second complaint was only in the nature of supporting material; and the material relied upon in the second complaint was not such which could not have been procured earlier. Pertinently, the core allegations in both the complaints were identical.”
In view of the above the Supreme Court directed that the amount deposited by the Appellant to be returned to them along with interest.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
1. Samta Naidu & Anr. v. State of Madhya Pradesh & Anr., Criminal Appeal no. 367-368 of 2020.