Where on an overall reading of the complaint under Section 138 N I Act, the High Court may quash the Complaint against the Director in the absence of more particularls about role of the Director in the Complaint.
The correctness of the impugned finding given by the High Court was the subject matter of challenge whereby the question was raised as to whether the High Court was justified in quashing the proceedings initiated by the Magistrate on the ground that there was merely a bald assertion in the complaint filed under Section 138 read with Section 141 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (“NI Act”) that the Directors were at the time when the offence was committed in charge of and responsible for the conduct and day-to-day business of the accused-company which bald assertion was not sufficient to maintain the said complaint.
It was held that once in a complaint filed under Section 138 read with Section 141 of the NI Act the basic averment is made that the Director was in charge of and responsible for the conduct of the business of the company at the relevant time when the offence was committed, the Magistrate can issue process against such Director;If a petition is filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for quashing of such a complaint by the Director, the High Court may, in the facts of a particular case, on an overall reading of the complaint, refuse to quash the complaint because the complaint contains the basic averment which is sufficient to make out a case against the Director.
In the facts of a given case, on an overall reading of the complaint, the High Court may, despite the presence of the basic averment, quash the complaint because of the absence of more particulars about role of the Director in the complaint. It may do so having come across some unimpeachable, uncontrovertible evidence which is beyond suspicion or doubt or totally acceptable circumstances which may clearly indicate that the Director could not have been concerned with the issuance of cheques and asking him to stand the trial would be abuse of the process of the court. Despite the presence of basic averment, it may come to a conclusion that no case is made out against the Director. An instance may be taken of a case of a Director suffering from a terminal illness who was bedridden at the relevant time or a Director who had resigned long before issuance of cheques. In such cases, if the High Court is convinced that prosecuting such a Director is merely an arm-twisting tactics, the High Court may quash the proceedings. It bears repetition to state that to establish such case unimpeachable, uncontrovertible evidence which is beyond suspicion or doubt or some totally acceptable circumstances will have to be brought to the notice of the High Court. Such cases may be few and far between but the possibility of such a case being there cannot be ruled out. In the absence of such evidence or circumstances, complaint cannot be quashed.
No restriction can be placed on the High Court’s powers under Section 482 of the Code. The High Court always uses and must use this power sparingly and with great circumspection to prevent inter alia the abuse of the process of the Court. There are no fixed formulae to be followed by the High Court in this regard and the exercise of this power depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. The High Court at that stage does not conduct a mini trial or roving inquiry, but, nothing prevents it from taking unimpeachable evidence or totally acceptable circumstances into account which may lead it to conclude that no trial is necessary qua a particular Director.
[Gunmala Sales Pvt. Ltd. & etc. vs. Navkar Buildhome Pvt. Ltd. & etc.]