IN THE SUPREME COURT OF
JOY JOSEPH CREADO & ANR.
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.237 OF 2012
The complaint under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 r/w Section 420 of IPC, in the present case had been filed by Ms. Sairabee through a Special Power of Attorney holder, Sk. Tamisuddin, who in the present case is the Appellant.
Ms. Sairbee died while the trial was on-going, subsequent to which, the Appellant, who is also the son of Ms. Sairbee filed an application before the Honorable Trial Court to continue with the proceedings with the Appellant in the capacity of her legal heir. The aforesaid application had been allowed by the Trial Court.
The High Court on the other hand, quashed the above proceedings and stated that initiation of complaint by the Special Power of Attorney was invalid and that the continuance of the said proceeding after the death of the Ms. Sairbee through the Appellant was not permissible.
Aggrieved by the order of the Honorable High Court, the present appeal was now before the Supreme Court of India.
ISSUE BEFORE SC
Whether the cheque bounce complaint filed under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, can be continued by the Power of Attorney Holder in the capacity of a legal heir to the deceased?
The Supreme Court while deciding the present matter had heavily relied upon the case of A.C. Narayanan vs. State of Maharashtra and Another 2013 (11) Scale 360, and had given an affirmative answer while stating the following:
"We have considered the decision of this Court in A.C. Narayanan vs. State of Maharashtra and Another, wherein this Court has clearly held that a complaint filed by the power of attorney would be maintainable in law. If that is so, the initial complaint filed by the appellant on behalf of Sairabee as the complainant would not be invalid in law as held by the High Court in the order under challenge."
The Supreme Court also observed that after the death of Sairbee the application was filed by the Appellant to continue the criminal proceeding in capacity of being her legal heir, which the High Court seems to have misunderstood as continuance of criminal prosecution in capacity of Power of Attorney Holder.
The competence of legal heir of person aggrieved (in the present scenario, Sairbee) to continue with the criminal complaint is not in doubt and that the High Court should have allowed the said application.
The Court basing its order on the factual scenario set aside the impugned order of the High Court and directed for the commencement of the trial from the stage where it was interdicted by the High Court.
RELIED UPON DECISIONS
The Hon'ble Court put reliance upon the following decisions:
1. A.C. Narayanan vs. State of Maharashtra and Another, 2013 (11) Scale 360.
REASON OF JURISPRUDENCE
The competence of a legal heir of an aggrieved person is not a question of dubiousness anymore since the Supreme Court has affirmed the same in A.C Narayan vs. State of Maharashtra 2013 (11) Scale 360, while observing that eligibility of the Power of Attorney Holders to sign and file compliance on behalf of person aggrieved will depend upon the satisfaction of the criteria as prescribed under Section 142 (a) of the Negotiable Instrument Act, 1881.
Further, the Supreme Court while affirming its judgment in the aforementioned case relied upon other judgments and observed that that even though the issue is related to the powers of Power of Attorney under Civil Procedure Code 1908, it was subsequently held that the plaint filed by a holder of Power of Attorney on behalf of other(s) would be maintainable provided that he has knowledge of the transaction.
This condition of having knowledge is of paramount importance so as to bring on record the reasons of grievance/offence and ensure justice.
The legal heir is no more alien to carry on the proceedings on the death of the original applicant. Hence, a person holding power of attorney can continue the proceeding upon the demise of the original complainant and the same will not abate on death of the original petitioner rather it will be valid and maintainable under the law.
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