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Delhi HC: Individuals Unaffected by Challenged Order in Revision Petition is Not Necessary Parties

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Published on: December 07, 2023 at 10:28 IST

Justice Amit Sharma, presiding over the Delhi High Court, recently addressed a petition brought forth by M/s Bennett Coleman.

The court underscored that the term “other persons” within Section 401(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) should not be construed expansively to include individuals not directly impacted by the order contested in the revision petition.

The case’s background involved a criminal complaint filed by respondent No.2/FIITJEE Ltd. against the petitioners and others under Sections 499/500/501/502 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) before the Metropolitan Magistrate. While the petitioners faced summonses, the complaint against them was pending.

However, the complaint was dismissed concerning other accused due to non-prosecution. FIITJEE challenged this dismissal order in revision but did not include the petitioners in these revision proceedings.

The petitioners contended that they were essential parties in the revision proceedings, asserting that the orders contravened Section 401(2) CrPC, causing them harm.

The petitioners’ counsel argued that the terms ‘accused’ or ‘other person’ in Section 401(2) CrPC encompassed the petitioners, necessitating their inclusion in the revision proceedings.

Senior Advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey, representing FIITJEE, argued that the dismissal orders were procedural under Section 204(4) CrPC, pertaining to procedural aspects, rather than Section 203 CrPC, which deals with substantive grounds for dismissing a complaint.

After considering both sides’ arguments, the court concluded that the petitioners lacked the standing to challenge the impugned order concerning co-accused individuals. The order, according to the court, was not based on the merits under Section 203 CrPC, which is applicable at a pre-summoning stage.

The court emphasized that the complaint’s dismissal concerning other accused was due to “non-prosecution” and was unrelated to the merits of the complaint against the petitioners.

“The complaint was dismissed for non-prosecution on the ground of non-filing of process fee and non-furnishing of address of the said accused persons, which had no bearing on the merits of the complaint.”

Justice Sharma referred to the decision in Hindustan Domestic Oil & Gas Co. & Ors. v. State & Anr, where the court differentiated between procedural and substantive orders.

The court clarified that orders dismissing complaints for non-prosecution or in default do not touch upon the factual or legal merits of the complaint.

Regarding the aspect of prejudice, the court referred to the Division Bench’s decision in Hindustan Domestic Oil, stating,

“When a revision petition is filed against an order dismissing a complaint for non-prosecution or in default, and the same is allowed, it is not an order that causes prejudice to the opposite side, if there is no application of mind or reflection on merits whatsoever. This distinction and aspect has to be kept in mind.”

Justice Sharma further clarified that the dismissal order conferred any rights, if at all, in favor of the accused persons for whom the complaint was dismissed.

Case Title: M/s Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd & Ors v. State (NCT of Delhi) & Anr