Supreme Court Procedure | Distinguish B/W Criminal & Civil Law Cases In Delhi, India

Supreme Court Procedure | Distinguish B/W Criminal & Civil Law Cases In Delhi, India

What is Civil Law and Criminal Law?
Civil Law:-

Civil law deals with the disputes between people, organizations, or between the 2, within which compensation is awarded to the victim.

Criminal Law:-

Criminal law is that the body of law that deals with crime and also the legal social control for criminal offences.

What is considered a civil case?

A civil case begins when a person or entity (such as a corporation or the government), called the plaintiff, claims that another person or entity (the defendant) has failed to carry out a legal duty owed to the plaintiff.

The civil law refers to almost all other disputes—these are the rules that apply when one person sues another person, a business or agency. This can cover a housing case such as for eviction or foreclosure, a family case such as divorce or custody, consumer problems such as debt or bankruptcy, or when someone sues for money because of damage to property or personal harm. All of these cases go to a Civil Court.

These are some of the most common types of cases to appear in civil court.

Contract Disputes. Contract disputes occur when one or more parties who signed a contract cannot or will not fulfil their obligations.
Property Disputes.
Class Action Cases.
Complaints Against the City.

What is said to be a criminal case?
Criminal laws are the rules that apply when someone commits a crime, such as assault, robbery, murder, arson, rape and other kinds of crimes. After a person is arrested and charged with a crime, that person goes to a Criminal Court. An accused in a criminal offence is harmful to the society as a whole.

A person accused of a crime is generally charged in a formal accusation called an indictment (for felonies or serious crimes) or information (for misdemeanours).

It is not the victim’s responsibility to bring a criminal case. In a kidnapping case, for instance, the government would prosecute the kidnapper; the victim would not be a party to the action.

When can a civil action become criminal?

One of the more challenging circumstances of civil practice is the development of a parallel criminal proceeding connected in some fashion to an ongoing civil matter. The complexity of the civil matter and the strategic choices necessary for its successful resolution grow exponentially with the overlay of criminal liability for a party or one of its principals. The spectre of a criminal record, incarceration, fines, assessments, restitution and other penalties such as debarment change–is in most circumstances irreversibly–how to proceed with the civil matter.

Why are civil cases being given the colour of criminal cases?

Expressing serious concern over a practice of conversion of civil cases into the criminal cases, a Bench of Justice H.K. Sema and Justice R.V. Raveendran said, “This is obviously on account of a prevalent impression that civil law remedies are time-consuming and do not adequately protect the interests of lenders/creditors. Such a tendency is seen in several family disputes also, leading to the irretrievable breakdown of marriages/families.

“Mr. Justice Raveendran, writing the judgment, said: “There is also an impression that if a person could somehow be entangled in a criminal prosecution, there is a likelihood of imminent settlement. 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. The Supreme Court has deprecated the tendency, particularly in business circles, to convert purely civil disputes into criminal cases and the courts entertaining such matters for adjudication.

In the case of Madan Lal & ANR vs State Of Haryana it was seen that if the matter is clubbed together and is perused, then, it gives rise to a dispute of purely a civil nature. The question of the execution of sale deed or otherwise cannot be gone into by the police or the Criminal Court. Only the civil Court has the jurisdiction to decide such intricate questions. It is now well- the recognized principle of law that the matter, which essentially involves the dispute of civil nature cannot legally be allowed to become the subject matter of the criminal proceeding. It is not a matter of dispute that the jurisdiction of civil and criminal courts is entirely different and distinct from each other. The matter which squarely falls within the ambit and jurisdiction of the civil court cannot legally be permitted to be re-agitated in parallel proceedings in the criminal court. If the complainant is permitted to re-agitate the same very dispute in the garb of criminal prosecution, by way of impugned FIR, then, there will be no end of unwarranted litigation and it will inculcate and perpetuate injustice to the petitioners in this relevant direction. The complainant cannot possibly and legally be permitted to execute a non-existent civil court decree by putting pressure of a criminal prosecution against the petitioners-accused.

The division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Shalini Phansalkar Joshi of the Bombay high court recently stated in its judgement that when the dispute is of civil nature, giving the proceedings a criminal colour is an abuse of the process of law in the case Ramesh Shah v. Tushaar Thakkar.

Bomanji Kavasji v. Mehernosh 1982 Bom. C.R. 503, wherein it was held that there is no justice at all to criminally proceed against the accused where the dispute is essential of civil nature and that a criminal action in such a case would be the abuse of criminal process … It was further observed that the exercise of inherent powers is necessary to prevent criminal courts being utilized as weapons of harassment for settling disputes of civil nature.

Can a Criminal as well as the Civil case be done in case of Cheque Return?
Both civil cases for recovery of cheque amount and criminal complaint about cheque dishonour are maintainable.

The civil case is for recovery of money and a criminal complaint is for punishment.
Bombay high court has held that both cases are maintainable.
The remedy for the cases where civil matters are turned into a criminal offence..!!
A positive step that can be taken by the courts, to curb unnecessary prosecutions and harassment of innocent parties, is to exercise their power under Section 250 Cr.P.C. (to award compensation for accusation without reasonable cause) more frequently, where they discern malice or frivolous or ulterior motives on the part of the complainant.”

The apex court was dealing with an appeal preferred by Indian Oil Corporation against a judgment of the Madras High Court quashing criminal proceedings initiated against NEPC India Ltd and others for breach of contractual obligations. ( Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. vs Nepc India Ltd.)

The High Court had held in one of its cases that mere breach of contractual terms would not amount to cheating unless the fraudulent or dishonest intention was shown right at the beginning of the transaction.

Also, check out our previous post on –Procedures, Grounds & Judgements to Transfer Case in India

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