Legal IQ Potpourri

Quick Referencer for Judicial Service

Q.     A commits the offence of criminal (dishonest) misappropriation against B. B files a complaint petition before the Chief Judicial Magistrate against A regarding commission of the concerned offence after a long delay but within the period of limitation given in Section 468 of Cr. P.C. Should the Chief Judicial Magistrate not entertain the complaint petition on the ground that it was filed after a long delay? Will the long delay go against the complainant if it has not been reasonably explained? Refer to the case law, if any, on this point.

Ans.: The Chief Judicial Magistrate can not refuse to entertain the complaint petition on the ground that it was filed after long delay, but such long delay will certainly go against the complainant if it has not been reasonably explained by the complainant—Supreme Court in Asst. Customs Collector, Bombay v. L.R. Malwani, AIR 1970 SC 1279.

Reasons: The Supreme Court in Asst. Customs Collector, Bombay v. L.R. Malwani, held that the delay in filing a complaint may be a circumstance to be taken into consideration at the time of arriving at the final verdict, but by itself it affords no ground for dismissing the complaint.

Thus, it can be said that in the present case, delay by accused A is not sufficient to dismiss the comp­laint even if it has not been explained reasonably, though it is vital in arriving at a conclusion by the court. It will go against the complainant and weaken his case, as by long delay in initiating the prosecution through complaint, the complainant gets time for fabricating and concocting the case.

The Supreme Court, agreeing with the view taken in L.R. Malwani’s case, observed in Khedu v. State of Bihar, AIR 1971 SC 66 that if the complaint petition is filed after long delay, it is the duty of the prosecution to explain the delay. Failure to do so is undoubtedly is a circumstance of considerable importance.

Inputs: Kishor Prasad

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