The Supreme Court bench of Justice Nageswara Rao and Justice MR Shah observe, in the case of Kamal Shivaji Pokarnekar vs. State of Maharashtra, that criminal complaints cannot be quashed merely on the ground that the allegations made out by the complainant are civil in nature. The Appellant alleged that the Respondents had committed forgery and prepared false documents which resulted in the construction of a development agreement and accordingly a complaint under Section 420, 465, 467, 468, 471 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) was filed which was subsequently investigated by the Police under Section 156(3) of the IPC and a report was submitted stating that the matter appeared to be in the nature of a civil dispute. The Trial Court subsequently directed issuance of process against the Respondents in lieu of the statement of the husband of the Appellant.

The Respondents filed a Writ Petition in the High Court, which allowed the Writ whilst observing holding that the dispute was of a civil nature, and criminal proceedings against the Respondents would be an abuse of the process of law. The Appellant submitted that the High Court had erred in setting aside the order of the Trial Court for issuing summons upon the Respondents. The Respondents submitted that the material evidence on record were evident of the dispute being civil in nature and the ingredients of the offences alleged against them were not fulfilled.

Having heard the arguments advanced, the Bench allowed the appeal on the basis of the following observation:

“9. ………we are of the considered view that the High Court ought not to have set aside the order passed by the Trial Court issuing summons to the Respondents. A perusal of the complaint discloses that prima facie, offences that are alleged against the Respondents. The correctness or otherwise of the said allegations has to be decided only in the Trial. At the initial stage of issuance of process it is not open to the Courts to stifle the proceedings by entering into the merits of the contentions made on behalf of the accused. Criminal complaints cannot be quashed only on the ground that the allegations made therein appear to be of a civil nature. If the ingredients of the offence alleged against the accused are prima facie made out in the complaint, the criminal proceeding shall not be interdicted.”

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