Can Accused be Acquitted for Non-Appearance of Complainant u/s 256 of CrPC?


July 13, 2018

Case name: Padam Singh Saini v. Megh Singh

In this recent case, the High Court of Himachal Pradesh has opined that if the non-appearance of the complainant for case is unintentional then the same cannot be a ground to acquit the accused under Section 256 of CrPC.

In the case, the appellant had primarily lodged complaint under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 against the respondent. Thereafter, the complainant served the accused through registered notice and demanded the cheque amount, however the accused neither replied nor paid the cheque amount.

The lower Court in the case also issued notice, however the Complainant could not appear as he was under the impression that his Counsel would appear. Resultantly, the Lower Court below dismissed the complaint under Section 256 of Code of Criminal Procedure and subsequently acquitted the accused.

Section 256 of CrPC empowers the Magistrate to acquit the accused if the complainant does not appear on the date appointed for the case.

Aggrieved by Lower Court’s order, the Appellant approached the High Court of Himachal Pradesh.

The High Court of Himachal Pradesh while allowing the appeal made the following observations in the case:

  • On perusal of the record, the Court was of the view that the appellant-complainant could not appear before the Court below, as he was, under the impression that his counsel will appear before the learned Court below and it was only a formal date, however, his counsel also could not appear due to unavoidable circumstances.
  • In view of the aforesaid observation, the Court concluded that non-appearance of the appellant-complainant as well as his counsel was neither intentional nor willful, but was beyond their control.

Thus, the Appeal was allowed and the Lower Court’s order was set aside.

The entire case can be accessed here.