Filing of Complaint u/Section 138 of NI Act does not Bar Prosecution u/Section 420 of IPC


November 26, 2018

Case name: Sazid Khan v. State of Haryana & ors.

In the case, Respondent firm had filed a complaint under Section 138 of Negotiable Instrument Act against the Petitioner. The Respondent firm had additionally also lodged an FIR under Sections 420 of Indian Penal Code.


The Petitioner in the case has submitted that once the criminal complaint is filed under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act then the FIR under Section 420 of IPC can’t be lodged for the same cause of action.

Bench’s Verdict

  • The High Court of Punjab & Haryana was of the view that there was no concept of ‘same cause of action’ or for that matter, of ‘cause of action’ in the criminal jurisprudence.
  • The Court further opined that what is punishable in criminal law is the conduct of an accused or the consequences arising from such conduct as reflected in a fact or set of facts. If such two distinct facts or set of facts or the consequences thereof constitute more than one offences then the accused is liable to be prosecuted and punished for all such offences, whether the offences are punishable under the general penal law as contained in IPC only or the same are punishable under general criminal and special criminal law separately.
  • That mere fact that a conduct is punishable under special law is not the ground to hold that such conduct cannot be punished under general criminal law.
  • It is well settled law that in criminal jurisprudence, an act of an accused becomes punishable from the stage of attempt, although in some cases it becomes punishable even from the stage of preparation. However, by any means, attempt to commit an offence, conspiracy to commit an offence, and the commission of substantive offence, in one stage and chain of acts, and then as a consequence of those acts but at different stage and different act resulting into a different offence under a different law can always be carried forward separately.

Therefore, in view of the aforesaid observations, the High Court dismissed Petitioner’s argument that simply because a complaint is filed under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, does not mean that under any circumstances, a person cannot be prosecuted under Sections 420 of IPC.

The entire case can be accessed here.

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