HC raps police for cloaking civil dispute into criminal offence

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has slammed police for ‘cloaking’ a civil dispute into criminal offence as it quashed a case registered for ‘cheating’ at Police Station Kulgam in 2012.
“I am convinced that it is only a machination on the part of police to get leverage to convert and cloak an otherwise a civil dispute into a non-bailable criminal offence in order to harass and arrest the petitioners,” a single bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey said, quashing an FIR (14/2012) registered by police against fruit merchants identified as Haroon Mohammad and Mohammad Ali of Mathura UP.
As per the petitioners, they are fruit merchants and registered commission agents at Mathura UP, working under the name and style of Taj Fruit Company.
The petitioners said they started business transaction with one Yawar Imtiyaz of Shopian in 2011 and the transaction started with 11606 boxes of apples laden in 13 truckloads, received by them between September 30 and November 19 2011.
Between October 4, 2011 and November 22, 2011, the petitioners said that they transferred an amount of Rs 4250000 through their bank account maintained with HDFC/SBI to the bank account of Yawar in the JKB Account at Zainapora Shopian.
In December 2011, they said, Yawar visited UP and on reconciling his account with the petitioners and received Rs 250000 as an advance amount for future transaction.
In between, they said, Yawar again visited UP and started accusing them of not disclosing the right price.
Subsequently, on February 4, they said, Yawar lodged a complaint with police station Kulgam, alleging that he sold 13 truck loads worth Rs 35 lakhs and they usurped the amount and committed cheating.
Consequently, the FIR was registered and police deputed a team to arrest the petitioners. However, on account of non-cooperation by UP police, the team returned and police approached Chief Judicial Magistrate Kulgam who issued non-bailable arrest warrants on May 2012. However, the warrants could not be executed as the petitioners remained absconding. In the meantime, the petitioners approached Supreme Court and it ordered not to arrest the duo.
“Viewing the substance of the complaint lodged together with status filed by the (government), I have no doubt in my mind that the dispute between the parties herein is essentially a civil dispute,” Justice Magrey said, adding, “I am convinced that the FIR is nothing but an abuse of law and actuated by mala fides.”
While quashing the FIR and arrest warrants issued by the CJM, the court has also recorded that counsel representing respondents were not in a position to explain as to how the failure on part of the duo to make the dealings could make out a criminal offence under section 420 RPC and entail prosecution for cheating.