Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: V.M. Deshpande, J. dismissed an appeal filed against the order of the trial judge whereby he rejected the appellant’s application for condonation of delay in filing a complaint for an offence under Section 138 (dishonour of cheque) of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.

Firstly, a complaint was filed for offence under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act by the appellant. Thereafter, he filed an application under Section 143(b) and the said was registered separately.

Notices on the said applications were issued. No step was taken by the appellant to serve the non-applicants. Not only that, he remained continuously absent. Consequently, the trial judge found that the appellant was not interested in prosecuting the case and, therefore, dismissed the application for condonation of delay as well as the complaint. Against the said, the present criminal appeal was filed.

The High Court observed: “When the complaint and/or proceedings are filed by the litigant before the Court of law, it is the onerous duty to prosecute the same diligently. The applicant cannot be dormant for years together as observed in the present case.” The Court opined that unless and until the non-applicants were served in the proceedings before the trial court, the said proceedings could not proceed further. Since it was a private complaint, it was the duty of the appellant to take all necessary steps to serve the non-applicants. It was said: Unnecessary filing of complaints and/or after filing of complaints, no step is taken and, therefore, the Courts are unnecessarily burdened and learned Judge below is unable to devote time for the litigants who are diligently prosecuting their proceedings has to remain in the queue.”

In such view of the matter, the Court dismissed the present appeal imposing costs of Rs 5000 on the appellant. [Ramzan Khan v. Khadim Tours and Travels, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 709, decided on 24-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Bench of Vibhu Bakhru, J., while pronouncing a decision in respect to determining the jurisdiction of “Board of Discipline of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India” stated that,

Court is unable to accept the contention that Board of Discipline does not have the jurisdiction to examine the alleged misconduct. Clause (2) of Part-IV of the First Schedule to the Act is wide, and would include within its scope, any conduct that would tend to bring disrepute to the profession or the Institute.”

The matrix of facts in the present case is that the petitioner is a Chartered Accountant (CA) and a member of ICAI who has filed the present petition impugning the decision of the Board of Discipline of ICAI. Board had expressed its prima facie opinion of the Director (Discipline) that the petitioner was not guilty of “other misconduct” falling within the meaning of Clause 2 of Part IV of the First Schedule to the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949.

Petitioner had submitted that allegations against him have no bearing with him carrying the profession as a Chartered Accountant and therefore, the Board and/or ICAI would have no jurisdiction to entertain a complaint in that regard.

ICAI commenced the proceedings in regard to the complaints filed by Respondent 2 alleging that petitioner had outraged the modesty of his daughter, i.e. HA along with certain other offences under the Penal Code, 1860. An incident of harassment in 2004 took place for which HA had lodged a complaint and for which the petitioner’s statement stated that, “would not go to the street on which HA’s residence was located and would neither speak to her nor obstruct her while she was on her way”.  Petitioner still repeated the offence twice. Further, the petitioner continued to harass HA by threatening and defaming her and once dragging her in an attempt to get her inside his car. Thereafter, Respondent 2 lodged a complaint with ICAI for initiating disciplinary proceedings against the petitioner.

Director (Discipline)’s Stand

Director (Discipline), ICAI concluded the allegations levelled against petitioner relate to inter-personal relationships between HA and petitioner, thus, it would be appropriate if Respondent 2 sought redressal of the problems in another forum. Allegations did not necessarily fall within the disciplinary mechanism in respect of professional or other misconduct as provided under the Act and Rules framed thereunder.

Conclusion

The Bench stated that, as is apparent from the plain language of Part IV of First Schedule to the Act, the expression ‘other misconduct’ includes any conduct, which brings disrepute to the profession or the ICAI as a result of an action whether or not related to professional work. Thus, it is not necessary that misconduct complained should be a conduct in exercise of the profession of Chartered Accountancy. Conduct, which tends to bring disrepute, would be a subject matter of proceedings under Chapter V of the Act.

Thus, the Court was unable to accept that the proceedings before the Board of Discipline are without jurisdiction. Further while concluding its decision, it stated that the Board of Discipline has no jurisdiction to sentence the petitioner, but it would be erroneous to contend that the Board of Discipline does not have jurisdiction to examine the allegations made against the petitioner, in the context of determining whether the petitioner is guilty of other misconduct as defined under Part-IV of the Schedule-I of the Act.

Therefore, Court refrained from expressing any opinion on the merits of the complaint as the question of other misconduct was yet to be decided by the Board of Discipline. Also if the petitioner is found guilty, he has the remedy of an appeal before the Appellate Authority under Section 22-G of the Act. [Lalit Agrawal v. ICAI, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 6960, decided on 11-02-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): A Division Member Bench of Anup K Thakur, C. Viswanath, Members, dismissed a complaint at the stage of maintainability, which was filed for claiming deficiency of services on the part of the opposite party.

The complainant had booked a residential apartment in one of the projects of the opposite party and the complainant had paid almost the entire cost of the prospective flat in installments. The opposite party failed to construct the flat and hence the complainant alleged deficiency in services on the part of opposite party.

The main issue that arose before the Commission was whether the complaint was maintainable before the Commission.

The Commission observed that as per Section 21(a)(i) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the Commission shall have jurisdiction to entertain consumer complaints wherein the sum of goods and services along with compensation claimed by the complainant exceeds Rs. 1,00,00,000/-. In the present case, the total cost of flat along-with interest claimed by the complainant was below the mark of Rs. 1,00,00,000/-. However, the complainant had claimed an amount of Rs. 45,00,000/- for mental agony, which was almost at par with the cost of the flat itself.

The Commission held that the amount of compensation claimed by the complainant for mental agony suffered is highly unreasonable and in the absence of the same, the cost of the flat along with the interest does not cross the mark of Rs. 1,00,00,000/- and hence this case does not come under the jurisdiction of the Commission. Resultantly the complaint filed by the complainant was dismissed. [Aanchal Garg v.  Amahagun India (P) Ltd., 2018 SCC OnLine NCDRC 379, order dated- 09-08-2018]