Litigant cannot be penalised for court's inaction: SC

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New Delhi, July 29 (UNI) The Supreme Court has held that a litigant cannot be penalised or punished for the omission, default or inaction on the part of a court or a magistrate.

A bench comprising Justices CK Thakkar and Tarun Chatterjee, while allowing the appeal of a Japani Sahoo against the Orissa High Court judgement, dated June 20,2006, dropping criminal proceedings against a policeman, Chandrashekhar Mohanti, for demanding Rs 5000 per month as illegal gratification from Sahoo, observed, ''A complainant is not responsible for any delay on the part of the court or magistrate in issuing process or taking cognisance of an offence if that action of initiation of proceedings has been taken within the period of limitation. Now, if he is sought to be penalised because of the omission, default or inaction on the part of the court or magistrate, the provision of law may have to be treated on the touchstone of Article 14 of the Constitution.'' The Court also noticed, "It can possibly be urged that such a provision is totally arbitrary, irrational and unreasonable. It is settled law that a court of law would interpret a provision, which would help sustain the validity of law by applying the doctrine of reasonable construction. Connecting the provision of limitation in Section 468 CrPC with issuing of process or taking of cognisance by the court may make it unsustainable and ultra vires Article 14 of the Constitution.'' ''In view of the above, we hold that for the purpose of computing the period of limitation, the relevant date must be considered as the date of filing of complaint or initiating criminal procedings and not the date of taking cognisance by a magistrate or issuals of process by a court. We, therefore, overrule all decisions, in which it has been held that the crucial date for computing the period of limitation is taking of cognisance by the magistrate/court and not of filing of complaint or initiation of criminal procedings,'' the court added.

The court also directed the trial court to proceed with the case as expeditiously as possible.


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