10 June 2024


Supreme Court

Saleem Ahmed Vs. State and Ors.




FIR Cannot Be Filed In Respect Of Disputes Completely Settled In Lok Adalat

In facts of present case, the Appellant is the owner of the house and let out this house to Respondent No. 3 on monthly rent. The officials of the Enforcement Department of BSES -Respondent No. 2 herein inspected the electricity meter installed in the aforesaid house and found that, the meter was not recording correct reading. On verification, the BSES made assessment in relation to the consumption of the electricity and accordingly sent a bill for theft for Rs. 97,786 to the Appellant and Respondent No. 3. The case was accordingly registered against the Appellant and Respondent No. 3.

The BSES organized one Permanent Lok Adalat-I in Lower Courts at Delhi under the provisions of Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to settle their several recovery cases. The Appellant's case was also fixed for settlement. By order, the case was settled at Rs. 83,120 against full and final payment of the aforesaid bill of Rs. 97,786. The Appellant accordingly paid Rs. 83,120 to the BSES in terms of the order in three equal installments.

Despite settlement of the case and receiving the payment, the BSES filed FIR against the Appellant under Section 135 of the Electricity Act, 2003 in relation to the same demand. The Appellant felt aggrieved by the registration of FIR against him and filed a petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 in the High Court challenging its registration as being bad in law. The High Court, by impugned order, dismissed the petition,

Once the dispute in relation to recovery of outstanding amount was finally settled between the parties (Appellant and BSES) amicably in Lok Adalat resulting in passing of the award in full and final satisfaction of the entire claim, there was neither any occasion and nor any basis to file FIR by the BSES against the Appellant in respect of the cause which was subject matter of an award. The remedy of the parties in such a case was only to challenge the award in appropriate forum in case they felt aggrieved by the award. Such was, however, not the case here.

The effect of passing of an award was that dispute in relation to the demand raised by the BSES was settled amicably between the parties leaving no dispute surviving. It is not in dispute that, the Appellant paid the awarded amount to the BSES in terms of the award and the same was also accepted by the BSES without any protest. The award thus stood fully satisfied.

The award did not contain any condition granting liberty to the BSES to file an FIR against the Appellant under the Electricity Act notwithstanding settlement of the dispute and passing of an award in relation to demand in question. On the other hand, the conditions set out in the award, in clear terms, record that the dispute has been settled in full and final satisfaction of the demand in question. It is not in dispute that Section 152 of the Electricity Act empowers the officer concerned to compound the offences punishable under the Electricity Act.

The filing of FIR after passing of the award by the Lok Adalat was wholly unjust and illegal and the same was not permissible being against the terms of the award and also for want of any subsisting cause of action arising out of demand. The impugned order is set aside. Appeal allowed.

Tags : FIR Registration Legality

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