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Criminal Appeal No. 767 of 2022 (Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 641 of 2021)

Decided On: 09.05.2022

Appellants: Dilip Hariramani Vs. Respondent: Bank of Baroda

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
Ajay Rastogi and Sanjiv Khanna


Sanjiv Khanna, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. The issues raised in this appeal by the Appellant, Dilip Hariramani, challenging his conviction Under Section 1381 read with Section 141 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881,2 are covered by the decisions of this Court on the aspects of (i) vicarious criminal liability of a partner; and (ii) whether a partner can be convicted and held to be vicariously liable when the partnership firm is not an Accused tried for the primary/substantive offence.

3. We are not required to refer to the facts extensively. Suffice it is to notice that the Respondent before us - Bank of Baroda, had granted term loans and cash credit facility to a partnership firm - M/s. Global Packaging3 on 04th October 2012 for Rs. 6,73,80,000/-. It is alleged that in part repayment of the loan, the Firm, through its authorised signatory, Simaiya Hariramani, had issued three cheques of Rs. 25,00,000/- each on 17th October 2015, 27th October 2015 and 31st October 2015. However, the cheques were dishonoured on presentation due to insufficient funds. On 04th November 2015, the Bank, through its Branch Manager, issued a demand notice to Simaiya Hariramani Under Section 138 of the NI Act. On 07th December 2015, the Respondent Bank, through its Branch Manager, filed a complaint Under Section 138 of the NI Act before the Court of Judicial Magistrate, Balodabazar, Chhattisgarh, against Simaiya Hariramani and the Appellant. The Firm was not made an Accused. Simaiya Hariramani and the Appellant, as per the cause title, were shown as partners of the Firm. Paragraph 8 of the complaint, which relates to the vicarious culpability, states:

8. That, both Accused No. 1 and Accused No. 2 are partners of the indebted firm. Accused No. 1, as a partner of the debtor firm, issued a under the obligation of the debtor firm. Thus, Under Section 20 of the Partnership Act 1932, Accused No. 2 is equally responsible for the underlying authority and liability of the deemed partners.

Other than the paragraph mentioned above, no other assertion or statement is made to establish the vicarious liability of the Appellant.

4. The Respondent Bank had produced as witness - Prashant Kumar Gartia (PW-1), who was posted as the Branch Manager of the Respondent and had deposed that the Firm was a partnership firm with Simaiya Hariramani as its partner. The Firm had availed term loans and cash credit and gave three cheques of Rs. 25,00,000/- each, which were dishonoured due to 'insufficient funds'. Even after the demand notice (Exhibit P-04), the Accused had not deposited the amount. Thereby, a complaint Under Section 138 of the NI Act was filed. In his cross-examination, PW-1 admitted that the demand notice had not been issued t........