No express bar to simultaneous continuance of a criminal and a civil proceeding: Allahabad HC

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The petitioner's counsel had opposed the criminal proceedings against the petitioner for EPF fraud on the ground that a civil litigation over the same matter was already sub-judice before the Provident Fund Commissioner, Varanasi.

The Allahabad High Court recently observed that there is no express bar to the simultaneous continuance of a criminal proceeding as well as civil proceedings.

Court referred to the apex court's decision in Trisuns Chemical Industry Vs. Rajesh Agarwal & Others (1999) wherein the top court had held that criminal prosecution cannot be thwarted merely because civil proceedings are also maintainable. "Merely because an act has a civil profile is not sufficient to denude it of its criminal outfit," the top court had said.

The bench of Justice Anjani Kumar Mishra and Justice Nand Prabha Shukla was dealing with a criminal miscellaneous writ petition filed by one Dilip Kumar Singh Alias Deepu Singh.

The petitioner had sought direction to quash the FIR dated November 17, 2022 registered under Sections 419, 420, 467, 468, 471, 409 of the Indian Penal Code at Kotwali Mau Police station in district Mau of Uttar Pradesh.

The allegations against the petitioner were that he failed to deposit the provident fund amount of his employees and had embezzled the EPF amount.

The petitioner's counsel submitted before the court that the petitioner was the proprietor of M/s Singh Construction, Nizamuddinpura, Mau and was awarded a work order as a contractor from the Nagar Palika Parishad, Maunath Bhanjan, Mau for the purposes of cleaning 14 wards including Urban Poor settlements and slum areas from the period April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 for which about 275 Safai Karmcharis were employed.

The counsel contended that the petitioner had been falsely implicated in the matter with mala fide intention. 

Moreover, the petitioner's counsel contended that since a civil litigation over the same subject matter was already sub-judice before the Provident Fund Commissioner, Varanasi, therefore, the present criminal case should not continue. 

On the other hand, the government counsel, opposing the present plea argued that the petitioner had not deposited the provident fund amount of Safai Karmcharis and had produced fake copies of challans/receipts, resulting in embezzlement of EPF amount of Rs. 285 employees, therefore, the criminal proceedings against him should not be interfered with. 

Taking note of the submissions made by both the parties, the division bench opined that even if the civil proceedings against the petitioner were subjudice before the Provident Fund Commissioner, Varanasi, the criminal prosecution against him could still proceed.

Therefore, while further stressing that from the perusal of records, it was apparent that the allegations in the FIR did constitute ingredients of a cognizable offence, court refused to quash the FIR lodged against the petitioner. 

Accordingly, court dismissed the present plea. 

Case Title: Dilip Kumar Singh Alias Deepu Singh v. State Of U.P. And 3 Others