Application of Punitive Laws on Matters Triable in Civil and Criminal Jurisdictions

Application of Punitive Laws on Matters Triable in Civil and Criminal Jurisdictions Case Laws Civil Law Criminal & Civil Proceedings Criminal Law Criminal Revision FIR Knowledge - Civil Law Knowledge - Criminal Law Lahore High Court Litigation & Arbitration Solutions - Civil Law Solutions - Criminal Law Mr. Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed in his judgment has decided the issue regarding application of punitive laws on matters triable in civil and criminal jurisdictions in Criminal Revision No. 94 of 2016.

1. Impugned herein is order dated 11-4-2016 whereby a Justice of Peace at Rawalpindi directed Station House Officer Police Station Airport Rawalpindi to proceed further with the matter in accordance with law. It is alleged that Sohail Ahmad and Asif Mehmood petitioners induced Nisar Ahmad respondent to transact sale of a shop measuring 6-Marlas situating within the limits of village Kotha Kalan for a consideration of Rs.14,199,000/- of which a sum of Rs.10,00,000/- was received by them as earnest amount, however, the proposed site turned out as a non-commercial piece of land. The transaction is not denied by the petitioners nor receipt of amount mentioned above, albeit with a claim that the land, given its location, had commercial value and that respondent No.3 was under a contractual obligation as per agreement to sell, to clear the remainder of the consideration and in the event of default, became liable to return the earnest money in accordance with the penalty clause mentioned therein.

2. Learned counsel for the petitioners has candidly admitted the receipt of earnest amount and also signified his willingness to return the same, however, argues that in the backdrop of stated facts, the Justice of Peace had no occasion to issue the impugned direction, apparently an innocuous order, however, preparatory to registration of a criminal case in a dispute essentially justiciable in civil jurisdiction. Contrarily, the learned Law Officer assisted by learned counsel for respondent No.3 has defended the impugned order on the ground that a statutory duty is cast upon the Station House Officer to register a criminal case on receipt of information disclosing commission of cognizable offence.

3. Heard. Record perused.

4. It is by now well settled that criminal as well as civil pursuits may be followed side by side, however, in cases where mischief of a penal provision is found indissolubly annexed with a cause of action, though distinctly justiciable in civil jurisdiction; the distinction, no doubt subtle, nonetheless, is to be carefully observed for the reason that domains of justice in civil and criminal jurisdictions are clearly demarcated, therefore, inter-se intrusion must be avoided. As corporal consequences are involved, application of punitive laws must be based upon strict construction and unless an act or omission clearly and independently fell within the defined ambit of a penal provision, its prosecution in criminal dispensation would tantamount to abuse of process of law. Every moral wrong is not a crime nor every broken promise or betrayal justiciable in criminal dispensation. Losses incurred by a claimant on account of alleged default or misrepresentation can be verified, assessed and determined through Civil Courts, a mechanism in place since time immemorial and in case the claims are well founded, these can be adequately and effectively indemnified; mere absence of a bar for simultaneous pursuits, in itself, is no justification for recourse in criminal jurisdiction in every run of the mill case. Exercise to subdue an adversary with divergent claim through engagement in criminal jurisdiction to settle civil scores cannot be suggested a bona fide pursuit under the law and thus needs to be discouraged.

In the present case, the transaction is not denied nor the location of plot; pendency of civil suits inter-se the parties is a common ground as well; the issue merely relates to the conversion of its character into a commercial unit and, if at all, an indication was mischievously given to the petitioner so as to induce him to clinch the deal, a host of remedies is available under the civil Statutes. The impugned order being not in-consonance with the above referred juridical considerations, warrants interference, therefore, Criminal Revision No.94 of 2016 is allowed and the impugned order dated 11-4-2016 is set aside. Needless to mention that observations recorded herein before would not impact upon the respective claims of the parties in relevant jurisdiction.

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