SULOCHANA Vs. STATE REGISTRAR OF CHITS INVESTIGATION AND
HIGH COURT OF MADRAS
STATE REGISTRAR OF CHITS
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(1.) THE interesting, though knotty, questions raised for consideration in this petition are (1) whether the Registrar of Chits (Investigation and Prosecution), Madras, is a "person aggrieved by the offence" as envisaged Under Section 469 (1) (b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure and (2) whether a Court is entitled to take cognizance of offence Under Sections 3 and 7 read with Section 56 (1) of the Tamil Nadu Chit Funds Act, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) in exercise of its powers Under Section 473 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as the Code), after having first taken on file a complaint by the Registrar, without considering the question of limitation. These questions have come to be raised in the following circumstances.
(2.) THE petitioner who is working in the Corporation of Madras as an Ayah, was conducting a Chit Fund for Rs. 1,000/ -. One of the subscribers reported to the Registrar of Chits (Investigation and Prosecution), Madras (referred to in short as Registrar) on March, 27, 1976, that the petitioner had not paid the chit amount due to her. During the investigation of the report the Registrar found the petitioner had conducted the chit without registration of the by-laws and without obtaining a certificate of commencement of business in contravention of Sections 3 and 7 of the Act. Consequently, the Registrar filed a complaint on June 9, 1976 before the Third Metropolitan Magistrate, Madras for the petitioner being punished Under Section 56 (1) of the Act.
(3.) THE Magistrate took the complaint on file and issued process to the petitioner. After entering appearance, the petitioner raised objection to the complaint being proceeded with on the ground it was barred by limitation. The contention of the petitioner was that for contraventions of Sections 3 and 7 of the Act, the punishment provided Under Section 56 (1) is imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or fine which may extend to Rs. 500/-or both, that as such, the Registrar was bound to file the complaint within one year from the date of the commission of the offences (in accordance with the limitation period specified in Section 468 (2) (b) of the Code), and, as the complaint had been filed beyond a period of one year, it was out of time. This contention was on the basis that the alleged offences were committed on July 10, 1974 and the limitation period of one year came to a close on July 10, 1975. The Registrar countered the objection by saying that he came to know of the commission of the offences only on March 27, 1976 when the subscriber complained to him of non-payment of the Chit amount and therefore, the period of limitation began running only from the date of knowledge as prescribed Under Section 469 (1) (b) of the Code. The Magistrate refused to accept this plea of the Registrar for, in his opinion, the Registrar could not be considered a "person aggrieved" by the offence or a "police officer" who alone had been given the benefit of extended limitation Under Section 469 (1) (b) and (c) of the Code. Notwithstanding such a view, the Magistrate refused to sustain the plea of limitation raised by the petitioner because he was of opinion that he had ample powers Under Section 473 of the Code to condone the delay, where the delay had been properly explained for, or the interests of justice demanded condonation of the delay. It is this order of the Magistrate which is sought to be quashed by means of the criminal miscellaneous petition.;
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