“The complaint itself narrates that between 2014 and 2018, 77 buses were purchased and were plying on roads but later they generated defects which cannot but be held as wear and tear and due to the manner in which they were driven,” Justice M Nagaprasanna noted in his order.
“Be that as it may, the offence of criminal breach of trust (section 406 of IPC) or cheating (section 420) cannot even remotely be found in the complaint, which alleges that a commercial transaction has gone wrong between the company and the complainant. The transaction has gone wrong not because of the acts of the company, but due to the complainant failing to pay the amount either to the company or to the financier. Having defaulted on payment and losing possession of buses, the complainant has become disgruntled and taken to arm-twisting the company for settlement of dues,” the judge further added.
“Therefore, it becomes a fit case where this court has to exercise its jurisdiction under section 482 of CrPC to take off the Damocles’ sword hanging over the head of the petitioners and annihilate the crime registered against them, failing which, it would be putting a premium on the litigative tactics of the complainant and would degenerate into harassment of the petitioners, abuse of the process of law and, eventually, result in miscarriage of justice,” Justice Nagaprasanna observed.
SRS Travels had registered the FIR with Kalasipalya police in April 2020, alleging that on account of supply of defective vehicles, it had suffered losses, due to which it was unable to clear dues to the financier – Volkswagen Finance Private Limited. Owing to the default, several buses were seized following an arbitral award in 2019.
Challenging the said FIR, Scania argued that a commercial transaction is sought to be given the colour of crime. It contended the reason for registering the crime is that the original complainant (late KT Rajashekar, proprietor of SRS Travels) became a chronic defaulter (by not paying any amount to the financier) and buses that were sent for repair had to be kept at the workshop as the complainant failed to pay even the repair charges.
SRS Travels, represented by Rajashekar’s legal heir and daughter BR Megha, contended that they (Scania) had shut shop without any guarantee of repair or spare parts being available for those buses which they delivered, causing huge loss to the complainant transport operator.