The Supreme Court in Vishnu Dutt Sharma v Daya Sapra considered the effect of a judgment passed in a criminal proceeding on a pending civil proceeding.
Daya Sapra (Sapra) had borrowed Rs150,000 (US$3,100) from Vishnu Dutt Sharma (Sharma) on 10 August 1999. Upon demand by Sharma, Sapra issued a cheque for Rs150,000 on 20 October 1999. The cheque when presented for payment by Sharma to the Oriental Bank of Commerce, Delhi, was returned unpaid with the remark “insufficient funds”. This culminated in Sharma filing a criminal complaint against Sapra for allegedly committing offences under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (for dishonour of a cheque) read with section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (i.e. for cheating). In October 2002, almost 29 months later, Sharma additionally instituted a civil suit for recovery of a sum of Rs204,000 in the court of a senior civil judge in Delhi.
Sapra’s defence in both proceedings was that she had not taken any money on loan from Sharma; the cheque was not issued in repayment of any loan since no loan had been taken from Sharma; and that the cheque was in fact forcibly taken from her husband by the police.
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