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Case Name:- Mariam Fasihuddin & Anr. Appellant(s) versus State by Adugodi Police Station & Anr.  Respondent(s)

Criminal Appeal No: – 335/ 2024 (Arising out of Special Leave to Appeal (Crl.) No. 2877/2021)  

On January 22, 2024, in Mariam Fasihuddin & Anr. v. State, the Supreme Court emphasized a key aspect when charging under Section 420 IPC. The Court emphasized the need to consider whether the deceitful act of cheating was linked to persuading the complainant to part with any property.

Brief Facts

In this case, the first appellant and the second respondent are spouses. The husband worked in London, and they decided to live there. However, after relocating, the husband abandoned the wife in London, leading her to reside with relatives. Following this, the wife gave birth in India and sought a passport for the child on the husband’s instructions. The husband later accused the appellants (wife and relatives) of forging his signature for the child’s passport.

An FIR was filed under Sections 420, 468, 471 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, alleging cheating, forgery, and using a forged document.

The appellants sought discharge in court, but it was denied. Simultaneously, the court ordered further inquiry, resulting in a supplementary charge sheet. Charges under Section 12(b) of the Passports Act were added against the wife and her relatives.

The trial court’s order rejecting the discharge application, the appellants filed a criminal revision before the High Court, which ultimately led to its dismissal.

Subsequently, challenging the impugned order of the High Court, the wife and her relative filed a criminal appeal before the Supreme Court.

Courts Observation

Observing the case thoroughly, the Supreme Court clarified the scope of the offence of cheating. The court emphasized that to invoke Section 420 IPC, the prosecution must not only prove the act of cheating. But also prove cheating induced the person to surrender the property in question, establishing a connection between deceit and inducement.

“It is thus paramount that in order to attract the provisions of Section 420 IPC, the prosecution has to not   only prove that the accused has cheated someone but also that by doing so, he has dishonestly induced the person who is cheated to deliver property. There are, thus, three components of this offence, i.e., (i) the deception of any person; (ii) fraudulently or dishonestly inducing that person to deliver any property to any person, and (iii) mens rea or dishonest intention of the accused at the time of making the inducement. There is   no   gainsaid   that   for   the   offence   of   cheating, fraudulent and dishonest intention must exist from the inception when the promise or representation was made.”

Important Point 

Point No: – 38. It is undeniable that despite the evident discord between the Appellants and Respondent No. 2, resulting in numerous complaints and legal proceedings, the issue at hand has adversely impacted the
rights and interests of the minor child. The right to travel abroad is a fundamental right of an individual, albeit not absolute, and subject to established legal procedures.

The conduct exhibited by Respondent No. 2 infringes upon the best interests of the minor child, which necessitates the child’s travel abroad for the realisation of opportunities and intrinsic value, aligning with the child’s dignity, as enshrined by the Constitution.

Conclusion and Direction 

Point No: -39 Consequently, the appeal is allowed; the impugned judgment of the High Court dated 18.02.2021, and that of the Trial Magistrate dated 15.03.2018, are hereby set aside. As a sequel thereto, the FIR No. 141 / 2010 registered at Police Station Adugodi, Bengaluru under Sections 420, 468, 471 read with Section 34 IPC, lodged by Respondent No. 2 against the Appellants and all the proceedings arising therefrom are hereby quashed.

Point No; – 40. Respondent No. 2 is liable to pay the cost of Rs. 1,00,000/­ to Appellant No. 1. Ordered accordingly, Respondent No. 2 shall pay th costs within six weeks, failing which the Trial Magistrate is directed to initiate coercive measures for recovery thereof.

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