In an important ruling that is likely to benefit thousands of litigants, the Supreme Court has held if a complainant approaches the court to prosecute someone well within the time prescribed in the law, he cannot be penalised for the delay on the part of the court.
While setting-aside the order of Orissa High Court, the SC bench held that for the purpose of computing the period of limitation in a criminal case, the date of filing the complaint must be considered relevant.
The date when a magistrate takes cognizance of that complaint shall not hold good as such a process is “unconstitutional” and “ultra vires” of the Constitution.
The bench overruled all the decision in which it has been held that the crucial date for computing the period of limitation is the date when a magistrate takes cognizance of the complaint and not the date
when the complaint is actually filed.
“One of the first and highest duties of all courts it to take care that an act of Court does not harm its suitors. Because of several reasons, it may not be possible for the court or a magistrate to issue process or take cognizance. But a complainant cannot be penalised for such delay on the part of the court nor can be non-suited because of failure or omission by the magistrate,” held the bench.