The Goa bench of Bombay high court (HC) recently quashed a first information report (FIR) and charge sheet against a restaurant for not returning Rs 5 to a customer. The restaurant had instead given the man a paper, which was supposed to work as a coupon for Rs 5.
The incident happened in December 2009 when a man from Goa went to the restaurant for tea. For a bill of Rs 35, the customer gave Rs 40. But instead of being returned Rs 5, he was given the piece of paper. He kept insisting that he wanted his money back and not the paper, but the waiter told him that the coupon was valued at Rs 5.
After being turned down by the restaurant, the complainant approached the police and requested that appropriate action be taken against them. When the police refused to initiate any criminal proceedings, the man went to the superintendent of police (SP) to file an FIR. After the SP rejected his plea, the complainant approached the judicial magistrate first class to direct the police to file an FIR.
The restaurant owner was booked under section 489E (making or using documents resembling currency notes or bank notes), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) and section 28 (counterfeit) of the Indian Penal Code.
The HC bench noted that even if the contents of the FIR were accepted, not by any stretch of the imagination can the coupon be said to be counterfeit currency. The court further said that looking at the allegations, the offences were not established and therefore, quashed the FIR.
The court went on to say that the proceedings were nothing but abuse of the process of law on the part of the complainant. The bench also added, the court must ensure that criminal prosecution is not used as an instrument to seek private vendetta.