When two builders decide to slug it out in court, criminal cases and all, there usually is a winner and a loser. However, in this rare and unusual case, disposed by the High Court of Bombay at Goa this week, both lost.
The dispute between two former partners of a well-known Panjim-based real estate firm dates back to March 2019 over a premises on the fourth floor of a building.
What started out as a civil dispute took a turn for the worse when the duo filed criminal complaints against each other. So, what was essentially a civil matter took on criminal flavour and a chargesheet came to be registered before the JMFC.
Once this happened, both parties approached the High Court of Bombay at Goa to get the chargesheets squashed on grounds that the matter was a civil dispute.
The high court decided to hear both the petitions together, and the verdict that was finally delivered by Justices RN Laddha and MS Sonak was more than a slap on the wrists for both builders. At the end of it, both were poorer by Rs 50,000, while the Goa State Legal Services Authority will be richer by Rs 1,00,000.
The court, while observing that the matter in question was civil in nature, stated, “In such a situation, neither party should be permitted to abuse the criminal justice system by filing criminal complaints against each other and expecting the prosecution agencies to investigate and launch a prosecution”.
While noting that a case has been made out for quashing both the chargesheet, the judgement stated, “The petitioners must be saddled with substantial costs so that in the future, they do not embark upon such misadventures of attempting to give a criminal flavour to what is essentially and predominantly civil disputes”.
Accordingly, both petitioners have been ordered to pay Rs 50,000, each, to the Goa State Legal Services Authority within two weeks.