This post deals with Criminal Complaints that are field after 5 years has lapsed and whether the bar under Section 468 of Cr. P C, 1973 will be applicable in initiating criminal action in the above mentioned complaints.
Limitation prescribed under Section 468 of Cr.P.C. applies to only non-serious cases where the imprisonment term does not exceed three years. The section 468 of Cr.P.C, 1973 reads as:
“Bar to taking cognizance after lapse of the period of limitation.
(1) Except as otherwise provided elsewhere in this Code, no Court, shall take cognizance of an offence of the category specified in sub-section (2), after the expiry of the period of limitation.
(2) The period of limitation shall be—
(a) six months, if the offence is punishable with fine only;
(b) one year, if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year;
(c) three years, if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term exceeding one year but not exceeding three years.
(3) For the purposes of this section, the period of limitation, in relation to offences which may be tried together, shall be determined with reference to the offence which is punishable with the more severe punishment or, as the case may be, the most severe punishment”.
A chart showing the period of limitation applicable under section 468 of Cr.P.C. in respect of the provisions under which a criminal complaint may be filed against the accused is produced below:
|IPC Charging Section||Punishment under IPC||Bar of Limitation under Cr.P.C. Section 468|
|Cheating: Section 415 IPC||Punishment under Section 417: punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.||under Section 468 (2) (b) – one year|
|Cheating: Section 415 IPC||Punishment under Section 420:
punished with imprisonment of either description
for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
|Bar of limitation under Section 468 Cr.P.C. not applicable as maximum punishment exceeds three years|
|Forgery: Section 463, 464 IPC||Punishment under Section 465 IPC: Whoever commits forgery shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.||Bar of limitation under Section 468 (2) (c) – three years|
|Forgery for purpose of cheating||Punishment under Section 468 IPC: Whoever commits forgery, intending that the document forged shall be used for the purpose of cheating, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.||Bar of limitation under Section 468 Cr.P.C. not applicable as maximum punishment exceeds three years|
|Criminal Conspiracy, Section 120 A IPC||Punishment under Section 120B IPC: the punishment of such a conspiracy be punished in the same manner as if he had abetted such offence.
Section 120: the offence be committed, be punished with imprisonment of the description provided for the offence, for a term which may extend to one-fourth of the longest term for such imprisonment.
|Bar of limitation under Section 468 (2) applies -three years|
However, it must be noted that Section 473 Cr.P.C., inter alia, provides
“Extension of period of limitation barred under Section 468 Cr.P.C in certain cases – Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing provisions of this Chapter, any Court may make cognizance of an offence after the expiry of the period of limitations, if it is satisfied on the facts and in the circumstances of the case that the delay has been properly explained or that it is necessary so to do in the interests of justice”.
Thus, if, cogent reasons are given for delay in filing complaint against the accused under sections 415, 463, 464 and 120A IPC, then a criminal complaint may be filed against the accused, subject to the Court being satisfied and condoning the delay. If the complainant had the knowledge of the accused’s criminal acts since more than 5 years and thereafter there have been several reminders, however, no actions were taken against the accused till date. Therefore, depending on the merits of the case in getting the delay of more than 6 years condoned under section 473 Cr.P.C. for complaints filed under sections 415, 463, 464 and 120A IPC are very low and such exercise will be fruitless.
However, it is evident from above, if, the complaint is filed under Section 420 IPC and/or Section 468 IPC then the bar of limitation under Section 468 Cr.P.C would not apply.