Case Number

Cri. Revn. Case no. s 585, 586, 658 of 1999

Equivalent Citation

1999 SCC OnLine Mad 604: 2000 Cri LJ 1552: (2001) 1 BC 211


Single judge bench of A. Ramamurthi, J.

Decided on

10th August 1999.

Relevant Act/Section

  1. Section 451 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 – Order for custody and disposal of property pending trial in certain cases. 
  2. Section 91 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 – Summons to produce document or other thing.
  3. Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Punishment for theft.
  4. S.203 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 – Dismissal of Complaint.

Brief facts and Procedural History 

Mr. Sekar had filed two revision petitions in the trial courts asking back for the custody of the lorry that he alleged being the owner of. He had filed a complaint under sections 451 as well as section 91 before the learned Magistrate asking for the lorry from the respondent. Along with it, Mr. Sekar filed a complaint of theft under S.379 of IPC stating that the respondent, Bank of Madura, had committed an offence under the aforementioned section by taking away the lorry from the rightful owner. The learned Magistrate dismissed the complaint under S.203 which resulted in the petitioner filing a complaint with the Additional District Judge of Trichy wherein his petition was allowed. The respondent part, Bank of Madura, aggrieved by this order, filed a revision petition wherein the Sekar’s petitions were dismissed by the trial magistrate. Aggrieved against this, Sekar filed the current revision petition in the High Court of Madras contending that the magistrate has erred in dismissing his petitions. The respondent bank states that it was well within their rights as a lender of finance to take away the lorry on default of any contractual agreement between the bank and an individual/group. 

Issues Before the Court 

  1. Whether the learned magistrate has erred in dismissing the petitions of Mr. Sekar?
  2. Whether the bank should be punished for an offence committed under S.379 of the Indian Penal Code?

Ratio of the Case 

The ratio decidendi in the above case is that the bank cannot be said to have committed an offence under S.379 when it was strictly doing its job as a finance lending institution that has the rights to seize the borrower’s property in case of default of payment even after countless warnings by the bank. 

Decision of the Case 

Ramamurthi, the presiding judge in the above case, after a careful perusal, stated that none of the judges except the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Trichy has made a mistake in dismissing the petitions of Mr. Sekar. Sekar himself entered into a hypothecation agreement with the respondent Bank for funds. When it was time for Sekar to pay back the amount, he failed to do so even after repeated warnings. It is the right of the Bank therefore to seize the security of the borrower and then sell it to whoever they want to, because Sekar ceased being the owner of the lorry when he defaulted on payment. 

Therefore, the court held that the learned magistrate has not committed any mistake in dismissing the petitions and that the decision will be upheld by the High Court also. The bank has also not committed an offence under S.379 of the Penal Code. 

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