The Himanchal Pradesh High Court reiterated that the verdict of a Civil Court takes precedence over orders issued by a Magistrate under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

A petition was filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.). The petitioner had initially filed a complaint under Section 133 of Cr.P.C. with the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) against the respondents, seeking the removal of obstructions on a specific path. After hearing both parties, the SDM had ordered the respondents to remove the obstruction. However, this decision was challenged by the respondents and was subsequently set aside by the Additional Sessions Judge-II, Kangra.

The land in question belonged to the respondents, but there was a dispute regarding the right of way. The respondents had constructed a wall and iron gate on the land, leading to the complaint by the petitioner. There were ongoing civil litigations regarding the ownership and right of way of the land in the Civil Court.

A Bench of Justice Vivek Singh Thakur held, “It is settled that verdict of Civil Court shall have precedence over the orders passed in proceedings adjudicated by the Magistrate under the Code of Criminal Procedure. When matter was pending adjudication with respect to the same land before the Civil Court, with the same claims and counter claims, between the same parties, it was not proper for Sub Divisional Collector to pass an order in a complaint purported to have been filed by villagers but actually by one individual Bidhi Chand who was in civil litigation with respondents.

Senior Advocate Ajay Sharma appeared for the Petitioner.

The Court observed that when a matter is already under adjudication in a Civil Court, the decisions taken by the Magistrate under the Cr.P.C. should not override the Civil Court's verdict. The Court added, “It was apparent from the record that it was a private dispute between the parties, where family of complainant was trying to establish their right of ownership on the basis of alleged long possession over Government land, comprised in Khasra Nos. 56 and 57 with an attempt to shift the path to Khasra No. 88 on the basis of entry of “Shareyam Rasta”, alleged to be wrong entry by respondents, but with ownership of respondents. In such circumstances Sub Divisional Magistrate ought not to have passed an order like order passed in present case, but should have relegated the parties to the Civil Court to obtain appropriate order.”

Given the ongoing civil litigations and the nature of the dispute, the Court concluded that the Sub Divisional Magistrate should not have intervened. The Court dismissed the petition.

Cause Title: General Public through villagers of Hodal v. Rishi Gupta & Ors.

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