HC stays FIR filed against Chen­nai firm in Kolkata

Dis­pute came in the wake of ac­qui­si­tion of the JV firm by an­other com­pany

The Hindu - - TAMIL NADU - Staff Re­porter

Al­low­ing an ap­peal by a pri­vate com­pany seek­ing a di­rec­tion to quash an FIR reg­is­tered against it in Kolkata, the Madu­rai Bench of the Madras High Court ob­served that it can issue a di­rec­tion even if a small cause of ac­tion arose within its ter­ri­to­rial ju­ris­dic­tion.

The court was hear­ing the ap­peal pre­ferred by Chen­nai-based Coastal En­er­gen Pvt Ltd, in­volved in the busi­ness of ther­mal power gen­er­a­tion and trans­mis­sion.

In 2010, the com­pany en­tered into a joint ven­ture with Aster Tele Ser­vices Pvt. Ltd. and SPIC-SMO for a project to de­velop in­fra­struc­ture that in­volved around ₹30 crore to­wards con­struc­tion of trans­mis­sion lines be­tween its plant in Thoothukudi and Madu­rai. SPICSMO was ac­quired by Kolkata-based Mi­rador Com­mer­cial Pvt. Ltd (MCPL) in 2011. How­ever, Coastal En­er­gen said that the ac­qui­si­tion was not ac­cept­able to it nor was there an amend­ment to the orig­i­nal con­tract in favour of MCPL in the place of SPIC.

Re­ten­tion amount

The project was com­pleted in 2014 and fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of con­trac­tual obli­ga­tions, a no-due payment cer­tifi­cate was is­sued in favour of Coastal En­er­gen. How­ever, de­spite the com­plete payment, MCPL sent a com­mu­ni­ca­tion to the com­pany seek­ing a re­ten­tion amount of around ₹3.30 crore. The MCPL moved the Chief Metropoli­tan Mag­is­trate, Kolkata, fol­low­ing which an FIR was filed by the Kolkata po­lice un­der var­i­ous sec­tions of the In­dian Pe­nal Code.

Sub­se­quently, Coastal En­er­gen moved the Madras High Court seek­ing to quash the FIR pro­ceed­ings claim­ing that the dis­pute was only civil in na­ture and the lower court in Kolkata had no ju­ris­dic­tion in the case. A sin­gle judge Bench held that the High Court had no ju­ris­dic­tion to de­cide the va­lid­ity of a crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ing be­yond its ju­ris­dic­tion.

Tak­ing up the ap­peal for hear­ing, a Di­vi­sion Bench of Jus­tices S.S. Sun­dar and C. Sar­a­vanan took cog­ni­sance of the fact that the work un­der the con­tract was ex­e­cuted in Thoothukudi, which was within the ju­ris­dic­tion of the High Court and stayed the FIR pro­ceed­ings ini­ti­ated in Kolkata. The case for quash­ing the FIR had been re­ferred to a sin­gle judge Bench for pass­ing ap­pro­pri­ate or­ders.

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