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Sri Naresh Kumar vs State of Karnataka.
CITATION2024 SCC OnLine SC 268
DATE OF JUDGMENT12, March, 2024
COURTKarnataka High Court 
APPELLANTSri. Naresh Kumar & ANR.  
RESPONDENTState of Karnataka & ANR. 
BENCHSudhanshu Dhulia, J, Prasanna B.Varale, JJ.


In the case of Naresh Kumar vs. State of Karnataka, the Supreme Court of India addressed the complex interplay between civil disputes and criminal proceedings. The appellants, key figures in a bicycle manufacturing company, contested the Karnataka High Court’s dismissal of their petition, which was rooted in an FIR alleging criminal breach of trust and cheating over a contractual payment disagreement with Respondent No. 2. The appellants argued that the dispute was civil, not criminal, in nature, and that the criminal proceedings constituted an abuse of process. The Supreme Court delved into the nuances of the case, underscoring the importance of distinguishing between civil and criminal matters and the role of settlements in resolving disputes. The Court’s judgment highlighted the imperative to prevent the misuse of legal proceedings and to ensure fairness, thereby affirming the significance of judicial discretion in the application of Section 482 of the CrPC. This case exemplifies the judiciary’s responsibility to discern the essence of disputes and to wield its inherent powers judiciously to uphold justice.


  1. Naresh Kumar & Anr. have appealed against the Karnataka High Court’s decision which dismissed their petition to quash the FIR under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
  2. The appellants argued that the FIR lodged by respondent no. 2 was essentially a civil dispute without a criminal element, and the criminal proceedings were an abuse of process.
  3. The appellants, associated with a bicycle manufacturing company, were accused by respondent no. 2 of criminal breach of trust and cheating over a contract for bicycle assembly and delivery.
  4. Respondent no. 2 claimed payment for assembling 83,267 bicycles amounting to Rs. 1,01,58,574/- but received only Rs. 35,37,390/-, leading to the filing of FIR No. 113 of 2017.
  5. A compromise was reached where the appellants paid an additional Rs. 26 lakhs, making the total payment Rs. 62 lakhs, which respondent no. 2 alleges was coerced.
  6. The High Court rejected the appellants’ claim that the dispute was civil, suggesting the payment of Rs. 62 lakhs indicated the assembly of more bicycles than claimed, implying a prima facie case of cheating. 
  7. The Supreme Court disagreed with the High Court, stating the dispute was primarily civil and the settlement indicated no criminal intent. The FIR and subsequent criminal proceedings were quashed. 


  1. Is the dispute primarily a civil matter arising from a contractual arrangement between the appellants’ company and respondent no. 2, as they argue, or does it carry criminal implications, despite the absence of necessary elements for filing an FIR?
  2. Did the appellants seek to quash the FIR under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, asserting that the criminal proceedings were an abuse of process due to the fundamentally civil nature of the underlying dispute?
  3. Did the Supreme Court quash the FIR and subsequent criminal proceedings, based on its determination that the dispute was primarily civil and that the settlement showed no criminal intent?


  1. The appellants argue that the dispute primarily arises from a contractual arrangement between their company and respondent no. 2. They contend that the matter is essentially a civil dispute related to payment and contractual obligations. Therefore, they assert that it lacks the necessary criminal elements for filing an FIR.
  2. The appellants claim that the FIR filed against them is an abuse of the legal process.
    They argue that respondent no. 2 is attempting to convert a contractual disagreement into a criminal case. According to the appellants, the dispute should be resolved through civil remedies rather than criminal proceedings.
  3. The appellants relied on Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which grants the High Court the extraordinary powers to quash FIRs. They sought the High Court’s intervention to quash the FIR against them.


  1. The respondents argue that the plaint filed by the appellants is barred by the law of limitation. They contend that the suit was filed beyond the three-year period prescribed in Article 113 of the Limitation Act, 1963. According to the respondents, the right to sue accrued to the appellant in October 2000, and therefore, the suit filed in February 2005 is time-barred.
  2. The respondents assert that the Limitation Act, 1963 does not provide any specific article regarding the time period within which accounts can be sought by a party from its bank.
    They rely on Article 113 of the Limitation Act, which provides a general limitation period of three years for suits for which no specific limitation period is provided.


After carefully considering the arguments presented by both parties, The Supreme Court held that the findings of the High Court were not correct since the dispute between the parties was civil in nature. The Court explained that the complainant was not able to establish the intention to cheat on the part of the appellants. The disagreement between the appellants and respondent no. primarily arises from a contractual agreement regarding the assembly, transportation, and delivery of bicycles. While the appellants argue that the matter does not involve genuine criminal elements and should be treated as a civil dispute, the respondents emphasize the issue of limitation. They claim that the appellants’ lawsuit is barred by the law of limitation. The Court recognizes that the dispute does indeed have civil aspects. However, it refrains from immediately dismissing FIR. Instead, it orders a thorough examination of the limitation issue during the trial. As a result, the appeal is partially granted, and the matter is sent back to the trial court for further proceedings. The trial court will consider the limitation aspect and resolve the dispute accordingly.


In the dispute of Naresh Kumar vs. State of Karnataka, the Supreme Court of India has emphasized the distinction between civil and criminal jurisdictions. The Court’s decision to remand the case for a detailed limitation examination rather than dismissing the FIR reflects a judicious application of justice. Citing Paramjeet Batra v. State of Uttarakhand and Randheer Singh v. State of U.P. among other cases as precedent, the Court reiterated the High Court’s duty to quash criminal proceedings that mask civil disputes, thereby preventing the misuse of legal processes and protecting individuals from undue harassment.


In summary, the Supreme Court of India, in the case of Naresh Kumar & Anr. vs. The State of Karnataka & Anr., has definitively determined that the dispute between the parties is primarily of a civil nature, rather than criminal. The Court has found no evidence of criminal intent on the part of the appellants from the very beginning, and has acknowledged the settlement reached between the parties as a valid resolution to the contractual dispute. The additional payment made by the appellants, as per the settlement, should not be interpreted as an act of deception. Consequently, the Court has utilized its inherent powers under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code to dismiss the FIR and subsequent criminal proceedings, thereby preventing any misuse of the legal process and ensuring justice is served. This judgment emphasizes the significance of distinguishing between civil disputes and criminal intent, and reaffirms the responsibility of the High Court in preventing any abuse of the judicial system.


  1. SCC Online
  2. https://www.advocatekhoj.com/library/judgments/announcement.php?WID=17360
  3. https://www.livelaw.in/supreme-court/high-court-must-not-hesitate-in-quashing-criminal-proceedings-which-are-essentially-of-civil-nature-supreme-court-252076
  4. https://www.drishtijudiciary.com/current-affairs/civil-suit-of-criminal-nature 

This Article is written by Anoushka Chaturvedi student of FIMT, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi; Intern at Legal Vidhiya.

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