New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that limitation period, a time frame within which action must be commenced, should be computed from the date of filing of the complaint or the date of institution of prosecution and not the date on which the Magistrate takes cognizance.
"We hold that for the purpose of computing the period of limitation under Section 468 of the CrPC(Criminal Procedure Code)the relevant date is the date of filing of the complaint or the date of institution of prosecution and not the date on which the Magistrate takes cognizance," a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said.
The bench said that court`s inaction in taking cognizance or court`s inaction in applying mind to the suspected offence should not be allowed to cause prejudice to a diligent complainant.
"Treating date of filing of complaint or date of initiation of proceedings as the relevant date for computing limitation under Section 468 of the Code is supported by the legal maxim actus curiae neminem gravabit which means that the act of court shall prejudice no man," the bench said.
It said a diligent complainant or the prosecuting agency which promptly files the complaint or initiates prosecution would be severely prejudiced if it is held that the relevant point for computing limitation would be the date on which the Magistrate takes cognizance.
"The complainant or the prosecuting agency would be entirely left at the mercy of the Magistrate, who may take cognizance after the limitation period because of several reasons; systemic or otherwise. It cannot be the intention of the legislature to throw a diligent complainant out of the court in this manner.
"Besides it must be noted that the complainant approaches the court for redressal of his grievance. He wants action to be taken against the perpetrators of crime. The courts functioning under the criminal justice system are created for this purpose. It would be unreasonable to take a view that delay caused by the court in taking cognizance of a case would deny justice to a diligent complainant," it said.