rahul
Asked January 04, 2014

Concurrent Liability under Criminal and Tort Law

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Can a person beheld liable and punished under both Criminal Law and Torts for the same act like deceit/cheating ? How can it be determined whether the offence is a civil or a criminal offence in this case ?

Answer 1

Yes a person can be held liable for both. The basic idea of Double Jeoparady (Article 20 of Indian Constitution) would not be applicable here.[1] Punishment under Article 20 includes criminal punishment. It does not include compensation award under civil law. 

In Leo Roy v. Superintendent District Jail[2], it was held by the court that rule of Double Jeopardy would not apply if the charges are framed under different act i.e. offences are distinct. In this case a person was first prosecuted and punished under sea custom acts, and later on he was prosecuted again for the same act under IPC for criminal conspiracy. The court upheld the validity of second prosecution.

Even in the case Major Gopinathan vs The State Of Madhya Pradesh[3], the court ruled that the accused would be prosecuted under both army martial act and IPC, until the charges are framed and it is proved that it is mere duplication of proceeding and no different charge is being prosecuted.

It was further clarified in the case The State of Bombay v. S.L. Apte and anr.[4], that an individual must not be punished twice for the same offence. However, the key element is the same offence. If the two offences are different i.e. they are not identical, then the person can be prosecuted for both the offences irrespective of the fact that the liability has arisen from the same facts.

Concluding this query a person can be held liable under both Criminal law and Torts, if it is proved that offenced are different and that he has not been prosecuted for current offence brfore. 

[1] Vidhi Evam Kanun Sansthan, Double Jeopardy - Can an accused be actually punished twice for same offence in India (http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/article/double-jeopardy-in-india-1633-1.html) (last seen on 18th July, 2016)

[2] AIR 1958 SC119

[3] AIR 1963 MP 249

[4] AIR 1961 SC 578

Shruti Agrawal (Jindal Global Law School) (4th Year) 

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