Substitution of legal heir in criminal prosecution

Substitution of deceased complainant.

Section 256 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is contained in Chapter XX with the heading “Trial of summons­cases by Magistrates” provides as follows:

“Section 256. Non­ appearance or death of complainant.­(1) If the summons has been issued on complaint, and on the day appointed for the appearance of the accused, or any day subsequent thereto to which the hearing may be adjourned, the complainant does not appear, the Magistrate shall, notwithstanding anything hereinbefore contained, acquit the accused, unless for some reason he thinks it proper to adjourn the hearing of the case to some other day:

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Scope of power of attorney in Criminal Prosecution

Criminal Complaints through a Power of Attorney

The complaint in this case was a summary complaint under section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, 1888.

Whether a Power of Attorney holder can sign and file a complaint petition on behalf of the complainant ?

Supreme Court has answered the question in affirmative but subject to a few riders. The attorney acts as an agent of the complainant and therefore has to act in the name of principal:

“The power of attorney holder is the agent of the grantor. When the grantor authorizes the attorney holder to initiate legal proceedings and the attorney holder accordingly initiates such legal proceedings, he does so as the agent of the grantor and the initiation is by the grantor represented by his attorney holder and not by the attorney holder in his personal capacity. Therefore, where the payee is a proprietary concern, the complaint can be filed by the proprietor of the proprietary concern, describing himself as the sole proprietor of the payee, the proprietary concern, describing itself as a sole proprietary concern, represented by its sole proprietor, and the proprietor or the proprietary concern represented by the attorney holder under a power of attorney executed by the sole proprietor. However, we make it clear that the power of attorney holder cannot file a complaint in his own name as if he was the complainant. In other words, he can initiate criminal proceedings on behalf of the principal.”

Necessity of personal knowledge of attorney

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