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Can a law suit/case be withdrawn after filing a case? (civil & criminal)
Criminal cases are generally of two types: CR and GR.
GR cases are usually filed with the police. The CR case has to be filed in the criminal court.
In the GR case, the state itself appoints lawyers for the plaintiffs, who are called public prosecutors (PPs). And in CR cases, the complainant has to personally appoint a lawyer to handle the case.
The decision to withdraw a case may be taken due to lack of sufficient evidence in a case or compromise between the parties to the case. There are two types of provisions in the criminal procedure for withdrawal of cases.
In cases where the state itself is a party to the GR case, the public prosecutor can apply to withdraw the case under Section 494 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
In a CR case, the complainant or a lawyer appointed on his behalf can apply for withdrawal of the case under Section 247 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Withdrawal of the case by the public prosecutor
Section 494 of the Code of Criminal Procedure states that a state prosecutor or public prosecutor may, with the permission of a court, withdraw from the prosecution of a person in any one or more of the offenses in which he is generally being tried. The government as plaintiff will satisfy the court about the appropriate reason to withdraw from handling the case. An order from the government to withdraw from the case alone will not be sufficient reason for the court to grant permission.
In withdrawing the case under section 494, a number of issues have been asked to be taken into consideration by the court.
Withdrawal of Complaint (CR) case
Section 247 of the Criminal Procedure Code states that if the plaintiff can satisfy the magistrate that there is sufficient reason to allow him to withdraw the complaint before the final order of the case, the magistrate will allow him to withdraw the complaint and acquit the accused.
This section is applicable only to disposable cases as described in Section 345 of the Criminal Procedure Code. For that, the complainant can withdraw the complaint under this section.
For example, first, the application for withdrawal of the case must be made only by the public prosecutor. The case cannot be withdrawn on the application of the petitioner or the accused or any order of the government.
Second, the rationale for withdrawing the case must be explained to the court by the prosecutor. The court will not order the withdrawal of the case based solely on the decision of the government.
The decision of the court to withdraw the case is final. Thus, if the court is not satisfied with the reason for withdrawing the case, it will order the case to proceed without allowing the withdrawal.
If the victim, the plaintiff or the plaintiff in the case thinks that the state has withdrawn their case unnecessarily, the case may file a revision in the Sessions Judge Court or the High Court Division.
Withdrawal of civil suit
Pursuant to Rule 1 of Rule 23 of the Civil Procedure Code, the plaintiff may withdraw the case against all or any of the defendants at any time after the civil suit has been filed or give up part of the claim. In cases where the court is satisfied that the lawsuit is bound to fail due to a procedural error and there is sufficient reason to allow the plaintiff to sue anew for the content of the lawsuit or part of a claim, the court withdraws the plaintiff's suit on appropriate terms or in part. You may grant permission to dismiss the claim and grant re-litigation regarding the content of that lawsuit or similar partial claim.
In cases where the plaintiff withdraws the lawsuit or abandons the partial claim without the permission of the court, the plaintiff will be liable for the costs of the lawsuit as decided by the court and will be deprived of the right to file a new lawsuit on that content or partial claim.
Under no provision of this rule can a court allow one of the few plaintiffs to withdraw the suit without the consent of the other plaintiffs.
After the withdrawal, the same matter can no longer be sued
If the case is withdrawn following the prescribed procedure, the same matter cannot be re-filed. Such cases are barred in the light of the ‘Race Judicata’ or Dobara policy in civil cases and the ‘Double Geopardy’ or Dobara punishment policy in criminal cases. However, if the court can be satisfied by filing a revision in the higher court, the court may order reconsideration or re-investigation in the interest of justice.
There is an opportunity to make such an order under the inherent power of the High Court Division.