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Non-payment of mobile bills not a criminal offence, says Kerala HC

March 14, 2019
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According to a ruling by the Kerala High Court (HC) the non-payment of mobile bills is not a criminal offence as the transaction involved between the parties is one that arises out of a civil dispute. The court also stated that such an offence was a case of breach of trust or agreement.

The order was issued while allowing a plea by PV Abdul Hakkem of Kochi for rejecting the FIR registered by Ernakulam Town South Police station against him by a private operator. As per the prosecution’s charge, he had failed to pay liability for user charges for a period of five months and the default in payment of the money amounted to cheating under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

However, the HC observed that the purported liability of the petitioner seems to have arisen from breach of promise or agreement, other than a breach followed by any dishonest intention to cheat the complainant. The Court added that mere breach of trust or agreement would not by itself amount to a criminal offence under Section 420 of IPC.

In order to make an offence under Section 420, the prosecution had to show that the dishonest intention to cheat had existed at the time when the alleged promise in question was made.

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