Bombay High Court Govind Ganesh @ Bhai Tilve-vs-A.U. Chate, Police Constable B. on 6 April, 1994
Equivalent citations:1994 (4) BomCR 442
Author: R Vaidyanatha
Bench: R Vaidyanatha
R.G. Vaidyanatha, J.
1. This is a writ petition filed by the complainant against the order dated 30th October, 1987 on the private complaint filed by the writ petitioner in the Court of the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Panvel. Arguments are heard.
2. The petitioner filed a private complaint in the Court below against respondents Nos. 1 and 2 alleging that they had committed offences under sections 166, 342 and 220 read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and section 147(c) of the Bombay Police Act. The learned Magistrate recorded the sworn statement of the complainant. Then he passed the impugned order dated 30th October, 1987 under which he dismissed the complaint. Being aggrieved by the said order, the complainant has come up with this writ petition.
3. The learned Counsel for the petitioner questioned the correctness and validity of the impugned order. Respondents Nos. 1 and 2 have remained absent inspite of service of notice. The learned Assistant Public Prosecutor appearing for respondent No. 3 has supported the impugned order.
4. The short point for consideration is whether the impugned order dismissing the private complaint is sustainable or not.
5. The complainant’s case is that he is the General Secretary of the Rickshaw-Taxi Union Confederation, Thane Region (Sindhudurga, Ratnagiri, Raigad and Thane Districts). One tempo driver is said to have been wrongly arrested and detained by respondents Nos. 1 and 2 . When the owner of tempo went to question respondents Nos. 1 and 2, he was also wrongfully confined by respondents Nos. 1 and 2. Some other offences are also alleged against respondents Nos. 1 and 2. Complainant came to know these facts from the tempo driver and owner. Hence, he filed a private complaint in the Court below for the offences mentioned above.
6. After recording the sworn statement of the complainant, the learned Magistrate dismissed the complaint of the complainant on the ground that he is not an aggrieved person and that he is not a person who has seen the alleged offences, and therefore, the complaint is not maintainable. It is also observed in the impugned order that the accused are Police Officers and they have done the said acts in the discharge of their duties.
7. As far as the aspect of accused being Police Officers is concerned, certain offences are provided by the Bombay Police Act where a police officer can be charged for having committed an offence. If the accused Nos. 1 and 2 want to contend that they have done their acts in discharge of their duties and within the four corners of the Act, they are certainly entitled to protection. But such a question will arise only at a later stage after the evidence is recorded and it is only thereafter that they can take such a stand.
8. The observation of the learned Magistrate that the complainant is not an aggrieved person, and therefore, the complaint is not maintainable, cannot be supported. It is a fundamental principle of law that any person can set the criminal law in motion. The Magistrate gets jurisdiction to take cognizance of an offence under section 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Code, which section, to the extent relevant, reads as under :-
“190(1) Subject to the provisions of this Chapter, any Magistrate of the First Class and any Magistrate of the second class specially empowered in this behalf under sub-section (2) may take cognizance of any offence –
(a) upon receiving a complaint of facts which constitute such offence;
(b) upon a police report of such facts;
(c) upon information received from any person other than a police officer, or upon his own knowledge, that such offence has been committed.
Hence, it is clear that any person can set the criminal law in motion. Therefore, the learned Magistrate was not justified in summarily dismissing the complaint on the ground that complaint is filed by a person who is not an aggrieved person, and therefore, it is not maintainable. The intention of the Legislature can be gathered if we refer to the exceptions to the general rule that any person can set the criminal law in motion.
9. Section 198 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, to the extent relevant, provides as under:
“198. (1) No Court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under Chapter XX of the Indian Penal Code except upon a complaint made by some person aggrieved by the offence :
Similarly section 198-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides as under :-
“198-A. Prosecution of offences under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code – No Court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1960) except upon a police report of facts which constitute such offence or upon a complaint made by the person aggrieved by the offence or by her father, mother, brother, sister or by her father’s or mother’s brother or sister or, with the leave of the Court, by any other person, related to her by blood marriage or adoption.b2 “
Then, section 199 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, to the extent relevant provides as under:
“199. (1) No Court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under Chapter XXI of the Indian Penal Code except upon a complaint made by some person aggrieved by the offence.
Except these exceptions we do not find any other exception in the Code of Criminal Procedure. Therefore, the normal rule is that any body can set the criminal law in motion, and therefore, the complaint filed by the complainant was well within the four corners of section 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
10. No doubt, the learned Magistrate has observed that complainant has no personal knowledge about the offences, and therefore, on the basis of sworn statement of the complainant, it may not be possible to take cognizance and issue process to the accused. But in the complaint itself the complainant has requested the Court to hold an enquiry under section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Complainant has cited as many as ten witnesses in the complaint. The learned Magistrate, if he found that the statement of the complainant was not sufficient to issue process against the accused, he could have invoked his powers under section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and postponed the issue of process and enquired into the details himself by examining the witnesses cited by the complainant. If after examining the witnesses, the learned Magistrate finds that no case is made out against the accused be can certainly dismiss the complaint under section 203 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
11. The learned Counsel for the petitioner submits that if given an opportunity the complainant is prepared to produce all the relevant witnesses for examination under section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. As far as the observation of the learned Magistrate that accused Nos. 1 and 2 are public servants and have discharged their duties as Police Officers, the question is left open. After recording the sworn statements of the witnesses and considering other materials produced by the complainant, it is for the learned Magistrate to decide whether the alleged act done by the accused is protected under any provision of law. That question is left open.
12. In the result, the writ petition is allowed. The impugned order of the learned Magistrate dated 30th October, 1987 dismissing the private complaint of the petitioner is hereby set aside. The learned Magistrate is directed to take the private complaint on file and given an opportunity to the complainant to produce all his witnesses and examine them and then after hearing the complainant he can proceed according to law either under section 203 or section 204 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The learned Magistrate shall give the criminal case number before proceeding to record the statements of witnesses as provided in para 1(iii) (since amended as para 1-A after the correction slip of the Criminal Manual issued subsequently) of Chapter III of the Criminal Manual issued by the Bombay High Court, 1980 Edition. It is made clear that the learned Magistrate should not be influenced by any observations in this order and he shall dispose of the case according to law.