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Kerala HC: Excessive Delay in Sanction Application Cannot be Excluded

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Published on: November 21, 2023 at 17:54 IST

The Kerala High Court recently clarified that a delay of nearly five years in resubmitting a request for sanction to take cognizance of an offense under Section 153(A) of the IPC cannot be excused.

The court emphasized that the prosecution cannot argue that this period is eligible for exclusion under Section 470(3) Cr.P.C.

Section 470(3) Cr.P.C. states that the period of notice or the time required for obtaining consent or sanction must be excluded in computing the limitation for an offense.

Justice P.G. Ajithkumar noted that when the delay in resubmitting the request for sanction is nearly five years, the prosecution cannot claim exclusion under Section 470(3) Cr.P.C. He stressed that the provisions of Section 470 demand strict interpretation.

The case involved revision petitioners facing charges under various sections of the IPC, including promoting enmity between different groups.

They argued that the court took cognizance of the offense after the prescribed three-year period under Section 468 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.).

The court observed that the request for sanction was initially submitted in May 2008 but was returned for rectification of formal defects.

The resubmission occurred in January 2013, and the prosecution sought exclusion of the period from May 2008 to February 2019 under Section 470(3) Cr.P.C. due to a flood situation causing police inaction.

Rejecting this argument, the court highlighted that the delay was primarily due to the prosecuting agency’s inaction rather than factors beyond its control.

It emphasized that the exclusion under Section 470(3) Cr.P.C. is intended for the time taken by the government to grant sanction, not for the inaction of the prosecuting agency.

The court further clarified that a party cannot claim both exclusion of the period and condonation of delay for the same duration. While exclusion is a matter of right, condonation of delay is at the court’s discretion based on justifiable reasons.

In conclusion, the court held that the prosecution was not entitled to exclude the period between the return of the sanction request and its resubmission, and the revision petitioners were discharged.

Case Title: Manoj Kumar & Ors. v. State of Kerala