SC: Magistrate not required to record Public Statement before summoning Accused2 min read
Deepali Kalia –
Published on August 05, 2021, at 02:11 PM
A Supreme Court Bench comprising Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Subhash Reddy observed that the Magistrate need not record the statement of a public servant who has filed a complaint in the discharge of his official duty before issuing summons to the accused residing outside his territorial jurisdiction.
The Bench made the following observation:
“The legislature in its wisdom has itself placed the public servant on a different pedestal, as would be evident from a perusal of proviso to Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.”
“Object of holding an inquiry/investigation before taking cognizance, in cases where the accused resides outside the territorial jurisdiction of such Magistrate, is to ensure that innocents are not harassed unnecessarily.”
“By virtue of provision to Section 200 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc), the Magistrate, while taking cognizance, need not record a statement of such a public servant, who has filed the complaint in the discharge of his official duty.”
In the present case, an Inspecting Officer had filed a complaint before the Judicial Magistrate against a company, its Managing Director and others claiming that they’ve committed an offence of ‘misbranding’ under Sections 3(k)(i), 17, 18, 33, 29 of the Insecticides Act.
Mr Sidharth Luthra, Senior Counsel who appeared for the appellants contended that the Magistrate, before taking cognizance of the offence on the complaint had not followed the procedure laid down under section 200 CrPC.
Even though the appellants were not residing within his jurisdiction, the Magistrate had without making a proper inquiry or even ordering the investigation, taken cognizance of the offence. Hence, it amounts to the abuse of the process of law, the Senior Counsel argued.
However, the Bench stated that “In any event, we do not find any merit in the submissions of the learned Counsel that proceedings are to be quashed only on the ground that, the Magistrate has taken cognizance without conducting inquiry and ordering investigation”, and refused to quash the proceedings.
With regard to the contention that the complaint against the Managing Director is not maintainable, the Bench observed that “We find force in the contention of Mr Sidharth Luthra, learned Senior Counsel, that allowing the prosecution against 2nd Appellant – Managing Director is nothing but, abuse of the process of law.”
However, the Court refused to quash proceedings against the company.
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Also read: Supreme Court upholds Conviction Based on Circumstantial Evidence