By Esha Dinesh-
In October 2020, Mumbai police initiated Chapter proceedings against Editor-in Chief of Republic TV Arnab Goswami, and 25 people involved in violent protests regarding anti-CAA.
Meaning of Chapter Proceedings
Chapter Proceedings is a term assigned to a combination of all sections related to prevention of crime in a single chapter of Criminal Procedure Code 1973, and hence the term ‘Chapter Proceedings’.
It is not a legal term. This provision is a preventive action by police officers if they fear that a particular person is likely to create trouble and disrupt peace in society. The basis of issuing the notice is that the concerned person is likely to commit a breach of peace, disturb public tranquillity or do any wrongful at that may cause breach of peace.
It is unlike the punitive actions which are taken in FIR with an intention to punish. The intention however differs under this provision. The intention is merely to ensure that the person concerned is aware that creating nuisance or spreading hatred, or disrupting peace of the society could result in actions against him.
There is no requirement for registering an FIR for issuing notice under section 107 of the Criminal Procedure code. Generally, a notice is issued under section 111 of the code.
Under the said notice, the concerned person is asked to sign a bond of good behaviour if the executive magistrate is not satisfied with the reasons as to why the concerned person should not sign the said bond. Along with signing the bond, an amount is fixed as surety which the concerned person is bound to pay.
A person to whom such a notice under section 107 or 111 is issued may appeal to a court to challenge the same.
Scope of section 107 Criminal Procedure Code
The main aim of Chapter Proceeding is preventive and not punitive. The breach of peace and disturbance to public tranquillity arising due to the following fall in the ambit of section 107 –
- Religious processions
- Elections, political rivalry
- Political movements, student unrest
- Supremacy in village
- Disputes due to factions
- Group rivalry
- Cyber crime
The order of the court should be pronounced in an open court. The enquiry regarding this provision is to be completed within 6 months from the date of its commencement. In case of expiry of this period with no end result, the proceedings stand terminated.
The procedure under this provision
The commencement of the procedure under this provision on issuance of a notice under section 111 of Criminal Procedure Code. The person to whom the notice is issued is asked to present himself/herself before the Executive magistrate. The person is to explain why he should not be made to sign the bond of good behaviour.
If the executive magistrate is not satisfied, the concerned person will be made to sign the bond of good behaviour and produce sureties vouching for his/her good behaviour.
Chapter Proceedings initiated against Editor in chief – Arnab Goswami
Recently in the month of October, the Mumbai Police initiated Chapter Proceedings against Arnab Goswami. Two FIRs were already registered against Goswami earlier this year. The FIRs were regarding the news shows in aftermath of the crowding of migrants outside Bandra railway station, and lynching of sadhus at Palghar. He was allegedly attempting to communalise 2 incidents.
However in June 20202, the Bombay High court stayed the FIRs against Arnab Goswami and directed that no coercive steps are to be taken until the petition is dismissed.
The basis of serving notice was that the coverage of both the incidents were objectionable, and Goswami gave communal colour to them along with inciting communal tension between Hindus and Muslims which is already a sensitive tissue in India.
The notice was already sent under section 111, asking as to why he should not be made to sign the bond of good behaviour under section 108 of Criminal Procedure Code, which stands for security of good behaviour from persons disseminating seditious matters. He was also asked to pay Rs.10 lakhs as fine if he breaks the conditions of the bond.
On October 20th, The Republic TV reacted to the notice and decided to file a contempt petition against Special Executive Magistrate and the Assistance Police Commissioner Sudhir Jambavdekar for initiating chapter proceedings with respect to FIRs that were already suspended by the Bombay High court.
Notice under section 107 & 110 of Criminal Procedure Code to 25 people
A show-cause notice was issued to at least 25 people by 3 police stations – MRA Marg, Colaba, and Tardeo. The notices were directing them to sign a bond for 2 years and furnish sureties for participation in protests earlier this year against CAA and attack on JNU students.
One of the terms of the bond made to sign stated that they will never be a part of any act that threatens law and order, especially regarding future protests. In failure of the said term, it will lead to confiscation of the surety amount which was set around 1 lakh, and also lead to externment from Mumbai.
The said notice was issued under section 107 and section 110 of Criminal Procedure Code.
Supreme Court’s rulings regarding Chapter Proceedings
Supreme Court had stated that preventive arrest is to be made only when peace is in imminent danger. Any preventive arrest made otherwise is mere violation of fundamental rights.
The court further stated that the jurisdiction vested in a magistrate to act under section 107 is to be exercised in an emergent situation only.
Regarding section 110, the court cleared in Gopal Manchary v State of Kerala 1981, that the concerned court must have specific facts and must be satisfied that counter petitioner is sure to commit offences mentioned if he is not kept in custody.
In Raj Singh Gahlot v State 2009, Supreme court observed “In view of foregoing discussion, it is manifest that the show cause notice issue under section 107/section 111 of Criminal Procedure Code by an Executive Magistrate is an interlocutory order and same is not amendable to revisional jurisdiction of this court”
Bombay High Court ruleings
- Regarding Chapter Proceedings in Trivial matters
The Bombay High Court in 2017 struck down notices which were issued by Mahim police against owner and staff of a hotel.
The divisional bench comprising of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai ruled that Chapter Proceedings cannot be initiated on the basis of an incident of trivial nature.
- In Farhan Nasir Khan v State of Maharashtra 2009
A bench comprising of Pradeep Nandrajod, Revati Mohite Were, and Bharati H. Dangre noted regarding a notice under section 107, before proceeding to issue a show cause notice envisaged under section 107, opinion contemplated by section 111 Criminal Procedure Code had to be separately authored.
It was observed: “To put simply, the requirement of law is that the Magistrate has to form an opinion in writing contemplated by Section 111 CrPC and thereafter proceed to issue a show cause notice as contemplated by Section 107 and along with the show cause notice annex the opinion. But, in a given case, it may happen that the language in which the order/opinion contemplated under Section 111 is not comprehensible to the noticee, then they may integrate the order/opinion and convey to the noticee in the language which the noticee comprehends.”
It was further stated: “The purpose of the law is that the noticee is to be made known the factual matrix comprising either the complaint or the information received by the Magistrate and the reasons for the opinion formed by the Magistrate.”
Session’s court rules this provision not be used for offences committed in past.
The session’s court struck down Executive Magistrate’s order against a Chembur-based man. 36 year old William John Pais had approached session’s court against an order issued. It was alleged that he voluntarily caused hurt to some people and has a habit of creating nuisance.
The court found no evidence of the fact alleged that he is habitual of creating nuisance and observed that the notice was issued on the basis of 1 or 2 offences committed in the past. The court said “There is absolutely no evidence on record to show that the applicant (Pais) is in habit of abusing, threatening and assaulting people. Admittedly, the earlier offence is committed in 2011 and 2012. The prosecution did not initiate any chapter proceeding at the relevant time,” observing that the sole reason for the chapter proceeding was the case registered against Pais in 2017.
The court struck down the executive magistrate’s order and held that the Chapter Proceedings cannot be used for the purpose of punishing past offences, as this practice will cause a “social stigma and cannot be forgotten”.
The court further stated “Without any justifiable cause or ground, a citizen should not be asked to furnish the bond of good behaviour in a democratic republic wherein his liberty, his status has been guaranteed by the Constitution.”
Relevant sections under Chapter Proceedings, Criminal Procedure Code.
- Section 107. Security for keeping the peace in other cases.—(1) When an Executive Magistrate receives information that any person is likely to commit a breach of the peace or disturb the public tranquillity or to do any wrongful act that may probably occasion a breach of the peace or disturb the public tranquillity and is of opinion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding, he may, in the manner hereinafter provided, require such person to show cause why he should not be ordered to execute a bond 1 [with or without sureties,] for keeping the peace for such period, not exceeding one year, as the Magistrate thinks fit.
- Section 110. Security for good behaviour from habitual offenders.—When an Executive Magistrate receives information that there is within his local jurisdiction a person who—
- is by habit a robber, house-breaker, thief, or forger, or
- is by habit a receiver of stolen property knowing the same to have been stolen, or
- habitually protects or harbours thieves, or aids in the concealment or disposal of stolen property, or
- habitually commits, or attempts to commit, or abets the commission of, the offence of kidnapping, abduction, extortion, cheating or mischief, or any offence punishable under Chapter XII of the Indian Penal Code
- habitually commits, or attempts to commit, or abets the commission of, offences, involving a breach of the peace,
Such Magistrate may, in the manner hereinafter provided, require such person to show cause why he should not be ordered to execute a bond, with sureties, for his good behaviour for such period, not exceeding three years, as the Magistrate thinks fit.
- Section 111. Order to be made.—When a Magistrate acting under section 107, section 108, section 109 or section 110, deems it necessary to require any person to show cause under such section, he shall make an order in writing, setting forth the substance of the information received, the amount of the bond to be executed, the term for which it is to be in force, and the number, character and class of sureties (if any) required.
- Section 112. Procedure in respect of person present in Court.—If the person in respect of whom such order is made is present in Court, it shall be read over to him, or, if he so desires, the substance thereof shall be explained to him.
- Section 120. Contents of bond.—The bond to be executed by any such person shall bind him to keep the peace or to be of good behaviour, as the case may be, and in the latter case the commission or attempt to commit, or the abetment of, any offence punishable with imprisonment, wherever it may be committed, is a breach of the bond.