The Supreme Court, in a judgment delivered recently, has succinctly explained the scope of enquiry under Section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
In Birla Corporation Ltd. v. Adventz Investments and Holdings Ltd, the Apex Court bench of Justice R. Banumathi and Justice R. Subhash Reddy observed that the purpose of the enquiry under Section 202 Cr.P.C. is to determine whether a prima facie case is made out and whether there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused. Page 19-29 of the judgment discusses the scope of Section 202 CrPC.
The bench said that, on presentation of the complaint by an individual, the Magistrate is required to examine the complainant and the witnesses present, if any. Thereafter, on perusal of the allegations made in the complaint, the statement of the complainant on solemn affirmation and the witnesses examined, the Magistrate has to get himself satisfied that there are sufficient grounds for proceeding against the accused and on such satisfaction, the Magistrate may direct for issuance of process as contemplated under Section 204 Cr.P.C. The court added that the allegations in the complaint and complainant's statement and other materials must show that there are sufficient grounds for proceeding against the accused. It said:
"The scope of enquiry under this section is extremely restricted only to finding out the truth or otherwise of the allegations made in the complaint in order to determine whether process should be issued or not under Section 204 Cr.P.C. or whether the complaint should be dismissed by resorting to Section 203 Cr.P.C. on the footing that there is no sufficient ground for proceeding on the basis of the statements of the complainant and of his witnesses, if any. At the stage of enquiry under Section 202 Cr.P.C., the Magistrate is only concerned with the allegations made in the complaint or the evidence in support of the averments in the complaint to satisfy himself that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused."
The court also added that, under amended sub-section (1) to Section 202 Cr.P.C., it is obligatory upon the Magistrate that before summoning the accused residing beyond its jurisdiction, he shall enquire into the case himself or direct the investigation to be made by a police officer or by such other person as he thinks fit for finding out whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused. Referring to various judgments on the subject:
"The order of the Magistrate summoning the accused must reflect that he has applied his mind to the facts of the case and the law applicable thereto. The application of mind has to be indicated by disclosure of mind on the satisfaction. Considering the duties on the part of the Magistrate for issuance of summons to accused in a complaint case and that there must be sufficient indication as to the application of mind and observing that the Magistrate is not to act as a post office in taking cognizance of the complaint."
Some other judgments referred by the bench on the subject are the following: