A Magistrate not become functus officio to proceed on a Protest Complaint just because he accepted a refer report from the police on the same matter; SC [Read the Judgment]

A Magistrate not become functus officio to proceed on a Protest Complaint just because he accepted a refer report from the police on the same matter; SC [Read the Judgment]

A two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court of India Today held that  having accepted the  final  report  the  learned  Magistrate  had  not become  “functus officio” and was denuded of all power to proceed in the  matter. In Rakesh and another vs. State of UP the Supreme Court [Crl. Appeal 1412/2014] examined the question “whether  a  Magistrate  after  accepting  a  negative  final   report submitted by the Police  can  take  action  on  the  basis  of  the  protest petition filed  by  the  complainant/first  informant? “ and answered in the affirmative.

The Court relied on Gangadhar Janardan Mhatre vs. State of Maharashtra & Ors.in which it is held that

“…………….The  Magistrate  can  ignore  the  conclusion  arrived  at   by   the investigating  officer  and  independently  apply  his  mind  to  the  facts emerging from the investigation and take  cognizance  of  the  case,  if  he thinks fit, exercise his powers  under  Section  190(1)(b)  and  direct  the issue of process to the accused. The Magistrate  is  not  bound  in  such  a situation to follow the procedure laid down in Sections 200 and 202  of  the Code for taking cognizance of a case under Section 190(1)(a)  though  it  is open to him to act under Section 200 or Section 202 also.

The Court also relied on Mahesh Chand vs. B.Janardhan Reddy & Anr [2003 (1) SCC 734] in which it was held that “There cannot be any doubt or dispute that only because the  Magistrate  has accepted a final report, the same by itself would not stand in  his  way  to take cognizance of the offence on  a  protest/complaint  petition;  but  the question which is required to be posed and answered would  be  as  to  under what circumstances the said power can be exercised.”

Dismissing the appeal the Court held that’ in the present case, the contention advanced on behalf of the  accused pertained to the question of jurisdiction alone; it was  urged  that  having accepted the  final  report  the  learned  Magistrate  had  become  “functus officio” and was denuded of all power to proceed in the  matter.  The  above stand taken and the answer provided by the High Court would not  require  us to consider the circumstances in which the exercise of power was made”.