1.7 Lakh Cases Not Taken on File: Madras HC Issues Directions For Magistrates And Police Officials

1.7 Lakh Cases Not Taken on File: Madras HC Issues Directions For Magistrates And Police Officials

Condemning the act of Magistrates in not taking 1,72,602 cases on file despite chargesheets having been filed within the stipulated time, the Madras High Court recently issued a slew of directions.

In doing so, Justice MV Muralidaran observed, "No accused should go unpunished. This Court is unable to presume as to how many accused are left scott-free because of such non-taking on charge sheets on file. This is a matter of grave concern and this Court expresses its displeasure and proposes to take appropriate action against the learned Magistrates."

The court further scorned at the fact that in several cases, police officials had also slacked, resulting in closing of FIRs due to non-filing of chargesheets within the statutory time limit. It observed, "With the risk of repetition, it is emphasized that the Police officials, particularly the Station House Officers/the Investigating Officers, should ensure that in future no accused should be left scott- free because of non filing of charge sheet within the statutory period, except with just exceptions as contemplated under law."

The appeal

The court was hearing an appeal filed by M/s.Safire Print Lab Knits and Woven Fabric under Section 30 of the Workmens' Compensation Act, challenging an award passed in May 2018 in favour of the legal heirs of a deceased employee.

The employee had passed away a few hours after an acid spilling accident during the course of his employment. His family members were then awarded a compensation of almost Rs. 4 lakhs. This had now been challenged by the company management.

It had claimed that the employee had not died due to any accident during the course of his employment, but due to the doctor's negligence, after he was admitted to the hospital.

The court, however, opined that the company management had failed to produce any evidence to prove that the employee had died due to medical negligence. It added that mere lodging of a criminal complaint alleging medical negligence would not absolve the company of its liability.

The court then took note of the three conditions stipulated under Section 3 of the Act: (a) death or injury must be caused to a workman; (b) the injury must have been caused by accident; and (c) the accident must arise out of and in course of employment. It opined that these three conditions had been established in the case at hand.

The appeal was, therefore, dismissed, with the court upholding the impugned order.

Erring officers left with a warning

In its judgment, the court went on to note with dismay the high number of FIRs which had been closed between 2009 to 2014 on the ground of non-filing of chargesheets. During the course of proceedings, noting that over two lakh such FIRs had been closed, the court had directed the DGP to initiate disciplinary action against erring Investigating Officers who had not filed the final reports within the time limit. Show cause notices were accordingly issued to over seven thousand officers.

The court, however, refrained from passing any adverse orders against these officers, while warning them against any such conduct in future.

Trial courts to take up neglected cases on file within three months

The court further noted that trial courts have not taken 1,72,602 cases on file, despite filing of the chargesheets within the stipulated time between 2010 and 2018. It asserted, "This Court, by no stretch of imagination can approve such conduct on the part of the learned Magistrates in the State of Tamil Nadu. In all, for the period from 2010 to 2018, the trial Court have not taken on file 1,72,602 cases and such conduct is highly condemnable and hampers the very cause of justice."

It therefore directed the District Judges and the Chief Judicial Magistrates of various Districts in Tamil Nadu to identify such cases and take them on file without further delay. Reports in this regard were directed to be filed by the Magistrates before the District Judges and the Chief Judicial Magistrates within three months.

The Registrar General of the court is expected to monitor the progress made in this regard and get periodic reports.

Directions

  1. The Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu and the Director General of Police, Puducherry are directed to instruct all his Commissioners of Police of Cities and Inspectors General of Police of Districts to issue appropriate direction to the Investigating Officers of each and every case to investigate and file final reports within the time limit prescribed under Section 468 of Cr.P.C.
  1. All the learned Judicial Magistrates in the State of Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry are hereby directed that before orders are being passed under Section 468 of Cr.P.C., they must call for the Investigating Officers and issue directions to file charge sheet immediate before lapse of the statutory time period and if they fail even thereafter, the learned Magistrates are directed to inform about the inaction on the part of the Investigating Officers in writing to their Superior in the Police Department and thereafter pass orders under Section 468 of Cr.P.C.
  1. All the learned District Judges and learned Chief Judicial Magistrates in the State of Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry are directed to issue suitable directions to the learned Magistrates to maintain registers for making entries in respect of receipt of charge sheet from the Investigating Officers by mentioning date of filing with time and also the date of taking on file of the case.
  1. All the learned Magistrates are further directed that while passing orders under Section 468 of Cr.P.C., they must apply their judicial mind independently and thereafter pass orders.
  1. All the learned Magistrates are directed to report the orders passed under Section 468 of Cr.P.C. periodically, once in three months giving full particulars to the learned District Judges and the Chief Judicial Magistrates in the State of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

The Registrar General of the court and the DGP was ordered to get compliance reports from their subordinate officials and present them before the court on June 10.