Court Can Take Cognizance Of An Offence Even After The Expiry Of Limitation Period If The Delay Is Properly Explained: Delhi HC

Court Can Take Cognizance Of An Offence Even After The Expiry Of Limitation Period If The Delay Is Properly Explained: Delhi HC

Delhi High Court has reiterated the position of law that Magistrate can take cognizance of an offence even after the expiry of the limitation period.

While doing so, the Magistrate has to satisfy himself on the facts and in the circumstances of the case that the delay has been properly explained or that is necessary so to do in the interests of justice.

In the present case, a law intern had filed a case against a man, under section 66A of IT Act and section 509 of IPC, for creating a fake Facebook account by using her name, identity and number.

However, due to the judgement of the Supreme Court in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, wherein section 66A of IT Act was read down as unconstitutional, the trial court dropped the charges against the accused for the said section.

The trial court also dropped the charges under section 509 of IPC, as the same is punishable with one year of imprisonment, and the challan was not filed within the limitation period of one year. This led to the acquittal of the accused.

Aggrieved by the said order, the complainant had moved a revision petition before the ASJ, where she had pleaded that pleaded that sections 67 and 67A of the IT Act and certain offences of IPC were also attracted and mentioned that the challan has been filed in 2015 for an offence under the summons case, which is alleged to have taken place in 2012 but pleaded that under section 468 Cr.P.C. and 473 Cr.P.C., the court should have condoned the delay.

The ASJ remanded the case back to the Magistrate, who then dealt with the application under section 173(8) of CrPC, and directed the Investigation Officer to file a status report. This order of the ASJ was challenged by the Petitioner in the present petition.

The Petitioner argued that once section 66A of the IT Act had been held to be illegal and void-ab-initio, there was no possibility for looking into the limitation provided under that section and it had to be seen in regard to remaining offences.

It was further argued that the Sessions Judge overlooked the provisions of section 468/473 Cr.P.C. since the challan was filed after the period of limitation and since there was no application for condonation of delay.

The Single Bench of Justice Suresh Kait rejected the claims of the Petitioner by noting that the power of the court to direct further investigation cannot have any inhibition and there is nothing to suggest under section 173(8) of Cr.P.C. that the court is obliged to hear the accused before any such direction is made.

The court further went on to observe that conjoint reading of section 156 read with section 173(2) & (8) and 210 of Cr.P.C. clearly lead to legislative intent to the effect that when a protest petition seeking further and proper investigation is pending at the instance of the complainant, the propriety demands that the investigating officer must refrain from submitting final report till the Magistrate issue direction on the pending petition/complaint filed by the complainant.

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