27 Dec 2022 11:21 AM GMT
The Orissa High Court has upheld a magistrate's ruling wherein it was held that the then Chief District Veterinary Officer, Koraput had not committed any offence under Section 505(2) IPC by speaking about the demand of meat of Indian cows and bulls outside.A Sessions Court in December 2013 had set aside SDJM, Koraput's order and remitted the matter back to the trial court for fresh decision....
The Orissa High Court has upheld a magistrate's ruling wherein it was held that the then Chief District Veterinary Officer, Koraput had not committed any offence under Section 505(2) IPC by speaking about the demand of meat of Indian cows and bulls outside.
A Sessions Court in December 2013 had set aside SDJM, Koraput's order and remitted the matter back to the trial court for fresh decision. The Sessions Court order was challenged before high court by Santanu Kumar Takri, who was accused of stressing upon the demand of meat of the Indian cows and bulls in his speech at a meeting organized to address issues related to prevention of cruelty to animals delivered a speech
While allowing the petition, a Single Judge Bench of Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik held,
"In the present case, the petitioner was a Government servant and he participated in a meeting and delivered a speech which was with regard to eating habits of the Indians and on other issues. The petitioner attended the said function as the Chief District Veterinary Officer, Koraput and according to the learned SDJM, Koraput, he had been invited there in his official capacity and the alleged speech was delivered which was without any criminal intent, rather, it was based on his experience and essentially to be an opinion shared or view expressed by him in good faith."
The court further said that complaint was rightly dismissed with a decision that there was no any such culpable intent from the side of the petitioner to promote enmity or hatred or ill-will between any communities. Since such a finding since was based on evidence and after holding an enquiry, the Sessions court ought not to have disturbed it, the bench said.
"Even by a bare reading of the facts alleged in the complaint, a copy of which is at Annexure-1, the Court does not find it offensive in a sense to form an opinion that the speech of the petitioner was in any way intended to cause or create or promote disharmony among the communities or any sections of the society rather may be held as a view which was unnecessary and unwarranted regard being had to the purpose of the event for which it was organized."
On receiving the complaint against the petitioner in 2012, the SDJM, Koraput had recorded the initial statement of the opposite party under Section 200 Cr.P.C. and conducted an enquiry in terms of Section 202 Cr.P.C. and concluded that no prima facie case existed to prosecute the petitioner for the offence under Section 505(2) IPC.
It further had recorded that his speech falls within the exception of Section 505 IPC and accordingly, dismissed the complaint.
The complainant challenged the order before the Additional District & Sessions Judge-cum-Special Judge (Vigilance), Jeypore.
The revisional court considered the rival contentions on the point as to whether sanction under Section 197 Cr.P.C was required to prosecute the petitioner. It disposed of the matter with a direction to the SDJM, Koraput to record the statement of the complainant and of the witnesses again and to pass orders in the light of the Supreme Court's ruling in Raghunath Anant Govilkar v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.
Being aggrieved by the said order, the petitioner approached the High Court.
High Court Observations
The Court was perplexed to note that the revisional court heard the parties on the question of requirement of sanction under Section 197, Cr.P.C. to prosecute the petitioner, even though the same was neither raised nor was an issue before the SDJM.
It accordingly observed:
"Quite peculiar to notice that such a question of sanction under Section 197 Cr.P.C. was entertained by the revisional court when the decision of the learned SDJM, Koraput and dismissal of the complaint was not on such a ground but rested on absence of any intention on the part of the petitioner to commit an offence punishable under Section 505(2) IPC. In the aforesaid backdrop, the revisional court accepted the decision of Raghunath Anant Govilkar (supra) cited from the side of the opposite party, whereas, the petitioner had referred to Panchanan Gantayat Vrs. Haribandhu Das & others 85(1998) CLT 513."
The Court further noted that the SDJM, Koraput had received evidence from the opposite party whose initial statement was recorded under Section 200 Cr.P.C. and held an enquiry and only then reached at a conclusion that the petitioner's speech in a function - organized by the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), in the capacity of the Chief District Veterinary Officer and alleged to have encouraged eating of cow meat by the Indians, was protected on account of good faith.
"In so far as the offence under Section 505(2) IPC is concerned, the person accused of having committed such an act must possess the criminal intent which is one of its primary constituents. In other words, without mens rea which is sine qua non, no any offence under Section 505 IPC can be said to have been committed by a person," the court said.
The bench said the SDJM's order could not have been interfered with in revision which was on the premise of necessity or otherwise of sanction under Section 197 Cr.P.C which had never been an issue before the court below.
"In other words, the learned Sessions court ought not to have tinkered with the order dated 10th July, 2012 of the learned SDJM, Koraput by entertaining a plea of sanction," it added.
Before concluding, the Court said:
"…it would be apposite to make a mention of a decision of the Apex Court in Bilal Ahmed Kaloo Vrs. State of AP AIR 1997 SC 3483, wherein, it has been held and observed that mens rea is an equally necessary postulate for the offence of Section 505(2) IPC also as could be discerned from the expression 'with an intent to create or promote or which is likely to create or promote' as appearing therein emphasizing and restating the law on the point referring to an earlier decision in Balwant Singh and Another Vrs. State of Punjab (1995) 3 SCC 214."
Accordingly, the petition was allowed and the order of the revisional court was set aside.
Case Title: Santanu Kumar Takri v. Gangadhar Nanda
Case No.: CRLMC No. 555 of 2014
Judgment Dated: 11th November 2022
Coram: R.K. Pattanaik, J.
Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr. D.R. Bhokta, Advocate
Counsel for the Respondent: Mr. Sonak Mishra, Additional Standing Counsel
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ori) 165
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