The Kerala High Court refused to quash a Sedition case against a person accused of maintaining a parallel telephone exchange in secrecy.
Justice P. Somarajan observed that Sections 4 and 20 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and Sections 3 and 6 of Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933 are independent offences having no overriding effect over Chapter XIII of Indian Penal Code.
Crime was registered by Manjeri Police Station against Firoz alleging offences punishable under Sections 124A, 420 IPC, Sections 4 and 20 of Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and Sections 3 and 6 of Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933.
He filed a petition before the High court and contended that the penal provision under the Indian Penal Code would not stand attracted and the accused cannot be charged for the said offences when it is covered by provisions contained in a special enactment. He relied on the Supreme Court judgment in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Aman Mittal [2020 (1) KLT 260 (SC)].
Justice P. Somarajan noted that, in Aman Mittal's case (supra), it was observed that Section 3 of Essential Commodities Act, 1955, completely overrides the provisions of Chapter XIII of Indian Penal Code and as such, the accused cannot be charged for the same offence under Chapter XIII of IPC.
As per Section 20 of the Telegraph Act, if any person establishes, maintains or works a telegraph within [India] in contravention of the provisions of section 4 or otherwise than as permitted by rules made under that section, he shall be punished, if the telegraph is a wireless telegraph, with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both, and in any other case, with a fine which may extend to one thousand rupees. Similar prohibition and penal provisions are also there in Wireless Telegraphy Act.
While dismissing this contention, the bench observed:
"But Sections 4 and 20 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and Sections 3 and 6 of Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933 are independent offences having no overriding effect over Chapter XIII of Indian Penal Code. The allegation levelled against is not confining to the provisions contained in the special enactment, but extend to the offence of sedition punishable under Section 124A of IPC and the offence of cheating by playing deception on the statutory authority. It is not a mere case of violation of any of the provisions contained in the special enactment. Hence there cannot be any overriding effect especially when the allegation levelled against would prima facie satisfy the ingredients which would attract sedition as defined under Section 124A IPC by maintaining a parallel telephone exchange in secrecy and also the offence of cheating by playing deception on the statutory authority causing unlawful loss and gaining unlawful enrichment."
Case name: Firoz vs S.I Of PoliceCase no.: Crl.MC.No.2220 OF 2020(F)Coram: Justice P. SomarajanCounsel: Adv PK Anil for petitioner, PP Ramesh Chand
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