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Power U/s 482 CrPC Can Be Exercised To Quash Criminal Proceedings Which Are Ex Facie Bad For Want Of Sanction: SC [Read Judgment]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
22 Jun 2020 9:03 AM GMT
Power U/s 482 CrPC Can Be Exercised To Quash  Criminal Proceedings Which Are Ex Facie Bad For Want Of Sanction: SC [Read Judgment]
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The Supreme Court has observed that the power under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure can be exercised to quash criminal proceedings which are ex facie bad for want of sanction, frivolous or in abuse of process of court.

In this case, the complainant alleged police excesses while he was in custody, in the course of investigation in connection with a Crime. The order of the Metropolitan Magistrate taking cognizance of a private complaint was challenged before the High Court (by filing a petition under Section 482 CrPC  alleging that there was no sanction from the Government to prosecute the accused police officers. Refusing to quash the proceedings, the High Court remitted the complaint back to the Metropolitan Magistrate instead, with liberty to the accused to apply for discharge. This order of the High Court was impugned before the Apex Court.

Perusing the records, the bench comprising of Justices R. Banumathi and Indira Banerjee observed that patently the complaint pertains to an act under colour of duty. Therefore, the Court observed that, sanction was a legal requirement which empowers the Court to take Cognizance and the High Court ought to have exercised its power to quash the complaint instead of remitting the appellant to an application under Section 245 of the Criminal Procedure Code to seek discharge. It observed:

While this Court has, in D.T. Virupakshappa (supra) held that the High Court had erred in not setting aside an order of the Trial Court taking cognizance of a complaint, in exercise of the power under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code, in Matajog Dobey (supra) this Court held it is not always necessary that the need for sanction under Section 197 is to be considered as soon as the complaint is lodged and on the allegations contained therein. The complainant may not disclose that the act constituting the offence was done or purported to be done in the discharge of official duty and/or under colour of duty. However the facts subsequently coming 34 to light in course of the trial or upon police or judicial enquiry may establish the necessity for sanction. Thus, whether sanction is necessary or not may have to be determined at any stage of the proceedings... It is well settled that an application under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code is maintainable to quash proceedings which are ex facie bad for want of sanction, frivolous or in abuse of process of court. If, on the face of the complaint, the act alleged appears to have a reasonable relationship with official duty, where the criminal proceeding is apparently prompted by mala fides and instituted with ulterior motive, power under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code would have to be exercised to quash the proceedings, to prevent abuse of process of court.

The bench also reiterated the following settled principles regarding sanction under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, read with Section 170 of the Karnataka Police Act.

  • Sanction of the Government, to prosecute a police officer, for any act related to the discharge of an official duty, is imperative to protect the police officer from facing harassive, retaliatory, revengeful and frivolous proceedings. The requirement of sanction from the government, to prosecute would give an upright police officer the confidence to discharge his official duties efficiently, without fear of vindictive retaliation by initiation of criminal action, from which he would be protected under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, read with Section 170 of the Karnataka Police Act. At the same time, if the policeman has committed a wrong, which constitutes a criminal offence and renders him liable for prosecution, he can be prosecuted with sanction from the appropriate government.
  • Every offence committed by a police officer does not attract Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure read with Section 170 of the Karnataka Police Act. The protection given under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code read with Section 170 of the Karnataka Police Act has its limitations. The protection is available 32 only when the alleged act done by the public servant is reasonably connected with the discharge of his official duty and official duty is not merely a cloak for the objectionable act
  • An offence committed entirely outside the scope of the duty of the police officer, would certainly not require sanction. To cite an example, a police man assaulting a domestic help or indulging in domestic violence would certainly not be entitled to protection. However if an act is connected to the discharge of official duty of investigation of a recorded criminal case, the act is certainly under colour of duty, no matter how illegal the act may be.
  • If in doing an official duty a policeman has acted in excess of duty, but there is a reasonable connection between the act and the performance of the official duty, the fact that the act alleged is in excess of duty will not be ground enough to deprive the policeman of the protection of government sanction for initiation of criminal action against him.
  • The language and tenor of Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Section 170 of the Karnataka Police Act makes it absolutely clear that sanction is required not only for acts done in discharge of official duty, it is also required for an act purported to be done in discharge of official duty and/or act done under colour of or in excess of such duty or authority.
  • To decide whether sanction is necessary, the test is whether the act is totally unconnected with official duty or whether there is a reasonable connection with the official duty. In the case of an act of a policeman or any other public servant unconnected with the official duty there can be no question of sanction. However, if the act alleged against a policeman is reasonably connected with discharge of his official duty, it does not matter if the policeman has exceeded the scope of his powers and/or acted beyond the four corners of law.
  • If the act alleged in a complaint purported to be filed against the policeman is reasonably connected to discharge of some official duty, cognizance thereof cannot be taken unless requisite sanction of the appropriate government is obtained under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and/or Section 170 of the Karnataka Police Act.  


Case no.: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 458 OF 2020 
Case name: D. DEVARAJA vs. OWAIS SABEER HUSSAIN
Coram: Justices R. Banumathi and Indira Banerjee
Counsel for Appellant: Sr. Advocate Saajan Poovayya  


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