Kar HC | Is it mandatory to file an affidavit for invocation of jurisdiction of Magistrate under S. 156(3) CrPC? Petition allowed partly

Karnataka High Court: John Michael Cunha J., allowed the petition partly stating that Section 156(3) CrPC applications are to be supported by an affidavit duly sworn by the applicant who seeks the invocation of the jurisdiction of the Magistrate.

The facts of the case are such that Respondent 2 presented a private complaint under Section 200 of Criminal Procedure Code i.e. CrPC seeking reference of the matter for investigation to the Lokayukta Police under Section 156(3) of CrPC, in the interest of justice. The Special Judge, Special Court under Prevention of Corruption Act, Bengaluru referred the complaint to the Superintendent of Police, Anti-Corruption Bureau, Bengaluru, for investigation and for filing the report before the Court vide order dated 06-10-2016. This order is impugned in this petition on the ground that the procedure followed by the learned Special Judge is contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Priyanka Srivastava v. State of U.P., (2015) 6 SCC 287.

Counsel for the petitioners submitted that in the absence of any averments made in the complaint to the effect that Respondent 2/Complainant has exhausted the remedy under Sections 154(1) and 154(3) CrPC and there being no affidavit as mandated, the learned Special Judge has committed an error in referring the complaint about investigation under Section 156(3) of CrPC.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that the complaint was filed in the year 2012 much earlier to the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the year 2015 and as such, the principles laid down in the said decision cannot be applied to the facts of the case. Further, he submitted that non-filing of the affidavit may amount to a curable irregularity and the same does not amount to illegality vitiating the impugned order and thus, sought to dismiss the petition.

Relevant paras from the judgment titled Priyaka Srivastava v. State of U.P., (2015) 6 SCC 287 is below

“30. In our considered opinion, a stage has come in this country where Section 156(3) CrPC applications are to be supported by an affidavit duly sworn by the applicant who seeks the invocation of the jurisdiction of the Magistrate. That apart, in an appropriate case, the learned Magistrate would be well advised to verify the truth and also can verify the veracity of the allegations. This affidavit can make the applicant more responsible. We are compelled to say so as such kind of applications are being filed in a routine manner without taking any responsibility whatsoever only to harass certain persons. That apart, it becomes more disturbing and alarming when one tries to pick up people who are passing orders under a statutory provision which can be challenged under the framework of the said Act or under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. But it cannot be done to take undue advantage in a criminal court as if somebody is determined to settle the scores.”

“31. We have already indicated that there has to be prior applications under Sections 154(1) and 154(3) while filing a petition under Section 156(3). Both the aspects should be clearly spelt out in the application and necessary documents to that effect shall be filed. The warrant for giving a direction that an application under Section 156(3) be supported by an affidavit is so that the person making the application should be conscious and also endeavour to see that no false affidavit is made. It is because once an affidavit is found to be false, he will be liable for prosecution in accordance with law. This will deter him to casually invoke the authority of the Magistrate under Section 156(3). That apart, we have already stated that the veracity of the same can also be verified by the learned Magistrate, regard being had to the nature of allegations of the case. We are compelled to say so as a number of cases pertaining to fiscal sphere, matrimonial dispute/family disputes, commercial offences, medical negligence cases, corruption cases and the cases where there is abnormal delay/laches in initiating criminal prosecution, as are illustrated in Lalita Kumari are being filed. That apart, the learned Magistrate would also be aware of the delay in lodging of the FIR.”

 The Court observed that when a specific prayer is made by the complainant to refer the complaint about investigation under Section 156(3) of CrPC, the principle laid down in the relied judgment above comes into force. It is mandated that when an application is filed under Section 156(3) of CrPC, the same shall be supported by an affidavit, so that the learned Magistrate could verify the truth of the allegations made in the complaint and also to obviate false and irresponsible complaints being filed invoking the jurisdiction of the criminal courts. The direction is binding on all the courts under Article 141 of the Constitution of India.

The Court thus held that the instant complaint was filed in the year 2012, but the order of reference was made only in the year 2016 subsequent to the law laid down by the in Priyanka Srivastava’s case (supra). Hence, the impugned order of reference made by the learned Special Judge cannot be sustained.

In view of the above, petition was allowed partly.[C.T. Ravi v. State of Karnataka,  2020 SCC OnLine Kar 1746, decided on 22-10-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

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