karnataka high court

Karnataka High Court: While considering the instant petition calling for records of a crime registered in KR Puram Police in the file of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, the Bench of M. Nagaprasanna, J.*, took strict note of the callous action on part the Magistrates in permitting registration of FIRs under Section 155, CrPC without application of mind. The Court was of the view that, “Permitting registration of a FIR cannot be a frolicsome act on the part of the Magistrate”. The Court strictly observed that despite regular emphasis, the Magistrates have not changed their attitude of passing callous orders granting permission, and sometimes it is done using just one word “permitted”; and that such attitude has contributed in generating huge litigations under Section 482 of CrPC and pendency of cases.

The Court not only quashed the impugned order, but also invoked its power Section 483, CrPC, to issue directions/guidelines for the Magistrates to pass appropriate orders, which should contain the following:

  • Magistrates should stop using the words “permitted”, “perused permitted” or “perused requisition permitted registration of FIR” on the requisition itself and pass separate orders and maintain a separate order sheet with regard to the grant of such permission. Granting permission on the requisition would be contrary to law.

  • Magistrates shall record as to who has submitted the requisition whether it is the informant or the Station House Officer and make an endorsement of receipt of requisition in a separate order sheet.

  • Magistrates shall not pass any order if the complaint is not enclosed to the requisition.

  • Magistrates shall notice and examine the contents of the requisition and record prima facie finding as to whether it is a fit case to be investigated and if it is not a fit case to be investigated, the learned Magistrates shall reject the prayer made in the requisition. To pass this order, the order of the learned Magistrates shall bear application of mind by not rendering a detailed order or detailed inquiry at that stage, but it shall bear application of mind.

  • The order of the Magistrates shall contain all the afore-stated pointers. Any deviation from these directions will be construed that the Magistrates are contributing to the huge pendency of cases by their callous action of passing inappropriate orders and would be viewed seriously.

Background: A complaint was registered before the K.R. Puram Police Station alleging intimidation or threatening the life of the petitioner. The Police Station made a non-cognizable report, and a requisition was taken to the Magistrate to register a crime on such non-cognizable report as the facts would lead to an offence under Section 506 of the Penal Code, 1860 (Punishment for Criminal Intimidation). Since Section 506 of Penal Code, 1860 is a non-cognizable offence, it requires permission of the Magistrate under Section 155 of CrPC, to register a crime.

The Magistrate passed the order which read thusly – “Perused the requisition seeking permission to register FIR in non-cognizable case. Permitted to register and investigate in accordance with law.”

The Magistrate with the afore-stated order permitted the crime to be registered on perusal of requisition. Upon registration of the crime, the petitioner knocked the doors of the High Court on ground of non-application of mind on the part of the Magistrate while granting afore-stated permission.

Contentions: The petitioner’s counsel contended that the permission was granted on a requisition made by the Station House Officer is erroneous as it is the informant who must go before the Magistrate and seek permission. It was further submitted that the Magistrate passed the impugned order without any observations and Section 155 of CrPC mandates the Magistrate to grant permission upon application of mind.

Per contra, the High Court Government Pleader argued that it is not required for the Magistrate to pass an elaborate order while granting permission to register a FIR.

Court’s Assessment:

Perusing the facts and the impugned order passed by the Magistrate, the Court pointed out that impugned order was merely “perused and permitted” with there being no indication of any application of mind on the part of the Magistrate. It was further pointed out that in the past as well, the Court had emphasized that Magistrates should not permit registration of FIR by usage of wordspermitted”, “perused permitted” or even “permitted registration of FIR”.

The Court opined that callous attitude of the Magistrates has been instrumental in generating huge litigation before the Court, as petitions are being filed under Section 482 of CrPC, seeking quashing of such orders which grant permission bearing no application of mind. Therefore, the Magistrates who pass such orders have contributed in a “docket explosion” before the Court. “It is rather unfortunate that the Magistrates are contributing to the pendency of such cases in the judiciary itself”.

The Court invoking its power under Section 483, CrPC, issued above-mentioned guidelines stating that the directions/guidelines have become necessary, as the Court in plethora of cases has quashed orders passed by Magistrates permitting registration of FIRs on the ground that they bear no application of mind. “In a criminal justice system, the victim cannot be seen to be shown the doors by judicial acts. Hence, it is high time that the Magistrates, who would grant permission to investigate, follow the drill that is indicated hereinabove, failing which justice to a victim would become illusory”.

Vis-à-vis the petitioner’s contention that the informant should be sent to the Magistrate seeking permission and not the Station House Officer; the Court referred to several cases decided by its co-ordinate Bench and High Courts of Bombay, Allahabad, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala etc. Upon analysing the different interpretations of Section 155, CrPC by the High Courts, the Court opined that it is open to a Police Officer or any complainant to approach the Magistrate under Section 155(2) of CrPC, to investigate a non-cognizable offence. There is nothing in the provision to indicate that the informant alone should seek permission from the Magistrate to commence investigation.

The Court pointed out that Section 155(2), CrPC remains silent on who has to obtain permission. Agreeing with the view taken by the co-ordinate Bench in Prakash Raj v. State of Karnataka, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 5176, the Court stated that, “Permission can either be sought by the complainant or by the Station House Officer. Wherefore, it is not necessary for the informant alone to knock at the doors of the Magistrate with a requisition seeking permission for registration of FIR, it could be either the informant or the Station House officer”.

[Vijesh Pillai v. State of Karnataka, 2023 SCC OnLine Kar 32, decided on 16-06-2023]

*Order by Justice M. Nagaprasanna

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Petitioner: Satyanarayana S. Chalke, Adv.;

Respondent: Mahesh Shetty, High Court Government Pleader for respondent No. 1.

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