Kerala High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Sophy Thomas, J., quashed proceedings against the petitioner who was charge sheeted for being under the influence of alcohol during his visit to police station for identifying an accused. The Bench stated,

“Consuming liquor in a private place without causing nuisance or annoyance to anybody will not attract any offence”

Facts of the Case

The petitioner, a Village Assistant was called to the Police Station in order to identify an accused, against whom a case was registered under Section 353 of IPC and Section 20 of the Kerala Protection of River Banks and Regulation of Removal of Sand Act.

The grievance of the petitioner was that since that accused was a stranger to him, he could not identify him, and only because of that fact, Police had charge sheeted him under Section 118(a) of the Kerala Police Act alleging that he was under the influence of alcohol at that time.

While the FIR suggested that the petitioner was intoxicated and was unable to control himself and the 161 statements of the witnesses were to the effect that the petitioner challenged the Police and committed rioting inside the Police Station.

Findings of the Court

In order to attract an offence punishable under Section 118(a) of the KP Act, a person should be found in a public place in an intoxicated manner or rioting condition incapable of looking after himself.

The Bench opined that even if it was taken for argument sake that the petitioner had consumed alcohol at that time, the available records did not show that the petitioner was sent to doctor for a clinical examination, or to show that his blood test was conducted to prove that he was intoxicated.

The records show that he was subjected to Alco-quant test using Alcometer. All the witnesses are Police Officers except one Saseendran, who was the accused arrested under the Sand Act, to identify whom the petitioner was called to the Police Station.

The meaning of the word ‘intoxicated’ as given in Advanced Law lexicon by P.Ramanatha Aiyar is that “a man is intoxicated whenever he is so much under the influence of spirituous or intoxicating liquors that it so operates upon him, that it so affects his acts or conduct or movement, that the public or parties coming in contact with him could readily see and know that it was affecting him in that respect.”

The Bench observed, the expression ‘rioting condition’ used in Section 118 (a) would mean that the person was behaving in a way that is violent and/or not in control. While the condition ‘incapable of looking after himself’ envisaged under Section 118 (a) of the KP Act, means weakening of self-control, weakening of self-awareness, and incapacity to know or realize the consequences of the action etc are relevant factors. Similarly, incoherent speech, unsteady gait, staggering etc., and the manner in which he conducts himself towards fellow-men were also relevant factors to hold whether the accused person was in proper control of himself.

Decision

Having observed various terms used against the petitioner with regard to the particular case against him, the Bench held that even if it was taken for argument sake that the petitioner had consumed alcohol, the available facts and materials were not sufficient to suggest that, he was not able to control himself or he committed rioting inside the Police Station causing nuisance.

Moreover, the petitioner had reached Police Station, only because he was asked to be present there. Hence, the petition was allowed and the proceedings against the petitioner were quashed. The petitioner was directed to be discharged. [Salim Kumar B.S. v. State of Kerala,2021 SCC OnLine Ker 4136, decided on 10-11-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance by:

For the Petitioner: Advocate I.V.Pramod, Advocate K.V.Sasidharan and Advocate Saira Souraj P.

For the Respondent: Devi Shri R., Public Prosecutor

Hot Off The PressNews

Editors Guild of India urges Chief Minister of Kerala to withdraw disturbing amendment to Kerala Police Act 118 A immediately, which provides for up to three years of punishment for publication of material with an intention to intimidate, insult, or defame any person through social media.

Although Government has placed the amendment on hold until discussed by the state assembly and has given an assurance to Kerala High Court that the state police will no take any adverse actions, but the ordinance is still in force and has the potential for grave misuse and should be withdrawn forthwith.

The amendment to the Kerala Police Act would deeply hurt the cause of free speech and freedom of press as it gives unbridled powers to the police to target political opposition and the press in the name of monitoring content on social media.

Editor Guil reiterates immediate withdrawal of this section 118 A of the Police Act.


Editors Guild of India

[Press Release dt. 24-11-2020]

Legislation UpdatesStatutes/Bills/Ordinances

Kerala Police (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020

Governor of Kerala, Arif Mohammed Khan promulgates an ordinance to further amend the Kerala Police Act, 2011.

Following are the amendments introduced:

3. Amendment of Section 118—In the principal Act, after section 118, the following section shall be inserted, namely:—

“118 A. Punishment for making, expressing, publishing or disseminating any matter which is threatening, abusive, humiliating or defamatory.─Whoever makes, expresses, publishes or disseminates through any kind of mode of communication, any matter or subject for threatening, abusing, humiliating or defaming a person or class of persons, knowing it to be false and that causes injury to the mind, reputation or property of such person or class of persons or any other person in whom they have interest shall on conviction, be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both.”.

4. Amendment of Section 125.—In sub-section (1) of section 125 of the principal Act, after the figures and symbol “118,” the figures, letter and symbol “118A,” shall be inserted.


Kerala Gazette

Ordinance No. 79 of 2020

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Dealing with the Section 97 of the Kerala Police Act, 2011 which mandates that the State Government shall ensure a minimum tenure of two years for the State Police Chief and that he could be transferred out before completion of the tenure if the State Government is prima facie satisfied that it is necessary to do so, on certain grounds specified in sub-section (2) of Section 97 of the Act, the Court said that the removal or displacement of any senior level officer from a tenure appointment must be for compelling reasons and must be justified by the concerned authority, if called upon to do so, on material that can be objectively tested. The bench said that this is what the rule of law expects and this is what Section 97 of the Act expects – the law must be faithfully implemented in a purposive manner.

The appellant in the present case was transferred before the competition of his tenure as an outcome of the aftermath of the Puttingal Temple Tragedy in which 100 persons were killed and around 400 were injured after the unauthorised fireworks by the temple authorities resulted in the stock of fireworks catching a spark and another case of brutal murder of a young Dalit girl Jisha within the jurisdiction of the Kuruppumpady police station, in the year 2016. State Government had submitted that it was prima facie satisfied that the conduct of the appellant post the two incidents did not inspire any confidence in his leadership and that translated into serious public dissatisfaction on the efficiency and the role of the police.

Noticing the fact that the Additional Chief Secretary recommended action against three specific police officers and placed the file before the Chief Minister and that the appellant has been accused of failure to take action against these errant police officers and unjustifiably apportioning a part of the blame on the district administration, the Court held that if the appellant failed to take any action against the errant police officers, the entire official machinery starting from the Chief Minister down to the Chief Secretary and the Additional Chief Secretary are equally to blame. The Court said that while it is true that a major part of the blame must rest on the police force at the ground level, the district administration perhaps cannot be completely absolved of its responsibility in the enormous tragedy that took place,

The Bench of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ, hence held that Section 97(2)(e) of the Act must be read and understood in the context of the other clauses of that Section which relate to verifiable facts and events. Clause (e) is not a blanket clause that permits the State Government to take any decision on the basis of what it believes to be public dissatisfaction. Otherwise, the State Government can misuse it and justify an adverse action on the ground of prima facie satisfaction outside the ambit of judicial review. [Dr. T.P. Senkumar IPS v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 463, decided on 24.04.2017]