Hot Off The PressNews

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Nityanand Rai, in a written reply to a question regarding details on mob lynching cases, in Lok Sabha today, said that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) does not maintain data with respect to mob lynching. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued advisories to States and UTs, from time to time, to maintain law and order and ensure that any person who takes the law into his/her own hand is punished promptly as per law.

The Minister informed that advisories dated 23.07.2018 and 25.09.2018 were issued to the State Governments/UT Administrations for taking measures to curb incidents of mob lynching in the country. In addition to this, the Government, through audio-visual media, has also generated public awareness to curb the menace of mob lynching. The Government has also sensitized the service providers to take steps to check the propagation of false news and rumours having the potential to incite mob violence and lynching.

Shri Rai stated that an advisory dated 04.07.2018 was issued to the States and UTs by MHA, to keep watch on circulation of fake news and rumours having the potential of inciting violence, take all required measures to counter them effectively and to deal firmly with persons taking law into their own hands. Further, the Ministry has also issued an advisory on 09.08.2016 to all States/UTs for taking prompt and strict action against miscreants who take law into their own hands in the name of protection of cow.

‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India and State Governments are responsible for prevention, detection, registration and investigation of crime and for prosecuting the criminals through their law enforcement agencies, Shri Rai added.


Ministry of Home Affairs

[Press Release dt. 19-11-2019]

[Source: PIB]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of D.N. Patel, CJ and C. Hari Shankar, J., clarified the earlier order dated 03-11-2019 passed in connection with the recent scuffle that took place at the Tis Hazari Courts Complex between Advocates and Police personals.

In its order dated 03-11-2019, the High Court had directed that no coercive action shall be taken against the Advocates involved in the incident. In the same order, the Court had made certain observations against the Delhi Police and named certain officers responsible for the unfortunate incident.

Two separate applications were filed: one by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Union of India and the other by the Delhi Police. The home ministry sought clarification of the earlier order, to the effect that there is no impediment in taking action against the erring Advocates. The Delhi Police, on the other hand, prayed for modification of the earlier order, to the effect that the observations made against the DelhiPolice be excluded so that they could not be read as conclusive findings against the police officers in question.

On such applications being filed, the High Court clarified its earlier order dated 3-11-2019, to the effect that the direction protecting Advocates against coercive action only relates to the FIRs, filed on 2-11-2019 pertaining to the scuffle that broke out at Tis Hazari Courts, and not against any incident that took place thereafter. Also, in regard to observations made against certain Police officers, the High Court clarified that such observations were only prima facie and tentative in nature; the facts are to be proved on the basis of evidence on record without being influenced by such observations.

Before parting with the order, the High Court noted a sense of anguish over the instant state of affairs. It observed:

“In our view, therefore, it would be advisable, in this case, that a joint meeting, of responsible representatives of the Advocates and the police establishment, be convened, who should make a sincere effort to meet and sort out their differences amicably, on the basis of discussion and deliberations, with the objective of dissolution of their differences, which, in our view, have essentially arisen owing to a communication gap, during the last few days. We are hopeful that, if a sincere attempt is made in this direction, peace and harmony will ultimately prevail.”

The applications were disposed of accordingly. [Tis Hazari Incident, In re (Court on its own Motion v. Union of India), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 10918, decided on 06-11-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has held that the power of a police officer under Section 102 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 to seize any property, which may be found under circumstances that create suspicion of the commission of any offence, would not include the power to attach, seize and seal an immovable property. Khanna, J, writing the judgment for the bench, however, clarified,

“This, however, would not bar or prohibit the police officer from seizing documents/ papers of title relating to immovable property, as it is distinct and different from seizure of immovable property.”

The verdict came in a reference made by a Division Bench of Jagdish Singh Khehar and Arun Mishra, JJ vide order dated November 18, 2014, noticing that the issues that arise have far reaching and serious consequences.

Interpreting Section 102, the bench said that the language of Section 102 of the Code does not support the interpretation that the police officer has the power to dispossess a person in occupation and take possession of an immovable property in order to seize it. Section 102 is not, per se, an enabling provision by which the police officer acts to seize the property to do justice and to hand over the property to a person whom the police officer feels is the rightful and true owner.

It further explained that the expression ‘circumstances which create suspicion of the commission of any offence’ in Section 102 does not refer to a firm opinion or an adjudication/finding by a police officer to ascertain whether or not ‘any property’ is required to be seized. The word ‘suspicion’ is a weaker and a broader expression than ‘reasonable belief’ or ‘satisfaction’. The police officer is an investigator and not an adjudicator or a decision maker. This is the reason why the Ordinance was enacted to deal with attachment of money and immovable properties in cases of scheduled offences.

“In case and if we allow the police officer to ‘seize’ immovable property on a mere ‘suspicion of the commission of any offence’, it would mean and imply giving a drastic and extreme power to dispossess etc. to the police officer on a mere conjecture and surmise, that is, on suspicion, which has hitherto not been exercised.”

It was further held that the disputes relating to title, possession, etc., of immovable property are civil disputes which have to be decided and adjudicated in Civil Courts. The Court said,

“We must discourage and stall any attempt to convert civil disputes into criminal cases to put pressure on the other side.”

Gupta, J wrote a separate concurring verdict where he highlighted that the Code of Criminal Procedure itself the Legislature has in various provisions specifically used the words ‘movable’ and ‘immovable’ property as opposed to the words ‘any property’ under in Section 102, hence, the phrase ‘any property’ in Section 102 will only cover moveable property and not immovable property.

[Nevada Properties Pvt. Ltd. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1247, decided on 24.09.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Clarifying the order dated 03.07.2018, the bench of CJ Ranjan Gogoi and L. Nageswara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ said that the recommendation for appointment to the post of Director General of Police by the Union Public Service Commission and preparation of panel should be purely on the basis of merit from officers who have a minimum residual tenure of six months i.e. officers who have at least six months of service prior to the retirement.

To do away with the practice of States appointing the Director General of Police on the last date of   the normal tenure of an incumbent so as to ensure that such incumbents get extended term of two years in view of the directions of this Court contained in Prakash Singh v. Union of India, (2006) 8 SCC 1, the 3-judge bench of former CJI Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar and Dr. DY Chandrachud, JJ. gave the following directions inter alia:

“(e) An endeavour has to be made by all concerned to see that the person who was selected and appointed as the Director General of Police continues despite his date of superannuation. However, the extended term beyond the date of superannuation should be a reasonable period. We say so as it has been brought to our notice that some of the States have adopted a practice to appoint the Director General of Police on the last date of retirement as a consequence of which the person continues for two years after his date of superannuation. Such a practice will not be in conformity with the spirit of the direction.

(f) Our direction No.(c) should be considered by the Union Public Service Commission to mean that the persons are to be empanelled, as far as practicable, from amongst the people within the zone of consideration who have got clear two years of service. Merit and seniority should be given due weightage.”

Alleging that the aforementioned directions have resulted into confusion, the petitioner argued that:

“the Union Public Service Commission while empanelling officers for consideration for appointment   to the post of Director General of Police is considering the minimum residual tenure required to be taken into account as two years. In the process, according to the applicant, many suitable and eligible officers are being left out.”

On this Court clarified that it had not contemplated recommendation for appointment of officers who are on the verge of retirement or appointment of officers who have a minimum residual tenure of two years. The emphasis was to select the best and to ensure a minimum tenure of two years’ service of such officer who is to be selected and appointed. It, hence, issued the direction that:

“In the above conspectus the object in issuing the directions in Prakash Singh (supra), in our considered view, can best be achieved if the residual tenure of an officer i.e. remaining period of service till normal retirement, is fixed on a reasonable basis, which, in our considered view, should be a period of six months.”

The Court, however, said that the above direction, naturally, will hold the field until the validity of the Police Acts in force which provides to the contrary are examined and dealt with by the Court in the pending writ petition.

[Prakash Singh v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 371, decided on 13.03.2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: The Bench of Sonia Gokani, J. disposed of a petition with the direction to lodge the FIR if any cognizable offence is made out; and if not, reasons to be mentioned for not lodging an FIR to the complainant at the earliest but not later that one week.

The facts of the case are that the petitioner was aggrieved by non-registration of the FIR on the basis of the complaint given in writing by him. He contended that a cognizable offence was made out and still his FIR was not registered.

The Court while relying on the case of Lalita Kumari v. State of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1, held that registration of FIR is mandatory under Section 154 CrPC if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation. For the purpose of knowing as to whether any cognizable offence was revealed, a preliminary inquiry should be conducted. Still, if it is not made out, reasons are to be mentioned for not lodging an FIR to the complainant at the earliest but not later that one week in a cognizable offence. [Haripriyaben Sanjaykumar Shah v. State of Gujarat, 2019 SCC OnLine Guj 239, Order dated 06-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of K. Abraham Mathew, J. dismissed a petition on account of increasing attacks against the police.

There was a clash between workers of two political parties in the course of which the petitioners who were armed with deadly weapons formed themselves into an unlawful assembly and assaulted the police officers who were on duty at that time and thus were charged under Sections 143, 147, 148, 308, 324, 332 and 353 IPC.

The public prosecutor filed an application for permission to withdraw from the prosecution under Section 321 of CrPC in an attempt to maintain peace in the locality which was dismissed by the Sessions Judge. Aggrieved thereby, the instant petition was filed.

The Court here made it clear that the Section 321 CrPC nowhere grants any such right on the accused and questioned them as to how the withdrawal from the prosecution will aid in maintaining peace plus on the contrary withdrawal of such cases was against the public interest. The Court gave due regard to the fact that attack on police officers was on increase in the State and was of the view that allowing withdrawal of cases as sought for would certainly lower the morale of the police. Accordingly, the petition was dismissed.[Puthussery Preman v. State of Kerala, Crl.Rev.Pet.No. 1190 of 2018, order dated 02-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Hyderabad High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Gudiseva Shyam Prasad, J. dismissed a writ petition at the admission stage on account of it being misconceived.

The petitioner filed a writ petition seeking the relief in the nature of writ of mandamus under Article 226 of the Constitution of India over the protection and preservation of his title and possession over the land which was being interfered with by the defendants.

The defendant pressed upon the fact that instead of resorting to the present writ petition along with seeking police protection, the petitioners should have approached the court by way of execution petition.

The Court agreed with the submission of the defendants that it was a civil matter and if the petitioner needed police aid he should have had sought for the orders for the same. The police cannot interfere in any civil dispute unless directed by any competent court to its effect.

Accordingly, with regard to the misconceived writ petition, the matter stood closed. [Tirumala Siva Prasad v. State of A.P.,2018 SCC OnLine Hyd 262, order dated 17-04-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of V.K. Bisht, J. dismissed a writ petition that sought interference with the investigation in a criminal case.

The petitioners were accused of cow slaughtering. It was alleged that on receiving information about the slaughtering of cow, the patrolling team reached village Harjoli and found that the petitioners were indulged in the said activity. The petitioners managed to escape; however, equipments meant for slaughtering, weighing machine and cow beef (approx. 350 kg) was found from the spot. A criminal case was registered against the petitioners for offences punishable under Sections 3, 5, and 11 of Uttarakhand Protection of Cow Progeny Act, 2007. The petitioners filed the instant petition praying to quash the impugned FIR.

On consideration of the record, the High Court held that relief, as prayed for by the appellant, could not be granted. The Court relied on the Supreme Court decision in State of W.B. v. Swapna Kumar, (1982) 1 SCC 561, to hold that if the FIR discloses a prima facie commission of an offence, the Court will not normally interfere with the investigation, as doing so would be to trench upon the lawful power of the police to investigate into a congnizable offence. From, the perusal of the FIR, the High Court held that it discloses prima facie commission of offence. Therefore, the Court held that it was not a case where relief could have been provided to the petitioner. Accordingly, the petition was dismissed. [Kala v. State of Uttarakhand,2018 SCC OnLine Utt 547, dated 18-6-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the issue relating to filling up of 4010 vacancies in the State of Uttar Pradesh, consisting of 3698 vacancies for Sub-Inspectors and 312 vacancies for Platoon Commanders, the 3-judge bench of Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Deepak Gupta, JJ directed that the vacancies should be filled up by the State of Uttar Pradesh expeditiously on merits, if not already filled up.

The State had submitted before the Court that due to orders passed from time to time by this Court, perhaps more than 4010 posts have been filled up. The Court, hence, directed that the persons occupying posts in excess of 4010 shall not be disturbed until further orders from this Court.

Regarding the question as to whether the persons who have been appointed in excess of 4010 Posts are to continue or their services may be dispensed with, the Court said that it will pass the appropriate orders only after hearing the parties.

The Court also took note of it’s order dated 14.09.2017 in which it was noted that all those persons who are before this Court on the ground that they were before the High Court on or before 31st December, 2016 either as petitioners or intervenors may submit their particulars to learned Additional Advocate General who will verify the particulars and submit a report before 31st October, 2017. The Court, hence, made clear that following the order passed on 14.09.2017, all applications for intervention/impleadment, etc. or fresh matters instituted after the cut-off date of 31st December, 2016 stand disposed of. [Alok Kumar Singh v. State of U.P.,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 309, order dated 22.03.2018]

Legislation UpdatesRules & Regulations

Under Rule 5 of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 use of loudspeakers/public address system is restricted in the following manner:

A) They can only be used after obtaining permission from any authority or officer authorised by the Central Government, or as the case may be, the State Government in accordance with the laws in force and includes a District Magistrate, Police Commissioner, or any other officer, not below the rank of the Deputy Superintendent of Police, designated for the maintenance of the ambient air quality standards in respect of noise under any law for the time being in force.

B) The loudspeaker or a public address system shall not be used at night (between 10.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m.) except in closed premises for communication within, e.g. auditoria, conference rooms, community halls and banquet halls.

C) The State Government may, subject to such terms and conditions as are necessary to reduce noise pollution, permit use of loudspeakers or public address systems during night hours (between 10.00 p.m. to 12.00 midnight) on or during any cultural or religious festive occasion of a limited duration not exceeding fifteen days in all during a calendar year.

Further the Supreme Court of India has passed the following directions in Noise Pollution (V), In re, (2005) 5 SCC 733 at page 782:

1. The noise level at the boundary of the public place, where loudspeaker or public address system or any other noise source is being used shall not exceed 10 dB(A) above the ambient noise standards for the area or 75 dB(A) whichever is lower.

2. No one shall beat a drum or tom-tom or blow a trumpet or beat or sound any instrument or use any sound amplifier at night (between 10.00 p.m. and 6 a.m.) except in public emergencies.

3. The peripheral noise level of privately-owned sound system shall not exceed by more than 5 dB(A) than the ambient air-quality standard specified for the area in which it is used, at the boundary of the private place.