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Charge of false accusation u/s 211 IPC can be made against de facto complainant & not against investigating officer
A Radhika Vs Wilson Sundararaj
Crl.O.P No. 2514 of 2020
About/from the judgment:
The High Court has held that an officer who conducted investigation or filed a final report pursuant to filing of a criminal complaint cannot be prosecuted under Section 211 of IPC for making false accusations, in case of acquittal of the accused.
The Court observed that if investigating officers are exposed to such proceedings in all cases where the accused persons are acquitted, it will directly interfere with their independence in conducting an investigation.
The Court further made it clear that the language used under Section 211 regarding false charge can only relate to the defacto complainant who set the criminal law in motion, and not the investigating officer.
The observation was made in a criminal petition filed by an ex-DSP of CBCID, challenging the summons issued by a Trial Court based on the complaint given by the Respondent under Section 340 of CrPC.
[Section 340 stipulates the procedure to be observed by a Court in cases mentioned in section 195 of CrPC which prescribes prosecution for contempt of lawful authority of public servants, for offences against public justice and for offences relating to documents given in evidence]
The Petitioner who was then the Deputy Superintendent of Police, CBCID was assigned the task of investigating a case against the Respondent herein.
After acquittal from all charges, the Respondent filed a complaint before the court below under Section 340 CrPC against the defacto complainant and the Petitioner herein, on the ground that they have committed an offence under Section 211 IPC, and the entire case was a malicious prosecution against the Respondent.
Challenging the summons before the High Court, the Petitioner submitted that he had only investigated the FIR after it was transferred to CBCID and the mere fact that the Respondent was acquitted by the court will not attract an offence under Section 211 IPC.
He contended that if Respondent's claim of malicious prosecution is taken to be true, the Respondent can only file a suit claiming for damages for malicious prosecution before the competent court, and it cannot be a ground to file a complaint under Section 340, CrPC.
The Respondent on the other hand submitted that the findings given by the trial court clearly show that the entire case is false and he was intentionally roped in as an accused for having filed a Habeas Corpus Petition questioning an illegal arrest made by the police.
He further argued that the court below has only called the Petitioner for a preliminary enquiry and whatever grounds are raised by the Petitioner in the present petition, can be raised before the court below.
Firstly, the Court dealt with maintainability of the instant petition in view of the Respondent's submission.
The Court was of the opinion that if the allegations made in the Respondent's complaint, even if taken as it is, do not make out an offence under Section 211, IPC, then the Petitioner shall not be required to go through the ordeal of even a preliminary enquiry before the court below.
Thus, it was held that it is essential to hear this petition and test the complaint to satisfy as to whether an offence under Section 211 IPC has been made out against the Petitioner.
The Court concurred with the Petitioner that the complaint filed by the Respondent at the best makes out a case for malicious prosecution. It held,
"In a case of malicious prosecution, which gives rise to a tortious liability, only a suit for damages can be filed by establishing the ingredients to maintain such a suit. The grounds for maintaining a suit for malicious prosecution cannot form the basis for filing a petition under Section 340, Cr.P.C. since it has to independently satisfy the requirements of Section 195(1)(b), Cr.P.C."
Reliance was placed on Santokh Singh &Ors. v. Izhar Hussan & Anr., (1973) 2 SCC 406, whereby the Supreme Court had held that the words "false charges" must be read along with the expression "institution of criminal proceedings", which relates back to the initiation of criminal proceedings and it can never be related to an alleged false charge framed after the filing of the final report.
The Court further held that an investigation officer cannot be charged for false accusation under Section 211 IPC on acquittal of the accused.
"If investigating officers are going to be exposed to such proceedings in all cases where the accused persons are acquitted from all charges, it will directly interfere with the independence of the authority in conducting an investigation," it observed.
In context of the present case, the Bench noted, that the on a complaint given by one Mr. Rajamani, the FIR was registered and the arrest was made. The Petitioner came into the scene only at a later point of time when the case was transferred to the file of the CBCID. Thus, admittedly, it was not the Petitioner who had set the criminal law in motion.
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