Decided on October 11,1972



- (1.) 1. The petitioner is the Kurnool Municipality. The 1st respondent is the Civic Association, Kurnool. The 1st respondent-Association filed a complaint against the Municipality under Section 290 of the India Penal Code for punishing it for causing public nuisance by systematically neglecting its duty to maintain cleanliness in Kurnool town.
(2.) The case is still pending. During its pendency, the'Municipality filed a petition raising a preliminary objection for taking cognizance of the offence without the necessary sanction of the Government as contemplated under section 375 of the Andhra Pradesh Municipalities Act (hereinafter referred to as the 'Municipalities Act'). The petition was resisted by the Civic Association, the complainant, alleging that the complaint is not laid against any officer of the Municipality in which case only sanction of the Government as required under Section 375 of the Municipalities Act is necessary and that provision has no application to the present case as the complaint'is laid against the Munici'pality itself and not against its officers. The lower Court, viz , Judicial First Class Magistrate, Kurnool however, without really going into the, qupstion raised whether Section 375 of the Municipalities Act is applicable to the facts of the, case or not dismissed the petition taking the view that having taken cognizance of the offence once rightly or wrongly it is not within the competence of the same court to pass an order of dismissal of the complaint on that ground and so far as that Court is concerned the trial has to be proceeded with. It is against that order passed by the Magistrate, this revision case has been filed.
(3.) Sri Jayarama Naidu, the learned counsel for the petitioner- Municipality has argued two points. One is the Municipality, being not a na ural person, itself cannot be made liable for any offence even if the facts alleged are true and therefore the proceedings started against the Municipality themselves have to be quashed and secondly, even otherwise the sanction of the Government not having been obtained as provided under Section 375 of the Municipalities Act, the lower Court erred in taking cognizance of the Offence and no cognizance should have been taken by it without such sanction. Taking the first point first, in the treatise by Russel on Crime (12th Edition at pages 96 and 97) the law with regard to criminal responsibility of corporations has been stated thus: "At common law a corporation aggregate has been regarded as in the nature of things incapable of treason, felonies or misdea mean ours involving personal violence, such as riots or assaults, or of perjury, or it would seem offences for which the only penalty is imprisonment or corporal punishment.............................................................. ...............................................................The modern tendency of the Courts, however, has been towards widening the scope within which criminal proceedings can be brought against institutions which have become so prominent a feature of everyday affairs, and the point is being reached where what is called for is a comprehensive statement of principles formulated to meet the needs of modern life in granting the fullest possible protection of criminal law to persons exposed to the action of the many powerful associations which surround them. At common law, corporations are now indictable for nuisance and breaches of public duty, whether existing by the common law or created by statute, and whether the breach of duty is by misfeasance or non- feasance. Corporations are often indicted for non-repair or illegal obstruction of highways, and it would seem that a corporation aggregate is indictable for defamation or libel." In Halsbury's Laws of England (Third Edition, Volume 10 at page 281 under Section 521) the law has been staled thus : "A corporation aggregate cannot be guilty of any offences (such as bigamy or perjury) which by their very nature can only be committed by natural persons; nor can a corporation aggregate be found guilty of a crime where the only punishment is death or imprisonment.;

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