JITU MAL Vs. KASTURI LAL,
HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA
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BHANDARI, J. -
(1.) THE sole point for decision in the present case is whether a complaint filed against a Sub -Inspector of Police in respect of certain defamatory statements which are alleged to have been made by the latter is barred by time on the ground that it was filed after the expiry of a period of three months from the date of the said reports.
(2.) THE facts of the case are fairly simple. On the 19th March 1948 one Surju appeared at the Police Station at Kaithal with the object of making a report under Section 395 of the Penal Code. The police declined to record the report. Undeterred by this refusal Surju reduced his grievances into writing submitted his complaint to the police and asked the police to supply a copy thereof. The police gave him a severe beating and kept him in unlawful confinement for a number of days. Surju decided to seek redress at the hands of a criminal Court and on the 24th March he lodged a formal complaint under Sections 323/343 of the Indian Penal Code against Sub -inspector Kasturi Lal and certain other police officers in the Court of the Sub -Divisional Magistrate at Kaithal. Two days later, that is on the 26th March, he submitted a representation to the Chief Minister of the Punjab and asked him to take the necessary action against the police officers concerned. Copies of this representation were sent to the Inspector -General of Police, the Deputy Inspector -General of Police, the Superintendent of Police the Deputy Superintendent of Police and to the Deputy Commissioner. Some of these complaints were sent to Sub -Inspector Kasturi Lal for report and on the 7th April 1948 he submitted a report to the Deputy Superintendent of Police in the course of which he made certain defamatory statements concerning the character and antecedents of one Jitu Mal, Mahajan at Kaithal, who is the petitioner in the present case. On the 11th February 1949 Jitu Mal filed a complaint under Section 500 of the Penal Code against Sub -Inspector Kasturi Lal in the Court of Mr. Gautam, a Magistrate of the first class at Karnal. The learned Magistrate came to the conclusion that the representations which were sent to the Inspector -General of Police and the other officers were merely complaints of a departmental and administrative nature against the conduct of a Sub -Inspector of Police, that the report submitted by Sub -Inspector Kasturi Lal in answer to the allegations contained in the said representations was a purely departmental report submitted by a government servant to his official superior, that the said report was submitted under the provisions of the Police Act of 1861, that a prosecution in respect of the imputations contained in the said reports should have commenced within a period of three months from the date of the said report and that as the complaint was lodged on the 11th February 1949 seven months after the expiry of the said period of three months the complaint was clearly barred by time under Section 42 of the Police Act. On these findings the learned Magistrate dismissed the petitioner's complaint under Section 203 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The learned Sessions Judge declined to interfere with this order and the petitioner has accordingly come to this Court in revision.
(3.) SECTION 42 of the Police Act provides that all actions and prosecutions against any person which may be lawfully brought for anything done or intended to be done under the provisions of this Act, or under the general police -powers hereby given shall be commenced within three months after the act complained of shall have been committed, and not otherwise. It is contended on behalf of the petitioner that two of the representations sent by him were addressed to the Inspector -General of Police and the Deputy Commissioner of Karnal, that the Inspector -General of Police exercises powers of a Magistrate under the provisions of Section 5 of the Police Act, that the Deputy Commissioner is obviously a District Magistrate of the District of Karnal, that the representations addressed to these two officers must be deemed to be complaints filed in the Court of two different Magistrates, that the copy of the representations sent to S.I., Kasturi Lal must be deemed to have been sent to him under Section 202 of the Criminal Procedure Code, that the report of the 7th April submitted by S.I. Kasturi Lal must be deemed to have been submitted under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and not under the provisions of the Police Act. that the period of limitation prescribed in Section 42 of the Police Act cannot govern the case and consequently that the view taken by the learned Magistrate that the complaint is barred by time is wholly misconceived.
After a careful consideration of the arguments which have been addressed to us, I am clearly of the opinion that the report of the Sub -Inspector can by no stretch of imagination be regarded as a report under Section 202 of the Criminal Procedure Code. In the first place the complaint was not sent either to the Inspector -General of Police or the Deputy Commissioner of Karnal in his capacity as a Magistrate but in his capacity as an Executive Officer under whom S.I. Kasturi Lal was serving. Secondly, there was no reason why formal complaints under the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code should have been reported to the Inspector -General of Police or to the Deputy Commissioner of Karnal when a formal complaint had already been made to the Sub -Divisional Magistrate at Kaithal and when the said Magistrate had already fixed a date for recording the evidence of the complainant. Thirdly, neither the Inspector -General of Police nor the Deputy Commissioner of Karnal appear to have treated these representations as complaints under the Code of Criminal Procedure for neither of these two Officers cared to record the statement of the complainant under the provisions of Section 200 of the said Code. Fourthly, if the representation was addressed to the Deputy Commissioner of Karnal in his capacity as a District Magistrate, I entertain no doubt whatsoever that it would have been addressed to the District Magistrate and not to the Deputy Commissioner. Fifthly, although the complaint presented in the Court of the Sub -Divisional Magistrate at Kaithal bore a court -fee stamp of Re. 1/ -, no court -fee stamp whatsoever was affixed to any of the six applications which were submitted on the 26th March 1948. Sixthly, the Inspector -General of Police did not refer the complaint to the Deputy Superintendent of Police under the provisions of Section 202 of the Criminal Procedure Code for if he had taken the view that his help was being invoked in his capacity as a Magistrate of the 1st class, he would have proceeded to examine the complainant under the provisions of Section 200 of the said Code. Seventhly, the complaints which were forwarded by the Deputy Superintendent of Police were addressed to the Station House Officer in charge of the Police Station and not to Sub -Inspector Kasturi Lal by name. Eighthly, the complaints are not only against Sub -Inspector Kasturi Lal himself but also against certain other persons whose names are mentioned therein and consequently the report that was submitted by him was submitted under the provisions of the Police Act and not under those of the Criminal Procedure Code. Ninthly, the complaint which was forwarded to S.I. Kasturi Lal could not have been forwarded to him under the provisions of Section 202 of the Criminal Procedure Code for it is a matter of common knowledge that complaints against an accused person cannot be sent to accused person himself for preliminary investigation. Lastly, the Deputy Superintendant of Police asked the Station House Officer for a full report in regard to the allegations made in the complaint and did not ask Sub -Inspector Kasturi Lal to furnish his own explanation in regard thereto. As Section 23 of the Police Act requires every Police Officer promptly to obey and execute all orders lawfully issued to him by a competent authority and as it was within the power of the Deputy Superintendent of Police to call for a report from Sub -Inspector Kasturi Lal, it seems to me that in making the report in question Sub -Inspector Kasturi Lal was carrying out the orders which were issued to him by a competent authority. It follows as a consequence that he was acting under the provisions of the Police Act or under the general police -powers conferred by the said Act.;
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