Decided on June 14,2012



SERVESH KUMAR GUPTA, J. - (1.) BY means of this petition, moved under Section 482 Cr.P.C., the order of cognizance dated 23.4.2007, passed by learned Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Haridwar, as well as the proceedings of complaint case no.20 of 2007, State Vs. Sattar and others, is under challenge whereby the petitioner Sattar has been summoned to face trial for the offence of Sections 27, 29 and 31, which are punishable under Section 51 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (hereinafter to be referred as the Act).
(2.) IN brief, the facts of the case are that on 5.4.2004, at about 11 PM, when the two forest guards, namely Jagdish Singh Bisht and his companion, were on patrolling duty in the reserved forest, they heard the noise of cutting trees by an axe. Both the forest guards reached at the spot and identified the accused persons, as Sattar, Zulfan and Kurban in the light of torch possessed by them. The accused were chased but in vain. The forest guards returned at the spot and found freshly cut eight logs. The guard Jagdish Singh sent a report to Forest Range Officer, who in turn, marked the same to Deputy Director, Rajaji National Park, who forwarded it to the Director. All these endorsements are undated, as is revealed from a perusal of Annexure No.1 to the petition. Report of the enquiry officer is also again undated but the same ratified the facts which were initially mentioned, in writing, by the forest guard Jagdish Singh. Ultimately, a chargesheet dated 23.4.2007 was submitted in the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Haridwar through District Forest Counsel, whereupon the cognizance was taken by the Magistrate on the same day.
(3.) IT has been contended on behalf of petitioner that all these alleged offences are punishable u/s 51 of the Act, wherein the maximum punishment is three years and as per Section 468 Cr.P.C., the maximum time period within which the complainant can be moved to the Magistrate is three years. In this case, the offence was allegedly committed on 5.4.2004, so the chargesheet, at the most, could have been filed in the court up till 4.4.2007, but the same was filed on 23.4.2007, with a delay of 19 days. Although a delay condonation application was moved on the same day (Annexure 4 to the petition), but it adverts that the same has been routinely typed by the State Forest Department; even no order was passed by the Magistrate on the said application. Nonetheless, the Magistrate has powers u/s 473 Cr.P.C. to take cognizance of an offence after the expiry of period of limitation, but while doing so, the Court must record its satisfaction on the basis of facts and circumstances of the case that the delay has been properly explained and it was necessary to do so in the interest of justice. In the instant case, the Magistrate has not passed any order on the delay condonation application, rather only a 'three words' order on the complaint itself was passed which itself shows that the Magistrate did not apply his mind while passing the impugned order of cognizance. It appears that even it was not brought to the notice of the Magistrate that the complaint was time barred. It further goes on to show that the Forest Department took it for granted, as if the delay condonation application would be deemed to be allowed, merely by annexing the same with the complaint.;

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