Criminal

Factors to be considered by magistrate under section 200 of Criminal Code

SC11kb

ROSY AND ANR. vs STATE OF KERALA AND ORS. [ 10/01/2000]

I. (a) Under Section 200 Magistrate has jurisdiction to take cognizance of an offence oa the complaint after examining upon oath the complainant and the witnesses present; (b) When the complaint is made in writing by a public servant acting or purporting to act in discharge of his official duties, the Magistrate need not examine the complainant and the witnesses.
(c) In such case Court may issue process or dismiss the complaint.
II. (a) The Magistrate instead of following the procedure stated above may, if he thinks fit, postpone the issue of process and hold inquiry for the purpose of deciding whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the person ac-cused. Such inquiry can be held by him or by the police officer or by other person authorised by him.
(b) However, where it appears to the Magistrate that the offence complained of is triable exclusively by the court of Sessions, the direction of investigation by the police officer is not permissible and he is required to hold inquiry by himself. During that inquiry he may decide to examine the witnesses on oath. At that stage, proviso further gives direc-tions that he shall call upon the complainant to produce  all his witnesses and examine them on oath. The reason obviously is that in a private complaint, which is required to be com-mitted to the Sessions Court for trial, it would safeguard the interest of the accused and he would not be taken by surprise at the time of trial and it would reveal the
version of the witnesses whose list is required to be filed by complainant under Section 204 (2) before issuance of the process,

(c) The irregularity or non-compliance thereof would not vitiate the  further proceeding in all cases. A person complain-ing of such irregularity should raise objection at the earliest stage and he should point out how prejudice is caused or is likely to be caused by not following the proviso, if he fails to raise such objection at the earliest stage. he is precluded from raising such objection later.

It is pertinent to consider yet another aspect. It is of importance from practical point of view also. Section 209 of the Code enjoins on the magistrate to commit the case to the Court of Session after complying with the provisions in Section 208 of the Code. Once the case is committed it proceeds to the next stage for which the venue is the Court of Session. The trial in the Court of Session is envisaged in Chapter XVIII. It must be borne in mind that in the Sessions Court a public Prosecutor alone can conduct prosecution, whether the case was instituted on police report or on complaint. Section 226, falling within the aforesaid Chapter, requires the public prosecutor to make the open address to the Sessions Court.

Private complaint case

If a case instituted on complaint is committed to the Court of Session without complying with the requirements in clause (I) of Section 208 of the Code how is it possible for the public prosecutor to know in advance what evidence he can adduce to prove the guilt of the accused? If no inquiry under Section 202 in to be conducted, a magistrate who decides to proceed only on the averments contained in the complaint filed by a public servant (who is not a witness to the core allegation) and such a case is committed to the Court of Session, its inevitable consequence would be that the Sessions Judge has to axe down the case at the stage of Section 226 itself as the public prosecutor would then be helpless to state “by what evidence he proposes to prove the guilt of the accused”. If the offence is of a serious nature or is of public importance the consequence then would be
miscar-riage of justice.