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Thursday, May 5, 2016

whether the Sub-Inspector of Police can proceed with the investigation in F.I.R. No.145 of 2012. Rule 7(1) of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995 stipulates that an offence, committed under the Act, shall be investigated by a police officer not below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police; the investigating officer should be appointed by the State Government, or the Director General of Police or the Superintendent of Police after taking into account his experience, sense of ability and justice to perceive the implications of the case, and to investigate it along right lines within the shortest possible time. In view of this statutory stipulation, it is not permissible for the Sub-Inspector of Police to investigate a complaint under the Act.

THE HON'BLE SRI JUSTICE RAMESH RANGANATHAN            

WRIT PETITION No.13577 OF 2012  

26-04-2013

B. Sudhakar Reddy

The S.H.O., RGIA, Cyberabad,Shamshabad, Ranga Reddy District and 4 others  

Counsel for the petitioner:  Smt. Neeraja Sudhakar Reddy

Counsel for respondent :   G.P. for Home Sri M. Ramakanth, Sri Harinadh
Nidamanuri
                               
<GIST:

>HEAD NOTE:  
? Citations:
1) 1992(3) CRIMES 1104 (SC)
2) (2008) 8 SCC 435
3) 2005(2) ALT (CRL) 401( AP)
4) 2000(3) SCC 557
5) (2009) 3 SCC 789
6) (1998) 5 SCC 749
7) (2006) 4 SCC 359
8) AIR 1992 SC 604
9) (1987) 1 SCC 288
10) (2012) 1 SCC 476
11) AIR 1960 SC 866
12) (2002) 3 SCC 89
13) (2000) 2 SCC 636
14) (1977) 2 SCC 699
15) (1992) 4 SCC 305
16) AIR 1964 SC 1
17) (2008) 12 SCC 531
18) 1992 Crl.L.J. 3054
19) (2004) 13 SCC 292
20) (1979) 2 SCC 322
21) (2003) 6 SCC 175
22) 2011(2) ALD 948 (SC) = (2011) 12 SCC 437
23) (1999) 3 SCC 259
24) (2006) 6 SCC 736
25) 2009 Crl.L.J. 3831 (Bom-HC)
26) 2001 Crl.L.J. 4587 (Delhi-HC)
27) (2008) 14 SCC 1
28) (2005) 1 SCC 568
29) (1996) 9 SCC 766

ORDER:

The scheme in Part III of the Constitution of India - the fundamental rights -
is to remove disabilities to which the Scheduled Castes are subjected to, and to
provide positive rights in their favour.  Article 38 and 46 in Part IV - the
Directive Principles of State policy - fasten duties on the State to render
socio-economic and political justice, and to protect them from all forms of
exploitation and injustice.  The Constitution charges the State to improve the
quality of their life and social, economic and cultural pursuits as part of a
meaningful right to life guaranteed under Art. 21 of the Constitution. (State of
Karnataka v. Appa Balu Ingale1). The Constitutional protection of equality
includes special help and care for the oppressed and the weak. While members of
the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes are, ostensibly, equal citizens
entitled to a life of dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution, they are, in
reality, oppressed, humiliated and insulted in many parts of our country.
(Swaran Singh v. State2). Whenever they assert their economic rights in relation
to property; their social rights in seeking access to various goods and
services; claim the right of entry to shops, and other public places; and the
political right to hold political offices; they are, more often than not,
subjected to ignominies and humiliation. (Goluguri Ramakrishna Reddy v. State of
Andhra Pradesh3).
It is in furtherance of  Article 46 of the Directive Principles of State Policy,
under Part IV of the Constitution of India, that the Scheduled Castes and
Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (hereinafter called the
"Act") was enacted.  The Act not only seeks to prevent the commission of
atrocities against members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, but
also for relief and rehabilitation of the victims of such offences.  The purpose
of the Act, as is evident from the statement of objects and reasons, is to
provide stringent measures and punishments for atrocities committed against
members belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. Section 3 of
the Act details a large number of such statutory offences. The sine qua non, to
attract the provisions of Section 3 of the Act, is that the victim should be a
person who belongs to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, and the offence is
committed against him as he belongs to the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled
Tribes. (Masumsha Hasanasha Musalman v. State of Maharashtra4; Ashabai Machindra    
Adhagale v. State of Maharashtra5).
In this Writ Petition, the petitioner seeks to have FIR No.145 of 2012 on the
file of the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Shamshabad Police Station, Ranga
Reddy District, for the offence under Section 3(1)(x) of the Act, quashed.  The
contents of the complaint, as recorded in FIR. No.145, are  that, on 28.3.2012
at about 09-00 hours, while the complainant was going to his agricultural land
to attend his work, the accused along with his henchmen were there and had
abused the complainant in the name of their caste by saying "Madiga Lanja
Kodukullara", and had threatened them with dire consequences.  Enclosed to the
FIR is a copy of the complaint given by the 5th respondent in Telugu which, when
translated in English, reads thus:-
"To
The Respected S.H.O, O.S. Shamshabad. R.G.I.A.  
Sir,
        I am Pothuganti Venkatayya, S/o late Lavayya, aged 56 years, resident of
Shamshabad Mandal, Sathamrai village.  Today i.e., 28.3.2012 morning at about
9.00 a.m. when I was going to my land in Sathamrai for agricultural work, Sri B.
Sudhakar Reddy and his henchmen abused us in filthy language without any reason
and attacked us.  And while abusing in the name of caste "Madiga Lanja
Kodukulla" they threatened to kill us if we went there.  They abused in the name
of caste in filthy language which cannot be revealed.  Hence, we request you to
take action in accordance with law against Sri B. Sudhakar Reddy and his
henchmen and do justice to us."

The petitioner claims to have purchased Ac.17.18 gts of land in Sy. No.7 of
Sathamrai village, Shamshabad, Ranga Reddy District, vide Registered sale deed
No.6621/2007 dated 28.08.2007, from the original owners including the 5th
respondent.  It is his case that the 5th respondent was arrayed as the 6th
executant in the sale deed; the original owners, including the 5th respondent,
had also executed a registered gift deed dated 25.08.2007 in favour of Sri Gunti
Yadaiah for an extent of 15 guntas of land; later they executed a rectification
deed dated 26.09.2007, rectifying the surname of the Donee; ever since the
purchase, and execution of the gift deed, he and Sri Gunti Yadaiah were in
possession of, and were cultivating, the subject lands; both of them applied for
mutation of their names in the revenue records; the Tahsildar rejected their
application on the ground that their vendors names were not reflected in the
revenue records; thereafter some of his vendors, and  Sri Gunti Yadaiah, had
invoked the Record of Rights Act, and had instituted other related proceedings;
it was found that illegal entries were made, through ROR proceedings dated
31.03.1995, by which the names of others were included in the revenue records; a
petition was filed, under Section 3 of the ROR Act, before the Tahsildar; the
persons, whose names were in the ROR, contested the matter by filing a counter;
on receipt thereof, he came to know that fraud had been played on them, and two
deeds dated 18.11.1981 and 15.10.1982 were executed fraudulently; against the
order of the Tahsildar dated 21.12.2007 rejecting their application, they
preferred a revision which was allowed on 15.12.2009 on the ground that notices,
under the ROR Act, were not issued; W.P. No.6356 of 2010, filed there against,
was dismissed on 12.07.2010 directing the parties to approach the Civil Court;
the petitioner's vendors and Sri Gunti Yadaiah filed O.S. No.700 of 2010 for
cancellation of the sale deeds dated 18.11.1981 and 15.10.1982; an injunction
was granted by order dated 14.07.2010, which was confirmed by the appellate
Court in C.M.A. No.90 of 2010 dated 26.11.2010; in the I.A, the plaintiffs had
mentioned that land, of an extent of Ac.7.18 gts, was sold, and an extent of 15
gts was gifted; the petitioner's name was restored in the revenue records after
the illegal entries therein were deleted; the Tahsildar, by his proceedings
dated 06.03.2010, implemented the order of the Joint Collector dated 15.12.2009;
by proceedings dated 04.11.2010, the petitioner's name was directed to be
mutated; the petitioner was, thereafter, issued pattadar pass books and title
deeds; he applied to the gram panchayat for sanction of a gate, a compound wall
and labour quarters etc; after the prescribed fee was paid, the gram panchayat
of Sathamrai Village had, vide proceedings dated 18.08.2011, accorded permission
for construction of a compound wall, two labour quarters  etc; the APCPDCL
sanctioned electricity and service connection, vide letter dated 16.05.2011, for
the total extent of land which was in their possession; as per the sanctioned
permission, a big gate was also set up by constructing  an L shaped wall for
which a compound wall was constructed in the land in Sy. No.2 attached to the
compound wall constructed around the land adjacent thereto; two electricity
meters were set up, one for the bore-well, and the other for the house
constructed thereat; persons who were inimically disposed towards the
petitioner, as he had refused to pay money under extortion, had instigated the
5th respondent and some of his vendors; they started pestering the petitioner,
for the past several months, for money on one pretext or other; the 5th
respondent instigated his cousin Sri Babaiah  to file an appeal against the
mutation order; in the appeal, an order of suspension was passed on 04.10.2010;
the said order was questioned before this Court in W.P. No.10302 of 2012,
wherein interim stay was granted; as the petitioner refused to part with money,
and concede to their illegal demands, Sri Pothuganti Venkataiah, Jalpally
Narander, Pothuganti Narender, Pothuganti Shankaraiah, Pothuganti Prabhakar came
to the land in Sy. No.7 of Sathamrai village on 28.03.2012, trespassed into the
petitioner's land, damaged the property, and stole valuable goods; the
petitioner submitted a complaint on 28.03.2012 before the Shamshabad police
station which was registered as FIR No.144 of 2012; as a counter-blast, the 5th
respondent had filed a criminal complaint against the petitioner vide FIR.
No.145 of 2012; and the petitioner came to know of the case having been booked
against him only on 23.4.2012 when he went to the Police Station, to produce
documents to prove his ownership over the land, in connection with the
investigation of F.I.R.No.144 of 2012.
        Smt. Neeraja Sudhakar Reddy, Learned Counsel for the petitioner, would
submit that FIR No.145 of 2012 must be quashed on the grounds that the alleged
offence was neither committed in a public place nor within public view, as the
place of the offence is not identifiable; the word "my field" in the complaint
denoted that the 5th respondent  was having a field, and nothing more; the
complaint does not disclose the identity of the field, whether the field is
situated in public view, and whether there was anyone when the alleged words
were uttered; it is not even mentioned as to whether the said land is on the
main road or on any other road, or in the middle of the village and whether it
was located in view of the public; the place of the alleged offence was not even
mentioned in the complaint; the complainant never stated that he was having land
only at one place, and that too specifically at Sy.No.7; even if the place of
offence, as mentioned in the FIR, is presumed to be in Sy.No.7 of Sathamrai
Village, the said land belongs to the petitioner who is a lawyer and a law
abiding citizen; the subject land is not a public place, it is his private
property and is enclosed with a compound wall with a big gate; the 5th
respondent was a member of ward No.10 of Satham Rai Gram Panchayat, when the    
Gram Panchayat granted permission in the petitioner's favour on 18.8.2011; the
latest pahani patrika clearly showed that the petitioner was the pattedar, and
was in possession of the property; the 5th respondent never mentioned the place
of offence which is crucial, as it should be in the view of the pubic;  the
complaint does not state that the accused belonged to a caste other than SC &
ST; the complainant does not mention the names of alleged witnesses in whose
presence the alleged offence is stated to have been committed; the complaint
does not allege that Respondent No.5 was abused in the name of his caste in the
public view; the complaint refers to many people in every sentence, but was
submitted by only one person; the alleged abuse in the name of caste cannot be
termed as "intentionally insulting or intimidating with an intent to humiliate
the complainant in a place within public view"; the complaint was filed as a
counter-blast to the complaint submitted by the petitioner in FIR No.144 of
2012, wherein the 5th respondent is the first accused; the case was being
investigated by a Sub-Inspector of Police, contrary to the mandatory
requirements of Rule 7 of the Rules; though the petitioner had submitted the
complaint in FIR No.144 of 2012 around 11.30 hours, it was wrongly mentioned as
20.15 hours; whereas in FIR No.145 of 2012 it was mentioned that the complaint
was given at 20.30 hours; the timing was also manipulated to facilitate booking
of the case against him; though there was a delay of 11 hours, it was reported
that there was no delay; the complaint is being used as a weapon for extortion
of money by abusing the process of law; and it was filed with the oblique motive
to grab the petitioner's land under threat of his arrest.
Before examining the submission of the Learned Counsel, it is useful to briefly
refer to the scope of interference by this Court, under Article 226 of the
Constitution of India, to quash an FIR.  An accused can approach the High Court,
under Section 482 Cr.P.C. or Article 226/227 of the Constitution, to have the
proceeding quashed against him when the complaint does not make out any case  
against him and still he must undergo the agony of a criminal trial. (Pepsi
Foods Ltd. v. Special Judicial Magistrate6).  The jurisdiction under Article 226
or Section 482 Cr.P.C, though wide, has to be exercised sparingly, carefully and
with caution. In exercise of the powers, the court would be justified to quash
any proceeding if it finds that initiation/continuance of it amounts to an abuse
of the process of court or quashing of these proceedings would otherwise serve
the ends of justice. (Minu Kumari v. State of Bihar7).
The jurisdiction which this Court exercises under Article 226 of the
Constitution of India, or under Section 482 Cr.P.C, to quash a complaint, even
before completion of investigation, is limited. The law laid down, in State of
Haryana v. Ch. Bhajan Lal8, which has been followed in several other judgments
of the Supreme Court, is that interference is permissible in cases (a) where the
allegations made in the FIR or the complaint, even if they are taken at their
face value and accepted in their entirety, do not, prima facie constitute any
offence or make out a case against the accused; (b) where the allegations in the
FIR and other materials, if any, accompanying the FIR do not disclose a
cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police officers under Section
156(1) of the Code except under an order of a Magistrate within the purview of
Section 155(2) of the Code;  (c) where the uncontroverted allegations made in
the FIR or the complaint, and the evidence collected in support of the same, do
not disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the
accused;  (d) where the allegations made in the FIR or complaint are so absurd
and inherently improbable on the basis of which no prudent person can ever reach
a just conclusion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the
accused; and (e) where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala
fides and/or where the proceeding is maliciously instituted with the ulterior
motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused, and with a view to spite him due
to private and personal grudge. The Supreme Court further held that the power of
quashing a criminal proceeding should be exercised very sparingly and with
circumspection, and that too in the rarest of rare cases; the Court will not be
justified in embarking upon an enquiry as to the reliability or genuineness or
otherwise of the allegations made in the FIR or the complaint; the extraordinary
or inherent powers do not confer arbitrary jurisdiction on the Court to act
according to its whim or caprice; and even if a complaint has been laid only on
account of personal animosity that, by itself, will not be a ground to discard
the complaint containing serious allegations which have to be tested and weighed
after the evidence is collected.  The Supreme Court, in Bhajan Lal8, relied on
its earlier judgment in Sheonandan Paswan v. State of Bihar9 wherein it was held
that a criminal prosecution, if otherwise justifiable and based upon adequate
evidence, does not become vitiated on account of mala fides or political
vendetta of the first informant or the complainant.  In Union of India v. Ramesh
Gandhi10, the Supreme Court, noticed the principles laid down in R.P. Kapur v.
State of Punjab11 and Bhajan Lal8, and held that the law regarding the scope of
the jurisdiction to quash an FIR, either in the exercise of the statutory
jurisdiction under Section 482 CrPC or under Article 226 of the Constitution of
India, was well settled; and, in a catena of decisions, the Supreme Court had
laid down clear and consistent principles, and had indicated the parameters
within which an FIR could be quashed.
 The High Court should not exercise its power to repress or stifle a legitimate
prosecution. (State of Karnataka v. M. Devendrappa12).  Jurisdiction under
Article 226 of the Constitution, or under Section 482 Cr.P.C, has to be
exercised with care. (G. Sagar Suri v. State of U.P.,13; State of Karnataka v.
L. Muniswamy14). The powers possessed by the High Court thereunder are very
wide, and the very plenitude of the power requires great caution in its
exercise.   The High Court, being the highest court of a State, should normally
refrain from giving a prima facie decision in a case where the entire facts are
incomplete and hazy, more so when the evidence has not been collected and
produced before the Court and the issues involved, whether factual or legal, are
of magnitude and cannot be seen in their true perspective without sufficient
material. (Janata Dal v. H.S. Chowdhary15 and Raghubir Saran (Dr) v. State of
Bihar16; Minu Kumari7).        
Bearing in mind the limited scope of interference by this Court, to quash an
FIR, is this Court required to examine the contentions urged on behalf of the
petitioner.  The ingredients of Section 3(1)(x) of the Act are attracted where a
person, who does not belong to the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes,
intentionally insults, or intimidates with the intent to humiliate, a member of
a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view. It is no
doubt true that when the basic ingredients of the offence, under Section 3(1)(x)
of the Act, are missing in the complaint, permitting such a complaint to
continue and to compel the accused to face the rigmarole of a criminal trial
would not be justified, and may amount to an abuse of the process of law;
(Gorige Pentaiah v. State of Andhra Pradesh17); and the prosecution has to be
vigilant to avoid the possibility of the Act being misused for harassment of
citizens even though they have not committed an offence under the Act. (Karan
Singh v. The State of M.P.18).  While the possibility of members of the
Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes misusing the provisions of the Act, to
wreak vengeance on others, cannot be ruled out in all cases, such instances are
rare and isolated and, in an overwhelming majority, it is the complainant,
(member of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes), who has suffered
insults and humiliation.  Interference by this Court, to quash a complaint made
under the Act, is warranted only when, ex-facie, the complaint does not attract
the ingredients of an offence under the Act.
On the petitioners own showing, while his complaint in FIR No.144 of 2012 was
registered as having been given at 20-15 hours the counter-complaint of 5th
respondent, stated to have been given at 20-30 hours, was registered as FIR
No.145 of 2012.  Even in cases where a prior complaint is already registered, a
counter-complaint is permissible.  (Upkar Singh v. Ved Prakash19; Ram Lal Narang
v. State (Delhi Admn20).  While it is true that the counter-complaint of the 5th
respondent does not mention the location of the "field" where the incident
occurred or its identity, the location of the land in the complaint filed by the
petitioner in FIR No.144 of 2012 is the same location referred to in the
counter-complaint in FIR No.145 of 2012. Under Section 154(1) Cr.P.C, even in
cases where the information is given in writing, the substance of the
information is required to be entered in a book kept by the officer incharge of
a police station.  Column No.5 of the FIR requires the place of occurrence of
the offence to be recorded.  It is evident that the reference made to the
identity of the field in the FIR, though it is not specifically referred to in
the complaint, is because the place of occurrence of the offence is required to
be noted therein.
Neither does the information furnished by the complainant in writing, nor the
FIR registered thereafter, require exhaustive details of the incident to be
stated therein.  An FIR is not an encyclopaedia which must disclose all facts
and details relating to the reported offence. The law does not require the
mentioning of all the ingredients of the offence in the FIR. It is only after a
complete investigation that it may be possible to say whether an offence is made
out on the basis of the evidence collected by the investigating agency. What is
of significance is that the information lodged must disclose the commission of a
cognizable offence. If a police officer has reasons to suspect, on the basis of
the information received, that a cognizable offence may have been committed, he
is bound to record the information and conduct an investigation. At this stage
it is neither necessary for the police officer to be convinced that a cognizable
offence has been committed, nor is he required to satisfy himself of the truth
of the information. The question as to whether the FIR is true, whether it
discloses full details regarding the manner of occurrence, whether the accused
is named, and whether there is sufficient evidence to support the allegations
are all matters which are alien to the consideration of the question whether the
FIR discloses the commission of a cognizable offence. Even if the information
does not give full details regarding these matters, the investigating officer is
not absolved of his duty to investigate the case and discover true facts, if he
can. It is only after a complete investigation that the police officer may be
able to report on the truth or otherwise of the information. Even if the
information does not furnish all details, the police officer must find out those
details in the course of investigation, and collect all necessary evidence. The
information, disclosing the commission of a cognizable offence, only sets in
motion the investigative machinery with a view to collect all necessary
evidence, and thereafter to take action in accordance with law. (CBI v. Tapan
Kumar Singh21; Ashabai Machindra Adhagale5).  
The requirement of Section 3(1)(x) is that the insult or intimidation of a
member of the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe must be intentional; the
intention must be to humiliate him; and the insult or intimidation should be in
"any place within public view". As noted hereinabove the complaint, in FIR 145
of 2012 filed by the 5th respondent, is that at 9.00 AM, when he was going to
his land for agricultural work, the accused and his henchmen had abused them in
filthy language in the name of their caste, calling them "Madiga Lanja
Kodukullara", and had threatened to kill them if they went there.  It is not
even the case of the petitioner-accused that he belongs to the Scheduled Castes
or the Scheduled Tribes.  It is beyond dispute that the words allegedly used, by
the accused against the complainant, is an insult against a member of the
Scheduled Castes in the name of his caste. The said complaint records the
presence of a plurality of persons at the scene of the incident i.e, the accused
and his henchmen, and the complainant along with others.  The incident is
alleged to have taken place at 9-00 A.M. in broad day light.  As FIR No.145 of
2012 is a counter-complaint of FIR No.144 of 2012, the alleged place of
occurrence is the same in both the complaints i.e., at Sy. No.7, Sathamrai.
The term 'public view' is not defined in the Act. People at large are
compendiously called the 'public'. In contra-distinction to the word 'private',
the word 'public' denotes the concept of a plurality. In "Words and Phrases
(Vol.35 Permanent Edition, by West Publishing Company)", the word "public place"
is defined in various ways. A public place is a place where the public has a
right to go and be.   It is one attended by public for business, entertainment
or similar reasons, and is is a place where the public generally are permitted
to assemble. (Goluguri Ramakrishna Reddy3). The words used in Section 3(1)(x)
are in a place within "public view", and not in a "public place". There is a
distinction between an incident within the "public view", and an incident in a
"public place". (Karan Singh18).  The Legislature has used the words "...in any
place within public view..." and not merely the term "public place" or the term
only "public view". The phrase 'in a place within the public view' may be taken
as a place where, ordinarily, the public visit for some purpose or the other,
with uninterrupted regularity though not continuously. "Public view" occurs in a
place that is reasonably expected to be viewed by another, and it is not
necessary that the incident was actually viewed by the public. It would be a
contradiction in terms to hold that, if a member of the Scheduled Castes or the
Scheduled Tribes is insulted or intimidated with the intention of humiliating
him in a public place where there are no onlookers, it is not an offence, but if
a third person, other than the offender and the victim, is present in the place
it would be an offence. Such a thin line cannot be drawn, while interpreting any
of the clauses of Section 3(1) of the Act which, by themselves, are atrocities.
The moment a member of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes complains that the  
accused has insulted or intimidated him, by using the name of his caste, an
atrocity is committed which must be dealt with in accordance with law. Whether
or not an offence, under Section 3(l)(x) of the Act, is committed in a place
within public view are matters of enquiry by the Investigation Agency, and
adjudication by the Criminal Court while conducting trial; and cannot be a
ground for quashing the criminal case at the stage of investigation. (Goluguri
Ramakrishna Reddy3).
In Swaran Singh2, the Supreme Court observed: -
".......the gate of a house is a place within public view. It could have been a
different matter had the alleged offence been committed inside a building, and
also was not in the public view. However, if the offence is committed outside
the building e.g. in a lawn outside a house, and the lawn can be seen by someone
from the road or lane outside the boundary wall, the lawn would certainly be a
place within the public view. Also, even if the remark is made inside a
building, but some members of the public are there (not merely relatives or
friends) then also it would be an offence since it is in the public view. We
must, therefore, not confuse the expression "place within public view" with the
expression "public place". A place can be a private place but yet within the
public view. On the other hand, a public place would ordinarily mean a place
which is owned or leased by the Government or the municipality (or other local
body) or a Gram Sabha or an instrumentality of the State, and not by private
persons or private bodies....." (emphasis supplied)

The allegations in the complaint, on the premise that they are true, disclose
that members of the Scheduled Castes were insulted and intimidated.  Whether
such an insult or intimidation was intentional; and whether they were intended
to humiliate the complainant; are again matters of investigation by the
investigating officer, and not for this Court to examine in writ proceedings
under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.  Factual aspects including
whether the subject land belongs to the petitioner, whether it is his private
property, whether it is enclosed within a compound wall, whether the complaint
was filed with oblique motives, whether witnesses were present when the alleged
offence was committed, whether the place where the incident occurred was "a
place within public view", whether the complaint is merely a ruse to extract
money from the petitioner and is an abuse of process of law; whether the
complaint was filed with the oblique motive of grabbing the petitioner's land
etc., are all matters for investigation, and should not, ordinarily, be examined
in proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution more so in cases where the
jurisdiction of this Court is invoked for the FIR to be quashed.  The criminal
complaint is not required to verbatim reproduce the legal ingredients of the
alleged offence. As long as the necessary factual foundation is laid in the
complaint, the criminal proceedings should not be quashed merely on the ground
that a few ingredients have not been stated in detail. Quashing of the complaint
is warranted only where the complaint is bereft of even the basic facts which
are absolutely necessary for making out the alleged offence. (Padal Venkata Rama
Reddy v. Kovvuri Satyanarayana Reddy22; Rajesh Bajaj v. State23; Indian Oil
Corporation v. NEPC India Ltd.24). The Court will not be justified in embarking
upon an enquiry as to the reliability or genuineness or otherwise of the
allegations made in the FIR or the complaint. The extraordinary or inherent
powers do not confer an arbitrary jurisdiction on the court to act according to
its whim or caprice. (Rajesh Bajaj23; Bhajan Lal8).  It would be wholly
inappropriate to examine the contention, whether the complaint filed by the
petitioner in FIR No.144 of 2012, was given at 11-20 hours but was wrongly
mentioned as 20-15 hours, as this Writ Petition is confined to a challenge to
the validity of the complaint registered as FIR No.145 of 2012, and the validity
of FIR No.144 of 2012 is not the subject matter of challenge in these
proceedings.
The judgments cited by Smt. Neeraja Sudhakar Reddy, Learned Counsel for the
petitioner, are of no avail. In Mahesh Sakharam v. State of Maharashtra25 the
complainant alleged that when he was in the house, and when he came out of the
house and was in the courtyard, he was insulted/intimidated by petitioners 1 to
3 at 3.30 am who called him a "Mhardya"; and his family members, and his
resident servant, were present when the incident occurred. It was not the
complainant's case that, besides these persons, any other member of the public
was either present or had heard the remarks.  While examining the question
whether, in the facts of the case, the provisions of section 3(1)(x) of the Act
were attracted, the Bombay High Court held: -
"........A mere presence of the family members, including resident servant, in
my opinion, is not sufficient to constitute an offence under section 3(1)(x) of
the Act. Family members or resident-servant cannot be treated as members of
public. Members of the public should either be present when the offence is
committed and even if the incident was not visible, atleast the utterances or
the remarks should be audible to the members of public to constitute an offence
under the Act. For instance, if the complainant was insulted/intimidated in a
closed cabin, and if the remarks were clearly audible outside the cabin and if
they were heard by the public, that would also constitute an offence under
section 3(1)(x) of the Act. Similarly, if no member of public was present when
the accused uttered the abuses at a public place, it would not constitute an
offence. Therefore, to constitute an offence under section 3(1)(x) of the Act,
the incident should occur in the presence of the public or atleast the
utterances should be audible to the member/s of public.
........In the context of the facts of the present case, the word "public" would
include members of the public, already in the locality as residents as well as
visitors from outside. The members of family or the resident-servant, as
observed earlier, cannot be treated as members of public. The complainant in the
FIR does not make any reference to either residents in the locality or to any
visitors. The incident occurred at 3.30 am, when the entire locality was in fact
asleep, and perhaps that seems to be the reason why no person from or outside
the locality was present. The learned APP has not placed any material on record
to show that the alleged abuses were heard by the neighbours or any other
members of the public, nor has the complainant so stated in the FIR.
...........The FIR lodged by the complainant in the present case speaks about
intimidation to him by applicant nos 1 to 3 referring him as "Mhardya". Insofar
as applicant no.4 is concerned, he was not even present when the alleged
incident occurred. The complainant in the FIR has simply expressed his doubt
that applicant nos. 1 to 3 must have committed the offence at the instance of
applicant no.4. Thus, from perusal of the FIR, treating the allegations to be
correct, a criminal offence under section 3(1)(x), in my opinion, is prima facie
not made out. In the circumstances, the applicants are entitled for anticipatory
bail and hence the following order.  In the event of arrest, applicant nos 1 to
4 be released on bail in the sum of Rs.5000/- each with one or two sureties to
make up the said amount subject to the conditions stipulated in sub-section (2)
of Section 438 of Cr.P.C. Further, the applicants are directed to report to the
concerned police station on every Wednesday and Saturday between 10 am and 11 am  
till 10.5.2009 and thereafter on every alternate 8 Saturday between 10 am and 11
am for a period of ninety days or till filing of the chargesheet, whichever is
earlier......." (emphasis supplied)
        Unlike in Mahesh Sakharam25, where the insult or intimidation had
allegedly taken place at 3.30 AM when the entire locality was asleep, in the
present case the incident is alleged to have taken place in broad day light at
around 9.00 AM.  Further the Bombay High Court found that no person from outside
the locality was present when the alleged abuse was hurled at a member of the
Scheduled Caste.   In the present case, however, the complaint refers to the
presence of the accused and his henchmen, and the complainant and others.  The
incident is alleged to have occurred when the complainant was going to his land,
in Sy. No.7 of Sathamrai, for agricultural work.  It cannot, therefore, be said
with certainty that the alleged offence did not occur in a place within public
view.
        In Mukesh Kumar Saini v. State (Delhi Administration)26 an electrician of
DESU, who restored electricity to the house of the petitioners, did not restore
electric supply to the rest of the area; when the complainant objected, his
brother also came to the spot from his shop; the complainant was allegedly
dragged, inside the shop, by the petitioners who also used humiliating words
before arrival of the neighbours;  when the complainant's brother raised an
alarm, the neighbours rescued him; and the FIR did not initially mention Section
3 of the Act.  It is in this factual background that the Delhi High Court held
that these words could not be said to have been uttered in the "public view";
the basic ingredients of the offence under Section 3(1)(x) of the Act were not
made out; two cross cases were registered; both the parties were injured; and
the possibility of the complainant having a grudge, in getting the petitioners
arrested, could not be ruled out. The said judgment has also no application to
the facts of the present case.
Smt. Neeraja Sudhakar Reddy, Learned Counsel for the petitioner, would refer to
certain documents, which she claims relate to the previous and pending disputes
between the accused and the complainant.  She would contend that the animus of
the complainant is established thereby; and the institution of criminal
proceedings by the 5th respondent against the petitioner is clearly malafide.
She would place reliance on Rukmini Narvekar v. Vijaya Satardekar27; State of
Orissa v. Debendra Nath Padhi28; and Gorige Pentaiah17 in this regard.

        In Rukmini Narvekar27, the Supreme Court held that while, ordinarily,
defence material cannot be looked into by the Court while framing of the charge,
there may be rare and exceptional cases where some defence material, when shown
to the trial court, would convincingly demonstrate that the prosecution version
is absurd, preposterous and concocted; and, in such very rare cases, the defence
material can be looked into by the Court at the time of framing of the charges
or taking cognizance.  In Debendra Nath Padhi28, the question which arose for
consideration was whether the trial court, at the time of framing of charges,
could consider the material filed by the accused.  The Supreme Court referred to
an earlier judgment of a two judge Bench, in Satish Mehra v. Delhi
Administration29, wherein it was observed that, if the accused succeeds in
producing reliable material at the stage of taking cognizance or framing of
charges, which might fatally affect even the very sustainability of the case, it
would be unjust to suggest that no such material should be looked into by the
court at that stage.  The Supreme Court held that the object of providing an
opportunity to the accused, of making submissions, as envisaged in Section 227
Cr.P.C., is to enable the court to decide whether it is necessary to proceed to
conduct the trial; if the materials produced by the accused, even at that early
stage, is of unimpeachable character of sterling quality and would clinch the
issue, the court should not shut it out saying that such documents need be
produced only after wasting a lot more time in the name of trial proceedings;
the trial court would be within its power to consider even material which the
accused may produce at the stage contemplated in Section 227 Cr.P.C; and the
width of the powers of the High Court, under Section 482 Cr.P.C. and Article 226
of Constitution of India, is unlimited whereunder, in the interests of justice,
the High Court can make such orders as may be necessary to prevent abuse of the
process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.
In Gorige Pentaiah17, the Supreme Court observed:-
".......On careful consideration of the prayer made in the second suit, it
becomes abundantly clear that Respondent 3 was not even in possession of the
suit property on the date of incident and this fact has not been disputed by the
learned counsel appearing for the State of Andhra Pradesh. When Respondent 3 was
not even in possession of the land in question, the allegation made in the
complaint, that the appellant demolished the wall on 14-6-2004, could not arise.
The allegations are totally baseless and without any foundation. On the face of
it, it looks that the criminal complaint filed by Respondent 3 was totally false
and frivolous. The complaint was filed with an oblique motive. In this view of
the matter, charges under Sections 427 and 447 are also wholly illegal and
unsustainable in law. In our considered view, in a case of this nature, the High
Court ought to have exercised its jurisdiction under Section 482 CrPC and
quashed the complaint........."
 ".......The questions before us are: whether the case of the appellants comes
under any of the categories enumerated in Bhajan Lal7? Is it a case where the
allegations made in the first information report or the complaint, even if they
are taken at their face value and accepted in entirety, do not make out a case
against the accused under Sections 420, 467 and 120-B IPC? For determination of
the questions it becomes relevant to note the nature of the offences alleged
against the appellants, the ingredients of the offences and the averments made
in the FIR/complaint........"    (emphasis supplied)

Unlike in the present case, both in Rukmini Narvekar27 and Debendra Nath
Padhi28, the question which arose for consideration was whether defence material
could be examined by the Court either at the stage of taking cognizance or when
charges were being framed.  What is sought in this writ proceedings is
examination of material produced by the petitioner-accused to adjudicate whether
the FIR should be quashed or not.   It is only after investigation is complete,
and a final report is filed, would the Court decide whether or not to take
cognizance.  It is only thereafter would the question of the Court framing
charges arise.  It would be wholly inappropriate for this Court, at the stage of
investigation of an FIR, to consider the material produced by the accused and
determine whether or not the allegations in the complaint are true or false.  In
Gorige Pentaiah17, the Supreme Court quashed the FIR applying the tests laid
down in Bhajan Lal8.
The contention of Smt. Neeraja Sudhakar Reddy, Learned Counsel for the
petitioner, that the complaint is unclear in various aspects regarding the
offence committed under Section 3(1)(x) of the Act; and the document produced by
the accused before this Court would establish the falsity of the allegations are
matters which  cannot be examined at this stage, i.e., when investigation has
just commenced.  No Court can arrive at a definite, or even a plausible,
conclusion based on hazy and vague material placed, by the accused, for
evaluation by the Court. It would be hazardous for the Court to venture into the
arena of conjectures to find answers. (Goluguri Ramakrishna Reddy3).  It would
not be proper for the High Court to analyse the case of the complainant, in the
light of all probabilities, in order to determine whether a conviction would be
sustainable, and on such a premise arrive at a conclusion that the proceedings
are to be quashed. It would be erroneous for the Court to assess the material
before it, and conclude that the complaint cannot be proceeded with. It is   not
necessary that there should be a meticulous analysis of the case to find out
whether the case would end in conviction or acquittal. The complaint has to be
read as a whole. No hard and fast rule can be laid down in regard to cases in
which the High Court will exercise its extra-ordinary jurisdiction to quash the
proceedings. (Janata Dal15 M. Devendrappa12; Raghubir Saran16).
Where the facts are unclear, and the possibility of the atrocity having been
committed cannot easily be ruled out, interference by this Court is not called
for as it may well render the provisions of the Act, made with the laudable
object of protecting the most backward of the backwards from constant harassment
and humiliation, illusory.  It is not as if the petitioner-accused would suffer
irreparable loss and injury if the FIR is not quashed, for it would only result
in the complaint being investigated; and if the investigation reveals that the
accused has not committed the offence, alleged against him under the Act, he
cannot be proceeded against thereafter; and, even otherwise, he would be
entitled to avail his legal remedies at that stage.   The laudable object of
this legislation, enacted in furtherance of Article 46 of the Directive
Principles of State Policy, would become redundant if this Court were to
interfere for the mere asking, more so at the very inception when an FIR is
merely registered, and investigation is at a nascent stage.  Suffice it to hold
that, while the submissions of Smt. Neeraja Sudhakar Reddy, Learned Counsel for
the petitioner, are not wholly without merit, these are all matters for the
investigation agency to examine, and not for this Court to consider in writ
proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

The only question which remains for examination is whether the Sub-Inspector of
Police can proceed with the investigation in F.I.R. No.145 of 2012.  Rule 7(1)
of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995
stipulates that an offence, committed under the Act, shall be investigated by a
police officer not below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police; the
investigating officer should be appointed by the State Government, or the
Director General of Police or the Superintendent of Police after taking into
account his experience, sense of ability and justice to perceive the
implications of the case, and to investigate it along right lines within the
shortest possible time.  In view of this statutory stipulation, it is not
permissible for the Sub-Inspector of Police to investigate a complaint under the
Act.  The 4th respondent shall, forthwith, entrust investigation of FIR No.145
of 2012 to a police officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of
Police.
Subject to the aforesaid directions, the Writ Petition fails and is,
accordingly, dismissed.  No costs.
       
RAMESH RANGANATHAN,J      
Date:26.04.2013

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