A police officer allegedly training a gun at a person and threatening him with death in encounter without any provocation cannot claim protection under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the Allahabad High Court has said.
It said that Section 197 of the CrPC provides for seeking sanction from competent authority before registering a case against a public servant in connection with an act carried out as part of his official duty.
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The court, therefore, refused to quash the FIR registered against a sub-inspector (S-I) for allegedly training gun at the complainant and his son and threatening them with encounter deaths.
The matter pertained to SI Anil Kumar Mishra, then posted at Kundaraki police station in Moradabad district. He had allegedly intervened in a fight between two groups having dispute over ownership of wheat crop. The complainant, Abdul Wahid and his son were booked by Mishra under preventive sections on April 14, 2014. A few days later, the SI was transferred.
On April 30, Wahid got an FIR registered against Mishra. It was alleged in the FIR that Wahid’s rivals had arrived along with Mishra at the field. Mishra had asked for the wheat crop to be lifted in a tractor trolley. When Wahid objected, Mishra claimed that it was being done on the orders of the Senior Superintendent of Police. When Wahid asked for the said order, Mishra trained his gun at him and threatened him and his son with encounter deaths.
The S-I came to know about the legal proceedings after getting a notice from the office of the SSP in February this year. Subsequently, he approached the High Court, through his counsel Jai Singh Yadav seeking quashing of FIR. He contented that, under Section 197 of the CrPC, no sanction from competent authority was taken before registering the FIR. It was claimed that the SI was only performing his official duty.
In his order delivered on May 14, a single judge bench of Justice B Amit Sthalker said: “In the present case, irrespective of whether the applicant was on official duty, the act of putting his pistol to the head of the complainant and threatening him with dire consequences of eliminating him and his son…such act cannot be said to be in discharge of his official duty and would not entitle him to the protection.”
The petitioner had cited several Supreme Court orders in which public servants were granted protection from vexatious and frivolous criminal proceedings to prevent them from official discharge of duty.
However, the court said: “The overwhelming judicial opinion of the Supreme Court is that the act must fall within the scope and range of the official duty of the public servant concerned”.