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Quashing Punjab Police summons against Delhi resident, HC says agency lacked jurisdiction

Justice Chandra Dhari Singh in the judgment also said the notice under Section 160 CrPC was not issued at the right stage by the Deputy Captain Police, Cyber Crime, Phase-8, Mohali as police could not have been said to be conducting investigation without the registration of the FIR.

Police told the court that a preliminary inquiry was started by summoning the parties for recording their statements

Quashing the summons issued by Punjab Police to a Delhi resident earlier this year in a case related to certain social media posts, the Delhi High Court said the notices under Section 160 CrPC were issued without jurisdiction by the investigating agency in Mohali to a person residing beyond its own station as well as the adjoining station.

Justice Chandra Dhari Singh in the judgment also said the notice under Section 160 CrPC was not issued at the right stage by the Deputy Captain Police, Cyber Crime, Phase-8, Mohali as police could not have been said to be conducting investigation without the registration of the FIR.

“Summons/notices under Section 160 of the CrPC can be issued by a police officer who is making investigation under and in accordance with provisions of the CrPC, and to set into motion such an investigation there is a pre-requisite of registration of FIR. Without registration of FIR, an investigation cannot be said to have been initiated,” said the court.

Kulvinder Singh Kohli, a Delhi-based lawyer, had approached the court against the notices or summons issued to him in January, February and March in connection with a complaint containing allegations against him and one other person of offences under IPC sections 153A/501/504/505/295A/506 and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act.

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Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa, who represented Kohli, told the court that he had requested the police to provide him a copy of the complaint and also stated his inability to appear personally since he is almost 60 years of age and has a chronic heart disease. The court was also told that he was willing to respond and address the queries of police through videoconferencing.

Terming the summons a sheer abuse of process of law, Pahwa argued that Section 160 CrPC provides for issuance of notice for compelling attendance of a witness before police in a pending FIR and not before registration of the case. Pahwa also submitted that Kohli lives in Delhi and his residence does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Mohali police. The complaint has been filed to falsely implicate him, the court was told.

Punjab Police before the court argued that a complaint was received in December 2021 by the SSP Mohali from complainants Rajbikramdeep and Munjanpreet Singh against Kohli and Harvansjit Singh for allegedly spreading “a false propaganda against the complainants on social media, threatening them, using derogatory and shameful language and levelling false allegations against Jyotdeep Singh, that he had killed Baba Jagroop Singh, whereas, the medical record shows Baba Jagroop Singh had died a natural death”.

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Police told the court that a preliminary inquiry was started by summoning the parties for recording their statements. Notwithstanding the nomenclature of the notice, the investigating agency had the authority to issue the notice of appearance at the stage of preliminary enquiry to the petitioner as he was a prospective accused person, argued the counsel representing Punjab Police.

However, the court said that a summons or notice under Section 160 CrPC to a person acquainted with the facts and circumstances of a case is to be issued following due process and procedure of law.

“The extent of this power is, however, limited by the bounds of jurisdiction. The police officer concerned may issue notice requiring attendance of any person who is within the limits of his own police station or that of an adjoining station. The language itself defines the extents of the power of requiring attendance and the same is to be abided by while proceeding under the provision,” said the court, while referring to Section 160 CrPC.

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The court also said it cannot be said that the investigation or the enquiry was validly or legally being carried out by the Punjab Police “even for the limited purposes of issuing a notice under Section 160 of CrPC”.

First published on: 13-06-2022 at 18:20 IST
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