Kamlapati trivedi v. state of west bengal


(1980) 2 SC 91

 Overview of the case:

The judgment of Supreme Court in Kamlapati trivedi case is a landmark judgment delivered in 1980 by “Justice Jaswant singh, Justice koshal and justice kailasam” with the ratio of 2:1. SC set aside order of High court and quashes the proceeding of Sub divisional magistrate allowing appeal of appellant. This case is important because SC interpreted the meaning of “Court” its jurisdiction to try offences, power of police to investigate and application of section 190 and 195.

Relevant Facts:

  • Appellant (Kamlapati Trivedi) is secretary of Bhartiye Primary School.
  • He filled complaint to officer in charge stating that “Satya Narayan Pathak criminally trespassed, assaulted and abused him in filthy language committed theft of money and valuable documents of school”.
  • Police considered complaint as F.I.R and took cognizance.
  • But even after investigating Police was not able to find any evidence against suspects and submits report of investigation to Magistrate.
  • Magistrate on the basis of Police report agreed that accused did not commit the alleged offence.
  • Accused felt that appellant institute complaint in order to cause injury to him so he decides to file complaint against appellant under section 211 of Indian penal code.
  • Magistrate took cognizance and issue summons to appellant for appearance.
  • On November 16 1970 Appellant was released by furnishing bail.
  • After being released he moved to High court so that that Court with his powers conferred under section 482 quashes the proceeding which is pending before magistrate.
  • High court refused to do the same.
  • Appellant filled special leave appeal before Supreme Court.

Procedural History:

  • In 1971 appellant filled an appeal in High court.
  • He moved to High court for quashing the proceeding of magistrate.
  • He states that the cognizance by Magistrate is in violation of section 195(1)(b) of The code of criminal procedure and thus the court should quash the proceeding of Magistrate.
  • Appellant argued before the court that in absence of complaint in writing of Magistrate, thus he is not entitled to take cognizance of offence under section 211 as per the provision of section 195(1)(b)i.
  • If cognizance is taken by the magistrate in this offence then it will be an irregularity and will vitiate the proceedings.
  • Another argument by appellant was that offence of 211 against appellant is committed in relation of proceeding. HC did not find this argument justified and rejects it.

But High Court refused to quash the proceedings.

After this entire process appellant filled appeal by special leave before Supreme Court.

The main ground of this appeal is that the High Court failed to appreciate the meaning of the words “in relation to any proceedings in any court” in section 195 (1)(b).

Relevant Law applicable:

Section 190: Cognizance is a gateway to enter judicial process. It is judicial application of mind in case for the first time by magistrate. The magistrate under this section is “empowered to take cognizance of offence upon receiving:

  • A complaint
  • A police report
  • Information from any other person other than police report
  • On his own knowledge”.

Section 195(1)(b): The general rule is that any person having knowledge of commission of an offence may set law in motion by a complaint or F.I.R even though he is not personally interested or affected by offence. However section (195-199) is an exception to this general rule.

 This section states that no court has jurisdiction to take cognizance of the offences:

  • Of IPC section 193-196, 199, 200, 205, 211 and 288 if these offences are “said to have been committed in any proceedings of court”.

If cognizance is taken by the magistrate in these offences then it will be an irregularity and will vitiate the proceedings.

Exception: Cognizance can be taken if there is complaint in writing of Magistrate or of any superior court or if complaint is made by public servant under clause (a) 195(1).

Section 6: Classes of Criminal Court: every state shall have following classes of criminal court:

  • High Court
  • Courts of Sessions
  • Judicial Magistrate of I class and II class
  • Executive Magistrate
  • Any other court constituted under any law

The Issues in the Case:

  • Whether the Magistrate has acted in the contravention of Section 195(1)(b)?
  • Whether the SDJM can be regarded as court for the purpose of section 195?

Arguments of Parties:

Appellant argued before the Hon’ble court that as per the provisions the cognizance under section 211 is not to be taken by any court but such cognizance can be taken in such type of offences if there is written complaint of magistrate or if the complaint is filled by public servant. In the present case there is neither written complaint of magistrate nor of public servant. Thus the provisions of section 195 are violated by SDJM.

It was further argued by the appellant that SDJM is regarded as court is that a court is created by statue and when it performs its judicial functions it is to be regarded as court and therefore SDJM is also considered as court unless performing administrative or executive functions..

Ratio decidendi / Judment given:

  • Supreme Court allowed Appeal of Appellant.
  • SC set aside the order of High Court and quashes the proceeding of Sub divisional Magistrate against appellant.

It was held that there in absence of complaint in writing by magistrate or of any superior court cognizance taken by the magistrate was in contravention of section 195(1).

Both the order of bail and discharge of appellant made by SDJM amounts to proceedings before Court thus the offence of section 211 is “said to have been committed in relation to those of proceedings”.

The answer of the question as to whether SDJM can be regarded as court is that “Judge (including a Magistrate) who is empowered to act judicially and does so act constitutes not merely a Court but a Court of Justice”. To be declared as court it must be given responsibility to decide issues in judicial manner and is able to declare rights of parties.

Author: Pooja Rathore,
Delhi Metropolitian Education, IP university, 3 year BBA LLB

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