KARNATAKA HIGH COURT INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY IS A PART OF THE BASIC STRUCTURE
On 7th October, 2020 The Hon'ble Chief Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Ashok S. Kinagi rejected the private complaint filed against the Judicial Officer and observed that independence of the judiciary is part of the basic structure and gave a broader interpretation to the Section 428 of CrPC.
The factual aspect involved, the complainant, whose son was taken to a doctor who in turn, referred the case to a Doctor, who, in turn, referred the case to a Hospital at Davanagere where the first respondent's son was admitted. The first respondent's son unfortunately died while he was admitted in intensive care unit of the hospital. A FIR was lodged against the doctors and others involved alleging the commission of an offence punishable under Section 304A of IPC. The first respondent had filed a writ petition in this Court seeking transfer of investigation of the said offence to the Central Bureau of Investigation. During the course, a case was registered against the complainant by the manager of a co-operative society for failure repay a loan of Rs. 2 lakh. Later on, he was produced before a judicial officer owing to the said case.
According to the second respondent (the said Judicial Officer), as per the complainant informed him "that if he withdraws the said complaint, he would be released on bail and if the complaint was not withdrawn, he would be taken into custody." Further, the allegations were raised against the Judicial Officer that he had misused his judicial powers and committed offences punishable under Section(s) 166, 205, 120A, 211, 219 read along with Sections 34 and 499 of IPC.
Thereafter, the first respondent lodged the private complaint under Section 200 Cr.P.C which is the subject matter of this petition against the second respondent and nine other accused before the learned Principal District and Sessions Judge at Bellary, which was forwarded by him to the Court of the learned Senior Civil Judge and Judicial Magistrate First Class at Hagaribommanahalli.
On 21st July, 2020 the court issued directions to file a suomotucriminal petition under Section 482 CrPC for quashing the said complaint filed by the first respondent only insofar as the judicial officer was concerned.
Advocate VikramHuilgol (Amicus Curiae) submitted that the allegations made in the complaint against the judicial officer are based on the actions done in the course of discharge of his judicial duty. He submitted that sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Judges (Protection) Act, 1985 completely protects the judicial officer from such prosecution. The Learned Counsel appearing for the Complainant submitted that the suomotu power of this Court under Section 482 CrPC can be exercised only in those cases where public interest is involved and therefore, the exercise of power in this case was uncalled for. The court after hearing both the parties precisely listed the protection granted to judicial officers under the provisions of the various enactments. The court interpreted Judges Protection Act, 1985, and held
"…all the allegations made against him by the first respondent are about the acts done by the said Judicial Officer in the course of, acting or purporting to act in discharge of his official or judicial duty. The spoken words which are attributed to the first respondent by the second respondent in his complainant, are also spoken in the course of acting or purporting to act in discharge of his duties as a Judicial Officer. Therefore, Sub-Section (1) of Section 3 of the said Act of 1985 is clearly applicable and hence, the learned Judicial Magistrate could not have entertained the complaint filed by the first respondent as against the second respondent."
The court concluded that the improper exercise of suomotu power under Section 482 of CrPC, held that,"There is nothing in Section 482 which suggests that the suomotu power of this Court can be exercised only in public interest. Assuming that it could be exercised only in public interest, there is definitely an element of public interest involved in the present petition. Independence of judiciary is one of the basic structures of the Constitution of India."
With these observations, the complaint filed before the subordinate court with respect to the judicial officer was quashed and set aside by the Karnataka High Court.