Facts of the case
On 12.07.2017 at 6.00 p.m., Dr. Preeti Meena; I.A.S, Collector and District Magistrate, Mahabubabad, had sent a written complaint to Mahabubabad Town Police Station, stating that on the same day at about 12:35 p.m., when she was attending the “3rd phase Harita Haram” program at NTR Stadium, Mahabubabad, along with the Joint Collector, Revenue divisional officer of Mahabubabad and other officials, the accused (hereinafter referred to as petitioner), caught hold of her hand and pushed her from one place to another place most indecently and disrespectfully in the public and caused high annoyance and obstruction to her legitimate duties.
Therefore, she requested the police officials to take action. Based on the complaint, the Inspector of Police, Mahabubabad Town Police Station, registered a case against the accused of the offenses under sec 353, 354, and 509 of IPC. After the registration of the case, the Sub- Inspector of Police kicked off his investigation. He visited the scene of the offense, recorded the statements of witnesses, collected CCTV footage of the alleged incident, drew a rough sketch of offense, and after completion of the investigation, found out that the accused had indeed obstructed her from discharging her legitimate duties, using criminal force with malicious intention and, insulted the complainant amidst the crowd by trying to outrage her modesty by catching hold of her hand.
The aftermath of the investigation saw the sub-inspector file the charge sheet in Court. The petitioner, in turn, filed a petition under sec 239 of CrPC, requesting the court to discharge him of his offenses which were duly rejected by the Trial Court. Aggrieved, the petitioner landed on the premises of Hon’ble High court.
Arguments made by the Petitioners
Sri. A. Prabhakar Rao submitted before the Hon’ble Court that the Trial Court had without appreciating the evidence on record, dismissed the petition filed by the petitioner under Section 239 CrPC. He also stated that the material placed before the court by the prosecution did not disclose the commission of any offenses, much fewer sections 353, 354, and 509 of IPC.
He went on to elucidate that how the Special Sessions Judge, without even discussing the statements of witnesses recorded under Sec 161 CrPC, point blankly thwarted the accused from getting discharged under sec 239 of CrPC. Seeing that his client was caught in purgatory, he contended that the sections under which the accused was charged, did not even meet the essential ingredients but still, his client was made a crack of the whip in the proceedings. He categorically mentioned that there was no intention on the part of the accused to outrage her modesty.
Arguments made by the Respondents
Learned Public Prosecutor, appearing for the State, submitted that in the course of an investigation conducted by the sub-inspector of police at Mahabubabad Police Station, the statements recorded under sec 161 CrPC, reveal that the accused tried to insult her whilst she was discharging her duty, primarily to outrage her modesty and to pave way for her that leads to the path of dereliction of duty.
He also pointed out that the question of discharging the accused at the stage of framing of charges does not arise as the same has been incorporated pro prio vigore in Section 240 of CrPC. In light of the discussion, being mostly on Sections 239 and 240 of CrPC, he described both the sections meticulously viz. Sec 239 deals with “when the accused is to be discharged” i.e. “when the magistrate, after considering the police report and other documents, provided to him under sec 173 CrPC, thinks that the charges that have been framed against the accused are nugatory, then he shall discharge him of the offenses”.
Section 240 deals with “ framing of charge” i.e. “when the magistrate, after considering and hearing both the parties concerned, believes that there is some ground for presuming that the accused has committed an offense triable, which the magistrate is empowered and competent to try, then he shall frame a charge in writing against the accused”.
Wrapping up his contentions, he stated that the sum and substance of his submissions stand that the Courts can discharge the accused if the material available on record is insufficient to connect the accused with the commission of the offense or that the trial Court is barred by law to proceed with the case i.e., cases where prior permission is needed to prosecute the accused or if the trial is allowed to proceed, the same will be an abuse of process of law.
The Hon’ble Court observed that unless and until it has been shown by the respondent’s counsel that there is a likelihood of serious prejudice to the rights of the accused, the court cannot interfere with the order passed by the Trial Court under sec 239 of CrPC.
The voice of the Hon’ble Bench echoed in the halls of the Court that the allegations made against the accused that he caught hold of her hand, pushed her from one place to another in a sheer disdainful manner, and, stood as a thorn whilst she was performing her duty, are supported by the statements of witnesses that the sub-inspector recorded under Section 161 CrPC.
The court also observed that it is the trial court only, which can delve deep into the aspect of truth. The issue raised can be decided more appropriately only after the trial when the evidence is adduced by both the parties rather than at the time of deciding the application made under Section 239 Cr.P.C.
The Court dismissed the Criminal Revision Case. It also made clear that the trial court, shall deal with the case on its own merits and without being influenced by any of the observations made by this court.
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