The Rajasthan High Court held that without the prior sanction, as statutorily required under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, prosecution of a Public Servant cannot proceed and such proceedings are liable to be quashed.

The Bench of Justice Sudesh Bansal observed, “In such facts and circumstances, taking cognizance for offence under Sections 323 and 504 IPC against the petitioner, without insisting for sanction, which is statutorily required in view of Section 197 Cr.PC, may not be countenanced and without sanction, the prosecution of petitioner may not be permitted. The Apex Court in case of D. Devaraja (Supra), while dealing with the issue in respect of sanction under Section 197 Cr.PC, has already held and observed that petition under Section 482 Cr.PC is maintainable to quash criminal proceedings, which are ex-facie bad, for want of prosecution. Indisputably, in the present case, sanction has not been granted.”

Senior Advocate AK Gupta appeared for the Petitioner while Public Prosecutor SS Maha appeared for the Respondents.

A petition was filed under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. challenging the legality of the cognizance order by a Judicial Magistrate for the offences under Sections 323 and 504 of the Indian Penal Code against the Petitioner, who was a public servant posted as Station House Officer(SHO), was sustainable in law, for want of prior sanction, which is a statutory requirement under Section 197 Cr.P.C.

The Complaint, filed by Respondent No. 2, alleged that the Petitioner-SHO detained three people, including him, without any reason and were badly beaten up by him with a rubber band, in utter misuse of his powers as SHO. The Respondent-complainant alleged that he and one other person received several physical injuries and without their medical check-up they were produced before the SDM.

The Court held, “This Court comes to the conclusion that prosecution of the petitioner is not liable to proceed further in absence of sanction u/s. 197 Cr.PC and therefore, impugned order of cognizance as also the order of revisional Court, are liable to be set aside. This Court finds that in facts and circumstances of the present case, there exists satisfactory grounds to exercise inherent powers u/s. 482 Cr.PC in order to prevent abuse of process of law.”

The Court relied on D. Devaraja v. Owais Sabeer Hussain (2020 SC), which discussed the object of sanction for prosecution under Section u/s. 197 Cr.PC in detail as also expounded test to decide the same. The Apex Court held that the object of sanction for prosecution, whether under Section 197 Cr.P.C or under Section 170 of the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, is to protect a public servant /police officer discharging official duties and functions from harassment by initiation of frivolous retaliatory criminal proceedings.

The Court distinguished with a recent judgment of the Supreme Court in Shadakshari Vs. State of Karnataka (2024), and said that the protection of Section 197 Cr.P.C. was declined for the reason as in that case the Public Servant was found involved in fabricating official documents by misusing his official capacity, therefore, in such peculiar circumstances, protection under Section 197 Cr.PC was declined.

The Court concluded, “However, it is hereby observed that in case, sanction to prosecute the petitioner is granted as per provision of Section 197 Cr.PC, within a period of 90 days, the present criminal complaint along with the order of cognizance would stand revive.”

Accordingly, the Court allowed the petition and the impugned order was quashed.

Cause Title: Dharamveer Singh v. State of Rajasthan and Anr. (Neutral Citation: 2024:RJ-JP:20226)


Petitioner: Senior Advocate AK Gupta, Advocates Saurabh Pratap Singh and Gaurav

Respondents: Public Prosecutor SS Maha

Click here to read/download the Judgment