The Delhi High Court has held that summons/notices under Section 160 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) can be issued by a Police Officer who is making investigation as per the provisions of the Cr.P.C., and to set into motion such an investigation there is a pre-requisite of registration of FIR.

The Bench of Justice Chandra Dhari Singh held so while adjudicating upon the legality of the summons/notices issued under Section 160 of the CrPc. Section 160 of the CrPc deals with the Police officers' power to require attendance of witnesses.

In this case, the petitioner who is an advocate received summons from the Deputy Captain of Police in connection with complaint made by one Rajbikramdeep Singh and his son Munjanpreet Singh. The complaint contained allegations against the petitioner and one Harvansjit Singh, for offences under Section 153A/501/504/505/295A/506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

The petitioner filed a writ petition before the High Court assailing all the three summons/notices issued to him under Section 160 of the Cr.P.C.

Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa, appearing on behalf of the petitioner submitted that the impugned summons/notices have been issued in sheer abuse of process of law, are wholly untenable, unwarranted and hence, liable to be quashed.

He argued that the impugned summons were without jurisdiction since the said summons under Section 160 of Cr.P.C. were issued by the Police Station from District S.A.S. Nagar, whereas, the petitioner, who lives in Delhi, does not fall within the jurisdiction of the said Police Station.

On the contrary ASC Rajesh Mahajan appearing for respondent-state submitted that a complaint was made from the complainants, Rajbikramdeep and Munjanpreet Singh for registration of FIR against the petitioner alongwith another prospective accused, namely, Harvansjit Singh for spreading a false propaganda against the complainants on social media.

He further submitted that upon receiving representation from the complainants, it was marked for a preliminary enquiry to the Deputy Captain Police whereafter he commenced inquiry by summoning both the parties.

He submitted that Deputy Captain Police issued the impugned notices under Section 160 of the Cr.P.C. to both the parties for joining inquiry. He also submitted that the petitioner despite several notices did not join enquiry and did not cooperate with the investigation.

He argued that the petitioner has abused the rights by approaching the High Court by filing the instant petition seeking quashing of the impugned notices under Section 160 of the Cr.P.C. instead of joining enquiry.

The Court noted that a bare reading of Section 160 of the Cr.P.C indicates that a police officer may require attendance of a person who is apparently acquainted with the facts and circumstances of a case that such police officer is investigating.

The Court further noted that a summons/notice to such a person is to be issued following the due process and procedure of law and that the extent of this power was limited by the bounds of jurisdiction.

Here the Court had to resolve two issues- the first is whether the concerned authority-respondent issued the impugned notices at the right stage and secondly whether the concerned authority was well within its powers while issuing the summons to a person outside its jurisdiction.

The Court placed reliance on a catena of judgments and held that "it can be deduced that summons/notices under Section 160 of the Cr.P.C. can be issued by a Police Officer who is making investigation under and in accordance with the provisions of the Cr.P.C., and to set into motion such an investigation there is a pre-requisite of registration of FIR."

The Court observed that for an enquiry to be held legal, the police officer must act in accordance to the CrPc provisions and that he cannot act beyond his powers.

The Court also noted that provision of Section 160 CrPC sets a limit to the jurisdiction within which the police officer is permitted to act. The Court observed that impugned summons/notices were issued by the concerned authority from District S.A.S. Nagar, Mohali, Punjab and that the notice under Section 160 CrPc was issued to the petitioner at his correspondence address at Gurugram, Haryana.

The Court noted that both these addresses were outside and beyond the territorial limits of the concerned Police Station S.A.S. Nagar. And to that end held that "the bar of jurisdiction under Section 160 of the Cr.P.C. is indisputably applicable to the instant matter and in such a case, the notice issued can rightly be said to be issued without jurisdiction."

The Court observed that all the impugned notices issued to the petitioner contravened the provisions of the Cr.P.C. And to that end held "the notice under Section 160 of the Cr.P.C. was not issued at the right stage by the respondent no. 3, since, he could not have been said to be conducting investigation under the Cr.P.C. without the registration of FIR for the purpose of issuance of the notice under Section 160 and secondly, the summons/notices were issued without jurisdiction from the concerned authority in S.A.S. Nagar, Mohali, Punjab to the petitioner residing beyond its own station as well as any adjoining station".

Accordingly, the petition was allowed and all the impugned summons were quashed.

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