The Supreme Court has upheld the discretion exercised by the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) in a case involving offences inter alia under Section 307 of the IPC, where the Magistrate issued summons to the accused after recording statements from the complainant and witnesses, based on a protest petition filed by the complainant. In this case, two appeals were filed by the appellant-complainant challenging orders of the Allahabad High Court. These orders related to an application filed by the respondents-accused under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

A two judge Bench of Justice Bela M. Trivedi and Justice Dipankar Datta observed that “It may be noted that even in a case where the final report of the police under Section 173 is accepted and the accused persons are discharged, the Magistrate has the power to take cognizance of the offence on a complaint or a Protest Petition on the same or similar allegations even after the acceptance of the final report."

The appellant had filed an FIR, alleging that the respondents-accused had attacked him and his family with sharp-edged weapons, resulting in serious injuries to his family members. The FIR was registered under various sections of the IPC. After the investigation was completed, a Final Report was submitted.

Displeased with the Final Report, the appellant-complainant filed a Protest Petition, which was subsequently registered as a Complaint Case. The Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) issued summons to the respondents-accused after recording statements from the complainant and other witnesses.

The respondents-accused then filed an application under Section 482 in the High Court challenging the order issued, they sought an amendment to this application, requesting the setting aside of the order. The High Court granted the amendment and, on the following day, set aside the orders, directing the CJM to reconsider the Protest Petition.

Advocate Anurag Kishore (AOR) appeared for the Appellant and Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid appeared for the Respondents.

The High Court's observations in its order were found to be erroneous by the appellant, and the Supreme Court clarified that the Magistrate has three options upon receiving a police report under Section 173 Cr.P.C.: (1) to drop the action if there is insufficient ground, (2) to take cognizance based on the police report and issue process, or (3) to take cognizance based on the original complaint and proceed under Section 200 Cr.P.C. The Court said that the Magistrate's discretion is not restricted, and even if the final report is accepted and accused persons are discharged, the Magistrate can take cognizance of a complaint on similar allegations.

The Court noted that in this case, the CJM had properly exercised his discretion by rejecting the final report and accepting the Protest Petition, and later issuing summons after recording statements. The High Court's interference with these orders was deemed improper.

Therefore, the Supreme Court allowed the appeals, quashed the High Court's orders, and directed the concerned CJM to proceed with the complaint case in accordance with the law. The respondents-accused were given two weeks to respond to the summons and appear before the CJM.

Cause Title: Zunaid v. State of U.P. & Ors., 2023INSC778

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