Basant Rath and Ors. v. Ch. Nagar Singh

The Cyber Blog IndiaCase Summary

Basant Rath and Ors. v. Ch. Nagar Singh

Basant Rath and Ors. v. Ch. Nagar Singh
In the High Court of Jammu & Kasmir
561_A 155/2012 and CMA 178/2012
Before Justice Hasnain Massodi
Decided on May 23, 2012

Relevancy of the case: Scope and extent of powers of a Magistrate under Section 202 CrPC

Statutes & Provisions Involved

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 66A)
  • The Ranbir Penal Code, 1932 (Section 500, 503)
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Section 190, 192, 202, 203, 561-A)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The respondent alleged that the petitioners and their colleagues took him into custody and allegedly subjected him to vulgar, intimidating, abusive, and uncivilized interrogation.
  • The respondent was physically tortured and petitioners and their colleagues made vulgar imputation and defamatory remarks against his daughter-in-law and not only insulted the respondent but also tortured him to extort a confessional statement from him.
  • It was further alleged that the other members of the Special Investigation Team, one of whom was a close relative of the deceased, made a video film of the custodial interrogation to which the respondent was subjected and later with a criminal intention to defame him and all those related to him and injure their feelings, uploaded the video film so prepared on the website accessible to one and all including the relatives, friends, and fellow businessmen of the respondent.
  • The respondent alleged that the petitioners and their colleagues in the Special Investigation Team placed the video film on websites/YouTube.
  • The respondent claims to have himself viewed the video film on 28.11.2010 on his cell phone.

Opinion of the Bench

  • The learned Chief Judicial Magistrate recorded the statement of the respondent and that of his witness. However, the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate deferred issuance of process observing that matter deserves a “thorough probe” and required in-depth inquiry.
  • It follows that the investigation or inquiry contemplated under Section 202 has a limited purpose and the Magistrate or such other person to whom the inquiry of investigation is entrusted is only to make a prima facie view of the matter, keeping in mind that the purpose of investigation or inquiry is not to hold the person against whom an accusation is made guilty or not guilty but only to enable the Magistrate who has entrusted the investigation or inquiry to arrive at a tentative conclusion whether the criminal justice system is to be set into motion and process issued against the person against whom an accusation is made or the complaint deserves to be dismissed at its threshold.
  • What emerges from the above discussion is that the investigation or an inquiry contemplated under this provision is limited in its scope and not allowed to be treated as a substitute for trial.
  • The Special Magistrate shall do well to conclude the inquiry with proper dispatch and latest within four weeks from the date of receipt of this order to enable the Chief Judicial Magistrate to decide the matter mapped out in Section 203/204 CrPC.

Final Decision

  • For the reasons discussed, the petition is allowed and the order of the Special Municipal Magistrate, to the extent it calls upon the petitioners to appear in the Court to offer their explanation and take a stand regarding the Compact Disc (CD) is set aside.

This case summary has been prepared by Mansi Vats, an undergraduate student at UPES School of Law, Dehradun, during her internship with The Cyber Blog India in June/July 2020.