Legal Ruling: Protest Petition Elevates to Private Complaint, Supreme Court Asserts

In a legal tussle that echoes across courtrooms, the Supreme Court has unfurled a pivotal decree: when a Magistrate, spurred by additional evidence tendered through a protest petition, proceeds to summon an accused, the ensuing affair must unfurl as a private complaint under Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

In a striking reversal of lower court stances, the bench, orchestrated by the judicious minds of Justices Vikram Nath and Satish Chandra Sharma, decreed that the protest petition’s weight in prompting the Magistrate’s summons necessitates a procedural shift to the terrain outlined in Chapter XV of the Cr.P.C.

The judgement, penned by Justice Vikram Nath, articulates the crux of this legal pivot: “In the present case, as the Magistrate had already recorded his satisfaction that it was a case worth taking cognizance and fit for summoning the accused, we are of the view that the Magistrate ought to have followed the provisions and the procedure prescribed under Chapter XV of the Cr.P.C.”

Background to the legal conundrum unfurling in this instance unveils a twist in the tale. Rejecting the police report under Section 173 of Cr.P.C., the Magistrate, spurred by the informant’s protest petition decrying shoddy police investigation, summoned an accused. However, the Magistrate’s refusal to steer the case under the guise of a complaint case, opting instead for a State case under Section 190(1)(b) of the Cr.P.C., set the stage for legal contention.

Venturing into the legal arena, the appellant, armed with assertions of procedural fallacies, contended that the Magistrate erred egregiously by sidelining the protest petition’s essence as a private complaint.

The State, countering this legal volley, argued that the Magistrate’s cognizance, anchored primarily on pre-existing investigation materials, well within the precincts of Section 190(1)(b) Cr.P.C., remains unblemished.

In the crucible of legal scrutiny, the Supreme Court tilted towards the appellant’s plea, underscoring the imperative for the Magistrate to wield the lens of Section 200 Cr.P.C. when confronted with additional evidentiary fabrics stitched into a protest petition.

Drawing from precedent, notably Vishnu Kumar Tiwari vs. State of UP, the Court affirmed that the Magistrate’s purview must align with Section 200 Cr.P.C. when supplemental materials augment a protest petition’s canvas.

Yet, the Court, mindful of legal nuances, underscored the Magistrate’s prerogative to discard the protest petition, alongside its appended materials, while championing the complainant’s entitlement to wield the Section 200 Cr.P.C. cudgel, regardless of the Magistrate’s directives.

In a denouement that rings with legal resound, the appeal found favor, leaving the Magistrate with a directive to traverse the procedural labyrinth outlined under Chapter XV of the Cr.P.C.

The legal skirmish, emblematic of the nuanced interplay between procedural diktats and substantive justice, leaves a judicial imprint on the annals of legal discourse, beckoning Magistrates to navigate the intricate channels of procedural conformity.

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