Expression “the public servant or his administrative superior” under Section 195 CrPC includes High Court

Supreme Court: Explaining the scope of the expression “the public servant or his administrative superior” under Section 195(1) (a)(i) CrPC, the bench of A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit, JJ held that the expression cannot exclude High Courts.

Interpreting Section 195(1) (a)(i) CrPC which says that cognizance in respect of offence under sections 172 to 188 IPC cannot be taken except “on the complaint in writing of the public servant concerned or of some other public servant to whom he is administratively subordinate”, the Court said that that while the bar against cognizance of a specified offence is mandatory, the same has to be understood in the context of the purpose for which such a bar is created. The bar is not intended to take away remedy against a crime but only to protect an innocent person against false or frivolous proceedings by a private person.

It was further held that direction of the High Court is at par with the direction of an administrative superior public servant to file a complaint in writing in terms of the statutory requirement. The protection intended by the Section against a private person filing a frivolous complaint is taken care of when the High Court finds that the matter was required to be gone into in public interest. Such direction cannot be rendered futile by invoking Section 195 to such a situation. Once the High Court directs investigation into a specified offence mentioned in Section 195, bar under Section 195(1)(a) cannot be pressed into service. [CBI v. M. Sivamani, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 845, decided on 01.08.2017]

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