How can poor farmers sustain their complaint in the face of such directions and how can the subordinate police officers carry on investigation ignoring such instructions of the Chief Minister ?
It is not known to us in how many cases investigation has been totally scuttled Records disclosed in this case show that out of 74 cases only in seven cases charge sheets were filed and the rest of the cases were either compromised or withdrawn.
The way interference was caused first from the office of the Chief Minister by his Private Secretary by two telephone calls on 31.5.2006 and the manner in which District Collector was summoned by the Chief Minister on the very next day i.e. 1.6.2006 for giving instructions to specially treat any complaints filed against M.L.A. Mr. Dilip Kumar Sananda and his family has no precedent either in law or in public administration.
Law does not accord any special treatment to any person in respect of any complaint having been filed against him when it discloses the commission of any cognizable offence. In the context of this clear legal position which, as noted above, is a vital component of a Rule of Law, the direction of the then Chief Minister to give a special treatment to Shri Dilip Kumar Sananda, M.L.A and his family about registering of complaint filed against them is totally unwarranted in law. Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh as the Chief Minister of State of Maharashtra is expected to know that the farmers of the State specially those in the Vidarbha region are going through a great deal of suffering and hardship in the hands of money lenders.From the communication of the Collector containing the instructions of the then Chief Minister, Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh, it is clear that the Chief Minister was aware of various complaints being filed against the said family. Even then he passed an order for a special treatment in favour of the said family which is unknown to law . This was obviously done to protect the Sananda family from the normal legal process and a special procedure was directed to be adopted in respect of criminal complaint filed against them. In other words,the Chief Minister wanted to give the members of the said family a special protection which is not available to other similarly placed persons. It is clear from the Collector’s order dated 5.6.2006 where the Chief Minister’s instructions were quoted that the Chief Minister was acting solely on political consideration to screen the family of M.L.A from the normal process of law.
Legal remedy available : The legal position is well settled that on information being lodged with the police and if the said information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence,the police shall record the same in accordance with the provisions contained under Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Police Officer’s power to investigate in case of a cognizable offence without order of the Magistrate is statutorily recognised under Section 156 of Code. Thus the police officer in charge of a police station, on the basis of information received or otherwise, can start investigation if he has reasons to suspect the commission of any cognizable offence.
This amounts to bestowing special favour to some chosen few at the cost of the vast number of poor people who as farmers have taken loans and who have come to the authorities of law and order to register their complaints against torture and atrocities by the money lenders.The instructions of the Chief Minister will certainly impede their access to legal redress and bring about a failure of the due process.
Final remedy: This Court is extremely anguished to see that such an instruction could come from the Chief Minister of a State which is governed under a Constitution which resolves to constitute India into a socialist, secular, democratic republic. Chief Minister’s instructions are so incongruous and anachronistic, being in defiance of all logic and reason, that our conscience is deeply disturbed. We condemn the same in no uncertain terms.We affirm the order of the High Court and direct that the instruction of the Chief Minister to the Collector dated 5.6.06 has no warrant in law and is unconstitutional and is quashed.We dismiss this appeal with costs of Rs.10,00,000/- (Rupees Ten Lakhs) to be paid by the appellant [State of Maharashtra] in favour of the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority.This fund shall be earmarked by the Authority to help the cases of poor farmers. Such costs should be paid within a period of six weeks from date.
Excerpts from State of Maharashtra And Ors. Vs. Sarangdharsingh Shivdassingh Chavan And Anr