1. This revision arises out of an order passed by the S.D.M., Mao on 6-8-1980 in Criminal Case No. 12 of 1960. The petitioner herein filed a complaint on 11-2-1960 against 11 persons under Seas. 149/386/506, I.P.C. in the Court of Shri Gumamani Singh, who was the predecessor in office of Shri Gokulchand Singh as First Class Magistrate, Mao. Out of the accused persons, accused Nos. 7 to 10 were officials of the Forest Department of the Manipur Administration, accused No. 7 being a Forest Ranger and the rest forest guards. The complaint against them was that on 16-10-1958, when the petitioner was in peaceful possession of the lime quarry Soukom as lessee from the Government, his possession was disturbed by the lessee of the neighbouring Kangkhanyumbi lime quarry and proceeding under Section 144, Cri. P.C. were started against him and on 15-11-1958, the final order was passed by A. D. M. confirming the possession of the petitioner and prohibiting the respondent therein from interfering with such possession, but that on 8-2-1959 at about 12-00 noon, the eleven accused persons came with intent to cause wrongful loss to the petitioner and disturbed his possession by dispersing the labourers at the point of guns and deadly weapons and forcibly took away the properties of the petitioner under threat and duress.
2. On receipt of this complaint Shri Gunamani Singh, examined the petitioner on 11-2-1959 and he sent the complaint for enquiry and report to the Officer in charge of Mayang Imphal Police Station. I take it that this procedure was adopted as provided under Section 202, Cri. P.C. The Police duly reported to the Magistrate stating that there was sufficient evidence against the accused persons. The Magistrate took up the case on 16-7-1959 and perused the report submitted by the Police. He saw from the said report that accused No. 7 was a Forest Ranger and that there was an allegation against him under Section 188 I.P.C. for alleged violation of the A. D. M.'s order under Section 144, Cri. P.C. He therefore submitted the papers to the A. D. M. for necessary action. The A. D. M. appears to have kept the papers with him until 9-4-1960. We do not know what happened in the A. D. M.'s Court as those papers are not before me. But by an order dated 9-4-1960, the A. D. M. appears to have sent back the case to the Magistrate. The said order of the A. D. M. is also not before me.
3. On 13-5-1960, the Magistrate again took up the case. He appears to have felt a doubt whether sanction under Section 197, Cri. P.C. was necessary as some of the accused were forest officials in-iluding a Forest Ranger. It appears that the petitioner's counsel argued the matter before the Magistrate on 3-6-1960 pointing out that no such sanction was necessary. But the Magistrate wanted further clarification. So the Magistrate wrote to the Chief Forest Officer of the Manipur Administration enquiring as to whether in view of the provisions under Section 197, Cri P.C. the case against the Ranger required the sanction of the Administration before prosecution. This was on 24-6-1960. The Chief Forest Officer wrote back to the Court on 7-7-1960, requesting that a copy of the complaint may be made available to him so that he may refer the matter to the Administration, Accordingly, a copy of the complaint was sent to him on 23-7-1960.
4. In the meantime there was a change in the presiding Officer of the Court and Shri Gokulchand Singh took over as Magistrate from Shri Gunamani Singh. The Court received a letter from the Chief Forest Officer dated 1-8-1960 stating that he considered it necessary to obtain sanction of the authority concerned. He added further that it would be desirable that an enquiry should be held to ascertain the truth or falsehood of the complaint before obtaining sanction for prosecution, in view of the fact that accused Nos. 7 to 10 were officials of the Forest Department and that the said officials had held a departmental enquiry in connection with a complaint under orders of the department and the properties mentioned in the complaint were seized by the said officials in connection with. an offence alleged to have been committed by the petitioner.
On receipt of this letter Shri Gokulchand Singh passed an order on 6-8-1960 that he considered that an enquiry should be held to ascertain the truth or falsehood of the complaint before the case was proceeded with further and he therefore forwarded the case to the Second Class Magistrate (S.D.C. Sadar and Hill) for enquiry and report. I take it that this was also done under Section 202, Cri P.C. It is against this order passed on 6-8-1960 that this revision petition has been filed.
5. It was pointed out for the petitioner that there was no cogent reason to distrust the Police report submitted after enquiry under Section 202 Cri, P.C. and the Magistrate could not send the case again and again for enquiry under Section 202 Cri. P.C. It was further submitted that the Magistrate had no legal justification in acting on the letter sent by the Chief Forest Officer as such a letter Would amount to influencing the Court and to con-iempt of Court and the Magistrate should not have yielded to the said letter.
6. I must remark that the procedure adopted by the two Magistrate Messrs. Gunamani Singh and Gokulchand Singh was highly irregular and that it disclosed that they have not realised their position as Courts of law. It is seen from the order of the Magistrate Shri Gunamani Singh dated 13-5-1960 that he wanted to. be satisfied before proceeding further with the case after the Police Report whether sanction to prosecute was necessary or not under Section 197, Cri P- C. Accordingly, he heard the counsel for the complainant us to whether he could take cognizance of such an offence without the previous sanction of the Government. The Magistrate should have realised that a decision as to whether sanction was necessary or not under Section 197, Cri P.C. before taking cognizance of an offence is a judicial decision and that such a decision should be arrived at after hearing arguments in Court and not by correspondence with the Chief Forest Officer, and by getting the opinion of the Chief Forest Officer.
7. This is the result of having such Executive Officers as Magistrates. They often fail to understand the distinction between a decision which they have to make in Court and an executive order which they have got to pass. The learned Magistrate ought to have decided this matter at that stage after hearing the arguments of the counsel for the petitioner. If he wanted that he should hear the other side also before making up his mind, he should have issued notice to the Forest Ranger concerned and heard him and announced his decision after hearing such arguments. The Court was not concerned with the opinion of the Chief Forest Officer who was not a party before it and cannot act on such opinion conveyed to the Court through a letter, It was highly wrong on the part of the Court to have written a letter to the Chief Forest Officer for his opinion on the question.
8. The Chief Forest Officer was not a person competent to give advice to the Court on legal matters. Even if the Court wanted his advice as the superior officer of the Forest Ranger, it should issue notice to him and on receipt of the notice from Court, he should have appeared before Court either by himself or through counsel and placed his viewpoint before the Court so that the (petitioner's counsel could also have his say after hearing the Chief Forest Officer or his counsel. To act on letters from a Departmental Head in judicial matters and to pass orders on the strength of such letters is something unheard of in Courts of law.
9. The Chief Forest Officer in reply to the Court's letter not only gave his opinion that it was necessary to obtain sanction of the authority concerned for the prosecution of accused Nos. 7 to 10 - he did not state the grounds for his opinion - but he went further and advised the Court that before obtaining sanction for prosecution it was desirable that an enquiry should be held to ascertain the truth or falsehood of the complaint.
It was highly wrong on the part of the Chief Forest Officer to have given such advice to the Court on a matter with which he had no business to be concerned and I should think it would even amount to influencing the Court in its decision. It better that departmental Heads realise that they should not interfere with the working of Courts. Perhaps, the Chief Forest Officer did so out of ignorance and hence I am not: taking a serious view of the matter in this case. But such interference will be taken serious notice of in future and action will be taken.
10. What I am concerned with for the present, is that the Magistrate should have accepted this advice from the Chief Forest Officer and acted upon it and sent the case for enquiry to another Magistrate under Section 202 Cri. P.C. The order of the Magistrate dated 6-8-1960 does not show that he even heard the counsel for the petitioner before doing so. This was certainly not what a Court of law should do. The order of the Magistrate was passed under Section 202 Cri. P.C. Such an order can be passed only after taking cognizance of the case under Section 190 Cri. P.C.
Thus I take it that tile Magistrate was satisfied that cognizance of the case can be taken without any sanction as required under Section 197 Cri P.C. The case cannot be sent for enquiry to another Magistrate under Section 202 Cri. P.C. without taking cognizance under Section 190 Cri. P.C. Thus the position is that the Magistrate has satisfied himself that cognizance of the case was validly taken without any sanction under Section 197 Cri. P.C.
11. Already the Magistrate Gunamani Singh had sent the case for enquiry and report under Section 202 Cri, P.C. to a Police Officer and the Police report was before the Court stating that there was sufficient evidence against the accused persons. This was a report sent under Section 202 Cri. P.C. This report was before the Magistrate arm Uokulcnana Singh. I do not find from his order dated 6-8-1960 that he had considered this report at all before sending the case for further enquiry and report to another Magistrate.
When such a Police report was before Court it was the duty of the Magistrate under Section 203 Cri. P.C. to have considered the statement on oath of the complainant and to have satisfied himself whether there were sufficient grounds for proceeding further. Without considering the Police report before him he had no jurisdiction to send the case for further enquiry to a Magistrate.
12. Section 202 provides for the case being sent by the Magistrate for enquiry or investigation to be made by any Magistrate subordinate to him or by a Police Officer. This was already done by the Magistrate Shri Gunamani Singh and he selected a Police Officer for such enquiry and report instead of a Magistrate. After having thus exercised the power under Section 202, Shri Gokulchand Singh who succeeded Gunamani Singh as Magistrate cannot send the case again for a further enquiry and report to a Magistrate subordinate to him and particularly so without even considering the report of the Police Officer already before him. The order of the Magistrate Shri Gokulchand Singh dated 6-8-1960 is therefore set aside and he is directed to proceed with the case in accordance with law.