(1) This revision application was filed by Janardan who was a complainant in the trial Court. He complained of an offence under section 494, Indian Penal Code, read with section 17 of the Hindu Marriage Act. The complainant is the father of one Chandrabhaga who is a minor girl. Chandrabhaga is alleged to have been married to opponent Guna while she was a minor, in about 1953. The complaint was that in spite of a valid marriage subsisting between Chandrabhaga and Guna, Guna again married opponent No. 2 Milibai. The marriage was alleged to have been brought about by parents of Guna, one of whom i.e., father Balkrishna is opponent No. 3 in this Court. Opponent No. 4 Laxman in this Court is the father of Milibai who is alleged to have contracted the second marriage with opponent Guna. As many as 10 persons were impleaded as accused in the original complaint. The complaint was filed by Janardan before the First Class Magistrate, Saoner, and was presented on 25-7-1957. In paragraph 10 of the complaint the complainant had stated as follows:
'That a complaint should have been filed by applicant's daughter Chandrabhaga as required by Section 198. Cri. P. C. But under the proviso the complainant is entitled to present this complaint in view of the minority of his daughter. The complainant's daughter is hardly 13 years of age. She lives under the care of the complainant. The complainant is conversant with the facts of the case. This court be therefore pleased to grant leave to the complainant to institute this complaint for his minor daughter Chandrabhaga.'
(2) After the complaint was presented, the trying Magistrate recorded the statement of the complainant on the same day but adjourned the case to 9-8-1957, noting that he would like to examine one Vithoba by way of preliminary exquiry. This Vithoba was examined on 22-8-1957. On that date the Magistrate adjourned the case to go through the record and the case was posted for 2-9-1957. On 2-9-1957 the case was again adjourned to 5-9-57. On 5-9-1957 the Magistrate noted as follows:
'Complainant in person and with Shri Khedkar. I have heard him and perused the record.
Register as a regular case against Guna under Section 494, I. P. C., and against all the rest under section 494 read with 109 I. P. C.
All the 10 accused persons be summoned with a copy of the complaint for each to be enclosed with the summons and to be supplied by the complainant.
P. F. In 2 days. Case for 19-10-57.'
That date for appearance was altered to 28-10-57. On 28-10-57 some of the accused were present and others were represented by counsel.
(3) On 13-12-57 Mr. Nagmote, one of the counsel appearing for the accused, raised a contention that the complainant has to prove the age of his daughter Chandrabhaga who had not so far appeared in Court. The trying Magistrate therefore fixed the case to hear parties on this point. The girl Chandrabhaga was actually produced on the next day of hearing i.e., on 24-12-57, and a certified copy of the date of birth of Chandrabhaga was filed along with an affidavit showing that Chandrabhaga was 12 years of age. The matter was postponed from hearing to hearing, and ultimately on 25-1-1958 the trying Magistrate noted the following order in the order sheet of that date:
'Regarding the age of Chandrabhaga, the complainant has filed date of birth certificate supported by an affidavit. Showing that the age of the girl Chandrabhaga is between 14 to 15 years and her date of birth is 21-11-43. Consequently, according to this Chandrabhaga is a minor.
Defence has on the other hand not produced any document, nor have they filed any counter-affidavit to disprove the above age of Chadrabhaga. I rely on the documents filed by the complainant and find that Chandrabhaga is a minor.
I proceed further. . . . . . . . . . . .'
The trying Magistrate then recorded the evidence of both the parties and convicted the opponents under Secs. 494 and 494 read with Section 109, Indian Penal Code. They were sentenced to different terms of fine and imprisonment till trising of the Court. Against their conviction and sentences the opponents preferred appeal which came to be heard and decide by the Additional Sessions Judge, Nagpur. One of the grounds taken in the memorandum of appeal is ground No. 9, namely, that the prosecution had not been properly initiated and the proceedings were illegal.
(4) The learned Additional Sessions Judge has not dealt with the merits of conviction and the sentences of the opponents in the order delivered on 16-11-1960. It appears that the main point argued before the Additional Sessions Judge was that the complaint was filed without obtaining the leave of the Court as required by proviso to section 198, Criminal Procedure Code. This preliminary objection taken on behalf of the appellants was accepted and the learned Additional Sessions Judge allowed the appeal, set aside the conviction and sentences and ordered that the complaint shall be dismissed for want of the necessary leave of the Court under section 198. In paragraph 3 of the order the learned Judge has observed as follows:
'It would be seen from the order sheets and the record of the lower Court that the complainant respondent Janardhan did not apply orally on writing, under Section 198 proviso, ibid, for leave of the Court to file that complaint. It is no doubt true that no objection to the Court was taken by any of the accused persons, including the appellant.'
But the learned Judge held that the provisions of Section 198, Criminal Procedure Code, were mandatory and the mere fact that the Court had taken the complaint on file did not indicate that it accorded its sanction to its filing. Then the learned Judge quoted certain decisions of different High Courts and came to the conclusion that the trial without leave of the Court was void even in the absence of any objections on behalf of the opponents. In this view, the proceedings were quashed.
(5) Against this order the complainant Janardan filed an application, purporting to be an application under Section 417 of the Criminal Procedure Code, for grant of leave to appeal from the order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge. The complainant seems to have treated the order in appeal as an order of acquittal and asked for leave to file an appeal against that order. It is not now disputed that the proper application to be made by the complainant is an application under section 439, Criminal Procedure Code, and not an application for leave to appeal, inasmuch as the learned Additional Sessions Judge had not acquitted the opponents but has quashed the proceedings and ordered that the complaint should be treated as dismissed for want of leave of the Court.
(6) It will be noticed from the memorandum of application along with the grounds of appeal filed in this Court, that there is no averment either in the petition or in the grounds that the trying Magistrate had in fact granted leave. It is not disputed that the Court could not take cognizance of an offence falling under Section 494, Indian Penal Code, in this case except on a complaint made by a person with the leave of the Court on the ground that the person aggrieved, namely, the wife, was a minor. According to the scheme of Section 198 a complaint has to be made by a person aggrieved by the offence, but special provision is made in the case of persons aggrieved by the offence who are minors. Some other person may, with the leave of the Court, make a complaint on behalf of a minor. Thus the leave of the Court is a sine quo non or condition to be satisfied for the making of a complaint by a person other than the aggrieved person. The jurisdiction of the Court to take cognizance of the complaint is thus dependent on the complaint being made by a person with the leave of the Court. It is urged on behalf of the applicant that he had specifically stated in the complaint in paragraph 10 that the person aggrieved, namely, his daughter, was a minor, and even though she should have normally filed a complaint, she being a minor the applicant who is her father is entitled to file this complaint as he is conversant with the facts and the Court, should be pleased to grant leave to the applicant to institute a complaint on her behalf.
(7) Then it is argued that so far as the applicant is concerned he had done everything he was required to do in moving the Court for leave. It is no doubt true it is urged, that there is no express mention of the leave having been granted in any of the order sheets or other part of the record. But it is submitted by Mr. Nandedkar, learned counsel for the applicant that the very fact that the trying Magistrate did not straightway register the complaint but proceeded to hear the complainant and one of his witnesses, reserved the case for consideration for one hearing, and then decided to register the complaint, would show that the trying Magistrate has applied his mind to the averments in the complaint and must be taken to have granted leave to the complainant before he took cognizance of the offence by ordering the complaint to be registered. On the other hand, it is urged on behalf of the opponents that grant of leave to a complainant like the applicant who is not an aggrieved person, is a judicial act and cannot be presumed or inferred but has to be established like any other fact. It is urged on behalf of the opponents that even though the question of minority of Chandrabhaga was raised as a specific issue and the learned Magistrate gave a finding that the girl Chandrabhaga was a minor, the learned Magistrate did not appear to be aware that it was necessary to grant leave to the complainant who was not an aggrieved person before cognizance could be taken.
(8) In this state of the record I gave an opportunity to the applicant to file an affidavit of his counsel who appeared for him in trial Court, to establish that leave was in fact asked for and granted by the trying Magistrate. As affidavit sworn by Shri S. J., Khedkar, Advocate for the applicant has been filed on record. It is to be observed that even in this affidavit there is no averment that the Magistrate did grant leave before cognizance was taken. The affidavit is as follows:
'I knew from the study of the relevant provisions that leave of the Magistrate was necessary to make a complaint in the circumstances of the case. I pointed out the provisions of Section 198, Criminal Procedure Code, and after discussion, the Magistrate proceeded to examine the complainant Janardan. It, however, appears from the record that the Magistrate omitted to put in writing the fact of leave having been given.'
Now, a perusal of this affidavit clearly shows that the counsel appearing for the complainant is not in a position to make a positive statement that the Magistrate indicated that he was granting leave to the complainant to file a complaint. The averments in the affidavit merely restate what happened when the complaint was filed, but the crucial issue that was raised before the Additional Sessions Judge that the Magistrate did not in fact grant leave has not been met by the averments in this affidavit. I am thus constrained to come to the conclusion that the applicant has failed to prove even in this Court, in spite of due opportunity having been given, that the Magistrate, did grant leave to the complainant to file the complaint. In view of the failure of the applicant to prove even in this Court that leave was granted by the Magistrate to the applicant to file the complaint as required by section 198, Criminal Procedure Code, there is no alternative but to hold that the cognizance taken by the learned magistrate was without jurisdiction and the learned Additional Sessions Judge was right in directing the complaint to be treated as dismissed. In fact, the proper order to pass in such a case is to quash the proceedings before the trying Magistrate as the very initiation of the proceedings was without jurisdiction.
(9) It has been argued on the basis of a decision in Ram Prasad v. State, 1951 All LJ 214 that the leave which is to be asked for need not be given in writing: it may even be given orally. It is observed.
'Where the leave has to be granted by the same Court which is to take cognizance of the offence and the Court entertains the complaint, the leave to file the complaint may be implied or presumed.'
With great respect I find it difficult to accept this interpretation of section 198 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Under Section 198, Cri. P. C., the Legislature has made a departure from the normal rule that criminal proceedings can be initiated by a citizen, in the case of certified specified offences lest initiation of certain types of offences like matrimonial offences, or offences connected with defamation or offences under Chapter XIX dealing with criminal breach of contract of service, are liable to be abused by interested persons and a certain protection is given against misuse of criminal Courts in case of the specified offences by interested persons. Therefore, the salutary provision of asking for grant of leave by persons making a complaint when such person is not the aggrieved person has to be borne in mind by the Magistrate before taking cognizance of the offence dealt with under Section 198, Criminal Procedure Code. I am not therefore prepared to hold that leave should be implied in all cases where cognizance is taken by a Magistrate. Whether the Magistrate is or is not aware of the provision of law requiring leave being granted, the record must show that leave was applied for and was granted. Such leave cannot be presumed or implied to have been granted because it is at the very threshold of the proceedings that the protection given to the citizen has to be borne in mind and discretion in granting leave has to be exercised by the Magistrate. Once cognizance is taken, if can always be argued that leave must have been granted or should be presumed to have been granted. The object of the requirement of the leave being granted for filing a complaint will therefore be frustrated if, even in the absence of anything on the record showing that leave was asked for and granted, leave is to be presumed from the fact that cognizance of the offence has been taken and therefore that leave must have been granted or must be implied to have been granted.
(10) Thus, the result is that this revision fails and is dismissed. This will not preclude the aggrieved person from filing a proper complaint with due compliance of law.
(11) Revision dismissed.