K.S. Hegde, J.
1. This revision petition is directed against the order of the learned District Magistrate, Bangalore in C. C. No. 36/57. The respondent here-in filed a complaint against the petitioner accusing him of having committed offences under Sections 448 and 454, I.P.C. The offence is said to have been committed or, 4-10-1957. The complaint was filed on 25-11-1957. The learned Magistrate after examining the complainant on oath, dismissed the complaint mainly on the ground that the complaint did not represent a genuine grievance. According to that Court the complainant was agitating a civil right in a criminal Court. It emphasised the question of delay.
2. The complainant went up in revision to the learned District Magistrate, Bangalore. The learned District Magistrate on interpreting Section 203, Cr. P. C. came to the conclusion that no Magistrate could dismiss a complaint unless he had examined the complainant and all the witnesses cited by him.
In the instant case, the complainant had cited as many as six witnesses and they had not been examined by the learned Magistrate before ho refused to take cognizance of the complaint. It was mainly on this view of the law that the learned District Magistrate was pleased to allow the revision petition. His interpretation of Section 203, Cr. P. C. is challenged before me. I am of the opinion that the learned District Magistrate had put an erroneous interpretation on the said section. In order to appreciate the scope of Section 203, Cr. P. C. as amended by Act XXVI of 1955, it is necessary to place before ourselves tho relevant sections as they stood prior to the amendment in question.
The relevant sections are Sections 200 to 203, Cr. P. C. But for the purpose of this case, it will be sufficient if we take note of Sections 200 and 203, Cr. P. C. Section 200 prior to tho amendment in question refers to a Magistrate taking cognizance of an offence on a complaint after examining tho complainant on oath. There was no question of examining any witness cited by the complainant or present in Court. The unamended Section 203 is as follows :
'The Magistrate before whom a complaint is made or to whom it has been transferred, may dismiss the complaint, if, after considering the statement on oath (if any) of the complainant and the result of the investigation or inquiry (if any) under Section 202, there is in his judgment no sufficient ground for proceeding. In such cases he shall briefly record his reasons for so doing'.
3. Both Sections 200 and 203, Cv. P. C. have been amended by tho Act XXVI of 1955. The present Section 200, Cr. P. C. is as follows :
'A Magistrate taking cognizance of an offence on complaint shall at once examine the complainant and the witnesses present, if any, upon oath and the substance of the examination shall be reduced to writing and shall be signed by the complainant and the witnesses and also by the Magistrate'. Section 203, Cv. P.C. is as follows : 'The Magistrate before whom a complaint is made or to whom it has been transferred, may dismiss the complaint, if, after considering the statement on oath (if any) of the complainant and the witnesses and the result of the investigation or inquiry (if any) under Section 202 there is in his judgment no sufficient ground for proceeding. In such cases he shall briefly record his reasons for so doing'.
4. On an examination oi the sections as they stood prior to the amendment and as they stand subsequent to the amendment, it is clear the witnesses referred to in Section 203, Cr. P. C. refers to the witnesses mentioned in Section 200, Cr. P. C. It is true that Section 203, Cr. P. C, is not properly worded. It would have been better if the draftsmen had used the words 'witnesses mentioned in Section 200' immediately after the words 'and the witnesses' in Section 203. But I have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that the 'witnesses' mentioned to in Section 203 refers to the witnesses mentioned in Section 200, Cr. P. C. If that is not the interpretation then all the witnesses cited by a complainant in his complaint should bo examined by the Magistrate before he makes up his mind to dismiss a private complaint.
This would be placing the Magistrate in an intolerable position. A cantankerous complainant can cite as many witnesses as he chooses; then the Magistrate will have to examine all of them before dismissing the complaint. In this connection it will be appropriate to take note of Section 253, Cr. P. C. The Magistrate is entitled to discharge an accused even before examining all the witnesses cited by the prosecution if he considers the charge to be groundless.
Even that right will not be available to a Magistrate who is dealing with a case under Section 203, Cr. P. C. I do not think that the Legislature would have contemplated such anomalous position. The very mischief that is possible to flow from the interpretation placed by the District Magistrate is sufficient to come to the conclusion that it could not be the intention of the legislature. Apart from that the history of these two sections also makes it clear that as per the amendment the witnesses who are present in Court should be examined by the Magistrate before he could dismiss the same under Section 203, Cr. P. C.
5. In this case a civil dispute is being agitated in the Criminal Court. There has been considerable delay in instituting the case. The learned Magistrate was right in rejecting the complaint.
6. Sri Kankasabhapathy, the learned counsel for the respondent, raised a preliminary objection that the petitioner has no locus standi to institute a criminal revision petition. According to him the case had not been taken on file ana the accused has not been notified. Hence the petitioner has no right to challenge the order under revision. Ordinarily this contention is a sound one. But in this case the respondent impleaded the petitioner in the revision petition before the learned District Magistrate and the learned District Magistrate passed the order in question in his presence. It is not open to the respondent at this stage to contend that the petitioner should not be heard Even otherwise, I can act suo motu. This case raises a new and important question of law.
7. In the result the order of the learned District Magistrate under revision is set aside and thefirst Court's order restored.Revision allowed.