1. One Chinnayya Goundan filed a complaint in the Court of the Second Glass Magistrate of Vaniambadi to the effect that the Municipal Health Officer came to him after the complainant had tied a cow to a tree, gave him a smack on the neck, and told him that he had no business to tie his cow there. He said to the Health Officer that if he had been told that he should not tie his cow there, he would not have done so. The Health-Officer thereupon lost his temper and gave him some further blows on the cheeks and on the head. The Health Officer raised a preliminary objection that the Magistrate could not entertain this complaint in the absence of the sanction of the Local Government. The Magistrate, in a considered order, held that the act of the Health Officer could not be said to be one that was done by the petitioner in the exercise of his official duty, and so dismissed the application.
2. It is of course true that it was no part of the duty of the petitioner to strike the complainant on his neck and face; but the question is whether, in the words of Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Health Officer purported to act in the discharge of his official duty. It was not the case of the complainant that the Health Officer bore any personal animosity against him; it was because the complainant had done something which the Health Officer thought he ought not to have done, that the Health Officer interfered; although if the complainant's story is true, he exceeded his duty. It is of course no part of the duty of any person to commit an offence; but it is clear that Section 197, Criminal Procedure Code is intended to protect public servants from frivolous complaints made while they are doing their duty as public servants. The petitioner was undoubtedly acting as a public servant when he interfered with the complainant and struck him. I therefore find that the sanction of the Local Government was necessary before this complaint could be filed.
3. The petition is therefore allowed, the proceedings in the Sub-Magistrate's Court are set aside and the Sub-Magistrate is ordered to return the complaint to the complainant. It is of course open to the complainant to re-present the complaint after he has obtained sanction.