Bombay high court restrains ACB from filing FIR against ex-collector of Mumbai and wife
The HC ruled that magistrates can’t order police to register an FIR against a public servant without an approval from the government.mumbai Updated: Aug 10, 2017 01:23 IST
In a major reprieve for former collector of Mumbai suburban Vishwas Patil and his wife Chandrasena, the Bombay high court on Wednesday restrained the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) from registering a First Information Report (FIR) against the couple in connection with a slum redevelopment case.
According to 46-year-old activist Hitendra Yadav, who filed a complaint in the special court for ACB on June 24, Patil allegedly bent rules to favour a developer for a slum redevelopment project in at Malad (East) in 2007-08. Patil’s wife was later appointed as a director in the real estate company, said Yadav. Patil retired as collector on June 31.
A bench of justices RM Savant and Sandip Shinde found substance in the defence argument that magistrates can’t order police to register an FIR against a public servant without a sanction from the government.
The couple’s counsel, senior advocate Amit Desai, pointed out that last August the Maharashtra government had amended the Criminal Procedure Code, paving the way for prior sanction from the government before filing an FIR against public servants.
He argued that the special court should not have asked the ACB to register an FIR against the couple.
Additional public prosecutor Aruna Pai-Kamat responded to the argument, saying the ACB was empowered to probe the allegation even without the special court order. He said the agency would not invoke sections 409 (criminal breach of trust) and 120-B (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, for which sanction of the government was required before registering an FIR against the couple.
Advocate Aditya Pratap, who appeared for Yadav, said the proviso to section 156(3) protects public servants who are discharge of their duties. Criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy can’t be duties of a public servant, the lawyer said. To reinforce his arguments, he gave examples of various Supreme Court decisions.
However, the argument failed to impress upon the bench, which would hear the matter on September 8.