Chapter proceedings cannot be initiated on the basis of an incident of trivial nature, the Bombay high court held while striking down notices issued by Mahim police against owner and staff of a of a hotel.
“In our considered view, the provisions of Section 107 of the Criminal Procedure Code could not have been invoked on the basis this sole incident of trivial nature,” said the division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai while quashing notices issued by Mahim police for initiating chapter proceedings against Abhishek Shetty, owner of Hotel Ganga Vihar and 5 staff members of the hotel.
On the contrary, the court noted, the allegations in the First Information Report (FIR) revealed that the incident had occurred in a hotel over the issue of non-acceptance of old notes of Rs500 denomination. The incident took place on November 10, 2016 – a day after the Central government had demonetised currency notes of Rs500 and Rs1000 denominations .
There was an altercation between the hotel staff and four customers, after the customers sought to pay their bill through banned currency notes of Rs500 and the staff refused to accept the banned notes. The scuffle resulted in a fight between staff and the customers, and on the basis of complaints lodged by the customers, a First Information Report was registered by the Mahim police against the owner and staff of the hotel.
On December 31, 2016, the police issued notices to all the accused persons, calling upon them to show cause as to why they should not be ordered to execute a bond for an amount of Rs5000 for keeping peace for a period of one year.
They moved high court challenging the notices. Their counsel, advocate DA Nalavade, pointed out that the notices had been issued only on the basis of the registration of the FIR and nothing else.
The bench accepted his contention that proceeding under Section 107 of the Criminal Procedure Code is only a preventive measure aimed at preserving public peace and tranquillity. “In the instant case, there was no material to indicate that the petitioners were likely to commit breach of peace or disturb the public tranquillity or do any wrongful act which was likely to disturb public peace and tranquillity,” said the bench. “In our considered view, the special executive magistrate who issued the notices had exceeded jurisdiction, and therefore no action could be allowed to be taken pursuant to the notices.”