HC quashes FIR against British national for possessing sat phone

Published on Dec 24, 2022 07:16 PM IST

The Sahar police had registered the case against Anderson March Richard in 2018 when he was working in the city.

Richard had visited the centre in October 2018 and whilst leaving the country on October 27 he was detained at the airport for having been found in possession of a satellite phone. Sahar police then booked Richard under Section 6 of the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act and Section 20 of the Indian Telegraph Act, of 1885. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT PHOTO)
Richard had visited the centre in October 2018 and whilst leaving the country on October 27 he was detained at the airport for having been found in possession of a satellite phone. Sahar police then booked Richard under Section 6 of the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act and Section 20 of the Indian Telegraph Act, of 1885. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT PHOTO)

Mumbai: The Bombay high court recently struck down the criminal proceedings against a British national who was found in possession of a satellite phone.

The Sahar police had registered the case against Anderson March Richard in 2018 when he was working as the regional approvals manager, Asia-Pacific, for Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organization. It is a global training and certification body for the oil and gas sector and sets industry standards for safety, skills, training and workforce development for the sector.

The organisation has several training centres across 45 countries and one such centre is located in Malad West. Richard had visited the centre in October 2018 and whilst leaving the country on October 27 he was detained at the airport for having been found in possession of a satellite phone.

Sahar police then booked Richard under Section 6 of the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act and Section 20 of the Indian Telegraph Act, of 1885.

Richard had moved the high court last year for quashing the criminal proceedings. His counsel, advocate Shine Mohammad, pointed out that he was carrying the satellite phone as part of his job and was to use it only in an emergency, and otherwise the phone was kept switched off.

The lawyer pointed out that the FIR itself was not maintainable, the offence alleged is non-cognizable and the FIR was registered by the police in gross violation of the statutory provision contained in section 155(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

Mohammad submitted that the police could not have investigated the case without prior permission from the jurisdictional magistrate, but the Sahar police went on even to file a chargesheet.

The division bench of justice Revati Mohite Dere and justice Prithviraj Chavan accepted his contentions and struck down the criminal case.

The court said that the Sahar police could not have investigated the non-cognizable case and could not have filed the chargesheet without obtaining permission from the magistrate court, and struck down the FIR and the criminal proceedings pending before the metropolitan magistrate court at Andheri.

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