Clauses I and II of Section 195(1) (b) of CrPC cater to different offences mentioned in IPC: High Court of Kerala

Offences dealt under Section 195(1) (b)(i) and Section 195(1)(b)(ii) of the CrPC are distinct. Where the facts mentioned in a complaint attract the provisions of Section 191 to 193 of the IPC, Section 195(1)(b)(i) of the CrPC applies. However, the most important fact to be considered upon in case of dispute is the alleged offense should be committed to or in relation to any proceeding in any Court. The offense punishable here does not have to be committed only in any proceeding in any Court but can also be an offense alleged to have been committed in relation to any proceeding in any Court. This remarkable judgment was passed by the Kerala High Court in the matter of P. RADHAKRISHNAN V STATE OF KERALA [WP(C). No.7641 OF 2021] by Honourable Justice V.G.Arun.

This writ petition was filed by the Deputy Director, Enforcement Directorate, Kochi Zonal Office, who was aggrieved by the registration by the Crime Branch wing of the State Police. The essential facts leading to the writ petition, are, a complaint was registered at the Customs Commissionerate (Preventive), Kochi, consequent to the seizure of 30 Kgs of gold worth Rs.14.82 Crores at the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport. The seizure was affected while the gold was being smuggled, camouflaging it as diplomatic baggage to the UAE Consulate. During the course of the investigation, it was revealed that the accused had committed offenses under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) also. This resulted in the National Investigation Agency registering a case against the very same accused, alleging commission of offenses under Sections 17 and 18 of the UAPA. Smt. Swapna Suresh was the second accused and Sri. Sandeep Nair the fourth accused.

Later, Smt. Swapna Suresh, aired a video through an online media channel, wherein she alleged that the ED officials had made her sign the Section 50 statements without allowing her to read its contents and that, she had been compelled by the officials to implicate the Chief Minister of the State. IT was also alleged that ED officials coercing and cajoling the accused to give statements implicating the Chief Minister and others. Thus, the challenge against registration of the FIR and legality of the Crime Branch investigation is the issue in this case.

The Court deliberated upon scope and ambit of Section 195 of Cr.P.C. and stated that “The reason behind bringing certain specified offenses under the purview of Section 195 of the Cr. P.C is because the commission of those offenses has a direct impact on an ongoing judicial proceeding and thereby, on the administration of justice. Section 193 of the IPC being one such offense, the prohibition under Section 195 of the Cr. P.C will apply.”

While drawing a distinction between a distinction between Sections 195(1)(b)(i) and 195(1)(b)(ii) Court relied on State of Punjab v. Raj Singh and stated that, “Honourable Supreme Court held that from a plain reading of Section 195 Cr.PC, it is manifest that the prohibition comes into operation only at the stage when the court intends to take cognizance of an offense under Section 190(1) Cr.PC, and it has nothing to do with the statutory power of the police to investigate into an FIR which discloses a cognizable offence, even if the offence is alleged to have been committed in, or in relation to, any proceeding in court.

The Court also added, “The purpose behind the enactment of Section 195 being to ensure that the proceedings of the court are not sullied, nor the administration of justice not meddled with, if the other offences are interwoven and inseparable from the offences within the ambit of Section 195(1)(b)(i), necessarily, the prohibition will have to be extended to the other offenses also.

Thus, the Court stated that “the bar under Section 195(1)(b)(i) Cr. P.C being applicable to the offenses mentioned in the two FIRs, the allegations being to the effect that attempts were made to fabricate false evidence and to coerce and threaten the accused to give false statements. It may be pertinent to note that, if such attempts had fructified, it would have definitely sullied the proceedings of the court and impacted the administration of justice. Therefore, even though the other offenses alleged are under Section 167 and 195A of IPC, they are undoubtedly interwoven with and inseparable from the offense under Section 193 and therefore susceptible to the prohibition under Section 195(1)(b)(i) of Cr.P.C.

Thus, the Court quashed the FIR and further proceedings in Crime Nos. 94 of 2021 and 98 of 2021 of Crime Branch Police Station and directed the Investigating Officers to submit all records pertaining to the crimes before the Special Court in a sealed cover.

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