Criminal Proceedings against the Special Armed Forces (SAF) Officers is an Abuse of Process of Law – Supreme Court

Case Title – Murari Lal Chhari & Ors vs Munishwar Singh Tomar & Anr.     

Case No. – Criminal Appeal No(s).1076 OF 2024

Decided On – March 04, 2024

Quoram – Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan

The issue in this case involved a boundary dispute between the SAF (Special Armed Force) and the first respondent relating to the land bearing Survey Nos.1822 and 1823 having an area of 2 bighas and 1 biswa in Gwalior city.

Facts of the case

The first respondent filed a civil suit before the trial for the declaration of his title as Bhumiswami and a permanent injunction. After, subsequent dismissal of the suits by trial and appellant court, the High court interfered on the second appeal and passed a decree of declaration and permanent injunction.

The first appellant, the Commandant of the 14th Battalion of SAF at Gwalior violated this decree of the High Court by trespassing upon the suit property. Hence, in 2016, the first respondent filed a Contempt Petition against the first appellant. During the pendency of the Contempt Petition, the respondent filed a complaint against the appellants under Section 200 of CrPC alleging the commission of offences under Sections 323, 294, 427, 341, 447, 506B read with Section 34 and Section 107, 141 of IPC.

The allegation in the complaint was that though the first respondent was declared as the owner of the suit property by the High Court and though the demarcation of the suit property was carried out after notice to the SAF, the first appellant conspired with the other officers to illegally capture the suit property.

The respondent also alleged that that the accused officers broke the fencing and when he objected, they verbally abused him and he was pushed several time and even gave a death threat.

The matter was filed before the Magistrate. The Magistrate passed an order directing the cognizance to be taken under Sections 294,323, 427, 447, and 506­ of IPC. Subsequently, this order was challenged before the High Court. However, the High court dismissed the petition.

Legal Provisions

Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 – Prosecution of Judges and Public Servants.

Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 – Evidence of witness on oath

Section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 – Postponement of issue of process

Section 203 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 – Dismissal of Complaint

Section 34 of IPC – Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention

Sections 107 of IPC – Abetment of a thing

Section 141 of IPC – Unlawful Assembly

Section 294 of IPC – Obscene acts or words in public

Sections 323 of IPC – punishment for voluntarily causing hurt

Section 341 of IPC – Punishment for wrongful restraint

Section 427 of IPC – Mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees

Section 447 of IPC – Punishment for Criminal Trespass

Section 506B of IPC – Punishment for Criminal Intimidation

Submissions on behalf of the accused appellants

The learned senior counsel appearing for the appellants submitted that even assuming arguendo that the allegations are true, the acts attributed to the appellants were done by them in the performance of their statutory duties as the officers of SAF and stated that the Magistrate has completely failed to address this aspect in its order.

Submissions on behalf of the respondents

The learned counsel appearing for the first respondent submitted that the Magistrate has passed the order with due application of mind and thorough perusal of the witnesses. Hence, contended that there was no merit in challenging the same. Further, he submitted that committing acts of trespass cannot be a part of   the   appellants’ official   duty and hence must be de-bared from protection under the Section 197 of CrPC. The counsel thus submits that a full-fledged trial is necessary in order to convict the accused for the said offences.

Courts Observation and Analysis

In substance, the cause of action for filing the Contempt Petition and the alleged cause of action for filing the complaint was substantially the same. The fact that the Contempt Petition was filed has not even been disclosed in the statement of the first petitioner recorded in the complaint. The first respondent did not challenge the dismissal of the Contempt Petition.

The Court further pointed out another factual error in the proceedings. The first respondent, during the examination of the matter has not given even the date on which alleged acts of encroachment and administering threats were made at the instance of the appellants. Further, the two witnesses appeared also failed furnish the approximate dates   of   the   alleged incidents


The Court held that prosecution of the complaint was itself   an   abuse of the process   of   law and hence the the impugned order of the High Court and the learned Magistrate taking cognizance of the matter are quashed. Therefore, the complaints filed by the first respondent stands dismissed.

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Judgement Reviewed by – Keerthi K

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