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"A simple warning to the persons who affix the posters is more than enough in such a situation...Several cases can be settled from the Police Station itself without referring the matter to the court of law," the bench said.
The Kerala High Court has highlighted the importance of common sense among with the police officers before quashing prosecution of a man for affixing poster of 'lotus' symbol on an electric poll causing loss of Rs 63 to the exchequer.
A single judge bench of Justice P V Kunhikrishnan wondered as to how the case could attract Section 153 of the IPC and Section 140 of the Electricity Act and Section 3(1) of the Prevention of Damages to the Public Property Act even if the final report of the police were to be accepted in toto.
"If this case is allowed to continue, the Sessions Judge has to spend several days to decide this case in which it is alleged that there is a loss of Rs 63 to the Electricity Board because one poster is affixed on the Electricity post by the accused using gum. I am of the considered opinion that this prosecution has to be quashed," the judge said.
while directing the registry to forward a copy of the present judgment to the State Police Chief, it also said that some refreshment class is necessary for the investigating officers of the police department in this regard.
According to the prosecution case, on October 10, 2015, the accused affixed a poster containing the picture of a lotus on an electric post using gum and while doing so he made a commotion too.
Whether this prosecution is to be allowed is the question, the bench asked, while citing Section 95 of the IPC which says that nothing is an offence if the harm is so slight that no person of ordinary sense and temper would complain of such harm.
"For the alleged loss of Rs 63 because of affixing a poster on an electric post, the investigating officer in this case filed the chargesheet. In effect, the prosecution case is that one single poster is affixed on a single electricity post. If that is the case, for the loss of Rs 63, the entire judicial machinery has to work for days. A judicial officer has to spend lot of time to dispose this case. In such situation, it is the duty of the police officers to find out whether such cases are to be charge sheeted or not," the bench said.
Emphasising the necessity of special awareness, the bench said citizens should also rise to the occasion to avoid such misdemeanors.
Calling the case as "strange" one, the court said, "A Police Officer has a duty to decide whether a case is to be charge sheeted or not, in the facts and circumstances of each case. Common sense is to be used by the investigating authority in these types of cases."
The court pointed out a Sessions Judge has to spend several days to dispose of these types of cases, when there is pendency of major cases awaiting trial.
"For the loss of Rs 63, the entire judicial machinery has to work for days," the bench said.
The court also said that simply because a Police Officer has knowledge of law, will not suffice in all situations as education alone is not sufficient to act in certain situations. Common sense is also necessary, it added.
Dealing with the charges, the court held that no offence under Section 153 IPC was made out.
"Of course, it may be an illegal act to affix a poster on an electric post. But affixing a poster containing the symbol of a recognised political party on an electric post cannot be treated as an act done malignantly or wantonly," the court said.
With regard to the allegation that since gum was used for fixing the poster and therefore there was mischief and Rs 63 was incurred for removing the poster, the judge said, "I fail to understand how this amount is assessed by the authorities. Is it the labour charge for tearing the poster from the electric post and washing the post to remove the gum? If these types of cases are treated as mischief within the meaning of Section 425 IPC, there will not be any end to the mischief committed by the citizens".
The court also asked where was the evidence to attract the offence under Section 140 of the Electricity Act.
"There is no case by the prosecution that the accused with an intention to cut off the supply of electricity, cuts or injures or attempts to cut or injure any electric supply line or works. In such circumstances, even if the entire allegations in final report are accepted in toto, the offence under Section 140 of the Electricity Act is not attracted," the bench said.
Case Title: Rohit Krishna v. State of Kerala
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