Legal bar not applicable if probe ordered by HC: SC

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court today said that the legal provision barring courts from taking cognisance of the offence related to giving false information to public servant cannot be invoked if a probe has been ordered by a high court.

A bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit made the observation while setting aside a Madras High Court order of 2015 quashing a Central of Investigation (CBI) case against a man.

The high court had granted statutory protection against prosecution to the accused under a provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The provision under 195 (1) CrPC states that no court shall take cognisance of offences under sections under sections 172 to 188 of IPC relating to provisions of contempt of public servants unless it is given in writing by a competent authority.

The man was accused of filing a false claim petition in a 2002 road accident case.

The CBI had moved the apex court seeking restoration of proceedings against advocate Sivamani.

It had also challenged the protection given to him under the provision of the CrPC contending that it was not at the instance of any private party, but at the instance of the high court that the probe was directed to be conducted.

Agreeing with the contention of the probe agency, the apex court observed, “The bar is not intended to take away remedy against a crime but only to protect an innocent person against false or frivolous proceedings by a private person.”

While allowing the CBI appeal, the bench said, “Once the high court directs investigation into a specified offence mentioned in Section 195, bar under Section 195(1)(a) cannot be pressed into service. The view taken by the high court will frustrate the object of law and cannot be sustained.”

The Madras High Court had in 2006 ordered a CBI probe against Sivamani and some police officials on the appeal of an insurance company.

During the pendency of the CBI case, he moved a petition seeking protection under the CrPC which was allowed by the high court saying that in such a situation, a complaint in writing from a competent authority was necessary.

In its October 2015 order, the high court had also quashed the proceedings against Sivamani.

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