Magisterial powers under the Criminal Procedure Code have been explicitly provided which includes power to direct investigation by the police. Such provisions have been provided to ensure that an aggrieved person can take recourse to judicial process in case where the police refuses to register an FIR. However in an appeal, the Supreme Court iterated that a sub-Divisional Magistrate, also called an Executive Magistrate, cannot issue direction to the police for registering an FIR.

In the criminal appeal of Naman Singh and Anr Versus State of Uttar Pradesh and Others, the facts are that the appellants were in the process of seeking the requisite permissions for establishment of a 3 yea rlaw course and had undertaken other measures related to securing the permission from the Bar Council of India as well. However, on account of a complaint made by a student alleging misrepresentation and cheating by the appellant, the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Unnao directed the police to register an FIR on the same day as the complaint was made. Accordingly the present appeal was filed which was presided upon by a Bench of Justice RF Nariman and Justice Navin Sinha.

Referring to the scheme of the powers under the CrPC,the Bench iterated on the provision of Section 154 dealing with registration of a first information report by an informant in writing and signed accordingly. Furthermore in case of refusal, relief under Section 154(3) could be availed by writing to the Superintendent of Police accordingly. Furthermore, the provisions of Section 190, Section 156 and Section 200 provide for the powers of Magistrate in terms of its role in directing police to file an FIR or to investigate. With reference to the present facts in the appeal, the Bench observed the scope of powers of an Executive Magistrate as follows:

“8. ……If a complaint is lodged before the Executive Magistrate regarding an issue over which he has administrative jurisdiction, and the Magistrate proceeds to hold an administrative inquiry, it may be possible for him to lodge an F.I.R.himself in the matter. In such a case, entirely different considerations would arise. A reading of the F.I.R. reveals that the police has registered the F.I.Ron directions of the Sub ­Divisional Magistrate which was clearly impermissible in the law……”

Accordingly, the Bench allowed the appeal on the reasoning that the complainant should have sought to seek remedy from the appropriate authority and could have appeared before the Magistrate concerned under Section 156(3) of the Code as well as sought for a remedy under Section 200 of the Code before the jurisdictional magistrate.

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