Ernakulam, October 15, 2023 – In a recent ruling, the Kerala High Court quashed criminal proceedings against a 51-year-old woman who had been charged with threatening and hurling abuses at a police officer over the phone. The Court found that the charges under Section 294(b) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which relates to obscene acts and songs, were not applicable in this case.
Court’s Analysis of the Case
Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan, while examining the matter, observed that to establish the offense under Section 294(b) of the IPC, two crucial elements were necessary, as previously outlined in the case of *James Jose v. State of Kerala* (2019):
1. The offender must have committed an obscene act in a public place, or sung, recited, or uttered an obscene song or word in or near a public place.
2. The act must have caused annoyance to others.
In this specific case, the petitioner had allegedly contacted the complainant over the phone and used abusive language. However, the Court concluded that even if the petitioner had used abusive words over the phone, this would not constitute an offense under Section 294(b) of the IPC. The Court found that the abusive words mentioned in the complaint did not meet the criteria for the offense under Section 294(b).
Details of the Case
The prosecution’s case against the petitioner alleged that she had called the de facto complainant on his official mobile number. After identifying him as the Circle Inspector of Police at the North Police Station in Alappuzha, she allegedly threatened him using abusive language. The prosecution further contended that this conduct was repeated multiple times on the same day, leading to the filing of an FIR against the petitioner for the offenses mentioned.
The petitioner, In her defense, claimed that she had initially approached the Superintendent of Police in Alappuzha with a complaint about noise pollution caused by a prayer hall belonging to the Penta Costal Society located on her neighboring property. In response, the Superintendent of Police had directed the Station House Officer of Alappuzha North Police Station (the de facto complainant) to conduct an inspection. The petitioner asserted that she had called the de facto complainant on his official phone to inquire about the outcome of her complaint, and it was during this conversation that the de facto complainant had allegedly abused her with unnecessary remarks.
The Court noted that the FIR against the petitioner was registered in the jurisdictional court only one day after the petitioner’s complaint against the de facto complainant reached the District Police Chief. As a result, the Court was inclined to view the FIR as a potential “counterblast” in response to the petitioner’s complaint.
Based on the analysis of the case, the Court concluded that the charges under Section 294(b), Section 506(i) of the IPC, and Section 120(o) of the Police Act were not established. The Court held that even if the entire allegation in the final report were accepted, these offenses were not made out.
The Court further ordered a departmental inquiry against the de facto complainant, provided he was still in service.
Significance of the Ruling
The Kerala High Court’s decision in this case highlights the importance of ensuring that charges are appropriately grounded in the law and that the elements of the offenses are met. It also underscores the need for fairness and impartiality in legal proceedings, particularly in cases involving complaints against law enforcement officials. The ruling serves as a reminder of the necessity for accountability and due process in such matters.