File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Supreme Court: Administrative Enquiry Report Mandatory for Cognizance of Offence Against Public Servant under SC/ST Act

"The Supreme Court of India has issued a crucial ruling on 17 May 2024 (Criminal Appeal No. 349 of 2021; The State of GNCT of Delhi and Others v. Praveen Kumar @ Prashant) regarding the process of filing criminal cases against public servants under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 1989. The judgment, penned by Justices MM Sundresh and SVN Bhatti, establishes that an administrative enquiry report is essential before taking cognizance of offenses related to neglect of duty by public servants.

This ruling stems from a case involving allegations against a Station House Officer (SHO) of Fatehpur Beri for allegedly refusing to register an FIR under the Act. While the trial court initially dismissed the case due to the lack of an administrative enquiry report, the Patna High Court reversed this decision. The Supreme Court, however, upheld the trial court's stance, emphasizing the requirement of a prior administrative enquiry recommendation under Section 4(2) of the Act.

The court's decision highlights the importance of procedural fairness and compliance in cases involving public servants. By requiring an administrative inquiry report before initiating legal action, the Act safeguards against frivolous or baseless accusations, ensuring that allegations against public servants are thoroughly investigated and justified before proceeding to prosecution.

Justice SVN Bhatti, in the Supreme Court's decision, emphasized the crucial role of administrative enquiries in determining the culpability of public servants accused of negligence. The enquiry aims to establish whether the alleged neglect or omission was deliberate or unintentional, a distinction vital for determining the appropriate legal recourse under the Act. Additionally, the court stressed that the administrative enquiry acts as a safeguard against arbitrary prosecution, serving as a prerequisite for judicial authorities to consider initiating penal proceedings.

The Supreme Court observed that:
  • Under Indian law, allegations of misconduct by public servants escalate to cognizable offenses only if recommended by an administrative enquiry. The purpose of this enquiry is to establish the intentionality (willful or bona fide) of the alleged neglect.
  • In cases involving offenses under Section 4 of the SC/ST Act, the Magistrate must consult the administrative enquiry report before proceeding with the case. The absence of such a report would prevent the Court from taking further action.
  • The judgment emphasizes the significance of natural justice. It mandates that public servants accused of dereliction of duty must have an opportunity to present their perspective before any proceedings are initiated against them. This ensures fairness and upholds the fundamental principles of a just legal process.
Drawing upon legal precedents and the statutory framework, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the requirement for magistrates to consider administrative enquiry reports before initiating criminal proceedings against public servants. This procedural adherence ensures a balanced approach, taking into account both the complainant's allegations and the departmental perspective on the conduct of the accused public servant. In its concluding remarks, the court overturned the High Court's directive to prosecute the SHO, citing procedural irregularities in disregarding the mandated administrative enquiry report. The judgment highlights the paramount importance of adhering to statutory procedures and due process, reinforcing the integrity of legal proceedings under the SC/ST Act.

The implications of this ruling extend beyond the specific case, shaping how allegations of dereliction of duty against public officials are handled across the nation.

By mandating a thorough administrative review prior to legal proceedings, the Supreme Court aims to safeguard principles of justice, administrative accountability, and constitutional fairness in India's legal system.

This judgment, embodied in The State of GNCT of Delhi and Others v. Praveen Kumar @ Prashant, serves as a crucial milestone in defining the procedural requirements under the SC/ST Act and reiterates the judiciary's commitment to upholding constitutional values.

Written By: Md.Imran Wahab, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly