“The Procedure to Take Cognizance of a Private Complaint by Magistrates”- By Yashika Soni
The Karnataka High Court has laid down the steps for Magistrates to take when they receive a private complaint under Sec. 200 of CrPC, 1973.
"The cognizance taking procedure to be followed may be established as follows: I After the presentation of the complaint, the Magistrate must read the complaint and if he finds prima facie, the commission of an offence or offences is not disclosed, he can reject or dismiss the complaint," a single-judge bench led by Js. Sreenivas Harish Kumar said in an order dated July 22, 2021. However, the Magistrate should be cautious of dismissing a complaint based only on its content, because if the complaint is not adequately expressed, dismissal may result in injustice to the complainant. It's also conceivable that effective drafting creates the idea that an offence has occurred, which isn't always the case. As a result, if required, it is preferable to examine the complainant and witnesses.
If the Magistrate concludes that there are sufficient grounds to proceed further after reading the complaint and examination of the witnesses (if they are present and their inquiry is necessary) under section 200 Cr.P.C., he shall take cognizance of the offence and issue process to the accused.
If the Magistrate is not satisfied that there are sufficient materials to take cognizance after following the procedure set forth in Sec. 200, he may hold an inquiry himself or order a direct investigation as provided in S.202 of CrPC.
If the Magistrate does not find prima facie materials of the commission of any offence after examination of the complainant and witnesses (if any), the case might be dismissed under S.203.
Using the process outlined in Section 202 is not always required; it may only be used in the conditions outlined in Section 202. That is, even after the stage of section 200, cognizance may be accepted or the complaint may be denied, depending on the circumstances.
It is not essential for a Magistrate to sign the order sheet with the words "cognizance taken," but it is needed that the application of mind be expressed in a concise order. The decision to issue a process to the accused is equivalent to taking cognizance.
The Magistrate must follow the same procedure as laid down whenever an investigating police officer submits "B" report and the complainant wishes to challenge the "B" report.
Additionally, "In the matter at hand, nothing is there showing that the remedies under Section 154(1) and Section 154(3) Cr.P.C. have been sought, and no affidavit has been filed," the court stated. The affidavit attached to the complaint is quite cryptic, and thus fails to fulfil the mandate in Priyanka Srivastava." This means that before addressing the court under Section 200 Cr.P.C., the complainant shall make an explicit statement in the complaint that he has exhausted the remedies under Sections 154(1) and 154(3) of the Cr.P.C. As decided by the Supreme Court in Priyanka Srivastava case, the complainant must additionally present proof of exhausting the remedies envisioned by Sections 154(1) and 154(3) of the Cr.P.C. and file an affidavit to that effect.
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