Protest Petition: Final Pursuit Of Justice For An Aggrieved

Share

Share

 

In India, where policy inefficacy is frequently debated, there is a pressing need for effective redressal mechanisms. Even though there is no provision under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1908 (CrPC) (now Bhartiya Nyaya Suraksha Samhita, 2023 (BNSS), the complainant’s right to file the protest petition has been widely recognized in India. Currently, criminal proceedings in India are governed under BNSS. Although the BNSS does not explicitly define a protest petition, citizens have utilized it and there are various judicial pronouncements to affirm that.

What Is A Protest Petition?

A Protest Petition is essentially a Petition filed by the complainant/aggrieved before the concerned Magistrate challenging the report filed by the police in a particular case. For an aggrieved party in criminal proceedings, a protest petition serves as an effective and expeditious mechanism to protect his/her rights. A Protest Petition is filed before the appropriate Metropolitan Magistrate praying for the court to reject the final report in the concerned FIR and for the court to supervise the investigation itself, in cases where the complainant thinks that the case has been closed in an influenced and biased manner without conducting proper investigation and appreciating material evidence placed on record. This type of recourse can be dates back to a pre-independence era when various courts dealt with such type of petition even though no specific law has dealt with it.

Legal Position Under The Bharatiya Nyay Sauraksha Samhita

As stated earlier, no specific definition or section deals with a protest petition either in CrPC or BNSS. Under the BNSS, Police investigations are governed by Section 193 similar to Section 173 of the CrPC, which mandates investigations to be completed without unnecessary delay. The introduction of the BNSS in the Indian judicial system includes a proviso imposing a two-month time limit for the completion of investigations in serious offences such as offences under sections 64, 66, 67, 68, 70, 71 of the BNSS or under sections 4, 6, 8 or section 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. Such a proviso mandating submission of investigation report within a timely manner was not there in the CrPC. The main aim of this provision is to ensure a speedy procedure, which may inadvertently lead to errors in investigative reports, thereby increasing the filing of protest petitions. The imposition of strict time limits on the completion of police investigations can significantly impact the quality and accuracy of the investigative reports.

Recent Judicial Precedents

In Zunaid vs. State of UP, a division bench of Justice Bela M. Trivedi and Justice Dipankar Datta has inter-alia reiterated the already established principle of how a protest Petition can be dealt with by the Metropolitan Magistrate:

  • The Magistrate may accept the final report of the police and thereby reject the Protest Petition.
  • The Magistrate might accept the report and hereby proceed under Sections 200 and 203 of CrPC (now Sections 223 and 226 of the BNSS).
  • The Magistrate may accept the petition thereby rejecting the report submitted by the Police.

The most recent judgment dealing with the protest petition was in the case of Mukhtar Zaidi v. State of UP. The division nench of Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Satish Chandra of the Supreme Court held that if the Magistrate takes cognizance of the offence and issues summons to an accused by recording satisfaction based on the additional evidence produced by way of a protest petition filed by the informant, then such a protest petition ought to be treated as a private complaint case under Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (now Section 223 of BNSS).

In the case of Vishnu Kumar Tiwari vs. State of UP, Justices KM Joseph and SK Kaul emphasized the importance of adjudicating the matter based on the specific facts of each case. It was held that a Magistrate cannot be compelled to take cognizance by treating a protest petition as a complaint if the Magistrate determines that there is no prima facie case or insufficient grounds to proceed. The judgment underscores the Magistrate’s discretion in assessing the merits of a protest petition and reinforces the principle that judicial decisions must be grounded in the factual and evidentiary context of each case.

Conclusion

The role of protest petitions in the Indian system is considerable, especially considering the resources available to investigating authorities in rural India. Even though as mentioned earlier no specific definition or a section is dealing with protest petitions under the BNSS or CRPC, this redressal mechanism has a significant impact on victims wanting to challenge reports. In most cases, a protest petition is initially accepted by the Magistrate, who then undertakes further investigation to ensure that justice is served. Judicial precedents have highlighted the discretion of Magistrates in handling protest petitions, ensuring that decisions are based on a thorough examination of the facts and evidence. As such, it is crucial to balance the need for speedy investigations with thorough and unbiased inquiries to uphold justice and prevent miscarriages of justice. A protest petition provides an additional safeguard for victims, ensuring that police incompetency does not lead to injustice. This practice has been in place, serving to monitor any lapses during the investigation stage and to prevent the misuse of authority. The Magistrate conducts a thorough scrutiny of the report, identifying any shortcomings of the investigating authorities. Overall, the concept of protest petition aligns with the principles of natural justice, allowing aggrieved party to question the credibility of the police report and right to seek further investigation if required.

Authors: Vivek Dwivedi & Ronit Doshi

Lawyers.

Interns and Paralegals.

Disclaimer.

As per the rules of the Bar Council of India, we are not permitted to solicit work or advertise. By agreeing to access this website, the user acknowledges the following:

This website is meant only for providing information and does not purport to be exhaustive and updated in relation to the information contained herein. Naik Naik & Company will not be liable for any consequence of any action taken by the user relying on material / information provided on this website. Users are advised to seek independent legal counsel before proceeding to act on any information provided herein.