Saturday, April 16, 2011

SC: Seven-day jail term for Muthukaruppan set aside

Seven-day jail term for Muthukaruppan set aside

J. VENKATESAN

NEW DELHI, April 16, 2011

The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside a Madras High Court judgment awarding seven-day simple imprisonment to former Chennai Police Commissioner Muthukaruppan for filing a false affidavit.

A Bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice H.L. Gokhale allowing Mr. Muthukaruppan's appeal quashed the High court judgment dated October 29, 2004 holding him and the Inspector of Police Rajendra Kumar guilty of contempt of court for filing false affidavits in the bail petition filed by Paruthi Ilamvazhuthi, Information Minister and then DMK MLA, who was arrested after the Assembly elections on May 10, 2001.

A magistrate court had rejected the bail petition of Mr. Ilamvazhuthi on May 21, 2001. A Principal Sessions Court, however, granted him bail on May 23.

The prosecution moved the High Court for cancellation of bail on the ground that the sessions judge granted it despite Mr. Ilamvazhuthi having been sent to police custody. Accepting this submission, the High Court stayed the bail. However, after the court was informed that the police custody was neither sought nor granted, he was released after serving seven days in prison. Thereafter, Mr. Ilamvazhuthi filed a contempt petition and the two officers were sentenced to seven days imprisonment for misleading the court by filing false affidavit.

Writing the judgment Justice Sathasivam said "the jurisdiction to initiate proceedings for contempt as also the jurisdiction to punish for contempt is discretionary with the court. Contempt generally and criminal contempt certainly is a matter between the court and the alleged contemnor. No one can compel or demand as of right initiation of proceedings for contempt. The person filing an application or petition before the court does not become a complainant or petitioner in the proceedings. He is just an informer. His duty ends with the facts being brought to the notice of the court. It is thereafter for the court to act on such information or not."

The Bench noted that Mr. Muthukaruppan had assumed charge as Commissioner of Police on May 17, 2001, one week after the alleged incident. There was no material to show he had knowledge of the filing of an affidavit or he instructed anyone to file the affidavit in question. Also, the inspector had not stated that the affidavit was being filed under the Commissioner's instructions, the Bench pointed out.

The Bench further said "Mr. Rajendra Kumar, Inspector of Police, (L&O), G-1, Vepery Police Station, Chennai who made an incorrect/false statement for cancellation of bail has been rightly punished by the High Court and this Court affirmed the same by dismissing his special leave petition."

Courtesy_


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