India: Madras High Court holds that it can entertain petitions to direct Police to register FIR by inherent powers under Section 482

August 14, 2017

Power to grant directions u/s 482 CrPC

In a recent Petition filed by Mr. K. Raghupathy (hereinafter referred to as the “Petitioner”) against the Commissioner of Police and the Sub-inspector of Police (hereinafter collectively referred to as the “Respondents”) under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), seeking relief that the Hon’ble Court may direct the Respondents to register the Complaint filed by the Petitioner. The Registry expressed doubts over the maintainability of this petition in view of the judgment titled Sugesan Transport Pvt. Ltd. vs. Assistant Commissioner of Police & Anr. [2016 (5) CTC 577], passed by a single judge of the Madras High Court. However, the Hon’ble Justice Mr. M.S. Ramesh clarified that the petition was indeed maintainable, and that the Court has the power to grant such directions under Section 482 CrPC.


The Petitioner had filed the above mentioned petition before the High Court of Madras under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, praying that the Respondents be directed to register the complaint filed by him on June 13, 2017. As per the prescribed procedure in such circumstances, i.e., where the Police officer does not register a complaint relating to a cognizable offence, the complainant may either seek directions from the Superintendent of Police under Section 154(3) or institute a complaint before the Magistrate of First Class under Section 190 of the Code to get the complaint registered and for further enquiry. The present petition was referred to the Hon’ble Single Judge for examining its maintainability in the light of the abovementioned judgment (Sugesan Transport) wherein it was held that the High Court could not pass such direction without exhausting the alternate remedies provided under Section 154 and Section 190 read with Section 200 of CrPC.

Issue before the Court:

Whether a petition under Section 482 seeking direction from the High Court to the Police to register a complaint is maintainable?

Observations by the Court:

Before proceeding with the observations of the Hon’ble Court, it would be beneficial to reproduce Section 482 hereinbelow for ready reference;

    “Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.”

The Hon’ble Single Judge observed that Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code begins with a non-obstante clause, meaning the alternate remedy available under the CrPC cannot be an embargo for the High Court from exercising its inherent powers to secure the ends of justice. The Hon’ble Court further referred to the judgments of Ramesh Kumari v. State (NCT of Delhi) and Ors. [2006 (1) CTC 666] and Prabhu Chawla v. State of Rajasthan and Anr. [CDJ 2016 SC 810] passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. The Apex Court, in the aforesaid cases had held that the ground of alternative remedy is not a bar to invoke Section 482 CrPC and when an extra-ordinary situation excites the High Court’s jurisdiction, there cannot be a total ban on the exercise of its inherent powers. Following the aforesaid judgments of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the Learned Single Judge held that the petition for a direction to register a Police complaint under Section 482 CrPC is maintainable before the High Court.

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