Supreme Court: Protection of sanction under sec 197 CrPC not available for public servant prosecuted under sec 48 Water Act

In ruling last week, the SC ruled that civil servants prosecuted under sec 48 of the Water Law (Prevention and Control of Environment Pollution) are not protected by sanctions under sec 197 of the CrPC.

Court judges Uday Umesh Lalit and Ajay Rastogi referred to the previous judgments of VC Chinnappa Goudar v. Karnataka Pollution Control Commission and Karnataka Pollution Control Commission v. B. Hira Nike.

In this case, Sandur Gram Panchayat of Sandur, Belari District, Karnataka, and the general manager of Gram Panchayat were charged with crimes under sec 43 and 44 of the water act. The judge found these police officers guilty of these crimes. The judge of first instance who accepted the appeal ruled that he has the right to defend under sec 197 of the CrPC. If there are no necessary sanctions, his allegations will be invalid. The committee determined that it would not provide protection under sec 197 of CrPC. Since the lower appellant court did not hear the case on the merits, the SC sent the case back for further investigation.

In the appeal filed by the defendant, the court pointed out that the HC was referring to the decision of VC Chinappa Goudar, which stipulated that the “head of department” would be found guilty based on the decision, and was protected by Sec 197 CrPC…also mentioned the case of B. Hira Naik. The Court upheld the decision of the HC and pointed out:

If this matter is considered based on these assumptions, the court’s judgment in the B. Heera Naik case fully covers the case. Therefore, it is correct that the HC overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal based solely on the applicability of sec 197 CrPC. In this case, the SC correctly filed the case. The higher district court further examined the matter.

Case: Noorulla Khan v. Karnataka State Pollution Control Board [CrA 599 of 2021]

Bench: Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Ajay Rastogi

Citation: LL 2021 SC 305

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