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Delhi HC quashes cognisance order in case against activist over holding anti-CAA protest

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New Delhi, Feb 9 (PTI) The Delhi High Court has quashed a trial court order that took cognisance of a chargesheet filed by the city police in a case against social activist Shabnam Hashmi for an alleged violation of prohibitory orders by holding a protest against the Citizen (Amendment) Act (CAA) in 2020.

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Justice Navin Chawla said after the completion of the investigation, police filed a "final report" or a chargesheet before the magisterial court instead of a "complaint", which was not permissible in law.

"The order dated 08.10.2021 passed by the learned metropolitan magistrate in Criminal Case No. 5612/2021 is quashed and proceedings emanating therefrom are also quashed," the court said in an order passed earlier this week.

The court, however, said police shall have the liberty to file a "fresh complaint" and the same would be considered in accordance with law.

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It also noted that in the present matter, there is no challenge to the registration of the FIR.

The FIR was registered against the petitioner in June 2020 after police came across a video of eight to 10 people walking with a banner against the CAA at a DDA park in Sector 6, Dwarka.

According to police, the video was posted on the X handle of the petitioner, who was part of the group seen in the video and was holding the banner. It was stated that their conduct was in violation of the prohibitory orders issued by the assistant commissioner of police, Dwarka on June 1, 2020 under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

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The investigating agency said the petitioner committed an offence under section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and filed a final report.

In the order, the high court said a trial court can take cognisance of any offence punishable under section 188 of the IPC only on a complaint in writing from the public servant concerned or some other public servant to whom the former is administratively subordinate.

"In the present case, the FIR was registered alleging violation of the Prohibitory Order No. 5250-5339/R-ACP Dwarka dated 01.06.2020 issued under section 144 of the CrPC by the ACP, Dwarka," the court said.

"However, on completion of investigation, instead of filing a complaint in terms of section 195, CrPC, the final report was filed before the learned metropolitan magistrate, and the learned metropolitan magistrate vide order dated 08.10.2021, took cognisance of this final report. The same was clearly impermissible in terms of section 195, CrPC and the law as had been explained by the above-referred judgments," it added. PTI ADS RC

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