No Bar U/S 22 MMDR Act; Magistrate can Direct Registration of FIR U/S 156(3) CrPC for Offences under MMDR Act: SC

No bar U/S 22 MMDR Act; Magistrate can direct registration of FIR U/S 156(3) CrPC for offences under MMDR Act: SC

The Apex Court has noted that there is No bar U/S 22 MMDR Act; Magistrate can direct registration of FIR U/S 156(3) CrPC for offences under the MMDR Act. The Court said that the bar under Section 22 of the Mines & Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, is not attracted when a Magistrate in exercise of powers under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure orders/directs the concerned Incharge/SHO of the police station to lodge/register crime case/FIR even for the offences under the MMDR Act and the Rules.

The Court further observed that the Section 22 provides that the cognizance of any offence punishable under the MMDR Act or the Rules made thereunder shall be taken only upon a written complaint made by a person authorized in this behalf by the Central Government or the State Government and therefore the bar would be attracted when the Magistrate takes cognizance. 

Brief Background of the Case

In the present case, the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Mandsuar, after considering a newspaper report about illegal excavation/transportation of mineral sand from Chambal, Shivna and Retam and other Tributary rivers directed to register the criminal case under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. for initiation of investigation and for submitting of the report after the due investigation is conducted. Subsequently, FIRs for the offences under Sections 379 and 414, IPC, Sections 4/21 of the Mines & Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, 1957 and under Rule 18 of the M.P. Minerals (Prevention of illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage) Rules, 2006 were also registered.

The accused approached the High Court seeking quashing of the said FIR. He argued that in view of bar under Section 22 of the MMDR Act, the order passed by the learned Magistrate directing to register the FIRs is unsustainable.

He further submitted that since there was a compounding of offence in exercise of powers under Rule 53 of the 1996 Rules and the violators paid the amount determined by permitting them to compound the offence, thereafter the Magistrate was not justified in directing to initiate fresh proceedings which would be hit by the principle of “double jeopardy”. However, the petition was dismissed by the High Court.

Observation made by the Court

  • After giving a thoughtful consideration in the matter, in the light of the relevant provisions of the MMDR Act and the Rules made thereunder vis-à-vis Crpc and IPC, and the law laid down by the Court, the bench summarized the legal position as follows:
  1. The learned Magistrate can in the exercise of powers under Section 156(3) of the Code order/direct the concerned Incharge/SHO of the police station to lodge/register crime case/FIR even for the offences under the MMDR Act and the Rules made thereunder and at this stage the bar under Section 22 of the MMDR Act shall not be attracted;
  2. The bar under Section 22 of the MMDR Act shall be attracted only when the learned Magistrate takes cognizance of the offences under the MMDR Act and Rules made thereunder and orders issuance of process/summons for the offences under the MMDR Act and Rules made thereunder;
  3. For the commission of the offence under the IPC, on receipt of the police report, the Magistrate having jurisdiction can take cognizance of the said offence without awaiting the receipt of a complaint that may be filed by the authorised officer for taking cognizance in respect of violation of various provisions of the MMDR Act and Rules made thereunder; and
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  5. In respect of violation of various provisions of the MMDR Act and the Rules made thereunder, when a Magistrate passes an order under Section 156(3) of the Code and directs the concerned In­charge/SHO of the police station to register/lodge the crime case/FIR in respect of the violation of various provisions of the Act and Rules made thereunder and thereafter after investigation the concerned In­charge of the police station/investigating officer submits a report, the same can be sent to the concerned Magistrate as well as to the concerned authorised officer as mentioned in Section 22 of the MMDR Act and thereafter the concerned authorised officer may file the complaint before the learned Magistrate along with the report submitted by the concerned investigating officer and thereafter it will be open for the learned Magistrate to take cognizance after following due procedure, issue process/summons in respect of the violations of the various provisions of the MMDR Act and Rules made thereunder and at that stage it can be said that cognizance has been taken by the learned Magistrate.
  • The Court relied to the verdict of State (NCT of Delhi) v. Sanjay, (2014) 9 SCC 772,  and  noted that the prohibition contained in Section 22 of the MMDR Act against prosecution of a person except on a written complaint made by the authorised officer in this behalf would be attracted only when such person is sought to be prosecuted for contraventions of Section 4 of the MMDR Act 17 and not for any act or omission which constitutes an offence under the Penal Code.
  • “When an order is passed by the Magistrate for investigation to be made by the police under Section 156(3) of the Code, which the learned Magistrate did in the instant case, when such an order is made the police is obliged to investigate the case and submit a report under Section 173(2) of the Code. That thereafter the investigating officer is required to send report to the authorized officer and thereafter as envisaged under Section 22 of the MMDR Act the authorized officer as mentioned in Section 22 of the MMDR Act may file the complaint before the learned Magistrate along with the report submitted by the investigating officer and at that stage the question with respect to taking cognizance by the learned Magistrate would arise,” it said.
  • “In a case where the violator is permitted to compound the offences on payment of penalty as per sub­section1 of Section 23A, considering sub­section 2 of Section 23A of the MMDR Act, there shall not be any proceedings or further proceedings against the offender in respect of the offences punishable under the MMDR Act or any rule made thereunder so compounded. However, the bar under sub­section 2 of Section 23A shall not affect any proceedings for the offences under the IPC, such as, Sections 379 and 414 IPC and the same shall be proceeded with further,” it added.

Case Name: Jayant vs. State of Madhya Pradesh

Citation: CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS.824­825 OF 2020

Coram: Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah

 [ No bar U/S 22 MMDR Act; Magistrate can direct registration of FIR U/S 156(3) CrPC for offences under MMDR Act: SC ]

Also Read: Article 32: An Important And Integral Part Of Basic Structure Of Constitution, Reiterated SC

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