CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Thursday directed the Registry to withdraw cases all over the State involving disputes of civil nature in which magistrates have ordered police investigation, call for the records and transfer them to the High Court.
Passing further orders on two criminal original petitions, Justice R. Regupathi said the Registry should place the entire material and particulars before the Chief Justice for orders for an enquiry in those matters. Further proceedings of all those cases pending with the magistrates concerned were stayed till the disposal of the proceedings by the court.
The judge said all records, including vigilance reports, might be placed before the Chief Justice for taking appropriate departmental action against the magistrates, in particular III, X, XVII and XVIII Metropolitan Magistrates, Chennai, and Judicial Magistrate-III, Coimbatore and Judicial Magistrate, Paramakudi.
The DGP was directed to instruct police officers who had received orders from the magistrates in such cases under section 156 (3) of the Cr.P.C and the Station House Officers (SHOs) who had entertained similar complaints in the name of “petition enquiry” to obtain opinion from the Director-General/Additional Director-General of Prosecution/Assistant Public Prosecutors and to file interim/final reports before the jurisdiction magistrates within two weeks. The DGP should file compliance report in three weeks.
Earlier, Justice Regupathi had directed the Registrar (Vigilance), High Court, to collect statistics of private complaints relating to credit cards, personal loans, housing loans, hire-purchase loans and default in payment of instalments and cases under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, wherein orders for police investigation were passed by magistrates. Accordingly, the Registrar submitted a report.
The judge said the huge number of cases entertained by the six magistrates was quite alarming.
Mr. Justice Regupathi said some judicial magistrates, in collusion with complainant bankers/financial institutions, were entertaining complaints relating to matters of civil nature and passed orders, under section 156 (3) of the Cr.P.C., for police investigation to the undue benefit of financial institutions. In some instances, they were entertaining similar complaints under section 200 of the Cr.P.C.
Vigilance inquiries were conducted, and the complaints entertained were quashed by the High Court. Despite the High Court’s reaction and repeated directives to judicial magistrates not to refer matters of civil nature for police investigation, it had come to light that such trend was still in vogue.