The Supreme Court has said that the public servants can face prosecution without prior sanction of the appropriate authorities as all
their acts in the purported discharge of the official duties cannot be brought under the protective umbrella of section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
On the other hand, there can be cases of misuse and abuse of power vested in a public servant which can never be a part of their official duties, said apex court.
A bench comprising Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Markandey Katju said, “all acts done by a public servant in the purported discharge of his official duties cannot as a matter of course be brought under the protective umbrella of section 197 CrPC. On the other hand, there can be cases of misuse and/or abuse of powers vested in a public servant which can never be said to be a part of the official duties required to be performed by him”.
Justice Kabir perusing an earlier ruling of the apex court said, the underlying object of section 197 CrPC is to enable the authorities to scrutinise the allegations made against a public servant to shield him/her against frivolous, vexatious or false prosecution initiated with the main object of causing embarrassment and harassment to the concerned official.
However, if the authority vested in a public servant is misused for doing things which are not otherwise permitted under the law, such acts cannot claim the protection of section 197 CrPC and have to be considered de hors the duties which a public servant is required to discharge or perform. “Hence, in respect of prosecution for such excesses or misuse of authority, no protection can be demanded by the public servant concerned” court said.
In order to apply the bar of section 197 CrPC each case has to be considered in its own fact situation in order to arrive at a finding as to whether the protection of section 197 CrPC could be given to the public servant