Read Order: Registrar General, High Court of Judicature at Madras vs. The State, represented by the Inspector of Police, Central Crime Branch, Chennai & Another

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, February 24, 2022:  While finding that the main Criminal original petition was with respect to only one case on the file of the Special Court for Land Grabbing Cases No. II, Chennai and it was not a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), the Supreme Court has said that it is not understandable, how in a disposed of matter with respect to only one case, further orders could have been passed by the High Court transferring approximately 864 cases pending in different Special Courts in different districts, that too, on a ‘special mentioning’. 

While highlighting that passing of such type of orders on a ‘special mentioning’ that too, in a disposed of matter is to be deprecated, a Division Bench of Justice M.R Shah and Justice B.V Nagarathna observed that inherent power of the High Court cannot be exercised suo motu in a sweeping manner and beyond the contours of what is stipulated u/s 482 of CrPC. 

The observation came pursuant to an appeal by the High Court of Judicature at Madras through the Registrar General, challenging the judgment of the Madras HC, whereby the Single Judge has directed to transfer 864 cases in which the final reports have been filed before the concerned Special Courts for Land Grabbing Cases pending in various districts and had directed the concerned Special Courts before whom the final reports are filed to return back the final reports filed by the concerned investigating officers of the respective police stations in order to enable those final reports to be filed before the concerned jurisdictional Courts. 

After considering the submissions, the Apex Court noted that when the Single Judge passed orders dated August 27, 2019 and August 29, 2019, no proceedings were pending before him as the original Criminal O.P. No. 20889/2019 was already disposed of by him by order dated August 05, 2019. 

Thus, the Single Judge had become functus officio insofar as the aforesaid matter was concerned, and from orders dated August 27, 2019 and August 29, 2019, it appeared that the said orders were passed on the ‘special mentioning’ made by the Additional Public Prosecutor, added the Court. 

The Top Court observed that the procedure adopted by the Single Judge for directing the transfer of 864 cases from the Special Courts in different districts to the concerned jurisdictional Courts, on a ‘special mentioning’ that too, in a disposed of matter, is unknown to law. 

Even otherwise on merits also, orders transferring the cases/final reports from the concerned Special Courts for Land Grabbing Cases pending in different districts to the concerned jurisdictional Magistrates in different districts of the State can be said to be in the teeth of the interim order passed by this Court dated February 27, 2015 in Special Leave Petition (Civil) Nos. 6050-6078/2015, added the Court. 

Accordingly, the Apex Court quashed the orders passed by the Single Judge of the Madras High Court directing transfer of approximately 864 cases from the concerned Special Courts to the concerned jurisdictional Magistrates. 

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