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Kerala High Court says probe and arrest under Immoral Traffic Act to be conducted by special police officer; power cannot be delegated

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The Kerala High Court on Friday has clarified that any investigation or arrest under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 has to be conducted only by a Special Police Officer authorised for the same .

It has been observed that there is no provision in the Act that empowers such a special officer to authorise the investigation of the case to be conducted by any other Police officer.

The single bench of Justice MR Anitha made this observation in an application for quashing of FIR filed by a lodge owner, who was booked under the Act.

The Circle Inspector of Police, Perinthalmanna conducted a search in the lodge run by the petitioner and found that the accused were inside the lodge rooms engaged in prostitution for money. The accused were arrested and the case was registered.

Thereafter, Circle Inspector, Pandikkad conducted the investigation, questioned the witnesses, and filed charges under Section 3, 4, 5, and 7 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.

It is claimed by the petitioner, under the provisions of the Act, arrest and investigation has to be conducted by a Special Police Officer as provided under Section 2(i) and 13 of the Act. It is also his contention that there is no provision under Section 14(ii) of the Act to empower the special police officer to authorise investigation of the case to be conducted by any other officer.

In this case, the investigation conducted by Circle Inspector, Pandikkad is without any authority since the place of occurrence is within the jurisdiction of Perinthalmanna Police Station. It is also contended that none of the offences under the Act is attracted against the petitioner and the ingredients of Sections 3, 4, 5 and 7 are also not attracted. Hence, this is a clear abuse of process of Court, the counsel contended.

“Section 14 (ii) does not empower the Special Police Officer i.e. Inspector of Police, Perinthalmanna to authorise the investigation of the case to be conducted by the Police Inspector, Pandikkad. So the investigation conducted by the Inspector of Police, Pandikkad who is not the Special Police Officer is not in compliance with the provisions of law. So as rightly contended by the learned counsel, the criminal prosecution initiated against the petitioner based on the final report filed by the Circle Inspector, Pandikkad is not sustainable in law,” the High Court held.

When the Special Police Officer requires any officer subordinate to him to arrest without warrant otherwise than in his presence any person for an offence under this Act, he shall give that subordinate officer an order in writing, specifying the person to be arrested and the offence for which the arrest is being made, and the latter officer before arresting the person shall inform him of the substance of the order and, on being required by such person,” the order reads.

The Court further observed, “The Government of Kerala appointed Circle Inspector of Police attached to the Police Stations in the State as Special Police Officers for dealing with offences under the Act within their respective area of jurisdiction. As far as Malappuram District is concerned, Perinthalmanna and Pandikkad have been given under the separate jurisdictional limits and that would, in turn, indicate that Circle Inspector of Police, Perinthalmanna would be Special Police Officer within the jurisdiction of Perinthalmanna circle and the Circle Inspector of Police, Pandikkad would be the Special Police Officer within the Pandikkad circle. In other words, Circle Inspector of Police, Pandikkad will not be the Special Police Officer with respect to a crime committed within the jurisdictional limits of Perinthalmanna circle.”

“In view of the settled position of law, the final report filed by the Inspector of Police, Pandikkad who is not the Special Police Officer empowered under Section 13 of the Act is not in compliance with the provisions of the Act and hence is not sustainable in law,” ordered the High Court.

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