Equivalent Citation: 2000(2)ALD(Cri)442, 2000(4)ALT556
IN THE HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH AT HYDERABAD
Criminal Petition No. 6009 of 1999
Decided On: 02.08.2000

Appellants: Shikha Goyal and Anr.
Vs.
Respondent: Employees State Insurance Corporation and Anr.

Hon'ble Judges:
B. Sudershan Reddy, J.

Counsels:
For Appellant/Petitioner/Plaintiff: Milind G. Gokhale, Adv.

For Respondents/Defendant: B.G. Ravinder Reddy, S.C. for 1st Respondent and Public Prosecutor for 2nd Respondent

Subject: Criminal

Acts/Rules/Orders:
Indian Penal Code, 1860 - Section 186; Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973 - Section 482

Cases Referred:
Nishi Kanta Pal v. Emperor, AIR 1917 Calcutta 180; Jaswant Singh v. King Emperor, AIR 1925 Lahore 139; Phudki v. State, AIR 1955 All. 104; Janki Prasad Tibrewal v. The State of Bihar, 1975 Crl. L.J. 575 (Patna); Diljam Sahu v. Emperor, AIR 1937 Patna 633; Emperor v. Suleman Abba, AIR 1935 Bom. 24; State v. Babulal Gaurishanker Misar, AIR 1957 Bombay 10; Sykes v. Director of Public Prosecutions, (1962) A.C. 528; Santosh Kumar Jain v. The State, AIR 1951 SC 201; Collector of Customs and Central Excise v. Paradip Port Trust, (1990) 4 SCC 250; Hinchliffe v. Sheldon, (1955) 1 WLR 1207

Disposition:
Petition dismissed

ORDER

B. Sudershan Reddy, J.

1. The petitioners are accused Nos. 1 and 2 in C.C. No. 120 of 1998 on the file of the learned Judicial First Class Magistrate, Medchal, Ranga Reddy District. They invoke the inherent jurisdiction of this Court and pray this Court to quash the proceedings in C.C. No. 120 of 1998 on the file of the said Court.

2. Before adverting to the question as to whether the petitioners are entitled for any relief, it may be necessary to briefly notice few relevant facts for the purpose of disposal of this petition.

3. The second respondent herein filed complaint before the learned Judicial First Class Magistrate, Medchal inter alia alleging that on 30-12-1997 the inspection squad consisting of Sri. M.S. Rama Krishna and the complainant and one Sri Sharada Manjunadh, Office Superintendent of the E.S.I, have visited the factory of the accused to conduct inspection under the E.S.I. Act and the Regulations made thereunder. On the said date, both the petitioners herein were present in the factory premises and attended on the Inspectors. It is the case of the respondent-complainant that the squad comprising of two Inspectors and one Superintendent demanded the accused for production of registers and records required under E.S.I. Act and the Regulations made thereunder. But the petitioners herein refused to produce the same. It is further alleged that the petitioners did not allow the said team to go round the factory for interrogating the workers in the factory. It is further alleged that the petitioners herein failed to produce complete set of Registers and records atleast for one accounting year and therefore, the inspection could not be conducted. When the Inspectors wanted to take extract of the balance sheet and other documents produced before them, the first accused refused to allow the inspection squad to do so. The petitioners have also refused to receive the visit note prepared by the Inspection squad and the watchman did not allow the Inspection Squad to leave the factory until specific instructions of the accused were given.

4. On 16-1-1998 again the inspection team including the complainant had been to Jeedimetla Police Station and sought the help of the Station House Officer, Jeedimetla Police Station for providing help of police personnel for entering the premises of the accused for conducting inspection. When the Inspectors along with two police constables and one Head Constable went to the main gate of the factory and revealed their identity, the lady assistant by name Smt George came to the main gate and she did not allow the Inspectors as well as the Police Constables to enter into the premises for conducting the Inspection under the E.S.I. Act. Even the representative of the accused did not open the gate. The other details mentioned in the complaint are not necessary to be noticed for the purpose of disposal of this petition.

5. The learned Magistrate upon perusing the complaint and the sworn statement of the complainant took the case on file against the petitioners herein under Section 186 of I.P.C.

6. Learned Counsel for the petitioners Sri Milind Gokhale contends that the whole of the complaint even if taken to be true does not reveal commission of any offence by the petitioners herein. It is submitted that the contents of the complaint even if read together as true would not attract Sec. 186 of I.P.C. It is also urged by the learned Counsel that the petitioners herein are not liable for the action of obstruction if any by their employees. According to the learned Counsel for the petitioners that mere obstruction is not enough unless it is accompanied by use of some criminal force. , Learned Public Prosecutor submits that the expression 'obstruction' used in Section 186 of I.P.C. no doubt connotes some overt act but not necessarily use of criminal force as such.

7. Sri B.G. Ravinder Reddy, learned Standing Counsel appearing on behalf of the first respondent-complainant also submits that the expression 'obstruction' used in Section 186 of I.P.C. does not connote any act of use of criminal force.

8. Before proceeding further to discuss as to whether mere obstruction itself would be enough or the act of obstruction is to be accompanied by use of some criminal force, it may be necessary to notice one particular allegation made against the petitioners herein in the complaint. In the complaint, it is alleged that the petitioners herein have refused to receive the visit note prepared by the Inspection squad. The watchman did not allow the Inspection Squad to leave the factory until specific instructions of the accused were given. It is alleged in the complaint that both the petitioners herein did not allow the said team to go around the factory for interrogating the workers in the factory. The presence of the accused Nos. 1 and 2 along with their representatives and workmen is clearly spelt out in the complaint.

9. In Nishi Kanta Pal v. Emperor, AIR 1917 Calcutta 180. the accused who are not parties to a suit in which a public right of way was claimed, did not allow a Munsif, in whose Court the suit was pending, to pass in a boat through a ditch which was their private property, when the Munsif wanted to pass through it for the purpose of making a local inspection in connection with the suit, the Calcutta High Court held that the accused did not commit any offence under Section 186 of I.P.C. The Court took the view that there was no right of way as such and to pass through it for the purpose of making a local inspection and therefore, the accused are right in obstructing the Munsif from passing through their lands.

10. In Jaswant Singh v. King Emperor, AIR 1925 Lahore 139. the Lahore High Court held that the use of the word voluntarily in Section 186 of I.P.C. indicates that the Legislature contemplated the commission of some overtact of obstruction, and did not intend to render penal mere passive conduct. The learned Counsel for the petitioners however, places strong reliance upon the decision of the Allahabad High Court in Phudki v. State, MANU/UP/0036/1955. in which the Allahabad High Court held that the word obstruction in Section 186 connotes some overtact in the nature of violence or show of violence. It cannot be said that a man obstructed another if that man runs away from arrest or if he does not actually submit to the arrest, The learned Counsel also would place heavy reliance upon the Judgment of the Patna High Court in Janki Prasad Tibrewal v. The State of Bihar, 1975 Crl. L.J. 575 (Patna). The Patna High Court while construing the expression 'obstruct' used in Section 186 observed that the expression obstruct envisages actual resistance and obstacle in the way of public servant and it implies use of criminal force. However, the Patna High Court in Diljam Sahu v. Emperor, AIR 1937 Patna 633. observed that sufficient indication that any attempt to effect attachment by a public servant having warrant of attachment would be resisted by force is quite enough to constitute obstruction within the meaning of Section 186 of the Act. Mere resistance of warrant of attachment by a public servant is an offence punishable under Section 186 of I.P.C.

11. The Bombay High Court in Emperor v. Suleman Abba, AIR 1935 Bom. 24. also took the similar view that mere obstruction or prevention of tolls man in discharge of duties may be enough to constitute an offence under Section 186 of the Penal Code. A Division Bench of Bombay High Court in State v. Babulal Gaurishanker Misar, AIR 1957 Bombay 10. held that to constitute 'obstruction' within Section 186 it is not necessary that there should be actual criminal force. It is sufficient if there is either a show of force or threat or any act preventing the execution of the process of the civil Court. It is held by the Court that if an accused obstructs a public servant in the. discharge of his public function (execution of a warrant of possession) he commits two offences. One offence committed by him is the alleged obstruction which comes within Sec. 186 and the other offence committed by him is the offence of having been guilty of undermining the authority of the Court.

12. "Obstructing" the police is not confined to physical obstruction (Sykes v. Director of Public Prosecutions, (1962) A.C. 528.

13. The word 'obstruction' in Section 186 of the Penal Code is not confined to physical obstruction only., Threats of violence made in such a way as to prevent the public servant from carrying out his duty might easily amount to an obstruction of the public servant, 1937 A.LJ. 1344, Law Lexicon, Reprint Edition 1987.

14. In Santosh Kumar Jain v. The State, MANU/SC/0024/1951 the General Manager of the Jagdishpur Zamindary Co. who were the lessees of a sugar factory was prosecuted for obstructing the District Magistrate and the Special Officer of Rationing, Patna, in the discharge of their official functions when they went to the factory on 6-12-1947 to remove, 5,000 maunds of sugar which had been seized out of the stock held by the Company pursuant to an order of the Government of Bihar dated 5-12-1947. The named officers Went to the Factory on 6-12-1947 to carry out the order of the Government. The Officers were told by the accused General Manager that he would do everything possible to obstruct the removal of the sugar and accordingly it was found that the sugar godowns had been locked and the road leading to them blocked by heaps of coal, firewood and tins placed across, so as to make vehicular traffic impossible. As a result of such obstruction, the officers had to seek the aid of armed police to break open the locks, repair the railway line and clear the road block before the sugar could be removed from the factory. The main defence of the accused was that on a proper construction of Section 3 of the Essential Supplies (Temporary powers) Act, 1946 it was not competent for the Government to pass the order dated 5-12-1947, which was consequently illegal and void and that obstruction to the execution of that order could not constitute an offence under Section 186, Penal Code. The contention was rejected by the Court below and the accused was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three weeks under Section 186 of I.P.C. The Patna High Court confirmed the conviction and the sentence. The revision came up before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court observed that the seizure of the Company's sugar must therefore be regarded as duly authorised and lawful and the accused by obstructing its removal committed an offence under Section 186 of I.P.C.

15. In Collector of Customs and Central Excise v. Paradip Port Trust, MANU/SC/0495/1990. the Supreme Court while construing the expression obstruction' used in Section 133 of the Customs Act, 1962 observed that "On the authority of Hinchliffe v. Sheldon, (1955) 1 WLR 1207. it can be said that obstruction is not confined to physical obstruction and it includes anything which makes,, it more difficult for the police or public servant to carry out their duties." (emphasis is of mine).

16. It may be necessary to have a look at Section 133 of the Act which is analogous to Section 186 of IPC. Section 133 reads:

"133. Obstruction of officer of customs:- If any person intentionally obstructs any officer of customs in the exercise of any powers conferred under this Act, such person shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both."

17. Now let us compare Section 133 of the Customs Act with Section 186 of IPC Section 186 of IPC reads:

"186. Obstructing public servant in discharge of public, functions:- Whoever voluntarily obstructs any public servant in the discharge of his public functions, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extent to three months, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both".

18. In Section 186 the expression whoever voluntarily obstructs any public servant in the discharge of his public functions is used and whereas in Section 133 of the Customs Act the expression if any person intentionally obstructs any officer of customs is used. In my considered opinion, the expression 'intentionally' used in Section 133 of the Customs Act and the expression 'voluntarily' used in Section 186 of IPC connote the same meaning. The decision of the Supreme Court in Collector of Customs's case (11 supra) concludes and decides the issue. Therefore, I hold that the expression 'obstruction' used in Section 186 of IPC is not confined to physical obstruction- It need not be an act of use of criminal force. The act need not be a violent one. It is enough if the act complained of results in preventing a public servant in discharge of his lawful duties. Any act of causing impediment by unlawfully preventing public servant in discharge of his functions would be enough to attract Section 186 of IPC. Any other interpretation would be to encourage people to take the law into their hands, frustate the investigation of the crimes and thwart public justice. Such an interpretation cannot be commended by the Courts.

19. We have already noticed the averments made in the complaint against the petitioners herein. Their acts prima facie, in my considered opinion amount to obstructing the public servant in the. discharge of their public functions. Therefore, the complaint itself, in my considered opinion does not suffer from any legal infirmity.

20. It is entirely a different matter altogether that the allegations levelled against the petitioners may be true or not. The same has to be enquired into by the trial Court in accordance with law uninfluenced by the observations relating to the acts themselves, as this Court has not expressed any opinion whatsoever on the merits of the case. But if the allegations are true dad established as is required in law, they certainly constitute an offence punishable under Section 186 of IPC.

21. Petition fails and shall stand accordingly dismissed.

22. The learned Counsel for the petitioners after pronouncing the order submits that leave may be granted to the petitioners to file an application for dispensing with their presence on every date of hearing in the trial Court.

23. Leave granted to the petitioners to file such an application and the learned Magistrate is directed to consider the application on merits and dispense with the presence of the petitioners on every date of hearing except on such crucial dates of hearing as the learned Magistrate may consider fit and proper in the circumstances of the case.