NATIONAL LEGAL RESEARCH DESK
A.N. Roy, Commissioner of Police & Anr. v Suresh Sham Singh, Appeal (Crl.) 702 of 2006 delivered on 4th July 2006. Supreme Court of India
Citations: 2006 AIR 2677,2006(3 ) Suppl.SCR165 ,2006(5 )SCC745 ,2006(6 )SCALE446 ,2006(6 )JT89
Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956-Sections 18 and 20
Dispute regarding power of State Government to confer on Police Commissioner of a metropolitan area the powers of District Magistrate for purposes of Ss. 18 and 20.
In this case with a view to check the alarming rise in trafficking of minor girls and women in the Metropolitan city of Bombay, the State of Maharashtra in exercise of powers conferred by sub- section (5) read with sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 20 CrPC, had issued a Notification in 1999 conferring on the Police Commissioner of the metropolitan area of Brihan Bombay, the powers of District Magistrate for the purposes of Sections 18 and 20 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956. Pursuant thereto, the Police Commissioner conducted raids and ordered eviction or closure of brothels. On 28-06-2004, an eviction order was passed against the Respondent who filed writ petition challenging the same. High Court set aside the said eviction order holding that the Notification was ab initio bad in law and did not empower the Police Commissioner to assume the jurisdiction of District Magistrate for the purposes of Sections 18 and 20 of the 1956 Act. Hence the present appeals were filed.
Sub-section (1) of Section 20 CrPC deals with the power of the State Government to appoint Executive Magistrates, “as many persons” as it thinks fit, in every district and in every metropolitan area. Sub-section (2) of Section 20 deals with the power of the State Government to appoint any Executive Magistrate to be an Additional District Magistrate and such Magistrate shall have the powers of a District Magistrate under the CrPC or under any other law for the time being in force as may be directed by the State Government. Thus, unless a person is appointed as an Executive Magistrate he cannot be appointed as either an Additional District Magistrate or the District Magistrate. The Court held that the words, “as many persons” employed in sub-section (1) are adequately elastic to include the Commissioner of Police. Therefore, the State Government is not precluded from appointing the Commissioner of Police in metropolitan area as an Executive Magistrate. Once the Commissioner of Police is appointed as an Executive Magistrate in the metropolitan area of Brihan Bombay, he can be appointed as an Additional District Magistrate, who shall have the powers of the District Magistrate for the purposes of Sections 18 and 20 of the 1956 Act.
The Court observed that this view is further clarified by sub-section (5) of Section 20 when it is stated that nothing in this Section shall preclude the State Government from conferring under any law for the time being in force, on Commissioner of Police, all or any of the powers of an Executive Magistrate in relation to a metropolitan area.
The Supreme Court held that person appointed as Executive Magistrate can only be appointed as Additional District Magistrate or District Magistrate. Hence, State Government was herein directed to first appoint the Police Commissioner as Executive Magistrate and then further appoint him as Additional District Magistrate having powers of the District Magistrate for purposes of Ss. 18 and 20. Also the SC observed that Courts cannot enlarge the scope of legislation or intention when language of the statute is plain and unambiguous.