KOCHI: The Kerala High Court has held that police officers had no jurisdiction to register crime under provisions of the Indian Penal Code on issues related to weights and measures of products.
The court was hearing a petition filed by an authorised dealer of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Kozhikode, carried out an inspection at the retail outlet of the petitioner in the presence of officers of the Legal Metrology Department. During the inspection, it was found there was short delivery of fuel from the dispensing unit, and the police registered crime against the petitioner under Section-420 (Cheating) of the IPC. The petitioner approached the court seeking to quash the FIR, and contended that the proceedings were not maintainable in view of the statutory interdiction under the Legal Metrology Act.
Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan held that it was illegal on the part of a police officer to carry out surprise inspections. The police officer has no authority to ascertain whether there was violation of provision of the Legal Metrology Act/Rule.
Public prosecutor M Madhuben said the petitioner was dispensing fuel of lesser quantities, and that offence under Section-420 was squarely attracted.
The court observed that as per the Rules, the verification procedure is a detailed and scientific process involving precise equipment. The preparation and test procedures are also very meticulous and scientific.
The police officer had no business to carry out those procedures. A police officer cannot take up the mantle of ascertaining whether there has been a violation of provisions of the Legal Metrology Act. The court also quashed the FIR against the petitioner.