KOCHI: Just because a police officer is in uniform, the charges of assaulting a public servant in the lawful discharge of his duty (Section 353 of IPC) cannot be invoked against a person, the Kerala High Court has ruled. Justice P V Kunhikrishnan issued the order while granting bail to two advocates who are accused of assaulting an inspector of police on his way out of the High Court.
The petitioners are accused persons in a case registered by the Ernakulam Central police.
According to the prosecution, the complainant, who is working as the inspector of police at the Bekal station, had come to the High Court in connection with an inquiry being carried out against him. The allegation against the police officer was that he had taken an accused in a case into custody and ill-treated him at Cherthala police station. The inquiry sitting against the police officer was conducted by higher police officers and the advocate-general within the High Court premises.
The lawyer, who was allegedly ill-treated by the police, and the inspector were present for attending the inquiry. After the sitting, when the inspector was coming out of the High Court premises, some lawyers including the petitioners formed an unlawful assembly, started a riot armed with deadly weapons and assaulted him, according to the case.The counsel for the petitioners submitted that the registration of the case invoking Section 353 of IPC by the police was illegal.
The court stated that to attract Section 353, one of the main ingredients is that the assault or criminal force should be to deter the public servant from discharging his official duty. Admittedly, the police officer was attending an inquiry based on a complaint filed by a lawyer. By no stretch of imagination, it can be said that he was in the lawful discharge of his duty as a public servant at the time of the alleged incident. Just because he was in uniform, Section 353 would not attract in this case. How Section 353 IPC was added in this case remains a mystery, the court ordered.