Complaint against engaging persons for manual scavenging has to be made before the judicial magistrate, not before police: Karnataka High Court

“The police have no power to receive reports/complaints directly on employing or engaging persons for manual scavenging contrary to law”

January 30, 2024 08:03 pm | Updated 08:03 pm IST - Bengaluru

The complaints against employing or engaging persons for manual scavenging, contrary to the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, will have to be made before the jurisdictional judicial magistrate and not before the police, said the High Court of Karnataka.

“In view of the provision contained under Section 10 of the Act, the police cannot receive a report/complaint and register a case... The complaint is required to be made to the magistrate,” the High Court said.

Justice Shivashankar Amarannavar passed the order while allowing a petition filed by S.S. Bhairi, a 69-year-old medical practitioner from Hubballi.

FIR quashed

The court quashed a First Information Report (FIR) registered against the petitioner under Section 7 of the Act for violating the provision that prohibits directly or indirectly engaging or employing persons for hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks. However, the Court reserved liberty to the authorities to make a complaint before the jurisdictional magistrate against the petitioner.

As per the provisions contained under Section 10 of the Act, it is only upon a “complaint” that a court has to take cognizance of any offence punishable under this Act, the High Court said, while pointing out that a complaint, as per Section 2(d) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, “means any allegation made orally or in writing to a Magistrate, with a view to his taking action under this Code, that some person, whether known or unknown, has committed an offence, but does not include a police report.”

As the jurisdictional health official had lodged complaint/report with the police, who have no power under the Act to receive complaint, the FIR registered against the petitioner cannot be sustained in law, the High Court said.

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