The Madras High Court has quashed two government orders issued in 2013 and 2014 empowering Deputy Commissioners of Police to exercise the powers of executive magistrates under Sections 107 to 110 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

A division bench of the Madras High Court comprising Justices N. Satish Kumar and N. Anand Venkatesh said that the government orders issued on September 12, 2013 and February 20, 2014 suffer from “manifest arbitrariness and violate the principle of separation of powers under the Constitution”.

The court ordered status quo ante as it prevailed before the issuance of the two government orders, and held that such a status would be restored forthwith.

The court made it clear that violation of a bond executed under Section 110 of CrPC could be dealt with only by judicial magistrates under Section 446 and not by the executive magistrates under Section 122(1) (b) of the Code.

An executive magistrate cannot authorise imprisonment under Section 122(1) (b) of the code for violation of the bond under Section 107.

“A person who has violated a bond executed before an executive magistrate under the said provision would have to be prosecuted before a judicial magistrate for inquiry and punishment under Section 122(1)(b) of CrPC,” the verdict said.

The judges also stated: “The police, like the proverbial camel in the tent, occasionally got their noses into the canopy but were stopped in the tracks by the courts. 

Then in 2013, the camel in its entirety struggled and the revenue officials and executive magistrate were ousted from the canopy and left in the cold. 

Now we have ousted the camel and put the canopy of justice where it belongs.”

The judges also praised the amicus curiae Sarath Chandran, the Additional Public prosecutor, and advocates Janarthanan, Vivekanandan, and M. Santhanaraman for assisting the court.