Saturday, 6 April 2019

Whether Registry Can Exercise Judicial Powers To Decide Maintainability Of Petitions?

 The nature of judicial function is well settled under our legal
system. Judicial function is the duty to act judicially, which
invests with that character. The distinguishing factor which
separates administrative and judicial function is the duty
and authority to act judicially. Judicial function may thus
be defined as the process of considering the proposal,

opposition and then arriving at a decision upon the same on
consideration of facts and circumstances according to the
rules of reason and justice. A Constitution Bench of five
judges in Jaswant Sugar Mills Ltd., Meerut vs.
Lakshmichand and Ors., AIR 1963 SC 677, formulated
the following criteria to ascertain whether a decision or an
act is judicial function or not, in the following manner(
1) it is in substance a determination upon
investigation of a question by the application
of objective standards to facts found in the
light of preexisting
legal rule;
(2) it declares rights or imposes upon parties
obligations affecting their civil rights; and
(3) that the investigation is subject to certain
procedural attributes contemplating an
opportunity of presenting its case to a party,
ascertainment of facts by means of evidence
if a dispute be on questions of fact, and if the
dispute be on question of law on the
presentation of legal argument, and a decision
resulting in the disposal of the matter on
findings based upon those questions of law
and fact.
(emphasis added)
The act of numbering a petition is purely administrative.
The objections taken by the Madras High Court Registry on

the aspect of maintainability requires judicial application of
mind by utilizing appropriate judicial standard. Moreover,
the wordings of Section 18A of the SC/ST Act itself indicates
at application of judicial mind. In this context, we accept
the statement of the Attorney General, that the
determination in this case is a judicial function and the
High Court Registry could not have rejected the numbering.
10. Therefore, we hold that the High Court Registry could not
have exercised such judicial power to answer the
maintainability of the petition, when the same was in the
realm of the Court. As the power of judicial function cannot
be delegated to the Registry, we cannot sustain the order,
rejecting the numbering/registration of the Petition, by the
Madras High Court Registry. Accordingly, the Madras High
Court Registry is directed to number the petition and place
it before an appropriate bench.

Reportable
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
SLP (CRL.) No. 1832 of 2019
P. SURENDRAN  Vs STATE BY INSPECTOR OF POLICE

Dated:March 29, 2019

N. V. RAMANA, J.,

1. This Special Leave Petition has been filed against the
impugned order and judgment dated 02.01.2019, in
Crl.M.P. No. 5697 of 2018 passed by the Learned Court of.
The Principle Sessions Judge of Kancheepuram District at
Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu and the order of the High Court
Registry, in not numbering the anticipatory bail petition of
the petitioneraccused
herein.

2. We need to refer to the basic facts necessary for the disposal
of the case at hand. An FIR was filed against the three coaccused
(Murugesan, S. M. Ekambaram and Ramaswamy),
before the PS Pallikaranai, St. Thomas Mount,
Kancheepuram District, Tamil Nadu, being Crime No. 937 of
2017, dated 03.04.2017, under Section 147, 148, 448, 302
and 506 of IPC. It is averred that subsequently Offence
under Section 3(ii) of the Scheduled castes and the
Scheduled Tribes (prevention of atrocities) Act, 1989
[‘SC/ST Act’] was also added. Further it is to be noted that
the Petitioner herein was later arrayed as an accused by the
police. In view of apprehension of arrest, the petitioner filed
an Anticipatory Bail Application being Crl.M.P. No. 5697 of
2018, before the Learned Court of The Principal Sessions
Judge of Kancheepuram at Chengalpattu.
3. The District Principal Judge by an Order dated 02.01.2019,
dismissed the anticipatory bail application of the petitioner.
Aggrieved by the same, petitioner approached the High
Court of Madras seeking anticipatory bail, but the Registry

of the High Court refused to number and list the matter
before the court on the following office objection“
It may be stated how this petition for
Anticipatory Bail is maintainable, since the
offence is under SC/ST Act”
Even though the petitioner herein replied to the aforesaid
office objection, the High Court Registry rejected numbering
of the petition and dismissed the Anticipatory Bail Petition
on the issue of maintainability under SC/ST Act.
4. Aggrieved by such nonregistration,
the petitioner is before
this Court on a question of law as to whether the Madras
High Court Registry was wrong, in not numbering the
AnticipatoryBail
Petition and as to whether consequent
dismissal of the same on the issue of maintainability of the
petition impinges on the judicial function of the High Court?
5. In view of the importance of the matter, this Court had
requested the assistance of the Attorney General for India
who acceded our request and assisted this Court.

6. Learned Attorney General has stated that the stance of the
Registry of the Madras High Court in refusing to number the
anticipatory bail application and not placing it before the
appropriate bench is incorrect. He states that in light of the
subsequent amendment of 2018 to the SC/ST Act,
particularly the inclusion of Section 18A under the SC/ST
Act, appropriate bench has to adjudicate the matter as the
same is a judicial function. Therefore, the registry of the
Madras High Court cannot refuse to number the
anticipatory bail application on the ground of
maintainability.
7. Recently, the Government amended the SC/ST Act, through
The Scheduled Castes and The Scheduled Tribes
(Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 No. 27 of
2018, wherein a new provision being Section 18A
was
inserted, which reads as under18A.
(1) For the purposes of this Act,—
(a) preliminary enquiry shall not be required for
registration of a First Information Report against
any person; or
(b) the investigating officer shall not require
approval for the arrest, if necessary, of any

person, against whom an accusation of having
committed an offence under this Act has been
made and no procedure other than that provided
under this Act or the Code shall apply.
(2) The provisions of section 438 of the Code
shall not apply to a case under this Act,
notwithstanding any judgment or order or
direction of any Court.".
(emphasis added)
8. We may note that the aforesaid amendment has been
constitutionally challenged in various writ petitions listed
before a different bench of this Court along with the R.P.
(Crl.) No. 228 of 2018, titled Union of India v. State of
Maharashtra and Others. However, the question before
this Court herein is different, distinct and limited. We are
only concerned with the question whether Registry could
have questioned the maintainability of the Petition.
9. The nature of judicial function is well settled under our legal
system. Judicial function is the duty to act judicially, which
invests with that character. The distinguishing factor which
separates administrative and judicial function is the duty
and authority to act judicially. Judicial function may thus
be defined as the process of considering the proposal,

opposition and then arriving at a decision upon the same on
consideration of facts and circumstances according to the
rules of reason and justice. A Constitution Bench of five
judges in Jaswant Sugar Mills Ltd., Meerut vs.
Lakshmichand and Ors., AIR 1963 SC 677, formulated
the following criteria to ascertain whether a decision or an
act is judicial function or not, in the following manner(
1) it is in substance a determination upon
investigation of a question by the application
of objective standards to facts found in the
light of preexisting
legal rule;
(2) it declares rights or imposes upon parties
obligations affecting their civil rights; and
(3) that the investigation is subject to certain
procedural attributes contemplating an
opportunity of presenting its case to a party,
ascertainment of facts by means of evidence
if a dispute be on questions of fact, and if the
dispute be on question of law on the
presentation of legal argument, and a decision
resulting in the disposal of the matter on
findings based upon those questions of law
and fact.
(emphasis added)
The act of numbering a petition is purely administrative.
The objections taken by the Madras High Court Registry on

the aspect of maintainability requires judicial application of
mind by utilizing appropriate judicial standard. Moreover,
the wordings of Section 18A of the SC/ST Act itself indicates
at application of judicial mind. In this context, we accept
the statement of the Attorney General, that the
determination in this case is a judicial function and the
High Court Registry could not have rejected the numbering.
10. Therefore, we hold that the High Court Registry could not
have exercised such judicial power to answer the
maintainability of the petition, when the same was in the
realm of the Court. As the power of judicial function cannot
be delegated to the Registry, we cannot sustain the order,
rejecting the numbering/registration of the Petition, by the
Madras High Court Registry. Accordingly, the Madras High
Court Registry is directed to number the petition and place
it before an appropriate bench.
11. Having said so, we make it clear that we have not expressed
any views on the nature of the amendment, the standard of
judicial review and the extent of justiciability under Section
18A
of the SC/ST Act, which is left open for the appropriate
Bench to consider.

12. Before we part with this case, we note that this Court has
not expressed any views on the merits of the case and the
High Court is requested to consider the matter uninfluenced
by the observations made herein.
13. In view of the discussion, this petition is accordingly
disposed of in the aforesaid terms.
……………………………J.
(N. V. Ramana)
……………………………J.
(Mohan M. Shatanagoudar)
New Delhi;
March 29, 2019

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