Not obstruction of duty, says Kerala HC, Legal News, ET LegalWorld – Legal Firms

KOCHI: A citizen cannot be booked for obstructing the duty of a public servant for talking loudly to the official, the Kerala high court has held.

Justice Kauser Edappagath gave the ruling while quashing the case registered by Karimannoor police against 58-year-old PV Mathai of Tripunithura on a complaint registered by Rasheeda PI, who was the village officer of Karimannoor in Idukki.

In the case registered under section 353 of the Indian Penal Code (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), it was alleged that Mathai entered the village office at 10.15am on April 6, 2019 and abused the office staff in loud voice and deterred the village officer from discharging her official duty. “Who asked you to enter into my property, who is your authorized officer, who gave you the authority to enter into my land,” were the words alleged to be spoken.

Considering a petition (Crl. MC No. 4477/19) filed by Mathai, the court referred to the definition of ‘assault’ (section 351 of IPC) and said mere words do not amount to an assault. As per section 351, the victim should apprehend that he who makes a gesture or preparation is about to use criminal force, the court said.

After referring to the definitions of ‘criminal force’ and ‘force’ (sections 350, 249), the court said the prosecution has no case that the petitioner used any force on the official.
Apart from the vague allegation that the official time of the official was lost, there is no specific allegation that the words were uttered with intent to deter the officer from discharging her duty, the court said. In such circumstances, the offence of preventing a public servant from discharging duty, under section 353, would not be attracted, the court held.

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