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In a groundbreaking decision, the Supreme Court of India recently delivered a judgment in Criminal Appeal No.256 of 2024, reaffirming the protection of public servants under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The case, involving the appellant Shadakshari and the State of Karnataka, centered on the alleged irregular creation of property documents in the name of a deceased person for illicit gains.

The appellant had lodged a complaint, alleging that respondent No.2, a Village Accountant in Karnataka, and another individual were involved in the fraudulent creation of property documents, including a death certificate and family tree, despite being aware of their falsity. The complaint led to the filing of a chargesheet under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.

However, respondent No.2 sought the quashing of the complaint and chargesheet, contending that as a public servant, sanction was required to prosecute him under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The High Court of Karnataka at Bengaluru had upheld this contention and quashed the complaint and chargesheet, emphasizing the necessity of sanction to prosecute a public servant for acts purportedly committed in the discharge of official duties.

Upon appeal, the Supreme Court delved into the core issue of whether sanction was indeed required to prosecute respondent No.2, who faced allegations of creating fake documents while discharging his official duties as a Village Accountant. The Court, after considering the arguments of both parties, upheld the protection accorded to public servants under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It emphasized that in the absence of sanction, prosecution of a public servant for acts purportedly done in the discharge of official duties is impermissible.

The judgment has far-reaching implications for the legal landscape, reaffirming the safeguards provided to public servants in the performance of their official functions. It underscores the significance of obtaining sanction prior to prosecuting public servants for acts purportedly committed in the discharge of their official duties, thereby ensuring the protection of public officials from frivolous or vexatious litigation.

This landmark decision by the Supreme Court serves as a significant precedent, elucidating the scope and application of Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in safeguarding public servants from unwarranted legal proceedings.



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