The Bombay High Court has quashed an FIR and subsequent charge sheet filed against a United Kingdom citizen for carrying a satellite phone.
The HC said the offence was non-cognizable in nature and, hence, the police could not have registered a case without permission of the magistrate.
A division bench of Justices Prithviraj Chavan and Revati Dere had on December 12 allowed the petition of Anderson Richard, which was moved in 2021 through MZM Legal.
The detailed order was made available on Friday.
Richard’s plea had claimed the FIR was not maintainable as the offences were non-cognisable and the police had not taken permission from a magistrate as per provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
He was, until November 2020, a senior executive of Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organization, a non-profit company incorporated under the laws of Scotland and having its registered office in that country.
As per the petitioner, he was carrying a satellite phone as per company protocol and it was to be switched off during his stay and was to be used only for emergency purposes.
He claimed he had never used the satellite phone here, but was detained at Mumbai International Airport in October 2018 under the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act and the Indian Telegraph Act while he was proceeding to leave the country after completion of training.
An FIR was registered against him later, Richard’s petition said.
A perusal of the section 155(2) of the CrPC would reveal when information relating to a non-cognizable offence is received, the police officer cannot commence with the investigation without securing an order from the concerned magistrate, the HC said.
This had not been done, the HC said, adding the police could not have lodged an FIR or file a charge-sheet.
In fact, the concerned magistrate ought to have perused the charge-sheet and the sections applied before taking cognizance of it, the HC bench observed.
The petition is accordingly allowed and the FIR as well as proceedings pending before the additional chief metropolitan magistrate are quashed and set aside, the High Court order said.