Section 203 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which empowers a Magistrate to dismiss a complaint reads thus: ” The Magistrate before whom a complaint is made or to whom it has been transferred, may dismiss the complaint, if, after considering the statement on oath (if any) of the complainant and the witnesses and, the result of the investigation or inquiry, if any, under s. 202, there is in his judgment no sufficient ground for proceeding. In such case, he shall briefly record his reasons for so doing.”

In ‘Chandra Deo Singh v. Prokash Chandra Bose (1963)’, the court said that,

The power to dismiss a complaint rest only with a Magistrate who has taken cognisance of it. If before issue of process, he had sent down the complaint to a Magistrate subordinate to him for making the enquiry, he has the power to dismiss the complaint, if in his judgment, there is no sufficient ground for proceeding.

One of the conditions, however, requisite for doing so is the consideration of the statements on oath if any made by the complainant and the witnesses and of the result of the investigation of the enquiry which he had ordered to be made under s. 202, Cr.P.C.

In the case before us, an investigation by a police officer was not ordered by the learned Sub-Divisional Magistrate, but an enquiry by a Magistrate, First Class. He had, therefore, to consider the result of this enquiry.

Since the object of an enquiry under s. 202 is to ascertain whether the allegations made in the complaint are intrinsically true, the Magistrate acting under s. 203 has to satisfy himself that there is sufficient ground for proceeding. In order to come to this conclusion, he is entitled to consider the evidence taken by him or recorded in an enquiry under s. 202, or statements made in an investigation under that section, as the case may be. He is not entitled to rely upon any material besides this.

By “evidence of other witnesses” the learned judges had apparently in mind the statements of persons examined by the police during investigation under s. 202. It is permissible under s. 203 of the Code to consider such evidence along with the statements of the complainant recorded by the Magistrate and decide whether to issue process or dismiss the complaint. The investigation in that case was made by the police under s. 202, Cr. P.C. at the instance of the Presidency Magistrate.

Apparently, the statement of the various witnesses questioned by the police were self-contradictory. That being the case, it was open to the Presidency Magistrate to consider which of them to accept and which to reject. The enquiring Magistrate has not stated nor has the High Court found in the case before us that the evidence adduced on behalf of the complainant and his own evidence were self-contradictory and, therefore, it could not be said that there was anything intrinsically false in the allegations made in the complaint, Learned counsel for the appellant referred us to the decision of this court in Ramgopal Ganpatrai Ruia v. The State of Bombay[1]. In that case, after quoting a passage from Halsbury’s Laws of England, Vol. 10, 3rd Edn. in art. 666 at p. 365 where the law regarding commitment for trial has been stated, this court has observed :

“In each case; therefore the magistrate holding the preliminary inquiry has to be satisfied that a prima facie case is made out against the accused by the evidence of witnesses entitled to a reasonable degree of credit, and unless he is so satisfied, he is not to commit, Applying the aforesaid test to the present case, can it be said that there is no evidence to make out, prima facie case, or that the voluminous evidence adduced in this case is so incredibly that no reasonable body of persons could rely upon it?

As already indicated, in this, case, there is a large volume of documentary evidence-the latter being wholly books and registers and other documents kept or is used by the Mills themselves, which may lend themselves to the inference that the accused are guilty or to the contrary conclusion. The High Court has taken pains to point out that this is one of those cases where much can be said on both sides. It will be for the jury to decide which of the two conflicting versions will find acceptance at their hands. This was pre-eminently a case which should have been committed to the Court of Sessions for trial, and it is a little surprising that the learned Presidency Magistrate allowed himself to be convinced to the contrary.”

[1] [1958] S.C.R. 618,638