A sessions court here has called for counselling and training of all special municipal magistrates to make them familiar with "the correct procedure of law" while chastising a trial court for not adhering to proper legal procedures.
The direction came on an appeal by a restaurant owner against a magisterial court order imposing a fine of Rs 15,000 on him and his manager while holding them guilty under the provisions of Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) Act on a complaint by South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC).
Setting aside the order, Additional Sessions Judge Lokesh Kumar Sharma said the offences in this case were triable in a summary manner but the special municipal magistrate (MM) had directly resorted to procedure providing for trial in a summons case.
"This approach of the special MM (Littering) is highly condemnable and cannot be sustained legally in any manner whatsoever," the judge said, adding the "Special MM (Littering) is directed to remain cautious in future and avoid commission of such illegalities in forthcoming matters.
"Trial court record be sent back to the trial court through Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (South-east) with directions to conduct counseling and training sessions of all special MMs (Littering) under his supervision and control so that they get familiar with the correct procedure of law," the judge directed.
The special MM had convicted Karamjeet Singh Puri, owner M/s Red Wok restaurant in Greater Kailash-I here, and its manager Ramchander Verma of offences under DMC Act.
The judge said the order was passed "in a very hasty, criptive and mechanical manner without caring for the established norms of law..."
"It appears that the MM was ignorant of legal procedure to be adopted in such cases and he was not even familiar with penalties to be imposed for violation of said offences after conviction of a person.
"Not only the procedure adopted by the MM was illegal, incorrect and against the settled principles of law and procedure, but also the punishment awarded by him to the appellants herein was also wholly illegal, unjust and uncalled for," the judge said.
The SDMC had in October last year challaned the restaurant for offences under DMC Act alleging that it had encroached upon the MCD land and caused hindrance in the process of sanitation in the vicinity.
The restaurant owner and manager were repeatedly summoned by a special MM (Littering) and asked to pay Rs 15,000 as fine for the alleged offences.
The sessions judge set aside the decision, saying it would have at best constituted an offence of encroachment, but could not have been considered nuisance, as defined in the books of statute, as nobody had ever made any complaint of any annoyance or nuisance being caused by such installation.
In its appeal, the restaurant owner had claimed that the MM had passed the order in a high handed manner without applying its judicious mind, without serving any prior notice upon them and without giving them an opportunity to defend themselves.