Public Gambling Act: Punjab & Haryana HC quashes FIR as raid was conducted by lower rank officer

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court has quashed an FIR under the Public Gambling Act and subsequent proceedings on the ground that raid was conducted by an officer below the rank specified under the enactment to conduct raids.

The High Court said that an FIR and its consequent proceedings cannot sustain once it is found that specific provisions of an Act, which are mandatory in nature, have been violated.

The case pertains to an FIR registered on September 21, 2018, at the Khanna city police station under the provisions of the Public Gambling Act. The petitioners contended that they had been falsely implicated by an ASI, who along with her subordinates forcibly broke open the main door of their house without any search warrant at 1.50 am on September 21, 2018, and forcibly took away Rs 1 lakh.

Under section 5 of the Public Gambling Act, it is only the Magistrate of a District or other officer vested with the full powers of a Magistrate, or the District Superintendent of Police or the Deputy or the Assistant Superintendent of Police, who have the power to make search of any house, room etc., but in the present case, raid in the house of the petitioners was conducted by an officer of ASI rank.

Noting the provision, Justice Deepak Gupta said that it is only certain officers of specified ranks, who can enter any search of house, room, tent etc. Consequently, the FIR and the proceedings were quashed.

In a related news, Punjab police cracked down on illegal lottery and gambling activities last month under the directions of Director General of Police (DGP) Punjab Gaurav Yadav.

According to a PTI release, Special DGP (law and order) Arpit Shukla said that the whole operation was synchronized among all police departments and conducted across the state between 10 am to 3 pm on June 10.