Returning a Complaint as it was filed by Wife is Illegal

Returning a criminal complaint filed by the wife of an accident victim, on the sole ground that it was filed by the wife and not by the actual victim, is illegal, says the Kerala High Court (HC) in Smitha w/o Thankachan v State of Kerala.

The victim of the accident in this case was suffering from grievous injury and he was immobile. But the Police Station did not register a crime despite the hospital provided the intimation of the accident. Then the wife approached the Magistrate, and the Magistrate returned the application stating that it was filed by the wife of the complainant and not by the complainant himself.

The High Court says the Magistrate’s order is illegal and unsustainable in law. The criminal law can be set in motion by any person as stated in A R Antulay v Ramdas Srinivas Nayak & Others [AIR 1984 SC 718].

The HC adds that the principle of locus standi is alien to criminal jurisprudence. The SC in Antulay case says that the Section 190 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) permits anyone to approach the Magistrate with complaints unless the contrary is indicated by a statutory provision. This general principle is based on the policy that an act or omission made punishable by any law is an offence against the society at large but not against the person who suffers the harm, alone.

Above all, the High Court adds in this case that the Magistrate acting upon office notes put up by the ministerial staff is illegal. This is because in judicial matters the staff members cannot make any note or suggestion. Therefore, the High court quashed the Magistrate’s order in this case.


  1. Smitha w/o Thankachan v State of Kerala
  2. A R Antulay v Ramdas Srinivas Nayak & Others [AIR 1984 SC 718]