Setting Aside High Court’s Judgment: V.C. Chinnappa Goudar Vs. Karnataka State Pollution Control Board & Anr.

In a significant legal ruling, the Supreme Court has overturned the High Court’s decision in the case of V.C. Chinnappa Goudar Vs. Karnataka State Pollution Control Board & Anr. The judgment clarifies the liability of the Commissioner and Chief Officer under the Act, 1974, for violations related to sewage discharge and treatment plants. This case highlights the importance of upholding environmental laws and holding municipal authorities accountable for their actions.


  • Karnataka State Pollution Control Board filed complaints against various City Municipal Councils for violations under the Act, 1974.
  • The complaints included non-renewal of sewage discharge consent, failure to provide Sewage Treatment Plants, and discharge of untreated sewage into water bodies.
  • Similar complaints were filed against Town Municipal Councils as well.
  • The appeals challenge the High Court’s decision to quash prosecution proceedings against Municipal Commissioners and Chief Officers under the Act, 1974.
  • The Single Judge of the High Court allowed three applications under Section 482 Cr.P.C. quashing the proceedings initiated by the appellant.
  • The judgment dated 16.02.2015 relied on an earlier judgment of the Karnataka High Court in Criminal Petition No 831 of 2007
  • The Division Bench had held that Commissioner of Municipal Council, Chief Officer or Council cannot be termed as Head of the Department and cannot be prosecuted under Section 48 of the Act, 1974.

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  • Corporation and Municipalities have various municipal functions and statutory duties under the Acts.
  • Provisions of the Act, 1974 include penalties and procedures for contraventions.
  • Anyone contravening the Act, 1974 is liable to be prosecuted.
  • High Court erred in quashing the prosecution against Commissioner and Chief Officer, incorrectly stating they are not liable as Heads of Department.
  • Municipal Corporation and Municipalities can also be prosecuted for violations.
  • Commissioner and Chief Officers of the Corporation and Council are the Chief Executive Officers and Heads of Department, liable to be prosecuted under Section 74.
  • High Court quashed the proceeding under Section 482 Cr.P.C.
  • The judgment in V.C. Chinnappa Goudar Vs. Karnataka State Pollution Control Board & Anr. was relied upon by the counsel to support the argument of setting aside the High Court’s judgment.
  • In V.C. Chinnappa Goudar case, the High Court’s rejection of applications of Commissioner and Chief Commissioner challenging their prosecution under the Act, 1974 was affirmed by the Supreme Court.

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  • The Act, 1974 provides a modern concept of creating body corporate and corporation to carry out governmental functions.
  • Corporate criminal liability is attracted to corporations and companies, defined in Section 141 of the Act.
  • The Act defines ‘company’ in Section 47 in a wide and inclusive manner.
  • The Karnataka Municipalities Act, 1964 treats Town and City Municipal Councils as body corporates.
  • Constitutional provisions under Part IXA envision Municipalities as self-government bodies.
  • High Court judgments examined the position of City Municipal Council officials in relation to the Act.
  • Special procedures and forums are established in Chapter IIIA of the Act for specific categories of landlords.
  • The Act includes penalties and procedures for offences by government departments and corporations.
  • The Municipal Commissioner and Chief Officer of City Municipal Council are subject to the Act’s provisions.
  • The Act’s objectives include securing justice, liberty, equality, fraternity through government functions.
  • The Act anticipates convictions for contraventions of its provisions by any person, including government officials.
  • The control of Municipalities by State Governments is outlined in Chapter XII of the Act.
  • Offences by body corporates like Municipal Councils are to be covered under Section 47 of the Act.
  • City Municipal Councils are not considered departments of the State Government under the Act.
  • City Municipal Councils can be prosecuted under the Act, with Karnataka State Pollution Control Board initiating proceedings.
  • Interpretation of expressions like ‘companies’ under the Act is contextual to the Statute’s purpose and scheme.
  • The State Pollution Control Board is constituted with specific members nominated by the State Government to represent different entities such as the government, local authorities, and companies owned or managed by the State Government.
  • The Act distinguishes between government departments and companies, defining a company as any body corporate.
  • Offences under the Act can also be attributed to government departments, where the Head of the Department is deemed guilty.
  • The Act specifies the cognizance of offences, indicating that no court can take cognizance unless a complaint is made by specific authorized entities.
  • The Act provides for penalties and procedures, including the circumstances under which prosecution can take place.
  • Companies, including government-owned corporations, are held liable for offences under the Act.
  • The definitions and explanations provided in the Act clarify the wide scope of what constitutes a company.
  • The Act outlines the powers and functions of the State Boards, emphasizing the role of the State Government in their constitution.
  • Reports and relevant documents must be made available to authorized persons by the Board on demand.
  • A retired Municipal Corporation employee can maintain an application for eviction under Chapter III-A of the Madhya Pradesh Accommodation Control Act, 1961, as they are considered employees of a ‘company owned or controlled by the State Government.’
  • The term ‘company’ in Explanation II of the Code of Civil Procedure includes both statutory corporations and companies registered under the Indian Companies Act.
  • In a case concerning the Madhya Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation, it was established that the term ‘company’ in Section 23-J of the Act includes corporations like the Madhya Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation and Municipal Corporations.
  • The Madhya Pradesh High Court expanded the meaning of ‘company’ in Section 23-J to include the mentioned entities, such as retired Government servants, retired company employees owned or controlled by the Central or State Government, widows, divorced wives, physically handicapped persons, and retired members of the defense service.
  • The Madhya Pradesh High Court’s interpretation that ‘company’ also encompasses statutory corporations like the State Road Transport Corporation was affirmed by the Supreme Court in various cases.
  • Sanction under Section 197 Cr.P.C. is not required for proceeding under Section 49 of the Act, 1974.
  • The High Court erred in quashing the complaint filed by Karnataka State Pollution Control Board against the respondents.
  • No further consideration was given with regard to Section 48 in the judgment.

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  • The judgment of the High Court is set aside.
  • The Magistrate/Metropolitan Magistrate is authorized to proceed with the complaints in accordance with the law.
  • The applications filed under Section 482 Cr.P.C. by the respondents have been dismissed.


Case Number: Crl.A. No.-001734-001736 / 2019

Click here to read/download original judgement

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