Directing preliminary inquiry does not amount to ‘taking cognizance’

Rajasthan High Court: While relying upon the Supreme Court decision in Lalita Kumari v. Government of Uttar Pradesh, (2014) 2 SCC 1, the Single Bench of Pushpendra Singh Bhati, J. has held that Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 mandates previous sanction of the Government only for taking cognizance of certain offences, and the provision does not apply to an order directing a preliminary inquiry.

In the instant case, the petitioners had preferred criminal miscellaneous petitions for quashing FIRs registered against them for the offences punishable under Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The Petitioners contended that since Section 19 of the Act provides that no court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under Sections 7, 10, 11, 13 and 15 without the previous sanction of the Government, the FIRs were to be quashed.

The Court noted that as the order under challenge only directed a preliminary inquiry, no prejudice was caused to the petitioners so as to entitle them to challenge the same. In case, the Anti-Corruption Bureau registered an FIR in the matter and if cognizance was sought to be taken without sanction, then the petitioner would be at liberty to challenge the same by way of a fresh petition under Section 482 CrPC. The criminal miscellaneous petitions were accordingly dismissed. [Bhanwar Lal Soni v. State of Rajasthan, 2017 SCC OnLine Raj 1001, decided on April 20, 2017]

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