Closure report not binding on trial court; cognizance of case not to be taken after filling of closure report without directing further investigation

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Rekha Palli, J. declined to exercise extraordinary jurisdiction under Section 482 CrPC against the order of the CBI Special Court (PC Act) whereby it had ordered further investigation against the petitioner.

The petitioner was Superintendent of Customs, Kolkata. He was alleged to be a middle-man who took bribe from Rajesh Sarda to be handed over to his superior. Investigations were made against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. CBI had filed a closure report in the same before the Special Court which while considering the report directed the CBI to proceed with a further investigation under Section 173(8) CrPC. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner was before the High Court.

Shreya Bhatnagar, Advocate appearing for the petitioner relied on an earlier decision of the Court wherein cognizance was taken by the trial court against Rajesh Sarda was set aside as the CBI had already filed a closure report as was also the case herein. In light of that decision, it was contended that there was no reason why the petitioner should be made to face a prolonged trial. Rajdipa Behura, Special Public Prosecutor submitted reply on behalf of the CBI.

The High Court differentiated the decision mentioned above on that therein the trial court took cognizance of the matter without ordering further investigation which was not the right course. However, in petitioner’s case, the Special Court had categorically directed the CBI to carry out further investigation under Section 173(8). Furthermore, it was observed, “closure report is not binding on the learned trial court, and the court is in fact expected to apply its independent mind to the material on the record, merely because the CBI had made certain observations which partially support the petitioner, cannot be a ground to tinker with the directions for further investigation given by the learned trial court“. In light of such and other reasons, the Court found no reason to interfere with the impugned order and dismissed the petition. [N.K. Rai v. CBI, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 13200, dated 29-11-2018]

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