Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sandeep Sharma, J. allowed a bail application due to full cooperation of the petitioner during the investigations.

A bail petition has been filed under Section 438 CrPC for grant of anticipatory bail with regard to the FIR under Sections 419, 420, 467, 468 and 120-B IPC.

It was stated by the petitioner that the object of bail was to secure the attendance to which he was fully cooperative during the time of investigation and that at this stage nothing was required to be recovered from him.

The Court relied on the Supreme Court decision in the case of Dataram Singh v. State of U.P., (2018) 3 SCC 22, whereby relevance was drawn towards participation in the investigation and not absconding when required by the investigating officer. It further held that if the accused was hiding due to the fear of being victimized, the court shall take it into account and act accordingly. Accordingly, the Court allowed the bail petition but warned the petitioner that if he misuses his liberty or violates any of the conditions imposed upon him the bail shall be cancelled.[Narinder Awasthy v. State of H.P.,2018 SCC OnLine HP 1592, decided on 15-11-2018]

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Single Judge Bench of R.P. Dholaria, J., allowed a petition filed against the order of the lower courts, whereby petitioner’s application for granting custody of his vehicle which was involved in an offence under the provision of Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949, was dismissed.

The main issue that arose before the Court was whether the lower courts were justified in rejecting the application of petitioner for the release of his vehicle, pending investigation.

The Court observed that the lower courts have not handed over the interim custody of the vehicle to petitioner in view of Section 98 of the Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949, which provides embargo for handing over the custody of the vehicle used in the offence pending the trial. The respondent’s contention with regard to the lower courts and revisional courts having no jurisdiction to hand over custody of the vehicle used in the offence as per the provisions of Section 451 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, was rejected by the Court.

The Court held that this instant case was covered by the judgment delivered in Hardikbhai Mukeshbhai Chauhan v. State of Gujarat, Special Criminal Application No. 7642 of 2018 and subsequently allowed the petition filed by the petitioner. The Court directed the lower court to immediately release the vehicle owned by the petitioner after due verification and following the procedure of recording such evidence as it thinks necessary as provided under Section 451 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973. [Rangrej Shokatbhai Noormohammed v. State of Gujarat, R/Special Criminal Application No. 9528 of 2018, Order dated 30-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Annie John, J., allowed an appeal filed against the order of the trial court whereby accused was found guilty for the offence punishable under Section 58 of the Kerala Akbari Act.

The main issue that arose before the Court was whether the order of the trial court was good in law.

The Court observed that there was several loopholes in the investigation conducted by the police. Firstly, the sample of the contraband articles was sent to the Court after a delay for 4 days and such delay was unexplained by the prosecution. Secondly, the chemical analysis report was unclear and lastly, the forwarding note did not contain a sample seal. The appellant relied upon the case of Ramankutty v. Excise Inspector, Chelannur Range, 2013 (3) KHC 308, wherein it was held that an accused becomes entitled to the benefit of doubt if there is an unexplained delay on the part of the prosecution. The Court found this case applicable to the facts and circumstances of the instant case and it also observed that it was the duty of the prosecution to prove that the contraband articles were produced before the Court without any sort of tampering. The investigation under the Kerala Akbari Act could be conducted by the Akbari Officer appointed by the state government and every Akbari Officer had a territorial jurisdiction, however, in the instant case, the investigating officer was not authorized to investigate the matter since it was outside his territorial jurisdiction.

The Court after considering all the lacunae in the investigation held that the order of the trial court was liable to be set aside since it was based on such faulty investigation. Resultantly, the appeal was allowed and the order of the trial court was set aside.[Ravi v. State,2018 SCC OnLine Ker 4640, order dated 30-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Shekher Dhawan, J., dealt with a writ petition for the release of retiral benefits i.e. leave encashment to the petitioner. 

Petitioner had filed the instant petition for the release of leave encashment as a retiral benefit. Facts of the case were that a charge sheet was filed against the petitioner after which he got retired from the service. Petitioner contended that an employee like him, if had already retired, only his gratuity could have been withheld but not other retiral benefits in accordance with the case of Punjab State Civil Supplies Corpn. Limited v. Pyare Lal, 2014 SCC OnLine P&H 15012.

High Court viewed that controversy was restricted to petitioner’s prayer for leave encashment and by virtue of decision referred above it had already been decided that leave encashment cannot be withheld. With the above view, the petition was disposed of. [Pawan Kumar v. Punjab State Co-operative Societies,2018 SCC OnLine P&H 1677, decided on 02-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu & Kashmir High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Sanjay Kumar Gupta, J., dismissed a bail petition filed by the petitioners under Section 497-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, seeking bail in a matter involving offences under Sections 420,467, 468, 471 of the Ranbir Penal Code and Section 5(2) of J&K Prevention of Corruption Act, 2006.

The main issue that arose before the court was whether the petitioners are entitled to get bail in a matter involving alleged offences of corruption and cheating.

The Court observed that the petitioners were alleged to have made back-dated appointments in lieu of money from the beneficiaries. The petitioners had made back-dated appointments and as such, it is an action which is covered under the category of cognizable offences. The appointments made by the petitioner were allegedly illegal, also some of the appointees were students and the others were running their own businesses. Another serious allegation that was leveled against the petitioners was that they have tampered with the records of daily wage workers and have replaced their names with the names of appointees who were given appointment by the petitioners. The Court relied upon the judgment of State of A.P. v. Bimal Krishna Kundu, (1997) 8 SCC 104, wherein it was held that arming an accused with a bail order, when serious allegations of corruption are leveled against him/her, would hamper the investigation and would also impede the prospects of unearthing all ramifications involved in the conspiracy. 

The Court held that the allegations leveled against the petitioners were quite serious in nature and hence granting them bail would not be the appropriate thing to do. Further, all the aspects of the matter require detailed investigation and for that purpose custodial interrogation is also required. Resultantly, the bail petition was dismissed.[Mohd. Kubir Malik v. State of J&K, 2018 SCC OnLine J&K 788, order dated 03-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A petition was filed before a Division Bench comprising of Ramesh Sinha and Dinesh Kumar Singh, JJ., for quashing an FIR registered under Sections 409, 419, 420, 467, 468, 471, 477A, 201, 218 and 120-B/34 IPC and 13(2) Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

Facts of the case were that an FIR was filed against petitioner in 2006 and the investigation was pending even after 12 years. Petitioner submitted that a similar petition had been filed by accused where an interim order was passed in his favour, therefore, he is also entitled for the same. Petitioner contended that from perusal of FIR it could not be said that any offence was made out against him. Petitioner also stated the fact that investigation of the case was yet not been completed.

High Court after considering the facts and circumstances of the case and submissions of petitioner directed the investigating officer to complete the investigation and submit police report before the Court. Further, the direction was issued to not arrest the petitioner before the completion of investigation and submission of the report under Section 173(2) Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. [Bharti Singh v. State of U.P., 2018 SCC OnLine All 1933, order dated 11-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Biswajit Basu, J. dismissed a civil revision pertaining to grant of relief under Section 6 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963.

The suit under the said section was filed by the petitioner alleging that he was the tenant in the suit property. That he was dispossessed from the same without his consent and without due process of law. The suit was filed for the relief of reclaiming the possession. The trial court, vide the order impugned, dismissed the suit of the petitioner herein. Aggrieved thereby, the instant revision was filed.

The High Court perused the record. It was observed that Section 6 provides a special and speedy remedy for a particular kind of grievance to place back in possession a person who had been evicted from the immovable property of which he had been in a possession, otherwise than by process of law. Therefore, possession of the plaintiff over the immovable property on the date of dispossession is the condition precedent to invoke jurisdiction of Section 6. Investigation into the title favouring such possession is irrelevant in the proceeding of such nature. In the facts of the present case, it was clear that the petitioner was not in possession of the suit property on the date on which the unlawful dispossession was alleged. Therefore, the Court held that no interference was called for in the order impugned passed by the trial court. The revision petition was accordingly dismissed. [Ramesh Chand Koiri v. Chandan Koiri,2018 SCC OnLine Cal 6471, dated 19-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Ujjal Bhuyan and Nelson Sailo, JJ., allowed a criminal appeal filed against the order of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted and sentenced for life under Section 302 IPC.

The appellant was convicted for murdering the deceased (his brother) due to a land dispute. The allegations were that the appellant trespassed into the house of the deceased and stabbed him to death. The information was given to the police by the son and Ranjit Boro, another brother of the deceased. The appellant was convicted on the basis of testimonies of the wife (PW1) and the daughter (PW 2) of the deceased. The appellant challenged the order of the trial court.

The High Court perused the record and held that there were material discrepancies in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses (PWs). The scene of the crime as described by the wife and the daughter of the deceased differed in material particulars.  Material witnesses including the informants- the son and Ranjit Boro-were not examined by the prosecution. Moreover, the High Court held that the investigation in the case was done in a lackluster manner. Most important evidence including clothes of the deceased, soaked in blood, were neither collected nor sent for forensic examination. The Court reiterated the settled law that in order to convict an accused in a criminal trial, the charges must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. However, in the instant case, the Court held that the above-stated circumstances did not prove the charges against the accused beyond reasonable doubt. It was also observed that there was a land dispute between the parties, and as such possibility of false implication could not be ruled out. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the impugned order was set aside. [Kanak Boro v. State of Assam,2018 SCC OnLine Gau 634, dated 22-6-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Holding that the absence of entries in the General Diary concerning the preliminary enquiry is not per se illegal, the bench of NV Ramana and SA Nazeer said:

“As the concept of maintaining General Diary has its origin under the Section 44 of Police Act of 1861 as applicable to States, which makes it an obligation for the concerned Police Officer to maintain a General Diary, but such non-maintenance per se may not be rendering the whole prosecution illegal.”

The Court noticed that CrPC itself has differentiated between irregularity and illegality. The obligation of maintenance of General Diary is part of course of conduct of the concerned officer, which may not itself have any bearing on the criminal trial unless some grave prejudice going to the root of matter is shown to exist at the time of the trial.

The Court, however, rejected the notion that maintaining the General Diary is not necessary and held that if the Officer has not recorded, then it is for the trial court to weigh the effect of the same for reasons provided therein. It said:

“we are aware of the fact that such non-maintenance of General Diary may have consequences on the merits of the case, which is a matter of trial. Moreover, we are also aware of the fact that the explanation of the genesis of a criminal case, in some   cases, plays an important role in establishing the prosecution’s case.”

[State v. H. Srinivas,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 576, decided on 18.05.2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar, and Dr. DY Chandrachud, JJ dismissed the petitions seeking the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Judge B.H. Loya’s death case. While doing so, the Court said:

“there is absolutely no merit in the writ petitions. There is no reason for the court to doubt the clear and consistent statements of the four judicial officers. The documentary material on the record indicates that the death of Judge Loya was due to natural causes. There is no ground for the court to hold that there was a reasonable suspicion about the cause or circumstances of death which would merit a further inquiry.”

The sequence of events leading to the present case are:

  • Judge Loya was presiding over the CBI Special Court in Mumbai in the trial arising out of the encounter killings of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in which Amit Shah, the national President of the Bharatiya Janata Party, was one of the accused.
  • On 29 November 2014 Judge Loya travelled to Nagpur with two other judicial officers, Shrikant and SM Modak to attend the wedding in the family of another judicial officer, Swapna Joshi who was then a Member Secretary of the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority.
  • In the early hours of 1 December 2014, Judge Loya complained of chest pain and was taken to a nearby hospital. He was then referred to Meditrina Hospital, a cardiac care facility, where he was declared “brought dead”.
  • On 11 December 2017, Tehseen Poonawalla filed a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution before the Supreme Court seeking SIT probe into Judge Loya’s death.
  • Jayshri Laxmanrao Patil and another by Bandhuraj Sambhaji Lone also filed petitions on the same issue.
  • On 20 and 21 November 2017, articles on his death were published in the issues of Caravan magazine. The first article was titled “A family breaks its silence : shocking details emerge in death of judge presiding over Sohrabuddin trial”.

Cause of Death:

The summary of the post mortem report records that Judge Loya died due to a heart attack. No complaint has been lodged by his relatives at the local police station or at PS Sadar of any suspicion in regard to the cause of death and the medical officer has recorded the cause of death as a heart attack in the PM report and there was no evidence of assault.

Statements of the 4 judges:

Petitioner’s submission: the procedure of obtaining the permission of the Chief Justice was completed within one day and the statements were submitted by the four judges on the next day. Two of the judges (Judge Shrikant Kulkarni and Judge Barde) were based in Mumbai while the other two (Judge Modak and Judge Rathi) were based at Pune and Baramati.

Court:

  • A discreet inquiry had been ordered by the state government in view of the articles which were published in Caravan regarding the death of a judicial officer. Three of the statements specifically refer to the letter to the Commissioner while the fourth refers to the request which has been made by the Commissioner and the permission which has been granted by the High Court. There was no reason for the four judicial officers to procrastinate or delay the submission of their statements. There is no basis whatsoever to make any imputation against the four officers of the state judiciary.
  • Each of the judges has spoken in detail of the facts and events which were within their personal knowledge. The statements contain matters of detail which would be known to those who were present with Judge Loya. They have a ring of truth.

Petitioner’s Submission: if the four judges had accompanied Judge Loya to hospital, then as colleagues they would not have indicated his name to be Brijmohan instead of Brijgopal.

Court: This is but another attempt to cast doubt on the version of the four judicial officers without a substantive basis or foundation. Judge Loya was taken to hospital in an emergency. The normal course of human events would indicate that his four colleagues would be more concerned about getting Judge Loya attended than filling up an admission form. A mistake did occur in recording his name as Brijmohan instead of Brijgopal. In our view, this cannot be a ground to discredit the detailed factual narration made by the four judicial officers who were with him.

Stating that the conduct of the petitioners and the intervenors is lacking in bona fides and reveals a misuse of judicial process, the Court said:

“An aura of good faith has been sought to be created by submitting that the true purpose of seeking an inquiry into the circumstances relating to the death of Judge Loya is to protect the district judiciary. But as the submissions have evolved, it has become clear that the petition is a veiled attempt to launch a frontal attack on the independence of the judiciary and to dilute the credibility of judicial institutions. Judicial review is a potent weapon to preserve the rule of law. However, here we have been confronted with a spate of scurrilous allegations. Absent any tittle of proof that they are conspirators in a murder the court must stand by the statements of the judicial officers. The judges of the district judiciary are vulnerable to wanton attacks on their independence. This court would be failing in its duty if it were not to stand by them.”

[Tehseen Poonawalla v. Union of India, (2018) 6 SCC 72, decided on 19-04-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Chander Bhusan Barowalia, J., decided a criminal petition filed under Section 438 of CrPC, wherein the prayer to grant anticipatory bail to the petitioners was denied holding that it would affect the investigation.

An FIR was registered against the petitioners under Sections 20 and 29 of the NDPS Act. The petitioners were named in the case by another accused Saleem, who was found in possession of the commercial quantity of contraband substance ‘charas’. The petitioners were absconding since arrest of the said Saleem. The petitioners prayed that they be granted anticipatory bail while the prosecution submitted that the investigation is still at early stages and if the petitioners are enlarged on bail, it might affect the investigation.

The High Court, while discussing the parameters which need to be considered while dealing with anticipatory bail, held that one of the parameters was that balance has to be struck between two factors, namely, no prejudice should be caused to free, fair and full investigation; and there should be prevention of harassment, humiliation and unjustified detention of the accused. The Court found that the investigation was at the initial stages and if at that stage the petitioners were enlarged on bail, the investigation would be hampered and there were chances that the petitioners would tamper with the prosecution evidence. The Court also took into account the seriousness of the offence, the fact that the petitioners were likely to flee from justice and the quantity of the recovered contraband was also found to be more than one kilogram, which was a commercial quantity. Thus, the Court was of the view that there was every likelihood that in case the petitioners were enlarged on bail it would effect free, fair and full investigation of the case, thus the balance was in favor of free, fair and full investigation and judicial discretion to admit the petitioners on bail could not be exercised in their favor. Accordingly, the bail was denied and the petition was dismissed. [Amru Ram v. State of H.P., 2018 SCC OnLine HP 161, order dated 27.2.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Judicature of Madras: A Single Judge Bench comprising of M. S. Ramesh, J., recently addressed a petition that was filed under Section 482 Code of Criminal Procedure Code which prayed to the Court to direct the respondent Police to not harass the petitioners under the pretence of ongoing investigation/enquiry.

The Court acknowledged that Investigation Officers hold unfettered powers with respect to an enquiry into a non cognizable offence or a cognizable offence but it needs to be ensured that such powers are legitimately exercised. The Court observed that even though the Magistrate is empowered with the privileges of being a guardian in all stages of the police investigation, he’s still not handed over with powers which allow him to interfere with the actual investigation or the mode of investigation.

The Court held that its exercising of powers under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code would not normally allow it to interfere with the investigation conducted by a police officer but, it would also not turn a blind eye to instances of harassment under the guise of investigation by the police. It also observed that what constitutes as “harassment” could fall under a broad ambit and hence, “harassment” in the words of the petitioners could be different from what the respondents thought to be “harassment”.

The Court issued the following guidelines to curb harassment from taking place while investigation was going on:

(i) When a person named in a complaint, or a witness needs to be summoned, the police officer shall present such a person with a written summon under Section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code specifying the date and time for appearing before the enquiry;

(ii) The minutes of the enquiry shall be recorded in the general diary of the police station;

(iii) The Police Officers shall not indulge in harassing the persons being investigated.

[A. N. Lalman Lal v. State of Tamil Nadu, 2017 SCC OnLine Mad 10974, order dated 7.12.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While deciding a criminal petition filed under Section 482 of CrPC, a Single Judge Bench comprising of Aravind Kumar, J. allowed the petition and quashed the proceedings pending against the petitioner on the file of Civil Judge.

A case was registered against the petitioner for the offences punishable under Sections 3(2B), 5(1), 5(D) 4 and 7 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956. Learned counsel for the petitioner contended that the filing of charge-sheet and conducting of investigation was by a person who was not competent to do so under the ITP Act, and such the proceedings against the petitioner may be quashed.

The High Court perused the record and submissions made by the parties and found that the charge-sheet was filed by a Sub-Inspector of Police. However, as per the mandate of Section 13(2) of the said Act, a ‘Special Police Officer’ cannot be below the rank of Inspector of Police. The Court was of the view that where the investigation had been conducted, completed and concluded by an officer who was not competent to do so, such proceedings were liable to be quashed.

Accordingly, the petition was allowed, the proceedings pending against the petitioner were quashed, and he was acquitted of the offences punishable under the abovesaid sections. [Rajeev K. v. State of Karnataka, Criminal Petition No. 6124 of 2017, order dated 16.10.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While deciding a criminal petition filed under Section 482 of CrPC, a Single Judge Bench of Aravind Kumar, J. held that Section 155(2) CrPC clearly discloses that a Police Officer is not entitled to investigate a non-cognizable offence without the order of a Magistrate having power to try such an offence.

Petitioners were arrayed as accused in a criminal case for offences punishable under various sections of the Karnataka Police Act, 1963. The petitioners were seeking to quash the said proceedings against them contending, inter alia, that the same was in violation of Section 155(1) and (2)  CrPC.

Learned counsel for the petitioners contended that if the information relates to a non-cognizable offence than the Investigating Officer has to take permission of the jurisdictional Magistrate before proceeding to investigate the matter; and on account of such defect being large in the instant case, the prosecution launched against the petitioners was liable to be quashed.

The Court perused Section 155 CrPC and held that Section 155(2) CrPC clearly discloses that a Police Officer is not entitled to investigate a non-cognizable offence without the order of a Magistrate having power to try such an offence. However, the Court perused the approval granted by the jurisdictional Magistrate which disclosed that an application under Section 155(2) CrPC was made by the IO concerned seeking permission into the offence alleged against the petitioners. Accordingly, the petition was dismissed holding it to be sans merit. [Syed Shabeer v. State of Karnataka, Criminal Petition No. 2630 of 2017, decided on September 8, 2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: The Court recently had to decide upon anticipatory bail application under Section 438 CrPC. The case was registered against the petitioner under Sections 420, 467, 468, 120-B IPC jointly by 46 persons (workers of Municipal corporation) for allegedly alluring them by promising to them falsely hope of obtaining permanent Class IV jobs in the Municipal Corporation, Amritsar, by taking amounts of money ranging from Rs.50,000/- to Rs.3,00,000/- per person for procuring permanent job openings.

The Court observed that the allegations on the petitioner were quite serious. The Court took note of another important fact that the petitioner was involved even in making of fake identity cards. For the allegations stated in the FIR, the Court thought it to be essential to refer the accused/petitioner for custodial interrogation and outrightly rejected his argument regarding inadmissibility of evidence specifically at such a nascent stage.

Rajiv Narayan Raina, J. went on to say that if he is granted the anticipatory bail, it would hinder the investigation by police as well as it’ll deprive them of the chances to recover the money of complainants and the forged documents which might further prove detrimental to the prosecution’s case.

The Court invoked the well-settled principle of law that the order of anticipatory bail cannot be allowed to circumvent normal procedure of arrest and effective investigation by the police. The Court further explained that the provision of anticipatory bail must not act as an in-road in the statutory investigation by the police. It being mindful of the difficulties that the investigating agency might have to face dismissed the petition. [Sukhwinder Singh @ Raju v. State of Punjab,  2017 SCC OnLine P&H 2205, decided on 06.07.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: The petitioner was an IAS officer appointed in 1982 and served in MP cadre from year 2000 to 2004 as an MD of a government company incorporated under Companies Act, 1956. The Corporation had been borrowing money from various sources to advance the same in the shape of inter corporate deposits to various companies in order to facilitate industrial development in the State of Madhya Pradesh. However, after some time, corporation suffered loss and after inquiry, it was observed that Directors, Managing Directors of the Corporation had not acted bona fide leading to losses in company.

An FIR was lodged in the same respect at State Economic Offices Investigation Bureau, Bhopal under Sections 409, 420, 467, 468 and 120-B  IPC. The petitioner challenged the registration of FIR against him under Section 482 CrPC.  The High Court in 2005 had quashed the FIR against which there was an appeal in Supreme Court. The appeal was allowed directing the Economic Offence Wing every mistake or error committed by an officer need not amount to a criminal act and that in the normal course of official duties mistakes may and do occur and that the petitioner be given reasonable opportunity of projecting his own views over the matter by furnishing all the documents as are necessary for the same.

The petitioner questioned the investigation by the EOW and alleged that the same is not being done in consonance of the directions issued by the Apex Court. The petitioner contended that EOW has not conducted any ‘afresh investigation’ and relying on the earlier investigation, completed some formalities and forwarded the matter to the Union Government to accord sanction which he said is contrary to law and also, the mandate of the Apex Court as it had directed to conduct a de novo investigation referring to Vinay Tyagi v. Irshad Ali, (2013) 5 SCC 762 in which the Court had observed that fresh investigation and de novo investigation could be ordered by the higher courts.

The Court observed that in the case of Rama Chaudhary v. State of Bihar, (2009) 6 SCC 346, it has been held that fresh investigation or re-investigation to be started ab-initio wiping out the earlier investigation altogether and has specifically held that re-investigation or further investigation means additional more or supplementary investigation. Making these observations, the Division Bench held that the investigating agency has committed an error in concluding the investigation and the process of investigation adopted by the investigating agency is also contrary to the mandate of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and directed to conduct investigation in accordance with the mandate of the Supreme Court. [Sudhi Ranjan Mohanty v. UOI, 2017 SCC OnLine MP 216, dated 01.03.2017]

 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Interpreting Section 173 CrPC with reference to the power of the investigative agency, the Court said that the un-amended and the amended sub-Section (8) of Section 173 of the Code if read in juxtaposition, would overwhelmingly attest that by the latter, the investigating agency/officer alone has been authorized to conduct further investigation without limiting the stage of the proceedings relatable thereto. This power qua the investigating agency/officer is thus legislatively intended to be available at any stage of the proceedings.

The bench of Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy, JJ said that though the Magistrate has the power to direct investigation under Section 156(3) CrPC at the pre-cognizance stage even after a charge-sheet or a closure report is submitted, once cognizance is taken and the accused person appears pursuant thereto, he would be bereft of any competence to direct further investigation either suo motu or acting on the request or prayer of the complainant/informant. The direction for investigation by the Magistrate under Section 202 CrPC, while dealing with a complaint, though is at a post-cognizance stage, it is in the nature of an inquiry to derive satisfaction as to whether the proceedings initiated ought to be furthered or not. Such a direction for investigation is not in the nature of further investigation, as contemplated under Section 173(8) CrPC. Had it been the intention of the legislature to invest such a power, Section 173(8) of the Cr.P.C would have been worded accordingly to accommodate and ordain the same having regard to the backdrop of the incorporation thereof. The Court said that the recommendation of the Law Commission in its 41st Report which manifesting heralded the amendment, significantly had limited its proposal to the empowerment of the investigating agency alone.

It was held that after a report is submitted by the police on completion of the investigation, the Magistrate, in both the contingencies, namely; when he takes cognizance of the offence or discharges the accused, would be committed to a course, whereafter though the investigating agency may for good reasons inform him and seek his permission to conduct further investigation, he suo motu cannot embark upon such a step or take that initiative on the request or prayer made by the complainant/informant. Not only such power to the Magistrate to direct further investigation suo motu or on the request or prayer of the complainant/informant after cognizance is taken and the accused person appears, pursuant to the process, issued or is discharged is incompatible with the statutory design and dispensation, it would even otherwise render the provisions of Sections 311 and 319 Cr.P.C., whereunder any witness can be summoned by a Court and a person can be issued notice to stand trial at any stage, in a way redundant. [Amrutbhai Shambhubhai Patel v. Sumanbhai Kantibhai Patel, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 86, decided on 02.02.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Madan B.Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Dr. A.K. Sikri, JJ directed that a Special Investigating Team led by the Director, CBI along with two officers of the CBI nominated by the Director should look into the report prepared by M.L. Sharma and other relevant documents and conduct an investigation into the abuse of authority prima facie committed by Ranjit Sinha, the then Director of CBI, with a view to scuttle enquires, investigations and prosecutions being carried out by the CBI in coal block allocation cases.

It was further directed that the Director, CBI should take the Chief Vigilance Commissioner into confidence in respect of the investigations. Mr. R.S. Cheema who is already a Special Public Prosecutor in the coal block allocation cases, will assist the Director, CBI and his team on legal issues.

Earlier, by order dated 14th May, 2015, the Court had held that it was completely inappropriate for Ranjit Sinha to have met persons accused in the coal block allocation cases without the investigating officer being present or without the investigating team being present and had formed a Committee headed by M.L. Sharma, IPS (Retired), former Special Director CBI and former Central Information Commissioner to look into the allegations. [Common Cause v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 54, order dated 23.01.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the petition seeking setting aside the appointment of K.V. Chaudhary as Central Vigilance Commissioner and T.M. Bhasin as Vigilance Commissioner on the ground that these persons are not of impeccable integrity and also seeking order directing investigation into the incriminating material seized in the raids conducted on the Birla and Sahara Group of Companies in question, the Court said that the materials which have been placed on record either in the case of Birla or in the case of Sahara are not maintained in regular course of business and thus lack in required reliability to be made the foundation of a police investigation..

The bench of Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy, JJ said that the Court has to be on guard while ordering investigation against any important constitutional functionary, officers or any person in the absence of some cogent legally cognizable material. When the material on the basis of which investigation is sought is itself irrelevant to constitute evidence and not admissible in evidence, it will not be safe to even initiate investigation. There has to be some relevant and admissible evidence and some cogent reason, which is prima facie reliable and that too, supported by some other circumstances pointing out that the particular third person against whom the allegations have been levelled was in fact involved in the matter or he has done some act during that period, which may have co-relations with the random entries. If the same is not done, then the process of law can be abused against all and sundry very easily to achieve ulterior goals and then no democracy can survive in case investigations are lightly set in motion against important constitutional functionaries on the basis of fictitious entries, in absence of cogent and admissible material on record, lest liberty of an individual be compromised unnecessarily.

Noticing that the materials placed on record in the present case are random sheets and loose papers and their correctness and authenticity, even for the purpose of income mentioned therein have been found to be un-reliable having no evidentiary value, by the concerned authorities of income tax, the Court said that the complaint should not be improbable and must show sufficient ground and commission of offence on the basis of which registration of a case can be ordered. [Common Cause v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 41, deiced on 11.01.2017]

 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Dealing with a pivotal question as to whether the High Court while refusing to exercise inherent powers under Section 482 of the CrPC to interfere in an application for quashment of the investigation, can restrain the investigating agency not to arrest the accused persons during the course of investigation, the Court said that this kind of order is really inappropriate and unseemly and has no sanction in law.

Stating that such direction “amounts” to an order granting anticipatory bail under Section 438 CrPC, albeit without satisfaction of the conditions of the said provision, the bench of Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy, JJ said that the court cannot issue a blanket order restraining arrest and it can only issue an interim order and the interim order must also conform to the requirement of the section and suitable conditions should be imposed.

It was held that the High Court should be well advised that while entertaining petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution or Section 482 CrPC, exercise judicial restraint. The Court, if it thinks fit, regard being had to the parameters of quashing and the self-restraint imposed by law, has the jurisdiction to quash the investigation and may pass appropriate interim orders as thought apposite in law, but it is absolutely inconceivable and unthinkable to pass an order of the present nature while declining to interfere or expressing opinion that it is not appropriate to stay the investigation.  The Courts should oust and obstruct unscrupulous litigants from invoking the inherent jurisdiction of the Court on the drop of a hat to file an application for quashing of launching an FIR or investigation and then seek relief by an interim order. It is the obligation of the court to keep such unprincipled and unethical litigants at bay. [State of Telangana v. Habib Abdullah Jeelani, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 23, decided on 06.01.2017]