Muni Lal Vs. Delhi Administration
 INSC 99 (30 March 1971)
CITATION: 1971 AIR 1525 1971 SCR 276 1971 SCC
RF 1992 SC 604 (125)
Prevention of Corruption Act (2 of 1947), s. 5A-If
officer conducting investigation should take every step himselfObjection not
taken during trialEffect of irregularity or illegality-If conviction illegal.
The appellant was charged with the offenses
under s. 5(2) read with s. 5(1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947
and s. 161, I.P.C. The investigation was conducted by the Dy. Superintendent of
Police but some of the statements, reports and memoranda were written, not by
the Dy. Superintendent of Police, but by the Sub-Inspector.
The appellant did not raise any objection
before or during the trial that an illegality or irregularity was committed
during investigation. At the stage of argument, it was contended that there was
a violation of s. 5(A). The appellant was convicted and the conviction was
confirmed by the High Court. In appeal to this Court, on the questions:
(1) whether there was violation of s. 5(A) of
the Prevention of Corruption Act, and (2) whether such violation rendered the
trial and conviction of the appellant illegal,
HELD:(1) The Dy. Superintendent of Police
gave evidence that the entire investigation was done by him and that the
statements and reports which were in the handwriting of the Sub-Inspector were
written by the latter on his dictation and under his supervision. The evidence
in the case also established that the Dy. Superintendent of Police was in
complete charge of the investigation giving necessary directions and, never
withdrew from the case at any stage. Though s. 5A is mandatory that the investigation
should be conducted by the officer of the appropriate rank it is not necessary
that every one of the steps in the investigation should be done by him in
person or that he could not take the assistance of his deputies or that he was
bound to go through each one of the steps himself.
Therefore, there was no irregularity or
illegality in the conduct of the investigation. [280 F-G; 282A-B, F-H; 283B]
(2)Where no objection was raised before trial commenced regarding any
illegality or irregularity committed during investigation and where the
cognizance of case in fact had been taken and the case had proceeded to
termination the invalidity of the preceding investigation would not vitiate the
result unless miscarriage of justice has been caused thereby and the accused
has been prejudiced. [281A-B, C-D, G] H.N. Rishbud and Inder Singh v. State of
Delhi,  1 S.C.R. 1150 and Munna Lal v. State of Uttar Pradesh,  3
S.C.R. 88, followed.
State of Madhya Pradesh v. Mubarak Ali,
 Supp. 2 S.C.R. 201, referred to.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal Appeal
23 of 1968.
277 Appeal by special leave from the judgment
and order dated September 18, 1967 of the Delhi High Court in Criminal Appeal
No. 26-D of 1966.
E. C. Agarwal, for the appellant.
G. N. Dikshit and R. N. Sachthey, for the
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Vaidialingam, J.-This appeal, by special, leave, is directed against the
judgment and order dated September 18, 1967 of the Delhi High Court confirming
the conviction of the appellant for offenses under Sections 5(2) read with
Section (5) (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 (hereinafter to
be referred as the Act) and Section 161 of the Indian Penal Code. The High
Court also confirmed the sentence of one year's rigorous imprisonment. In
addition to this the Special Judge had imposed a fine of Rs. 500; but the High
Court reduced the fine to Rs. 100. This was the only modification effected by
the High Court with regard to the sentence.
The case for the prosecution was as follows
The appellant was employed in August, 1965 as Head Constable attached to Hauz
Qazi Police Station, Delhi. One Som Nath used to park his rehri in the chowk of
Hauz Qazi and sell Kulchey and Chholey. Som Nath had been playing this trade for
about 8 or 10 years without payment of the necessary tax to the Municipal
Corporation and without taking any licence. The appellant used to harass and
threaten Som Nath that unless he paid bribe to him, he will be prosecuted. In
particular on August 25, 1965 the appellant demanded from Som Nath as bribe a
sum of Rs. 20 per month for not harassing him for carrying on his business
without the necessary licence. Som Nath expressed his inability to pay such a
heavy amount and ultimately the appellant agreed to receive Rs. 10 per month.
He promised to make the first payment on
August 26, 1965 between 2 and 3 P. M. At about 11 A. M. on August 26, 1965, Som
Nath approached Sri Hamaik Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police, attached to
the Anti, Corruption Department and reported about the demand made by the
appellant and to his having ultimately agreed to pay a sum of Rs. 10 between 2
and 3 P. M. on that day., This complaint was reduced to writing by Harnaik
Singh, who has given evidence as P. W. 6.
P. W. 6, summoned two employees from the
office of the Deputy Collector, Tees Hazari, Sri Navneet Lal (P. W.2) and Hari
Kisban (P. W. 3) and in their presence took from P. W.
I the currency note of Rs. 10 and after
noting the number handed it over to P. W. I with the instruction to, give the
same to the appellant on demand. P. W. I was also informed that the police
party 278 will be hiding nearby and that he should give a particular signal
after paying the amount to the appellant.
The police party headed by P. W. 6 together
with the complainant and P. Ws. 2 and 3 proceeded near the rehri of P. W. I.
While P. W. I went to the rehri, the police party and P. Ws. 2 and 3 remained
behind in hiding. At about 2. 45 P. M. the appellant came to the rehri of P. W.
I and told him "give, my thing to me". P. W. I placed the currency
note on the palm of the appellant saying that he was 'Making the payment with
considerable difficulty. On signal given by P. W. 1, the Deputy Superintendent
of Police along with others immediately went to the rehri of P. W. I and on
being told by P. W. 1 that he had paid Rs. 10/to the appellant, the latter was
asked to produce the same. P. W. 6 made a search of the appellant and recovered
the currency note Ex. P. I from his pocket. The number of the currency note was
checked with the number already recorded and it tallied. P. Ws. 2 and 3 also
witnessed the search and seizure made by P. W. 6. Accordingly the appellant was
prosecuted for the offenses mentioned above.
The prosecution relied mainly on the evidence
of P. W. I Som Nath and the two persons who had witnessed the search and
seisure P. Ws. 2 and 3 and the Deputy Superintendent of Police, P. W. 6.
Certain other witnesses were also examined.
The appellant denied that he had either
demanded or received any bribe from P. W. I He pleaded that the alleged
recovery of the currency note from him is false and that the witnesses had been
tutored to give false evidence at the instance of Ved Prakash, Sub-Inspector of
Police, who was his enemy. According to the appellant, he had declined to
accede to the request of Ved Prakash to give false evidence against two
Sub-Inspectors of Police, Phool Singh and Jeeva Singh, whom he wanted to be
implicated in a case. The appellant also examined two witnesses. D. W. 1 who was
also having a rehri in the same chowk, had stated that the appellant had not
received any bribe from P. W. I and that he also informed P. W. 6 about the
same. D. W. 2 was the Secretary of the Rehri Labour Union and he has deposed to
the fact that none of the members of the Union had ever complained against the
appellant and that the latter had nothing to do with the prosecution of people
under Section 34 of the Police Act.
The, learned Special Judge accepted the
evidence of P. Ws. 1, 2, 3 and 6, and rejected the evidence of D. Ws. 1, and 2.
The view of the learned Special Judge was
that D. W. I was giving false, evidence on account of business friendship and
that D. W. 2 had said nothing about the incident in question. In this view the
279 Special Judge found the appellant guilty of the offenses with which he was
charged and sentenced him to undergo one year's rigorous imprisonment and to
pay a fine of Rs. 500.
On appeal to the High Court, the appellant
pressed the objection that the investigation of the case was done in violation
of the provisions of Section 5A of the Act.
According to the appellant, instead of P. W.
6 conducting the investigation, it was done by the Sub-Inspector Ved Prakash
and, therefore, no conviction could be based on such investigation, which had
been made contrary to law. The appellant also pleaded that the evidence of P.
W. 1 is that of an interested witness and that P. Ws. 2 and 3 were tools in the
hands of the police and as such no reliance can be placed on the testimony of
these three witnesses. His plea was that the evidence of D. Ws. 1 and 2 should
have been accepted.
The High Court has expressed the view that
there is a certain amount of irregularity in the investigation of the case
inasmuch as the statements, reports and memos were all written by Ved Prakash
and not by the Deputy Superintendent of Police, P. W. 6. But as there is only
an irregularity and as the trial has not been vitiated, it cannot be said that
the trial and other proceedings conducted against the appellant have to be set
aside. The High Court agreed with the Special Judge that the evidence of P. Ws.
1, 2, 3 and 6 clearly establishes the case of the prosecution and as such the
appellant has been rightly found to be guilty of the offenses with which he was
charged. While confirming the conviction and the sentence of one year's
rigorous imprisonment, the High Court, however, reduced the fine to Rs. 100.
Mr. E. C. Agarwala, learned counsel for the
appellant raised two contentions : (1) the trial and conviction of the
appellant are illegal inasmuch as the investigation in this case has been
conducted in violation of the provisions of Section 5A of the Act, and (2) the
prosecution evidence should not have been accepted as the whole case has been
engineered by the enemy of the appellant Ved Prakash, who has not appeared
before the court. The second contention of Mr. Agarwala can be straightaway
disposed of. Both the Special Judge as well as the High Court have accepted as
true the evidence of P. Ws. 1, 2, and 3 supported as it was by the evidence of
the Deputy Superintendent of Police, P.
W. 6. The Evidence of D. W. I has been
categorically rejected as false. D. W. 2 does not say anything about the
incident and as such his evidence is of no assistance to the appellant. No
doubt the appellant has stated when he was examined under Section 342 Cr. P.-C.
that the prosecution witnesses Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are under the influence and
threat of the police and that they have been prompted by Ved Prakash due to
enmity to give false evidence against him.
This 280 plea has not been accepted by any of
the courts. We are satisfied that the evidence adduced by the prosecution has
been properly accepted by the courts.
This leaves us the consideration of the first
contention that the investigation has not been conducted in accordance with
Section 5A of the Act. We must frankly admit that the observation made by the
High Court that there has been a certain amount of irregularity in the
investigation of the case has given scope for this argument. According to the
learned counsel for the appellant the entire investigation in this case has
been done not by the Deputy Superintendent of Police P. W. 6, but by the
Sub-Inspector of Police Ved Prakash, who has also not appeared before the
court. The contention of the learned counsel in this regard is based upon the
fact that some of the statements, reports and memos have been written not by P.
W. 6 but by Ved Prakash. Mr. G.N. Dixit, learned counsel appearing for the
Delhi Administration, has drawn our attention to the various reports,
statements and memos exhibited in the case to show that the investigation has
been done not by Ved Prakash, but by P. W. 6 and it is not violative of Section
5A of the Act.
He has also placed considerable reliance on
the evidence of P. W. 6 in this regard to show that the entire investigation
was done by him.
There is no controversy that the case before
us could not have been investigated under Section 5A of the Act by any police
officer below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police. The only question
is whether the investigation has been done by Ved Prakash as alleged by the
appellant or by P. W. 6 as stated on behalf of the respondent The contention on
behalf of the appellant is that some of the statements recorded appear to be in
the hand writing of Ved Prakash and, therefore, the inference is that it is he
who has conducted the investigation. It is true that Section 5A is mandatory
and not directory and an investigation conducted in violation thereof is
But as held by this Court in H. N. Rishbud
and Inder Singh vs. The State of Delhi (1) if cognizance in fact has been taken
on a police report in breach of the mandatory provisions relating to
investigation, the results, which follow cannot be set aside unless the
illegality in the investigation can be shown to have brought about a
miscarriage of justice. It has been further emphasised in the said decision
that an illegality committed in the course of a n investigation does not affect
the competence and jurisdiction of the Court for trial. The same propositions
have been reiterated in Munna Lal vs. State of Uttar Pradesh (2) (1)  1
S. C. R. 1150. (2.)  3 S. C. R. 88.
281 From the above propositions it follows
that where cognizance of the case has in fact been taken and the case has
proceeded to termination, the invalidity of the preceding investigation will
not vitiate the result unless miscarriage of justice has been caused thereby
and the accused has been prejudiced. Assuming in favour of the appellant, that
there was an irregularity in the investigation and that Section 5A of the Act
was not complied with in substance, the trial by the Special Judge cannot be
held to be illegal unless it is shown that miscarriage of justice has been
caused on account of illegal investigation. The learned counsel for the appellant
has been unable to show us how there has been any miscarriage of justice in
this case and how the accused has been prejudiced by any irregular
investigation. Admittedly the appellant did not raise any objection before the
trial commenced regarding any illegality or irregularity committed during the
stage of investigation. On the other hand, the trial was allowed to proceed and
it came to an end. That contention was raised only at the stage of arguments.
In this connection we may also refer to the decision in The State of Madhya
Pradesh v. Mubarak Ali(1), There the objection was taken before the trial began
before the Special Judge, that the investigation has been carried on in breach
of Section 5A of the Act. The matter was taken to the High Court and it
directed that it in order to rectify the defects and cure the illegality in the
investigation, the Special Judge should have ordered the Deputy Superintendent
of Police to carry on the investigation himself while the case remained pending
in the court of the Special Judge. That order of the High Court was challenged
and this Court confirmed it and declined to interfere on the ground that as the
objection has been taken at the earliest stage before the trial began, the
direction given by the High Court was justified as that will ensure a proper
investigation being made and completed for the prosecution of the accused
therein. Therefore the ratio of the. said decision cannot apply and the present
case will be governed by the decision in The State of Madhya Pradesh v. Mubarak
Ali(1). (1). But we make it clear that the above discussion has been made by us
on the assumption that there has been an irregularity committed in the
investigation in the case before us' But as we will presently show in the
discussion to follow there is no such irregularity or illegality in the
investigation as contended on behalf of the appellant.
We are satisfied that the investigation in
this case has been conducted not by Ved Prakash, Sub-Inspector of Police, but
by the competent authority, namely, the Deputy Superintendent of
1.  Supp. 2 S. C. R. 201 2.  1
S.C. R. 1150.
282 Police. P. W. 6. It is no doubt true that
some of the statements recorded during the investigation conducted by P. W. 6
are in the hand writing of Ved Prakash. But P. W, 6 has categorically stated in
his evidence that the entire investigation was done by him and that any
statements or reports which are in the hand writing of Ved Prakash were written
by the latter on his dictation and under his supervision. That P. W. 6 is the
officer who conducted the investigation is also borne out by the, various
documentary evidence produced in. the case. Ex. PA has been given by P. W. 1 to
P. W. 6 and it bears the signature of the latter.
The endorsement Ex. P. A 1 also bears the
signature of P. W. 6. It is clearly stated therein that on receipt of the
complaint Ex. PA from P. W. I., the Deputy Superintendent of Police sent for P.
Ws. 2 and 3, two employees from the office of the Deputy Commissioner to
appraise them about the nature of the complaint given by P. W. I and also
making them witnesses for receiving the ten rupee currency note as well as
handing over the same to P. W. 1 to be given as bribe to the appellant. The
detailed instructions are given by P. W. 6 in the endorsement and to the said
There is a further endorsement that he as
Deputy Superintendent of Police has arranged a raiding party consisting of
himself and the persons mentioned therein and that they are leaving for
conducting the raid along with the complainant. There is also a further
endorsement Ex. PA/2 by P. W. 6 giving in detail the actual incident relating
to the search and seizure of ten rupee currency note from the appellant. All
these are done by P. W. 6 and after the seizure and search, P. W. 6 sends the
necessary report to the concerned police station for registering the case. The
actual seizure memo is also prepared and signed by P. W. 6. The various articles
seized from the appellant are also written out in the memo prepared and signed
by P. W. 6. Therefore, all the above facts clearly establish that the
investigation was conducted by P. W. 6, Deputy Superintendent of Police, as
required by law and there has been no violation of Section 5A of the Act.
The High Court found irregularity in the
investigation on the basis, as pointed out earlier, that some of the statements
are. in. the hand writing of Ved Prakash. We are of the view that this was a
wrong approach made by the High Court. It is clear from the evidence that P. W.
6 was in complete charge and control of' the investigation and he has never
withdrawn from the same at any stage. He was the officer who was controlling
and giving necessary directions in the course of investigation. Though it is
clearly implicit in section 5A that the investigation should be conducted by
the officer of the appropriate rank, we do not think it is absolutely necessary
that every one of the steps in the investigation has to be done by him in
person or that he cannot take the assistance of his deputies or that he is
bound to go through each and 283 everyone of the steps in the investigation in
The above proposition also has been laid down
by this Court in H. N. Rishbud and Inder Singh vs. The State of Bihar (1) are
referring to the above aspect to emphasise that the mere fact that some of the
statements have been written-by Ved Prakash to the dictation of P. W. 6 will
not make the investigation as one not conducted by P. W. 6. Therefore, under
the circumstances, we are not inclined to agree with the view of the High Court
that there has been any irregularity or illegality in the conduct of the
We however agree with the conclusions arrived
at by the High Court holding the appellant guilty of the offence as well as the
sentence imposed on him.
In the result the appeal fails and is
dismissed. The appellant will surrender his bail.
(1)  1 S. C. R. 1150.