Police,Karnataka L. & ANR. Vs. B. Srinivas  INSC 1379 (18 August
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICITON CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1289 OF 2008
(Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No.1585 of 2007) Superintendent of Police, Karnataka
...Appellants Lokayuktha and Anr.
Versus B. Srinivas
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
in this appeal is to the judgment of a learned Single Judge of the Karnataka
High Court accepting the petition filed by the respondent under Section 482 of
the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (in short the `Code'). Prayer in the
petition was to quash the order dated 12.6.2000 passed by the Superintendent of
Police, Karnataka Lokayuktha and investigation pursuant to the said order,
including lodging of the first information report.
the relevant point of time the respondent was working as an Engineer-in-Chief
of Rural Development Engineering Department, Bangalore. The Lokayuktha police
had registered a case in respect of offences punishable under Section 13(1)(e)
read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (in short the
facts in a nutshell are as follows:
Search was conducted
in the house of the respondent on 15th/16th June, 2000 and certain records and
documents were seized. Documents relating to the respondent, his son-in-law,
his daughter and son were seized. The Superintendent of Police had authorized
the Inspector of Police to conduct investigation. The petition was filed
essentially on three grounds; firstly, the authorization given by the
Superintendent 2 of Police to conduct the investigation was contrary to the
view expressed by this Court in State of Haryana and Ors. v. Bhajan Lal and
Ors. (1992 Supp (1) SCC 335). The basis for such stand was that no reason had
been indicated as to why it was entrusted to the Inspector. When the petition
was finally heard in the year 2006, second stand taken was that there was
inordinate delay of 6 years in filing the charge sheet. The High Court accepted
both the stands and quashed the proceedings. The third stand was that
exaggerated figures were shown in the chargesheet. This aspect does not appear
to have been dealt with by the High Court. It, however, permitted the
prosecution to take action on the facts afresh keeping in view certain aspects
referred to in the judgment.
support of the appeal, Mr. Sanjay Hegde, learned counsel for the appellants
submitted that the High Court erroneously exercised jurisdiction under Section
482 of Code.
When the petition was
initially filed, there was no question of any delay. An amendment had been
sought for in the petition and prayer was to quash the order passed by the 3
Superintendent of Police and further part of the investigation done by the
Inspector of Police-respondent No.2. It is pointed out that the High Court
erroneously observed that there was delay in filing the charge sheet. In any
event, the delay was occasioned on account of the part played by the respondent
and delay, if any, alone cannot be a ground to quash the legitimate
proceedings. Further, it is pointed out that the High Court has erroneously
held that no reasons were indicated.
Reference is made in
the order passed by the Superintendent of Police to contend that reasons in
fact had been indicated.
contra, learned counsel for the respondent submitted that though the High Court
has not specifically referred to this aspect, the fact that after completing
investigation the amount of alleged disproportionate asset which was initially
stated to be more than one crore has been sealed down substantially cannot be
lost sight of. Further, it is submitted that delay itself can be a ground to
quash the proceedings. It is also submitted that the High Court has rightly
observed that reasons are not discernible from the order passed by the 4
Superintendent of Police while authorizing investigation by the Inspector.
shall first deal with the question of alleged delay. It is of some significance
to note that an FIR was lodged on 12.6.2000 and few days thereafter the
petition under Section 482 was filed. On the basis of FIR the house of
respondent was searched on 15th and 16th June. The petition was filed on
11.7.2000. Application seeking permission to substitute additional grounds was
filed in the year 2005. It is not a case where charge sheet had not been filed
or that there was no explanation for the delay. There is no general and wide
proposition of law formulated that whenever there is delay on the part of the
investigating agency in completing the investigation, such a delay can be a
ground for quashing the FIR. It would be difficult to formulate inflexible
guidelines or rigid principles in determining as to whether the accused has
been deprived of fair trial on account of delay or protracted investigation
would depend on various factors including whether such a delay was reasonably
long or caused deliberately or intentionally to hamper the defence of the 5
accused or whether delay was inevitable in the nature of things or whether it
was due to dilatory tactics adopted by the accused. It would depend upon
certain peculiar facts and circumstances of each case i.e. the volume of
evidence collected by the investigating agency, the nature and gravity of the
offence for which accused has been charge sheeted in a given case. The nexus
between whole and some of the above factors is of considerable relevance.
Therefore, whether the accused has been deprived of fair trial on account of
protracted investigation has to come on facts. He has also to establish that he
had no role in the delay. Every delay does not necessarily occur because of the
7-Judge Bench of this Court in P. Ramachandra Rao v. State of Karnataka (2002
(4) SCC 578) affirmed the view taken in Abdul Rehman Antulay v. R.S. Nayak
(1992 (1) SCC 225) and clarified confusion created by certain observations in
`Common Cause' a Registered Society v. Union of India (1996 (4) SCC 33),
`Common Cause' a Registered Society v. Union of India (1996 (6) SCC, 775), Raj
Deo Sharma v. State of Bihar 6 (1998 (7) SCC 507) and Raj Deo Sharma (II) v.
State of Bihar (1999 (7) SCC 604). It was observed that the decision in A.R.
Antulay's case (supra) still holds the field and the guidelines laid down in
said case are not exhaustive but only illustrative.
They are not intended
to operate as hard and fast rules or to be applied like a straitjacket formula.
Their applicability would depend on the factual situations of each case. It is
difficult to foresee all situations and no generalization can be made. It has
also been held that it is neither advisable nor feasible nor judicially
permissible to draw or prescribe an outer limit for conclusion of all criminal
Whenever there is any
allegation of violation of right to speedy trial the Court has to perform by
balancing the act by taking into consideration all attending circumstances and
to decide whether the right to speedy trial has been denied in a given case. As
noted above, one month after the order relating to investigation and lodging of
FIR, a petition under Section 482 of Code was filed before the High Court.
is interesting to note that while the High Court quashed the proceedings
because of alleged delayed investigation, it permitted the authorities to take
decision to continue the proceedings. Therefore, the first ground on which the
High Court interfered cannot be maintained.
other question relates to the alleged deficiency in authorization made by
Superintendent of Police authorizing the Inspector to investigate the case. The
High Court placed strong reliance on Bhajan Lal's case (supra), more
particularly, in para 134. Though the High Court referred to certain decisions
of this Court, the decision in State of M.P. and Ors. v. Ram Singh (2000 (5)
SCC 88), was not followed. It is to be noted that in Ram Singh's case (supra)
the view expressed in Bhajan Lal's case (supra) has been explained after
referring to the relevant para.
order passed by Superintendent of Police reads as follows:
LOKAYUKTA NO: KLA/PW/SP/City.Dn./99-2000 Superintendent of Police City
Division, M.S. Buildings, Dr. Ambedkar Veedhi, Bangalore-560 001.
Dated: 12th June,
MEM0 Sub: Possession
of Disproportionate Assets to the known source of income by Sri. B. Srinivasa,
Engineer-in-chief, Rural Development Engineering Department-reg.
Ref: Report of Sri.
M.D. Khalander Presently working as police Inspector, Police Wing, City
Division, Karnataka Lokayukta.
I have gone through
the report of Sri. Md. Khalander, presently working as Police Inspector, Police
Wing City division, Karnataka Lokayukta, Bangalore relating to Inquiry report
(IE) receipt of credible information that Sri. B. Srinivas at present working as
Engineer-in-chief, Rural Development Engineering Department has acquired
properties disproportionate to his known source of income to the extent of
about Rs. 1,13,000,00/- and thereby committed offence U/s. 13 (12)(e) R/W.
13(2) of the P.C. Act, 1988.
9 From the materials
placed before me with the application of my mind I am satisfied that a prima
facie case is made against Sri B. Srinivas U/s 13(1)(e) r/w 13 (2) of the
Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
Therefore by virtue
of the power vested in me, S.G. Ramesh Superintendent of Police, Police Wing
City Division, Karnataka Lokayukta, Bangalore, order under the provisions of
S.C. 17 of the Prevention of corruption Act, 1988, Sri. M.D. Khalander Police
Inspector, Police Wing City Dn. Karnataka Lokayukta Bangalore to register a
case U/s. 13(1)(e) read with 13(2) of the P.C.
Act, 1988 against Sri
B Srinivas, Engineer-in-Chief, Rural Development Engineering Department,
Bangalore and investigate the said case.
Further U/W.18 of the
Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, Sri. M.D. Khalander is authorised to
inspect the Bankers books, so far as it relates to money on behalf of such
person and take or cause to be taken certified copies of the relevant entries
therefrom and the Bank concerned shall be bound to assist the Police Inspector,
Police wing City Dn., Karnataka Lokayukta, Bangalore in the exercise of his
powers under this section.
10 M.D. Khalander
Sd/- Police Inspector, Superintendent Police Wing, City Division, of Police,
City Division, Bangalore Office of the Lokyukta Bangalore."
Ram Singh's case (supra) this Court indicated the position lucidly after
referring to Bhajan Lal's case (supra) in para 14. The same reads as follows:
"14. It may be
noticed at this stage that a three-Judge Bench of this Court in H.N.
Rishbud v. State of
Delhi (AIR 1955 SC 196) had held that a defect or illegality in investigation,
however serious, has no direct bearing on the competence or the procedure
relating to cognizance or trial. Referring to the provisions of Sections 190,
193, 195 to 199 and 537 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (1898) in the context
of an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, the Court held:
"A defect or
illegality in investigation, however serious, has no direct bearing on the
competence or the procedure relating to cognizance or trial. No doubt a police
report which results from an investigation is provided in Section 190 Cr.P.C as
the material on which cognizance is taken. But it cannot be maintained that a
valid and legal police report is the foundation of the jurisdiction of the
court to take cognizance. Section 190 Cr.P.C 11is one out of a group of
sections under the heading `Conditions requisite for initiation of
proceedings'. The language of this section is in marked contrast with that of
the other sections of the group under the same heading, i.e., Sections 193 and
195 to 199.
These latter sections
regulate the competence of the court and bar its jurisdiction in certain cases
excepting in compliance therewith. But Section 190 does not. While no doubt, in
one sense, clauses (a), (b) and (c) of Section 190(1) are conditions requisite
for taking of cognizance, it is not possible to say that cognizance on an
invalid police report is prohibited and is therefore a nullity. Such an invalid
report may still fall either under clause (a) or (b) of Section 190(1),
(whether it is the one or the other we need not pause to consider) and in any
case cognizance so taken is only in the nature of error in a proceeding
antecedent to the trial. To such a situation Section 537 CrPC which is in the
following terms is attracted:
`Subject to the
provisions hereinbefore contained, no finding, sentence or order passed by a
court of competent jurisdiction shall be reversed or altered on appeal or
revision on account of any error, omission or irregularity in the complaint,
summons, warrant, charge, proclamation, order, judgment or other proceedings
before or during trial or in any inquiry or other proceedings under this Code,
unless such error, 12 omission or irregularity, has in fact occasioned a
failure of justice.' If, therefore, cognizance is in fact taken, on a police
report vitiated by the breach of a mandatory provision relating to
investigation, there can be no doubt that the result of the trial which follows
it cannot be set aside unless the illegality in the investigation can be shown
to have brought about a miscarriage of justice. That an illegality committed in
the course of investigation does not affect the competence and the jurisdiction
of the court for trial is well settled as appears from the cases in - `Parbhu
v. Emperor'(AIR 1944 PC (73) and - `Lumbhardar Zutshi v. R. (AIR 1950 PC
26)." It further held:
"In our opinion,
therefore, when such a breach is brought to the notice of the court at an early
stage of the trial, the court will have to consider the nature and extent of
the violation and pass appropriate orders for such reinvestigation as may be
called for, wholly or partly, and by such officer as it considers appropriate
with reference to the requirements of Section 5-A of the Act. It is in the
light of the above considerations that the validity or otherwise of the
objection as to the violation of Section 5(4) of the Act has to be decided and
the course to 13 be adopted in these proceedings, determined."
In Bhajan Lal case
(1992 Supp (1) SCC 335) this Court had found on facts that the SP had passed
the order mechanically and in a very casual manner regardless of the settled
principles of law. The provisions of Section 17 of the Act had not been
complied with. As earlier noticed the SP while authorising the SHO to
investigate had made only an endorsement to the effect "Please register
the case and investigate". The SP was shown to be not aware either of the
allegations or the nature of the offences and the pressure of the workload
requiring investigation by an Inspector. There is no denial of the fact that in
cases against the respondents in these appeals, even in the absence of the
authority of the SP the investigating officer was in law authorised to
investigate the offence falling under Section 13 of the Act with the exception
of one as is described under sub-section (1)(e) of the Act. After registration
of the FIR the Superintendent of Police in the instant appeals is shown to be
aware and conscious of the allegations made against the respondents, the FIR
registered against them and pending investigations. The order passed by the SP
in the case of Ram Singh on 12-12-1994 with respect to a crime registered in
1992 was to the effect:
"In exercise of
powers conferred by the provisions on me, under Section 17 of the Prevention of
Corruption Act, 1988, I, P.K. Runwal, 14 Superintendent of Police, Special
Police Establishment, Division I, Lokayukta Karyalaya, Gwalior Division, Gwalior
(M.P.), authorised Shri D.S. Rana, Inspector (SPE), Lak-Gwl (M.P.) to
investigate Crime No. 103 of 1992 under Sections 13 (1)(e), 23(2) of the
Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against Shri Ram Singh, DO, Excise, Batul
Similar orders have
been passed in the other two cases as well. The reasons for entrustment of
investigation to the Inspector can be discerned from the order itself. The
appellant State is, therefore, justified in submitting that the facts of Bhajan
Lal case were distinguishable as in the instant case the Superintendent of
Police appears to have applied his mind and passed the order authorising the
investigation by an Inspector under the peculiar circumstances of the case.
The reasons for
entrustment of investigation were obvious. The High Court should not have
liberally construed the provisions of the Act in favour of the accused
resulting in closure of the trial of the serious charges made against the
respondents in relation to commission of offences punishable under an Act legislated
to curb the illegal and corrupt practices of the public officers. It is brought
to our notice that under similar circumstances the High Court had quashed the
investigation and consequent proceedings in a case registered against Shri Ram
Babu Gupta against which Criminal Appeal No. 1754 of 1986 was filed in this
Court which was allowed on 27-9-1986 by setting aside the order of the High
Court with 15 a direction to the trial court to proceed with the case in
accordance with law and in the light of the observations made therein."
one looks at the order passed, which formed the subject matter of challenge in
Ram Singh's case (supra) it is crystal clear that the order passed in the
present case by the Superintendent of Police is more elaborate and as rightly
submitted by learned counsel for the appellant, the reasons are clearly
discernible. Even otherwise, the effect of Section 19(3) of the Act relating to
prejudice has been completely lost sight of by the High Court. The second
reason indicated by the High Court to quash the proceedings also has no
inevitable conclusion is that the order passed by the High Court is
indefensible and is set aside. However, it would be in the interest of justice
if the trial is completed on the basis of the charge sheet filed as early as
practicable preferably by the end of February, 2009.
appeal is allowed.
..........................................J. (Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)