Jehan Singh Vs. Delhi Administration
 INSC 73 (27 March 1974)
SARKARIA, RANJIT SINGH SARKARIA, RANJIT SINGH
BEG, M. HAMEEDULLAH
CITATION: 1974 AIR 1146 1974 SCR (3) 794 1974
SCC (4) 522
CITATOR INFO :
R 1982 SC 949 (19,58,64) RF 1992 SC 604 (95)
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, Sec.
561-A--Inherent powers of the High Court--Interference with investigation by
the Police--F.I.R. prima facie discloses cognizable offence.
A bus belonging to one Indraj and Sukhlal was
in the possession of Munshi Ram, the driver, and other servants.
The bus was removed from the custody of the
said servants by the appellant and one Mr. Pathak. Munshi Ram filed F.I.R.
disclosing these facts. In pursuance of the
information the Police started investigation, arrested Jehan Singh, the
appellant, and Pathak who were later on released on bail.
The bus was seized by the Police. The
proceeding in regard to Pathak was quashed by the High Court but not in respect
of the appellant. The appellant contended before this Court that the F.I.R. did
not disclose any offence and therefore, the investigation by Police should be
Dismissing the appeal,
HELD :-(1)That the decision of the Privy
Council in Khwaza Nazir Ahmed's case and the decision of the Supreme Court in
S. N. Basak's case have settled the law inregard to the High Court's power of
interference at the interlocutory stage. The statutory power of the police to
investigate the cognizable offences cannot be interferred with in exercise of
the inherent power of the Court u/s 561- A of the Criminal Procedure Code. In
the present case, no charge-sheet or complaint had been filed in the Court and
the matter was .,till at the stage of investigation by the Police. 
(II)Held further, that the first information report prima facie discloses, the
commission of a cognizable offence by the appellant and his companions.
Applying the decision of the Court in R. P. Kapur's case held, the High Court
was right in not interfering with the police investigation. The interference is
justified only if the F.I.R. does not disclose any offence. In exercise of its
jurisdiction u/s. 561-A, the High Court cannot embark upon an enquiry as to
whether evidence in a given case is reliable or not. [798 A- 797 D] King
Emperor v. Khwaja Nazir Ahmed, 71 I.A. at 213, followed.
State of West Bengal v, S. N. Basak  2
S.C.R. 54, applied.
R. P. Kapur v. State of Punjab,  3
S.C.R. 388, relied on.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Criminal
Appeal No. 201 of 1970.
Appeal by Special Leave from the Judgment and
Order dated the 3rd February, 1970 of the Delhi High Court in Crl. Mis. (M) No.
93 of 1969.
S. M. Anand, for the Appellant.
S. N. Prasad and R. N. Sachthey for
Respondent No. 1.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by SARKARIA,
J.-This appeal by special leave is directed against an order of a learned
single Judge of the Delhi High Court, dismissing appellant's petition made
under s. 561-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The material facts are these
795 On June 15, 1969, a report was lodged in
Police Station, Tilak Mark, New Delhi, by one Munshi Ram alleging that he was
employed as a Driver of bus, DLP 3867, belonging to Indraj Singh and Sukh Lal
of Chirag Delhi. On June 13, 1969 at 6 p.m., he stopped the bus at Mathura Road
to talk to one Devi Singh son of Ganesh Lal. Devi Singh invited the informant
and his companions, Mahinder Singh Conductor and Sher Singh helper, to
soft-drinks at a nearby shop. Leaving the bus unattended, they proceeded to
that shop. In the meantime, Jehan Singh appellant, Sharma, R. K. Pathak and
another man of stout-build' got into the vehicle. The stout man took the
steering wheel, and all the four drove away in the bus despite the protests of
the informant and his companions. Munshi Ram then went to Chirag Delhi to
inform his employer Indraj Singh, but found the latter absent. It was also
mentioned in the report that Pathak and Sharma were employed in Scindia House.
The police started investigation and arrested
Jehan Singh appellant, and R. K. Pathak, Assistant Manager of the Industrial
Credit Co. Ltd., Scindia House (hereinafter called the Company). They were
later released on bail. The bus was also seized by the police from the
possession of the Company.
Pathak and the appellant filed two separate
petitions under s. 561A, Cr. Procedure Code challenging the police proceedings
in pursuance of the First Information Report made by Munshi Ram.
The learned Judge by a common judgment
allowed Pathak's petition's and quashed the proceedings against him, but
dismissed the appEllants petition with this observation :
"If Jehan Singh had transferred all his
rights in the bus, though against the stipulations in the hire-purchase
agreement, it would be a matter for consideration of the trial court whether he
could be regarded guilty of the offence of theft if the version contained in
the first information report is proved." At the outset, we inquired from
Shri Anand, learned Counsel for the appellant, whether the proceedings sought
to be quashed were pending in any court or before the police. We are told that
at the date of the filing of the petitions under S. 561-A, Cr. Procedure Code,
no charge-sheet or complaint had been laid in court. The matter was still at
the stage of investigation by the police.
Shri Prasad, learned Counsel for the State
contends that the petitions under s. 561-A to quash the proceedings which were
being conducted in the course of policy investigation, were not competent. He
has referred to King Emperor v. Khwaja Nazir Ahmad(l) and State of West Bengal
v. S. N. Basak (2).
It is maintained that in these circumstances,
the petitions of both Pathak and the appellant Jehan Singh ought to have been
dismissed as premature.
On the other hand Shri Anand maintains that
his case falls within one of the exceptions to the general rule enunciated in
the cases cited (1) 71 I.A. 203 at 213.
(2)  2 S.C.R. 54.
796 by Shri Prasad. Reliance has been placed
on R. P. Kapur v. State of Punjab(1).
It appears to us that the preliminary
objection raised by Shri Prasad ,must prevail.
In King Emperor v. Khwaja Nazir Ahmad
(supra), their Lordship ,of the Privy Council pointed out that "the
functions of the judiciary and the police are complementary, not
overlapping" and that the "court's. functions begin when a charge is
preferred before it, and not until then". It was added that "it has
sometimes been thought that s. 561-A has given increased powers to the Court
which it did not possess before that section was enacted. But this is not so,
the section gives no new powers, it only provides that those which the court-
already inherently possesses shall be preserved".
The principle enunciated in Khwaja Nazir
Ahmed's case (supra) was applied by this Court in S. N. Basak's case (supra).
Therein a First in-formation Report was registered at the Police, Station to
the 'effect, that S. N. Basak along with three others had committed offences
420, 120-B read with s. 420, Penal Code. The
police started investigations on the basis of that report. Basak accused
surrendered before the Judicial Magistrate and was enlarged on bail.
Subsequently, he moved the High Court by a petition under ss. 439 and 561-A of
the Code of Criminal Procedure praying that the proceedings pending against him
be quashed. At the time he filed the petition there was no case pending before
any court. The High Court quashed the police investigation holding that
"the statutory power of investigation given to the police under Chapter
XIV is not available in respect of an offence triable under the West Bengal
Criminal Law Amendment (Special ,Courts) Act, 1949 and that being so, the
investigation concerned is without jurisdiction". Against that order, the,
State came in appeal before this Court on a certificate granted by the High Court
under Art. 134(1) (c). Allowing the appeal, this Court speaking through J. L.
Kapur J., observed :
"The powers of investigation into
cognizable offences are contained in Chapter XIV of the Code of Criminal
Procedure. Section 154 which is in that Chapter deals with information in
cognizable offences and S. 156 with investigation into such offences and under
these sections the police has the statutory right to investigate into the
circumstances of any alleged cognizable offence without authority from a Magistrate
and this statutory power of the police to investigate cannot be interfered with
by the exercise of power under s. 439 or under the inherent power of the court
under s. 561-A of Criminal Procedure Code".
The basic facts in the instant case are
similar. Here also, no police challan or charge-sheet against the accused had
been laid in court, when the petitions under s. 561-A were filed. The impugned
.Proceedings were those which were being conducted in the course of (1) 
3 S.C.R. 388 797 police investigation. Prima facie, therefore, the rule in
Basak's case would be attracted.
In R. P. Kapur v. The State of Punjab
(supra), it was clarified that the rule as to non-interference by the High
Court, in the exercise of its inherent powers, with the proceedings at an
interlocutory stage, was not an inflexible one, and there are some categories
of cases where the inherent jurisdiction can and should be exercised for
quashing the proceedings. Gajendragadkar J., as he then was, speaking for the
Court indicated one of such categories thus :
"Cases may also arise where the
allegations in the First Information Report or the complaint, even if they are
taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety, do not constitute the
offence alleged; in such cases no question of appreciating evidence arises; it
is a matter merely of looking at the complaint or the First Information Report
to decide whether the offence alleged is disclosed or not. In such cases it
would be legitimate for the High Court to hold that it would be manifestly
unjust to allow the process of the criminal court to be issued against the
accused person." It was held that since the allegations made in the First
Information Report against the appellant therein did constitute offences alleged,
there was no legal bar to, the institution or continuance of the proceedings
It was further laid down that in exercise of
its jurisdiction under S. 561-A, the High Court cannot embark upon an enquiry
as to whether the evidence in the case is reliable or not.
The question, therefore, to be considered is,
whether in the instant case, the allegations made in the First Information
Report, did not, if assumed to be correct, constitute the offence of theft or
its abetment against the appellant.
A plain reading of the First Information
Report would show that the answer to this question must be in the negative.
It is alleged therein that the bus (DLP-3867)
belonged to Indraj and Sukhlal of Chirag Delhi and was at the material time in
their possession through their servants, Munshi Ram Driver, Mohinder Singh
Conductor and Sher Singh Helper, and that it was removed in the teeth of
opposition from them, without their consent, from their custody or possession
by four persons including Jehan Singh and R. K. Pathak, who all entered into
the vehicle which was then driven by one of them, who was of strong build,
medium height, dark complexion etc. to Scindia House. In substance the
allegation was that the wrongful removal of the bus was the concerted action of
the appellant Jehan Singh and R. K.
Pathak and their un-named companions. Prima
facie, the allegations in the First Information Report, if taken as correct,
did disclose the commission of a cognizable offence by the appellant and his
companions. May be, that further evidence to be collected by the police in the
course of investigation including the hire-purchase agreement, partnership deed
and the receipt etc. would confirm or falsify the allegations made in the First
information Report. But, the High Court, at this stage, as was pointed out by
this Court in R. P. Kapur's case (supra), could not, in 798 the exercise of its
inherent jurisdiction, appraise that evidence or enquire as to whether it was
reliable or not.
Might be, after collecting all the evidence,
the police would itself submit a cancellation report. If, however, a
charge-sheet is laid before the Magistrate under s. 173, Criminal Procedure
Code, then all these matters will have to be considered by the Magistrate after
taking cognizance of the case. We cannot, at this stage, possibly indicate what
should be done in purely hypothetical situations which may or may not arise in
For the foregoing reasons, we would hold that
the petitions under s. 561-A were liable to be dismissed as pre-mature and
incompetent. On this short ground, we would dismiss this appeal.
No observation unwittingly made with regard
to the merits of the case, in the above judgment shall be taken into account to
the prejudice of any of the parties.