Parallel Inquiry During Investigation/After Submission Of Final Report: P&H High Court Quashes Govt’s Direction

first_imgNews UpdatesParallel Inquiry During Investigation/After Submission Of Final Report: P&H High Court Quashes Govt’s Direction Sparsh Upadhyay29 March 2021 12:26 AMShare This – xIn a significant ruling, the Punjab & Haryana High Court last week directed the police department of Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh not to hold a simultaneous inquiry in criminal matters and further quashed the instructions of the Director Bureau of Investigation of Punjab issued in 2017. While declining the bail pleas of two accused in separate cases, the Bench of Justice…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginIn a significant ruling, the Punjab & Haryana High Court last week directed the police department of Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh not to hold a simultaneous inquiry in criminal matters and further quashed the instructions of the Director Bureau of Investigation of Punjab issued in 2017. While declining the bail pleas of two accused in separate cases, the Bench of Justice Manoj Bajaj explicitly ruled that holding of simultaneous inquiry, either during investigation or post submission of final report under Section 173 (2) Cr. P.C is incomprehensible under the Code of Criminal Procedure. The matter before the Court The petitioners before the Court are accused in two different crime and they filed separate bail pleas, however, looking at the fact that the procedure of investigation adopted by state police in the above cases was similar and extremely strange, the cases were decided through a common judgment. Both the Counsels, appearing for the petitioners mainly set up the common ground and sought bail on merits by placing reliance upon the respective supplementary report(s) filed under Section 173 (8) Cr.P.C. Significantly, it was contended that in view of supplementary reports under Section 173 (8) Cr.P.C filed in favor of petitioners, the charge sheet under Section 173 (2) Cr.P.C filed earlier against them not be considered and they be granted bail based on supplementary reports under Section 173 (8) Cr.P.C. Problem with both the cases We know that a prosecution based upon a police report starts with the registration of a First Information Report, regarding alleged commission of cognizable offence. Further, in case, sufficient incriminating evidence is collected during the investigation, the accused is sent to face the trial along with the final report under Section 173(2) Cr.P.C, and on the contrary, if, the evidence is not available, the investigating officer is supposed to declare the suspect as innocent. Significantly, in the present cases, when the investigation in both the FIRs was in progress, the separate representations on behalf of the various accused persons or through their relatives were entertained by Senior Police Officers, who ordered simultaneous inquiries to examine their innocence only. The Director-General of Police, Punjab referred to an instruction dated 04th May 2017 issued by Department of Home Affairs & Justice, Punjab to justify the entertainment of separate representations. Significantly, this notification gave officers higher in rank authorization to accept such representation(s) and for further entrustment of the same to the competent officer for inquiry/verification/examination of facts etc. Further, in the present cases, the Inquiry officers upon conclusion of the inquiries (pursuant to submission of representations), submitted their reports in favor of the accused (applicants), and that too without even examining the final report under Section 173(2) Cr.P.C. In other words, the inquiry reports were subsequently decorated as supplementary reports under Section 173(8) Cr.P.C and were placed before the trial Court. In this way, the trial Courts in both these cases were seized of two conflicting conclusions of investigation & inquiry carried by different functionaries of state police. Now, relying on these inquiry reports (subsequently decorated as supplementary reports under Section 173(8) Cr.P.C), the petitioners sought bail. Court’s observations At the outset, the Court noted that in the garb of the instructions of 2017, the inquiry officers in criminal matters proceed with parallel investigation by recording statements of witnesses etc and submit their own independent report. “This procedure of inquiry has no legitimate sanctity to dislodge the police report under Section 173(2) Cr.P.C, but such reports certainly, add burden upon the judicial process of a criminal trial”, said the Court. The Court also noted that through the 2017 instructions, the prosecuting agency of the state had injected elasticity in the field of investigation through the above instructions by over-riding the statutory provisions contained in Chapter XII of the Code and created ambiguity. The Court also noted that on numerous occasions, the accused persons, instead of even availing the remedy of anticipatory bail, applied for an inquiry and this phenomenon often interdicted the ongoing investigation in an offence. Significantly, the Court remarked, “Many a time, the investigating officer is not even aware of the process of simultaneous inquiry initiated by his superior officers. This kind of multiple probes complicates the task of the trial Court to trace the culprits…” In other words, the Court further added, “The innovation of parallel inquiry introduces the rule of audi alteram partem for an accused and that it creates a remedy during the pendency of the investigation, by vesting discretion with the superior police officers, which is not in consonance with the principles of administration of criminal law and it gives rise to a possibility of building an escape route for criminals.” The Court also noted that once the investigation is complete and report is submitted before the Court of law, police have no authority to deal with another line of inquiry, without intimating the court.Importantly, the Court also noted,”It is also seen that by following this procedure, inquiry officer assumes the judicial role during the inquiry proceedings and delivers the opinion in relation to the innocence of the accused. This practice needs to be curbed and cannot be permitted to continue, therefore, this Court is compelled to suo moto exercise its inherent powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C.” Resultantly, the Court held that by following the instruction of the year 2017, the police officers higher in rank violated the procedural law of investigation contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure. Resultantly, the instructions dated 04.05.2017 were thereby quashed and further, the Court deemed it necessary to issue following directions: – In every case, where FIR has been registered regarding commission of a cognizable offence, the investigation shall be conducted by the Investigating Officer, strictly in accordance with the provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. In every case, where after registration of FIR, the investigation has commenced, no representation/request on behalf of accused to examine his/her innocence shall be entertained by police and no parallel inquiry shall be initiated. In cases, whereupon the registration of FIR and commencement of the investigation, the state government or the state police orders transfer of investigation, then it shall be necessary to intimate the magistrate, before whom the special report under Section 157 (1) Cr.P.C was originally submitted. The intimation shall be given in writing with reasons for transfer of investigation. Whenever, the investigating officer after the commencement of investigation decides to hold or stop the investigation in respect of all or any of the accused persons, for any reason, it shall be mandatory for such officer to send the report under Section 157(2) Cr.P.C to the magistrate before whom report under Section 157(1) Cr.P.C was initially submitted. If, the trial Court upon conclusion of trial finds that the acquittal of the accused is on account of deliberate lapses in the investigation, it can pass appropriate orders for suitable departmental/penal action against the officers responsible for such lapses. The state governments of Punjab, Haryana and U.T. administration, Chandigarh shall ensure that the police officers and public prosecutors are properly sensitized about their responsibilities and duties and to further strictly adhere to the statutory provisions of the law in respect of the investigation in crime. Case title – Pankaj Kumar @ Panki v. State of Punjab and another & Dalbir Singh v. State of Punjab [CRM-M-16013-2020 & CRM-M-19681-2020] Click Here To Download Judgment Read JudgmentSubscribe to LiveLaw, enjoy Ad free version and other unlimited features, just INR 599 Click here to Subscribe. All payment options available.loading….Next Storylast_img read more