State of Haryana vs. Bhajan Lal AIR 1992 SC 604 - CLASSIC CASE REGARDING INVESTIGATION


The core of the Sections 156, 157 and 159 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is that if a police officer has reason to suspect the commission of a cognizable offence, he must either proceed with the investigation or cause an investigation to be proceeded with by his subordinate; that in a case where the police officer sees no sufficient ground for investigation, he can dispense with the investigation altogether; that the field of investigation of any cognizable offence is exclusively within the domain of the investigation agencies over which the Courts cannot have control and have no power to stiffle or impinge upon the proceedings in the investigation so long as the investigation proceeds in compliance with the provisions relating to investigation and that it is only in a case wherein a police officer decides not to investigate an offence, the concerned Magistrate can intervene and either direct an investigation or in the alternative, if he thinks fit, he himself can, at once proceed or depute any Magistrate sub-ordinate to him to proceed to hold a preliminary inquiry into or otherwise to dispose of the case in the manner provided in the Code.

The expression "reason to suspect the commission of an offence" used in Section 154(1) Cr. P.C. would mean the sagacity of rationally inferring the commission of a cogniz- able offence based on the specific articulate facts men- tioned in the First Information Report as well in the Annex- ures, if any, enclosed and any attending circumstances which may not amount to proof. In other words, the meaning of the expression "reason to suspect" has to be governed and dic- tated by the facts and circumstances of each case and at in the First Information Report does not arise. The commencement of investigation by a police officer is subject to two conditions, firstly, the police officer should have reason to suspect the commission of a cognizable offence as required by Section 157(1) and second- ly, the police officer should subjectively satisfy himself as to whether there is sufficient ground for entering on an investigation even before he starts an investigation into the facts and circumstances of the case as contemplated under clause (b) of the proviso to Section 157(1) of the Code.

The investigation of an offence is the field exclusively reserved for the police officers whose powers in that field are unfettered so long as the power to investigate into the cognizable offences is legitimately exercised in strict compliance with the provisions falling under Chapter XII of the Code and the Courts are not justified in obliter- ating the track of investigation when the investigating agencies are well within their legal bounds. A noticeable feature of the scheme under Chapter XIV of the Code is that a Magistrate is kept in the picture at all stages of the police investigation but he is not authorised to interfere with the actual investigation or to direct the police how that investigation is to be conducted. But if a police officer transgresses the circumscribed limits and improperly and illegally exercises his investigatory powers in breach of any statutory provision causing serious prejudice to the personal liberty and also property of a citizen, then the Court, on being approached by the person aggrieved for the redress of any grievance has to consider the nature and extent of the breach and pass appropriate orders as may be called for without leaving the citizens to the mercy of police echelons since human dignity is a dear value of our Constitution. No one can demand absolute immunity even if he is wrong and claim unquestionable right and unlimited powers exercisable upto unfathomable cosmos. Any recognition of Power' which no authority on earth can enjoy.

The entire matter is only at a premature stage and the investigation has not proceeded with except some prelim- inary effort taken on the date of the registration of the case. The evidence has to be gathered after a thorough investigation and placed before the Court on the basis of which alone the Court can come to a conclusion one way or the other on the plea of mala fides. If the allegations are bereft of truth and made maliciously, the investigation will say so. At this stage, when there are only allegations and recriminations but no evidence, this Court cannot anticipate the result of the investigation and render a finding on the question of mala fides on the materials at present available. Therefore, it cannot be said that the complaint should be thrown overboard on the mere unsubstantiated plea of mala fides. Even assuming that the complainant has laid the complaint only on account of his personal animosity that, by itself, will not be a ground to discard the complaint con- taining serious allegations which have to be tested and weighed after the evidence is collected.

The dominant purpose of registration of the case and the intended follow up action are only to investigate the allegations and present a case before the Court, if sufficient evidence in support of those allegations are collected but not to make a character assassination of the person complained against.

No comments: