High Court cannot issue Directions to Investigate the Case from a Particular Angle: Supreme Court 

High Court cannot issue Directions to Investigate the Case from a Particular Angle: Supreme Court 

The Supreme Court ruled that the High Court cannot issue directions to investigate the case from a particular angle.

Background 

The petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 was filed by respondent of the present appeal, against the order passed by the ACJM, Barh, District Patna whereby, the Magistrate had taken cognizance of the offences under Sections 409, 467, 468 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 on the allegations against the respondent of misappropriation of stocks from the godown of the Bihar State Food and Civil Supplies Corporation during the years 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Arguments 

Counsel for the appellant has contended that the High Court, while exercising its powers under Section 482 CrPC, could not have issued a specific direction to the Magistrate to direct the police to investigate the role of the appellant, who was neither named in the FIR nor was charge-sheeted and was not even a party before the High Court. 

He submitted that the High Court ought to have given an opportunity of hearing to the appellant before issuing the impugned directions. 

Counsel for the respondent has supported the impugned order with the submissions that the appellant was a high ranking officer and he appears to have influenced the other officers in the internal inquiry so as to give him a clean chit.

He argued that when it was found that no proper investigation was carried out against the appellant, who was the District Manager and overall in-charge of the godowns, the High Court had rightly exercised its inherent powers to issue the directions so as to ensure further and proper investigation in the matter.

Decision 

The division bench of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Aniruddha Bose noted that the present case carries its unique features that the learned Magistrate had not exercised any such powers in terms of Section 156(3) or Section 173(8) or Section 190(1)(c) CrPC but, the High Court has, while dealing with a petition under Section 482 CrPC, directed him to direct the police to investigate further, particularly as regards the role of the appellant; and such exercise of power by the High Court is in question.

The bench reiterated that 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 under Chapter XII of the Code. 

It was added that unfettered discretion does not mean any unaccountable or unlimited discretion and act according to one’s own choice. The power to investigate must be exercised strictly on the condition of which that power is granted by the Code itself.

The court further stated that the High Court in exercise of its inherent jurisdiction cannot change the investigating officer in the midstream and appoint any agency of its own choice to investigate a crime on whatsoever basis and more particularly on the basis of complaints or anonymous petitions addressed to a named Judge.

“Such communications cannot be converted into suo motu proceedings for setting the law in motion. Neither are the accused nor the complainant or informant entitled to choose their own investigating agency to investigate a crime in which they may be interested” the court said.

The court stated that even in the matter of Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the High Court cannot direct the police as to how the investigation is to be conducted but can always insist for the observance of process as provided for in the Code.

The bench viewed that in the given set of facts and circumstances, though the High Court has rightly exercised its powers under Section 482 CrPC for directing further investigation but, has not been justified in making such observations, comments, and remarks, which leave little scope for an independent investigation and which carry all the potential to cause prejudice to the appellant.

The court held that the entire matter is left open for examination by the investigating agency, by the sanctioning authority, and by the Court concerned at the relevant stage and in accordance with law.

Case title: Devendra Nath Singh v/s State of Bihar & Ors.

Citation: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1768 OF 2022

Click here to read the Order/Judgment 

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1 Comment

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