The Supreme Court directed the High Court to supply the copy of the report submitted by the S.P. to the appellant.
The appellant was a Cabinet Minister in the State of Tamil Nadu from 2014. In 2018, one Mr. R.S. Bharathi filed a complaint with the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption. He also filed a criminal petition before the Madras High Court. On the very next day, the respondent filed a complaint before the Director, Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption and SP, Anti Corruption Bureau, CBI. As no action was forthcoming by the Authorities, respondent filed a writ petition before the High Court seeking, inter alia, a mandamus directing the Director, Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption to register an FIR on the basis of the complaint lodged by him and to constitute an SIT for the purpose of investigation.
The Counsel appearing for the appellant contended that there is no reason for not making over the documents to the appellant as the State has not claimed that the documents are privileged.
He argued that reliance on two reports by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India by the State of Tamil Nadu is misplaced as there is no criminality disclosed in the aforesaid report.
The Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of the State of Tamil Nadu contended that there is no provision of law which mandates disclosure of preliminary Enquiry Report before the stage contemplated under Section 207 of the Cr.P.C. However, the accused will be given the relied upon documents at the time of framing charges, wherein he can take appropriate legal recourse.
The three Judges bench of the Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Hima Kohli noted that the contention of the State may be appropriate under normal circumstances wherein the accused is entitled to all the documents relied upon by the prosecution after the Magistrate takes cognizance in terms of Section 207 of CrPC.
The court held that the mandate of Section 207 of CrPC cannot be read as a provision etched in stone to cause serious violation of the rights of the appellant accused as well as to the principles of natural justice.
The court directed the High Court to supply a copy of the report submitted by Ms. R. Ponni, Superintendent of Police along with the other documents to the appellant and to dispose of the cases on their own merit, uninfluenced by any observation made.
Case title: S.P. Velumani v/s Arappor Iyakkam and Ors.
Citation: Criminal Appeal No. 867 of 2022