BY Harpreet Kaur, Advocate

Judgment dated: 7 December, 2007

Bench: Justice A.K. Mathur & Justice Markandey Katju

Case No.: Appeal (crl.)  1685 of 2007

FACTS

  • The son of the appellant was a Major in the Indian Army. His dead body was found on 23.8.2003 at Mathura Railway Station. The G.R.P, Mathura investigated the matter and gave a detailed report on 29.8.2003 stating that the death was due to an accident or suicide.
  • The Army officials at Mathura also held two Courts of Inquiry and both times submitted the report that the deceased Major S. Ravishankar had committed suicide at the railway track at Mathura junction. The Court of Inquiry relied on the statement of the Sahayak (domestic servant) Pradeep Kumar who made a statement that deceased Major Ravishankar never looked cheerful; he used to sit on a chair in the verandah gazing at the roof with blank eyes and deeply involved in some thoughts and used to remain oblivious of the surroundings. The Court of Inquiry also relied on the deposition of the main eye-witness, gangman Roop Singh, who stated that Major Ravishankar was hit by a goods train that came from Delhi.
  • The appellant who is the father of Major Ravishankar alleged that in fact it was a case of murder and not suicide. He alleged that in the Mathura unit of the Army there was rampant corruption about which Major Ravishankar came to know and he made oral complaints about it to his superiors and also to his father. According to the appellant, it was for this reason that his son was murdered.
  • The first Court of Inquiry was held by the Army which gave its report in September, 2003 stating that it was a case of suicide. The appellant was not satisfied with the findings of this Court of Inquiry and hence on 22.4.2004 he made a representation to the then Chief of the Army Staff, General N.C. Vij, as a result of which another Court of Inquiry was held. However, the second Court of Inquiry came to the same conclusion as that of the first inquiry namely, that it was a case of suicide.
  • Aggrieved, a writ petition was filed in the High Court which was dismissed by the impugned judgment. The petitioner (appellant herein) prayed in the writ petition that the matter be ordered to be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (in short CBI). Since his prayer was rejected by the High Court, hence this appeal was filed in the Hon’ble Supreme Court by the appellant.

OBSERVATIONS

1. Investigation to CBI

  • It has been held by this Court in CBI & another vs. Rajesh Gandhi and another 1997 Cr.L.J 63 (vide para 8) that no one can insist that an offence be investigated by a particular agency. We fully agree with the view in the aforesaid decision. An aggrieved person can only claim that the offence he alleges be investigated properly, but he has no right to claim that it be investigated by any particular agency of his choice.
  • No doubt the Magistrate cannot order investigation by the CBI vide CBI vs. State of Rajasthan and another (Supra), but this Court or the High Court has power under Article 136 or Article 226 to order investigation by the CBI. That, however should be done only in some rare and exceptional case, otherwise, the CBI would be flooded with a large number of cases and would find it impossible to properly investigate all of them.
  • In Secretary, Minor Irrigation & Rural Engineering Services U.P. and others vs. Sahngoo Ram Arya and another 2002 (5) SCC 521 (vide para 6) , this Court observed that although the High Court has power to order a CBI inquiry, that power should only be exercised if the High Court after considering the material on record comes to a conclusion that such material discloses prima facie a case calling for investigation by the CBI or by any other similar agency. A CBI inquiry cannot be ordered as a matter of routine or merely because the party makes some allegation.

2. Procedure under CrPC in case Police does not register FIR or does not conduct proper investigation

The clear position therefore is that any judicial Magistrate, before taking cognizance of the offence, can order investigation under Section 156(3) of the Code. If he does so, he is not to examine the complainant on oath because he was not taking cognizance of any offence therein. For the purpose of enabling the police to start investigation it is open to the Magistrate to direct the police to register an FIR. There is nothing illegal in doing so. After all registration of an FIR involves only the process of entering the substance of the information relating to the commission of the cognizable offence in a book kept by the officer in charge of the police station as indicated in Section 154 of the Code. Even if a Magistrate does not say in so many words while directing investigating under Section 156(3) of the Code that an FIR should be registered, it is the duty of the officer in charge of the police station to register the FIR regarding the cognizable offence disclosed by the complaint because that police officer could take further steps contemplated in Chapter XII of the Code only thereafter”.

  • The Court observed that the same view was taken by this Court in Dilawar Singh vs. State of Delhi JT 2007 (10) SC 585 (vide para 17). We would further clarify that even if an FIR has been registered and even if the police has made the investigation, or is actually making the investigation, which the aggrieved person feels is not proper, such a person can approach the Magistrate under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C., and if the Magistrate is satisfied he can order a proper investigation and take other suitable steps and pass such order orders as he thinks necessary for ensuring a proper investigation. All these powers a Magistrate enjoys under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C.
  • Section 156(3) provides for a check by the Magistrate on the police performing its duties under Chapter XII P.C. In cases where the Magistrate finds that the police has not done its duty of investigating the case at all, or has not done it satisfactorily, he can issue a direction to the police to do the investigation properly, and can monitor the same.
  • The power in the Magistrate to order further investigation under Section 156(3) is an independent power, and does not affect the power of the investigating officer to further investigate the case even after submission of his report vide Section 173(8). Hence the Magistrate can order re-opening of the investigation even after the police submits the final report, vide State of Bihar vs. A.C. Saldanna AIR 1980 SC 326 (para 19).
  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court said that “In our opinion Section 156(3)P.C. is wide enough to include all such powers in a Magistrate which are necessary for ensuring a proper investigation, and it includes the power to order registration of an F.I.R. and of ordering a proper investigation if the Magistrate is satisfied that a proper investigation has not been done, or is not being done by the police. Section 156(3) Cr.P.C., though briefly worded, in our opinion, is very wide and it will include all such incidental powers as are necessary for ensuring a proper investigation.”
  • It is well-settled that when a power is given to an authority to do something it includes such incidental or implied powers which would ensure the proper doing of that thing. In other words, when any power is expressly granted by the statute, there is impliedly included in the grant, even without special mention, every power and every control the denial of which would render the grant itself ineffective. Thus where an Act confers jurisdiction it impliedly also grants the power of doing all such acts or employ such means as are essentially necessary to its execution.
  • Supreme Court observed that we have elaborated on the above matter because we often find that when someone has a grievance that his FIR has not been registered at the police station and/or a proper investigation is not being done by the police, he rushes to the High Court to file a writ petition or a petition under Section 482P.C. We are of the opinion that the High Court should not encourage this practice and should ordinarily refuse to interfere in such matters, and relegate the petitioner to his alternating remedy, firstly under Section 154(3) and Section 36 Cr.P.C. before the concerned police officers, and if that is of no avail, by approaching the concerned Magistrate under Section 156(3).
  • If a person has a grievance that his FIR has not been registered by the police station his first remedy is to approach the Superintendent of Police under Section 154(3)P.C. or other police officer referred to in Section 36 Cr.P.C. If despite approaching the Superintendent of Police or the officer referred to in Section 36 his grievance still persists, then he can approach a Magistrate under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. instead of rushing to the High Court by way of a writ petition or a petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. Moreover he has a further remedy of filing a criminal complaint under Section 200 Cr.P.C. Why then should writ petitions or Section 482 petitions be entertained when there are so many alternative remedies?
  • The Magistrate has very wide powers to direct registration of an FIR and to ensure a proper investigation, and for this purpose he can monitor the investigation to ensure that the investigation is done properly (though he cannot investigate himself). The High Court should discourage the practice of filing a writ petition or petition under Section 482P.C. simply because a person has a grievance that his FIR has not been registered by the police, or after being registered, proper investigation has not been done by the police. For this grievance, the remedy lies under Sections 36 and 154(3) before the concerned police officers, and if that is of no avail, under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. before the Magistrate or by filing a criminal complaint under Section 200 Cr.P.C. and not by filing a writ petition or a petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C.
  • Further Supreme Court observed that it is true that alternative remedy is not an absolute bar to a writ petition, but it is equally well settled that if there is an alternative remedy the High Court should not ordinarily interfere.
  • In Union of India vs. Prakash P. Hinduja and another 2003 (6) SCC 195 (vide para 13), it has been observed by this Court that a Magistrate cannot interfere with the investigation by the police. However, in our opinion, the ratio of this decision would only apply when a proper investigation is being done by the police. If the Magistrate on an application under Section 156(3)P.C. is satisfied that proper investigation has not been done, or is not being done by the officer-in-charge of the concerned police station, he can certainly direct the officer in charge of the police station to make a proper investigation and can further monitor the same (though he should not himself investigate).

DECISION

  • It was held by the Supreme Court that In the present case, we are of the opinion that the material on record does not disclose a prima facie case calling for an investigation by the CBI. The mere allegation of the appellant that his son was murdered because he had discovered some corruption cannot, in our opinion, justify a CBI inquiry, particularly when inquiries were held by the Army authorities as well as by the G.R.P. at Mathura, which revealed that it was a case of suicide.
  • It has been stated in the impugned order of the High Court that the G.R.P. at Mathura had investigated the matter and gave a detailed report on 29.8.2003. It is not clear whether this report was accepted by the Magistrate or not. If the report has been accepted by the Magistrate and no appeal/revision was filed against the order of the learned Magistrate accepting the police report, then that is the end of the matter. However, if the Magistrate has not yet passed any order on the police report, he may do so in accordance with law and in the light of the observations made above. With the above observations, this appeal stands dismissed.

 

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