Read Order: Mandeep Singh v. State of Punjab & Others
Chandigarh, June 14, 2022: While dealing with a petition under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. seeking the transfer of a Section 420 IPC case to the CBI or the constitution of the SIT, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that the High Court can give directions for prompt and proper investigation under Section 482 Cr.P.C. but the Court should not issue directions to the investigating agency to submit a final report within a particular time frame.
The Bench of Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi also held, “the contours of the investigation can also not be delineated by a Court and no order for filing of a charge-sheet or arrest of an accused can be issued.”
Essentially, the Court was dealing with a petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. seeking the issuance of direction to the respondent-authorities to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) or to hand over the matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation in case FIR registered under Section 420 IPC, 1860. The above-stated prayer was made by the petitioner on the ground that neither the Investigating Agency was conducting the investigation in a fair and impartial manner nor did it present a report under Section 173 Cr.P.C. An alternate prayer was also made to hand over the investigation to the third respondent. There was a further prayer to ensure protection of the life and liberty of the petitioner.
It was the case of the State Counsel that a cancellation report was submitted in the present case and the petitioner was at liberty to avail his alternative remedies in accordance with law.
In respect of the above prayer, the Court was of the considered opinion that there is no doubt that the Court has inherent powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. to transfer the investigation from one agency to another, including to the CBI, if the facts so warrant, but the same should be done in some rare and exceptional case, otherwise the CBI would be flooded with a large number of cases making it impossible to properly investigate each of them.
Further, after having made reference to a plethora of Supreme Court decisions, the Court observed that while it is open to the High Court in appropriate cases to give directions for prompt and proper investigation under Section 482 Cr.P.C., the Court should not issue directions to the investigating agency to submit a final report within a particular time frame. Justice Bedi added that the High Court cannot direct the investigating agency to submit a report which is in accordance with its view as that would amount to unwarranted interference with the investigation.
Further, the Court asserted that the contours of the investigation can also not be delineated by a Court and no order for filing of a charge-sheet or arrest of an accused can be issued.
Additionally, reiterating the words of caution, as stated above, the Court stated that issuance of directions for an investigation to be conducted by the CBI should be in rare and exceptional cases so as not to unnecessarily burden the premier investigating agency with routine matters unless there are grave allegations against senior officers of the State administration or in cases having inter-state ramifications etc., of course these situations being merely illustrative and not exhaustive. Coming to the facts of the present case, the Court noted that admittedly a cancellation report was submitted and thus the petitioner was having the option of opposing the same in accordance with law at the relevant stage.
“He has the right to file a private complaint. In the alternative, the petitioner has an equally efficacious remedy of approaching the Magistrate under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. for supervision of the investigation“, opined Justice Bedi.
Accordingly the present petition was dismissed on the ground that the petitioner was unable to point out anything extraordinary for the Court to either entrust the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or in the alternative to form an Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the matter. Also, the Court was of the opinion that there was nothing to suggest that the petitioner faced any threat to his life as was alleged in this petition.