While declining the bail pleas of two accused in separate cases, the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed the instructions of the Director Bureau of Investigation of Punjab issued in 2017 regarding conducting of preliminary inquiries and procedure to deal with complaints.
The bench of Justice Manoj Bajaj, while holding that by following the instructions dated May 4, 2017, high-ranking police officers have violated the procedural law of investigation contained in Code of Criminal Procedure, ordered, “In every case where FIR has been registered regarding commission of a cognizable offence, the investigation shall be conducted by the investigating officer, strictly in accordance with the provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.”
Justice Bajaj, giving more directions to Punjab, Haryana, and UT Chandigarh, said: “In every case, where after registration of FIR, investigation has commenced, no representation/request on behalf of accused to examine his/her innocence shall be entertained by police and no parallel inquiry shall be initiated.”
It was directed by the bench to the DGP of the two states and UT that, “In cases where upon the registration of FIR and commencement of investigation, the state government or the state police orders transfer of investigation, then it shall be necessary to intimate the magistrate, before whom the special report under Section 157 (1) Cr.P.C was originally submitted. The intimation shall be given in writing with reasons for transfer of investigation.”
“Whenever the investigating officer after commencement of investigation, decides to hold or stop the investigation in respect of all or any of the accused persons, for any reason, it shall be mandatory for such officer to send the report under Section 157(2) Cr.P.C to the magistrate before whom report under Section 157(1) Cr.P.C was initially submitted.If the trial court upon conclusion of trial finds that the acquittal of the accused is on account of deliberate lapses in investigation, it can pass appropriate orders for suitable departmental/penal action against the officers responsible for such lapses,” directed Justice Bajaj.
The bench asserted that Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, shall ensure that police officers and public prosecutors are properly sensitised about their responsibilities and duties and to further strictly adhere to the statutory provisions of law in respect of the investigation in crime. It was further directed that copies of the judgment be sent to all the district and sessions judges in Punjab, Haryana and UT Chandigarh for further circulation amongst the judicial officers posted in their respective sessions division.
Justice Bajaj passed the directions while hearing the regular bail petitions of Pankaj Kumar, who has been booked in a murder case at PS Salem Tabri, Ludhiana, and Dalbir Singh, also facing murder charges at PS Kotli, Batala.
Pankaj Kumar’s counsel had apprised the high court that an inquiry sought by his mother, which was conducted by additional deputy commissioner of Ludhiana, he was found not involved in the case and pursuant to which a discharge application was filed by SHO in the trial court which was pending for consideration. Similarly, Dalbir Singh, who is facing alleged murder charges for the death of his daughter-in-law, has submitted through his counsel that his brother had moved a plea for an inquiry in his matter, wherein on September 19, 2020, he was declared innocent, and SSP Batala approved the report.
Justice Bajaj after hearing the matter said, that this court does not find any merit in the argument that in view of supplementary reports under Section 173(8) Cr.P.C filed in favour of petitioners, the chargesheet under Section 173 (2) Cr.P.C filed earlier against them is wiped off, particularly when the reports are pending consideration before the respective trial courts, and thus declined the bail pleas.
The bench held that when investigation in both these FIRs was in progress, separate representations on behalf of the various accused persons or through their relatives were entertained by senior police officers, who ordered simultaneous inquiries to examine their innocence only. The inquiry reports were subsequently decorated as supplementary reports under Section 173(8) Cr.P.C and were placed before the trial court. In this way, the trial courts in both these cases are seized of two conflicting conclusions of investigation and inquiry carried by different functionaries of state police.