In the Supreme Court of India Petitioner State of Telangana Respondents Sri Managipet @ Managpiet Sarveshwar Reddy Date of Judgement 6th December, 2019 Bench Hon’ble Justice Hemant Gupta; Hon’ble Justice L. Nageswara Rao
Facts of the Case
- The order dated 24th December, 2018 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad is the subject matter of challenge in the appeals, one by the State and the other by the Accused Officer.
- The High Court partly allowed the petition filed by the Accused Officer under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 19731.
- Such FIR was registered on the basis of the statement given by Ch. Sudhakar, Deputy Superintendent of Police at about 10 am. The FIR reads as under: “On receipt of credible information that Sri. Managipet @ Mangipet Sarveshwar Reddy S/o. Late Narsimha Reddy, Age 51 years, Occ: OSD, Rang Reddy District, Vikarabad R/o Flat No. 401, Venkatadri Apartments, Behind HPCL Petrol Pump, Gachibowli, Hyderabad is a native of Chilkatonipally (V) Veltoor (Post), Wanaparthy Tq., Mahaboobnagar District. The S.O. joined Govt. service on 19-09-1985 as Sub Inspector of Police and promoted as Inspector of Police on 04-04-1995 and Dy. Supdt. of Police, in the year 2007.
- He worked as SI at Rayadurgam, Hayathnagar, Malkajigiri, as Circle Inspector at Huzurnagar of Nalgonda District Narsingi, Uppal, Rajendranagar of Cyberabad Commissionerate, R.R. District as ACP. Rajendranagar for about 4 years and presently working as OSD, Ranga Reddy District, Vikarabad. During the period of his service he acquired Six Multistoried Buildings, One Multistoried commercial complex, 27 plots and 26 Acres of land at Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy and Mahabubnagar Districts and one Scorpio car, one Hyundai Verna car and Maruti Car, all worth Rs.3,55,61,500/-. The probable income of the A.O. and his family members from all their known sources of income when calculated roughly would be Rs.60,00,000/-.
- The probable expenditure of the accused officer including household expenditure and expenditure on children education is tentatively estimated at Rs.23,00,000/-. The likely savings of the accused officer is Rs.37,00,000/- i.e., the probable income of Rs. 60,00,000 – minus the probable expenditure of Rs.23,00,000/-. As against the likely savings of Rs.37,00,000/- the Accused Officer has acquired assets approximately worth Rs.3,55,61,500/-. Thus, the A.O. is in possession of assets worth Rs.3,18,61,500/- which are disproportionate to the known sources of his income for which he cannot satisfactorily account for and thereby committed the offence punishable U/s 13(2) r/w 13(1)(e) of P.C. Act 1988. Permission has been obtained from the competent authority to register a case against the above official U/s 13(2) r/w 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Hence, the FIR.”
- A charge sheet was filed on 9th October, 2017 on completion of the investigations. As per the Report, the Accused Officer was said to be in possession of assets worth Rs.3,18,61,500/- alleged to be disproportionate to his known sources of income. The total worth of the property against his savings of Rs.37 lakhs was found to be approximately Rs.3,55,61,500/-. During the investigations, as many as 114 witnesses were examined. Ch. Sudhakar, DSP, CIU, ACB, Hyderabad and five more investigating officers conducted the investigations and prepared the final report.
- The High Court in a petition for quashing of the charge sheet, held that there was no authorization to register the crime and that the informant cannot be the investigating officer and, thus, quashed the same. The State is aggrieved against the said two findings whereas, the Accused Officer has challenged the findings of the High Court not accepting the grounds pressed by him in seeking the quashing of the charge sheet – that there is no preliminary inquiry before the registration of the crime; that there is no sanction and that there is a delay in the completion of the investigation which has prejudiced the rights of the Accused Officer.
- Is preliminary inquiry mandatory in all corruption cases?
- In the terms of the language used in section 154 of the code, the police is duty bound to conduct investigation into cognizable offence even without receiving information about the commission of such an offence, if the officer in charge of the police station otherwise suspects the commission of such an offence. The legislative intent is therefore quite clear, i.e. to ensure that every cognizable offence is promptly investigated in accordance with law.
- The court concluded that the registration of an FIR is mandatory under section 154 of the Code if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation. This court held:
In view of the aforesaid discussion, we hold:
- Registration of FIR is mandatory under section 154 of the code, if the information discloses commission and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation.
- If the information received does not disclose a cognizable offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted only to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not.
- If the discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, the FIR must be registered. In cases where preliminary inquiry ends in closing the complaint, a copy of the entry of such closure must be supplied to the first informant and not later than one week. It must disclose reasons in brief for closing the complaint and not proceeding further.
- The Police officer cannot avoid his duty of registering offences if cognizable offence is disclosed. Action must be taken against erring officers who do not register the FIR if information received by him discloses a cognizable offence.
- The scope of preliminary inquiry is not to verify the veracity of the information received but only to ascertain whether the information reveals any cognizable offence.
- As to what type and in which cases preliminary inquiry is to be conducted will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. The category of cases in which preliminary inquiry may be made are under:
- Matrimonial disputes/family disputes
- Commercial offences
- Medical negligence cases
- Corruption cases.
- It must be pointed that this court has not held that a preliminary inquiry is must in all cases. A preliminary inquiry may be conducted pertaining to Matrimonial disputes, family disputes, Commercial offences, Medical negligence cases, Corruption cases. The Judgement of this court in Lalita Kumari does not state that proceedings cannot be initiated against an accused without conducting a preliminary inquiry.
In view thereof, the Supreme Court did not find any merit in the reasonings recorded by the High Court in respect of contentions raised by the Accused Officer. The arguments raised by the Accused Officer cannot be accepted in quashing the proceedings under the Act. Accordingly, Criminal Appeal No. 1663 of 2019 filed by the Accused Officer is dismissed whereas Criminal Appeal No. 1662 of 2019 filed by the State is allowed.
“The views of the authors are personal“