Fair Investigation Is Part of Art. 14 and 21 and Courts Must Ensure It: Supreme Court

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Excerpt:

A Full Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice R. F Nariman held that if the Court gives any directions for that purpose of a fair investigation within the contours of the law, it cannot amount to interference with the investigation. 

The Court held that the investigation must be completed with 2 months, and the final report must be submitted.

A Full Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice R. F Nariman held that if the Court gives any directions for that purpose of a fair investigation within the contours of the law, it cannot amount to interference with the investigation. 

The Court held that the investigation must be completed with 2 months, and the final report must be submitted.

Brief facts of the case 

One Shri Chaubey, the petitioner’s father, was shot dead at his residence in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, in 2015. An F.I.R. under Sections 302, 147, 148, and 149, I.P.C. was registered the same day at Chobepur Police Station. Four unknown assailants were stated to have come on a motorcycle. Two of them entered the residence and shot the deceased, while the two others waited outside, after which they all escaped. 

The petitioner, son of the deceased, approached the Allahabad High Court complaining of the lackadaisical manner in which the police were investigating because of some influential political personalities.

The investigating officers were also being changed with regularity seeking a mandamus for a proper inquiry into the murder of his father, including by the C.B.I. 

The High Court called for a progress report and required the Chief Secretary to file his affidavit. The petitioner was aggrieved by the High Court’s impugned order dated 17.05.2018 disposing of the writ petition, accepting the police’s contention that the investigation would be concluded expeditiously, and a report will be submitted before the competent Court within eight weeks. 

Court’s Observations

The Bench observed that the investigation and the closure report are extraordinarily casual and perfunctory.

The investigation and closure report did not contain any material concerning the nature of investigation against the other accused, including Respondent no.5 for conspiracy to arrive at a conclusion for insufficiency of evidence against them. The closure report was based on the ipse dixit of the Investigating Officer. The supervision note of the Senior Superintendent of Police (Rural) left much to be desired in the circumstances.

The investigation appeared to be a sham, designed to conceal more than to investigate. The police have the primary duty to investigate on receiving the report of the commission of a cognizable offence. This was a statutory duty under the Code of Criminal Procedure apart from being a constitutional obligation to ensure that peace is maintained in the society and the rule of law is upheld and applied. 

It stated that to mention that further investigation was not possible as the informant had not supplied adequate materials to investigate was a preposterous statement, coming from the police. 

The police have a statutory duty to investigate any crime in accordance with law as provided in the Code of Criminal Procedure. Investigation is the exclusive privilege and prerogative of the police, which cannot be interfered with. However, suppose the police do not perform their statutory duty according to law or is remiss in the performance of their duty. In that case, the Court cannot abdicate its duties on the precocious plea that investigation is the police’s exclusive prerogative. Once the conscience of the Court was satisfied, from the materials on record, that the police has not investigated correctly or was remiss in the investigation, the Court has a bounden constitutional obligation to ensure that the investigation is conducted as per law. 

If the Court gives any directions for that purpose within the contours of the law, it cannot amount to interference with the investigation. A fair investigation is but a necessary concomitant of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India, and this Court should ensure such adherence by the police.

Court’s Order

The Bench appointed Shri Satyarth Anirudh Pankaj, I.P.S. as the senior officer, State of Uttar Pradesh, to investigate the matter through a team of competent officers to be selected by him of his own choice. It also ordered the State to ensure the availability of such officers. The Court held that the investigation must be concluded within 2 months from the date this order. The next listing of the case on 14 February 2021.

Click here to read Amar Nath Chaubey v. Union of India.


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