Cases of corruption against political leaders in India aren’t rare. This is one such case that notified the alleged corruption administered by a big political figure resulting in registration of a case against him by his rival. Inevitably the suit underwent the question of legitimacy that led to the looks of an equivalent before the Supreme Court. The case holds importance because it significantly points out the powers and limitations of varied authorities at different points of your time throughout the trial of the matter. It re-emphasized the facility of investigation that police holds and in what nature of cases, the need of filing an FIR, and therefore the extent to which High Courts should use their special power of quashing criminal proceedings.
At the time of the particular case Bhajan Lal was the Union Minister of Environment and Forests. The Chief Minister of Haryana Devi Lal. In the same election, Smt. Jasma Devi, wife of Bhajan Lal, won against Dharam Pal who was the Respondent 2. There was a lot of bad blood between Bhajan Lal and Devi Lal due to various political rivalries and because of institutions of several criminal cases against them.
Incidentally, Respondent 2 who was Dharam Pal put forth a complaint against Bhajan Lal, before the Chief Minister Devi Lal. In the mentioned complaint he alleged that Bhajan Lal is in possession of disproportionate property or some kind of pecuniary resources which cannot be bought with the indefinite sources of his current income. Dharam also said that the accumulation of that much property was beyond the legal means of Bhajan Lal. In the Chief Minister secretariat , a Special Officer on duty passed the conveyed message the office Director General of Police stating that the CM has sought appropriate action in the mentioned case. This complaint was then passed ahead to the Superintendent of Police (SP) asking for necessary actions to be taken for the same and to revert back. The Superintendent then asked the Station House Officer to register the said case and to start with the investigation. Subsequently, a case was filed under sections 161 and 165 of the IPC and Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act in November 1987. The copy of the FIR was then sent to the magistrate and the investigation was started.
- Whether just the allegations are enough to constitute a cognizable offense and give the power of investigation to the police?
- If the action of investigating on behalf of SHO on just the order of one word “investigate” from SP is enough as per Section 5 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947?
- Whether the High Court was justified in quashing the FIR and criminal proceedings and acted under the ambit of 226 of the Constitution and sections 482, 154 and 157, and to what extent the orders suffer from legal infirmity?
The court after a detailed discussion of the legalities and the principles attached to cognizable offences and the investigation arising thereafter held that on the basis of neither the facts nor law can the high court’s judgment be sustained. The Supreme court stated that there is a specific category of cases wherein the supreme court is empowered to prevent the abuse of power by any of the courts and secure the ends of justice although it’s impossible to line a specific standard for the determination of an equivalent some informal guidelines are handling an equivalent. It was pointed out that the particular power of quashing the criminal proceeding should be applied by the High Court sparingly in rarest of rare cases.
- In the present case, however, it had been stated that the exercise of this extraordinary inherent power wasn’t justified and there was a particular constitution of a cognizable offense thereby justifying registration of a case. The stage at which the case was on, it had been timely to make a decision the relevance and reliability of the facts alleged and no negative inference are often drawn before any investigation and inquiry is carried out. Therefore, it can’t be expected out of police officials to necessarily reply to questions with none investigation being started.
- With reference to the action of filing a case by the SHO cares , consistent with section 154(1) of Crpc the official has no other option but to file a case if any information disclosing a cognizable offense is laid before it. And as far because the investigation proceeding cares , if the officer responsible has reason to suspect or otherwise the commission of a cognizable offense he features a right to investigate under section 156 of CrPc and thereby send a report of it to the magistrate as was done in the case. The case of State of Bihar vs J.A.C Saldanha,[iv] was also referred where it had been said while contemplating on section 156(1) of CrPc that ‘Investigation of an offense is a field exclusively reserved for the chief through the local department the superintendence over which lies with the government The officer which is charged with a requirement to stay vigilance over law and order situation is obliged to prevent the crime and if an offense is alleged to have been committed it is its bounden duty to investigate into the offense and bring the offender to book.’
- The court also set aside the order of the high court awarding costs with the direction the said costs would be paid by the respondent 2, Dharam Pal to respondent 1, Bhajan Lal.
The case re-established that our Constitution is predicated on the concept of Rule of Law which is an aorta of governance in our democratic system and nobody or authority is higher than law and that Law Is Supreme. Everybody exclusively and on the entire is undeniably under the authority of Law regardless of the wealth and power they possess. The case likewise relooks at the entire and resultant backlogs of evils like corruption that exist in our country. Therefore this parasite of bribery if not battled against on all fronts and at all levels checked and completely removed, will destabilize the very establishments of democracy and erode the foundations of rule of law and make the entire administration ineffectual and broken.