ELUCIDATION OF SECTION 156(3) AND NEED FOR COURT MONITORED INVESTIGATIONS
1. Ritu Panhotra, III year of B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.), National Law University Odisha, Cuttack
2. Priyanka Panhotra, III year of B.B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.), National Law University Odisha, Cuttack
The main objective of using the Code of Criminal Procedure is to lay out the mechanism for giving the punishment to offenders against the substantive Criminal law. The classification of offences is laid down depending upon the gravity of a committed offence. It includes Cognizable and non- Cognizable offences which come under Section 2(c) and 2(l) of Cr.P.C, 1973. Cognizable offences are serious and there is no such requirement for a warrant to arrest the accused person like in cases of murder, rape, dowry death, etc.
Even the Section 154 of Cr.P.C lays a mandatory provision for the Officer in charge of the Police Station to file an FIR against the accused, under the category of cognizable offences without having any prior permission from the Magistrate of that jurisdiction. If an aggrieved person visits the Police Station for filing the FIR against the accused under Section 154(1) of Cr.P.C and Police in- charge of that Station refuses to file then the same, aggrieved person can move the complaint to the Superintendent of Police concerned. This provision is stated in Section 154(3) of Cr.P.C which states that the affected person can send the essential information, whether in written or by sending post to the Superintendent of Police if that particular piece of information satisfies the criteria of the commission of the cognizable offence. He shall then either investigate the case himself or direct any subordinate police officer for trying further investigation as per the law.
Such an officer who is assigned with the investigation is having all powers vested of an officer in charge concerning that offence. In case the Superintendent of Police also refuses to register the FIR or despite registering the FIR, proper investigation is not performed then the aggrieved person can move to the Magistrate concerned. This is mentioned in Section 156(3) of Cr.P.C which explains that any Magistrate is authorized under Section 190 of CrPC to try such an investigation. In cases like Sudhir Bhaskarrao Tambe vs. Hemant Yashwant Dhage and Others, it was held that an aggrieved can approach to the magistrate if the FIR is not being filed by the police u/s 156(3) of Cr.P.C[i].
The Magistrates are further classified under Cr.P.C, such as The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Judicial Magistrate of First Class, Judicial Magistrate of Second Class and Executive Magistrate. Any Magistrate of first-class, as well as second class, is specially entitled to handling the cognizance of an offence as per mentioned in conditions of Section 190(1) of Cr.P.C. Also, The Chief Judicial Magistrate can direct the first- and second-class Magistrates to take the cognizance of offence which as mentioned in 190(1) comes under the realm of Section 190(2).
RELEVANT CASE LAWS WHERE COURTS INTERPRETED SECTION 156(3)
SAKIRI VASU Vs STATE OF U.P. AND ORS[ii].
BENCH: A.K. Mathur & Markandey Katju
FACTS OF THE CASE: A dead body of an Army officer was found on 23 August 2003 at the Mathura Railway Station. This matter was investigated by G.R.P, Mathura and submitted a report on 29 August 2003 declaring that it was a case of either accident or suicide. The appellant was the father of deceased Major Ravishankar and he claimed that it was not the case of suicide or accident but rather a case of Murder. On September 2003, Army held its first Court of Inquiry who also stated that it was the case of Suicide. The appellant did not agree with both the inquiries held and then filed a writ petition in Allahabad High Court. But it got dismissed by the Court. Then the petitioner here prayed in the writ petition that the investigation shall be conducted by the C.B.I. It was also rejected by the Court. Then finally the petitioner filed the special leave petition.
ISSUES OF THE CASE: a) Whether a Magistrate has power and authority to order for the investigation in case the FIR is already been registered?
b) Whether the magistrate can order for CBI investigation in this case?
HELD: In this case, it was held that there was already an investigation taken place by the G.R.P., Mathura and two Courts of Inquiry conducted by the Army authorities and they all drew the same conclusion that it was the case of a suicide. Hence, in Apex Court’s opinion, “the High Court was justified in rejecting the prayer for a CBI inquiry. But it also laid down the ambit and scope of Section 156(3) CrPC that even if the FIR is registered and the investigation is carried on and the aggrieved person feels that it is not adequate, he can approach the Magistrate concerned. A Magistrate can direct for proper investigation and otherwise, if it comes forward that the investigation is not done properly then he can order for an investigation to police as well as to the first and second class of Magistrates. Here, no doubt the Magistrate cannot order CBI investigation but Apex Court or the High Court has the power under article 136[iii] or Article 226 to order for CBI investigation. However, it should be done only in some rare and exceptional cases; otherwise, the CBI would not be able to investigate all the cases”[iv].
DILAWAR SINGH V. STATE OF DELHI[v]
BENCH: Dr. Arijit Pasayat, D.K. Jain
FACTS OF THE CASE: The complainant, Balwant Singh was a priest in Delhi. On 8 August 1984, while doing puja and chanting mantras in the temple; five persons came on the spot and tied him up with rope and took Rs 5000/- from the donation box. After some time when the local came near the temple and saw the priest tied up, they untied him and asked about the incident. Complainant along with two locals went to the police station to file an FIR but the police refused and asked them to go back. The case was then tried by the Session Court. During the proceeding Ram Saran, one of the accused died and Dilawar Singh another accused pleaded innocence. The police did not file the FIR due to which there was a delay in justice. The complainant who was holding lathi and revolver was asked in hearing at the time of the incident. Due to the long period of the break between the incident and the proceeding, he got confused and gave a divergent statement from the ones he gave during the investigation which ultimately lowered the merits of the prosecution.
HELD: The conditions enumerated in Section 397 IPC have not been satisfied and with that, the offences under Section 392 and 452 IPC are also not established from the inconsistent statement or versions of the complainant. Therefore, the conviction is set aside and the further appeal is allowed.
NEED FOR THE COURT MONITORED INVESTIGATIONS
Court Monitored Investigation simply means that when the Court feels that the investigation in a case is not being carried out properly which can delay the justice and even deprive the aggrieved person or party from justice then Courts interfere and try the case. We all are aware of the fact that the High Courts and Supreme Court are often described as the pillars of our country’s justice system. So, it becomes a huge responsibility for them to ensure a speedy and fair justice towards the affected people. It becomes important to investigate to maintain the faith of the common people upon the judiciary organ of the government.
When Court involved in the monitoring of the cases through the judicial innovation, it is known as “continuous mandamuses”. The literal meaning of this writ, mandamus is when the Court gives the order to a person or entity to do something. The Court doesn’t only do criminal investigations through Special Investigation Teams and Court-monitored Investigations but also invite the PILs for ensuring constant monitoring. These kinds of investigations are generally held by the retired or senior judges of the High Court and Supreme Court. The question here arises that it requires a lot of judicial time and resources on these kinds of investigations which could have been spending on issues relating to fundamental rights and about constitutional matters, then why there is a need for the Courts to do all this? Secondly why there became a need to monitor high- profile cases like Godhra SIT, 1984 riots, BCCI case and Manipur encounter case?
These queries were answered by Justice Lokur, he stated that- “Yet another purpose of a continuing mandamus is to ensure that the investigating officer or the investigating team (as the case may be) does not deviate from the natural course of investigations for whatever reason, either due to pressure or due to misdirection or some other extraneous reason. This is the limited role of a constitutional Court in monitoring investigations in a continuing mandamus”. While the Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and U.U. Lalit said that “It is only to ensure that there is no interference during investigations from anybody, whether due to political pressure or executive pressure or other pressure (including, as it seems, ‘judicial pressure’) that could compromise the investigations”.
A Bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph rejected the argument which was regarding the fact the Courts have no power in holding monitored investigations for the accused people in criminal cases. They stated that “the Courts must protect the rights of the citizens as they are vested with the extraordinary powers of the judicial review and supervision. This observation came while hearing an appeal of an accused who challenged the Gujarat High Court to monitor the investigation of the case registered against them on a dispute relating to housing estate named as Shivalik (Ambali) Cooperative Housing Society Limited”.
Article 226 and 227 of the Indian Constitution states that the High Courts have the power to direct any public authority to discharge their duties per the law. Court do this to make a vigilant watch on the authorities concerned and to prevent any mockery of the justice system. It is only performed in exceptional cases[vi].
In December 2019, SIT was constituted on the directions of Director General of Police (DGP), OP Singh during the CAA protest in U.P. The DGP said the SIT will take charge headed by an officer of an Additional SP rank in each district of the State. The SIT was given the charge to lower down the massive violence happening in the State. Before that, the government shut down all the mobile and internet services and arrested around 1100 people in charge of violence created. With that, the government also recovered the 35 illegal weapons used in the protest.
Through a varsity of cases, we have safely deduced that FIR is an integral part to keep the wheels of the Criminal Justice system to move ahead. The complainant can very well knock the door of higher courts or authority if he is neglected by the police for filing an FIR under Article 226 of the constitution of India. As Justice Chandrachud rightly said in the pretext of Pehlu Khan Case that "Cases, where courts have been approached with a petition at an appropriate stage and courts have been able to monitor the investigation, have perhaps shown a better outcome”.
“Trial judge is the kingpin in the administration of Justice”, this quote suffices and perfectly delivers the message and responsibility which lies within the redressal system. This ultimately enhances the check and balance of authorities by Courts of India.
[i] Sudhir Bhaskarrao Tambe v. Hemant Yashwant Dhage and Others, A.I.R. 2008 SC 907 (India).
[ii] Sakiri Vasu v State of U.P. and Ors., (2008) 2 SCC 409 (India).
[iii] INDIA CONST. art. 136.
[iv] INDIA CONST. art. 226.
[v] Dilawar Singh v. State of Delhi, A.I.R. (2007) SC 3234 (India).
[vi] INDIA CONST. art. 227.