Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction Criminal Appeal No. 1766 of 2009, Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No. 3271 of 2007 with Criminal Appeal No. 1767 of 2009, Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No. 3269 of 2007. Case: 1. D. Venkatasubramaniam, 2. Abinesh Babu and Ors. Vs M.K. Mohan Krishnamachari and Anr.. Supreme Court

Case Number:Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction Criminal Appeal No. 1766 of 2009, Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No. 3271 of 2007 with Criminal Appeal No. 1767 of 2009, Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No. 3269 of 2007
Party Name:1. D. Venkatasubramaniam, 2. Abinesh Babu and Ors. Vs M.K. Mohan Krishnamachari and Anr.
Counsel:For Appearing Parties: Uday U. Lalit and A.T.M. Rangaramanujam, Sr. Advs., N.G. Govindarajalu, Avishek Kumar Lal, S. Mahendran, P.V. Yogeswaran, R.N. Upadya, K.V. Mohan and S. Thananjayan, Advs
Judges:R.V. Raveendran and B. Sudershan Reddy, JJ.
Issue:Code of Criminal Procedure - Sections 482, 491, 561A, 190, 41; Indian Penal Code (IPC) - Sections 406, 420
Citation:2009 (57) BLJR 3140 , JT 2009 (12) SC 447 , 2009 (II) OLR 918 (SC) , 2009 (12) SCALE 483 , (2009) 10 SCC 488 , 2009 (9) UJ 4360 (SC)
Judgement Date:September 14, 2009
Court:Supreme Court


B. Sudershan Reddy, J.

  1. A short question that arises for our consideration in these appeals is whether it is open to the High Court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to interfere with the statutory power of investigation by police into a cognizable offence? If such a power is available with the Court, what are the parameters for its interference?

  2. It is well settled and this Court time and again, reiterated that the police authorities have the statutory right and duty to investigate into a cognizable offence under the scheme of Code of Criminal Procedure (for short the Code'). This Court, on more than one occasion, decried uncalled for interference by the Courts into domain of investigation of crimes by police in discharge of their statutory functions. The principle has been succinctly stated way back in Emperor V. Khwaja Nazir Ahmad and the same has been repeatedly quoted with respect and approval. The Privy Council observed that "just as it is essential that every one accused of a crime should have free access to a Court of justice so that he may be duly, acquitted if found not guilty of the offence with which he is charged, so it is of the utmost importance that the judiciary should not interfere with the police in matters which are within their province and into which the law imposes upon them the duty of enquiry".

  3. The Privy Council further observed:-

    "In India as has been shown there is a statutory right on the part of the police to investigate the circumstances of an alleged cognizable crime without requiring any authority from the judicial authorities, and it would, as their Lordships think, be an unfortunate result if it should be held possible to interfere with those statutory rights by an exercise of the inherent jurisdiction of the Court. The functions of the judiciary and the police are complementary not overlapping and the combination of individual liberty with a due observance of law and order is only to be obtained by leaving each to exercise its own function, always, of course, subject to the right of the Court to intervene in an appropriate case when moved under Section 491, Criminal P.C. to give directions in the nature of habeas corpus. In such a case as the present, however, the Court's functions begin when a charge is preferred before it and not until then. It has sometimes been thought that Section 561A has given increased powers to the Court which it did not possess before that section was enacted. But this is not so. The section gives no new powers, it only provides that those which the Court already inherently possess shall be preserved and is inserted, as their Lordships think, lest it should be considered that the only powers possessed by the Court are those expressly conferred by the Criminal Procedure Code, and that no inherent power had survived the passing of that Act." (emphasis supplied)

  4. In State of West Bengal v. S. N. Basak, a Division Bench of three Judges of this Court, while referring to the observations of the Privy Council referred to hereinabove, observed:-

    With this interpretation, which has been put on the statutory duties and powers of the police and of the powers of the Court, we are in accord.

    And it was further held:-

    "The powers of investigation into cognizable offences are contained in Chapter XIV of the Code. Section 154 which is in that Chapter deals with information in cognizable offences and Section 156 with investigation into such offences and under these sections the police has the statutory right to investigate into the circumstances of any alleged cognizable offence... and this statutory power of the police to investigate cannot be interfered with by the exercise of power under Section 439 or under the inherent power of the court under Section 561A of Criminal Procedure Code".

    This Court, having found that the High Court had exceeded its jurisdiction in interfering with the investigation, interfered with the orders of the High Court by allowing the appeal preferred by the State.

  5. In State of Bhihar and Anr. v. J.A.C. Saldanha and Ors., a three Judge Bench, speaking through Desai, J., after referring the precedents including Khwaza Nazir Ahmad, held:-

    There is a clear cut and well demarcated sphere of activity in the field of crime detection and crime punishment. Investigation of an offence is the field exclusively reserved for the executive through the police department, the superintendence over which vests in the State Government. The executive, which is charged with a duty to keep vigilance over law and order situation is obliged to prevent crime and if an offence is alleged to have been committed it is its bounden duty to investigate into the offence and bring the offender to book. Once it investigates and finds an offence having been committed it is its duty to collect evidence for the purpose of proving the offence. Once that is completed and the investigating officer submits report to the Court requesting the Court to take cognizance of the offence under Section 190 of the Code its duty comes to an end. On a cognizance of the offence being taken by the Court the police function of investigation comes to an end subject to the provision contained in Section 173(8), there commences the adjudicatory function of the judiciary to determine whether an offence has been committed and if so, whether by the person or persons charged with the crime by the police in its report to the Court, and to award adequate punishment according to law for the offence proved to the satisfaction of the Court. There is thus a well defined and well demarcated function in the field of crime detection and its subsequent adjudication between the police and the Magistrate. This has been recognised way back in King Emperor v. Khwaja Nazir Ahmad [1944] L.R. 71 IA 203.


    This view of the Judicial Committee clearly demarcates the functions of the executive and the judiciary in the field of detection of crime and its subsequent trial and it would appear that the power of the police to investigate into a cognizable offence is ordinarily not to be interfered with by the judiciary.

  6. M.C. Mehta (Taj Corridor Scam) v. Union of India and Ors. was a public interest litigation in which this Court, after noticing the precedents, held that when a cognizable offence is reported to the police, they may...

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