Criminal Petition No. 101438/2016. Case: T. Nagaraj and Ors. Vs Chamarajnagar Lokayukta Police and Ors.. Karnataka High Court

Case Number:Criminal Petition No. 101438/2016
Party Name:T. Nagaraj and Ors. Vs Chamarajnagar Lokayukta Police and Ors.
Counsel:For Appellant: Sunitha P. Kalasoor, Adv. and For Respondents: Mallikarjunswamy B. Hiremath, Spl. SPP
Judges:K.N. Phaneendra, J.
Issue:Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) - Sections 154, 2, 41, 41(1)(a), 51, 51(1), 56; Lokayukta Act, 1984 - Sections 10, 10(2), 2(10), 7, 7(2), 9; Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 - Sections 13(1), 13(1)(d), 13(1)(e), 13(1)(i)(ii)(iii), 13(2), 17
Judgement Date:March 23, 2017
Court:Karnataka High Court
 
FREE EXCERPT

Order:

K.N. Phaneendra, J.

1. This petition is filed seeking quashing of the FIR IN Crime No. 2/2016 dated 19.9.2016 registered by the second respondent - Anti Corruption Bureau (hereinafter referred to ACB' for short), Ballary, against the petitioners u/s. 13(1)(d), (i)(ii)(iii) and 13(1)(e) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (hereinafter referred to as PC Act' for short.

2. I have heard the arguments of the leaned counsel for the petitioners Smt. Sunitha P. Kalasoor, and also the learned Spl. State Public Prosecutor (Lok) for the respondents Sri Mallikarjunswamy B Hiremath. I have carefully perused the records.

3. I feel it is just and necessary to have brief factual matrix of this case before adverting to the grounds urged and the arguments submitted by the respective counsels:

The Hon'ble Upa-lokayuktha received a credible information about the mal-administration and irregularities in the office of Commercial Tax Check Post, Hagari Taluk, Bellary District. On the basis of such information Upa-lokayuktha felt that some investigation has to be conducted to ascertain such mal-administration. Therefore, having satisfied himself on the basis of such credible information, he registered a case in No. COMP/UPALOK/BD/1430/2016 dated 27.8.2016 and issued a search warrant by suo moto taking cognizance u/s. 7(2) and Section 9 of the Karnataka Lokayuktha Act, 1984. The said search warrant was issued authorising Sri Ravi Kumar, Superintendent Police, Karnataka Lokayuktha, Mysuru to visit the above said office with such assistance as may be required, to use if necessary reasonable force for to execute the warrant. The warrant also authorised to search any part of the above said office seize and take possession of the files and documents and any other records relevant for the purpose of investigation, found in the custody of any official/officer and forthwith bring before the Lokayuktha, with an endorsement regarding the execution of the same.

On the basis of the above said search warrant, the Police Superintendent, Lokayuktha along with panch witnesses and the Police Inspector Sri K.R. Gopikrishn, at about 5.00 a.m., on 23.8.2016, they went to the said office i.e., Commercial Tax Check Post, Hagari situated at Hagari Ballary - Gunthakal National Highway and raided the said office. The petitioners were present in the office. After showing the warrant issued by the Upa-lokayuktha, the search was conducted. During the course of the above said search, the Lokayukta police found a plastic bag in a Godrej Almirah containing a sum of Rs. 15,300/-. The said amount was tallied with the receipt book produced by the petitioners which was the amount collected by way of penalty during the course of investigation by the said office.

The Lokayukta police during the course of such search, they also found an amount of Rs. 1,450/- in a computer table drawer. The Lokayukta police enquired the petitioners about the said money. But they did not give any suitable answer to the Lokayukta police. The Lokayukta police also found a receipt book and a cover in the said office. But, there was nothing mentioned in the receipt book. However, in the said cover, they also found 51 stamps (Indian Flag) with cash amounting to Rs. 140/-. The petitioner No. 1 has also produced a letter dated 5.3.2016 along with the said 400 stamps each worth Rs. 10/- but all the stamps were intact and no stamp was sold. Therefore, the Lokayukta police found a total amount of Rs. 1,590/- and 51 old stamps. As there was no proper explanation for keeping this amount of Rs. 1,590/- without any receipt or accounting, they suspected that these amounts were collected by misusing their official duties or office. Therefore, they seized all those documents during the course of such investigation.

On the basis of the above said preliminary investigation by the Lokayukta police and on the basis of the search warrant issued by the Hon'ble Upa-lokayuktha, they suspected the said amount of Rs. 1,590/- must have been collected by the petitioners while discharging their duties as public servants and they have not given any explanation for the same. Therefore, they felt they must have committed the offence under the above said provisions under the PC Act u/s. 13(1)(d), (I)(ii)(iii), 13(1)(e) read with Section 13(2) of the PC Act.

4. Having come to such conclusion, though the Police Inspector attached to Karnataka ACB Ballary District, Ballary, on which basis the police have registered a case in Crime No. 2/2016 for the above said offences, which proceedings is sought to be quashed by way of this Crl. Petition.

5. The leaned counsel for the petitioners has seriously contended before this Court that the Lokayukta police had no jurisdiction on the basis of the search warrant issued by Upa-lokayuktha to investigate into the offences under PC Act as the said power is vested with ACB by virtue of the notification issued by the Government dated 19.3.2016. Secondly, she contends before this Court that even if there is any jurisdiction to them, they should have registered a case before going for investigation. Therefore, without registering any FIR by the Lokayukta police, search, seizure and investigation done by them is without jurisdiction. Thirdly, she contends before this Court that at the time of inspecting the spot, raiding the said office of the petitioners when they found that some offences have committed by them at that time itself, they have not handed over the investigation to ACB but they continued their search and seizure and thereafter, after long lapse of time, lodged the FIR on 17.9.2016. There is a long delay of 25 days in submitting the SAID FIR, report to the ACB Police. She further contends that ACB police have wrongly registered a case on the basis of the above said information by the Lokayukta police and she contends that they have no jurisdiction to further investigate the matter because virtually the investigation has been completed by the Lokayukta police themselves.

6. The learned counsel also relied upon various decisions in this regard. I would like to consider them little later.

7. Per contra, the counsel appearing for the respondents Lokayuktha, submitted that Upa-lokayuktha has got jurisdiction to issue warrants as per Section 10 of the Karnataka Lokayuktha Act. Whatever has been done by Lokayukta police is only with an intention to ascertain the mal-administration as directed by Upa-lokayuktha, but during the course of such investigation with regard to the mal-administration, they suspected that the petitioners have committed the offences under the PC Act. Having come to know about the same, after search and seizure, though with some delay, they have rightly submitted the report by way of FIR to the ACB Police. Therefore, the entire process by the Lokayukta police is only preliminary inquiry to ascertain the mal-administration. Therefore, the question of investigation without jurisdiction does not...

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