By – Kaifi Khan
In the Supreme Court of India
|NAME OF THE CASE
|Sakiri Vasu v/s State Of UP & Ors.
|The Supreme Court of India
|Criminal Appeal No. 1685 Of 2007
|DATE OF THE CASE
|7th December 2007
|State of UP & Ors.
|A.K. Mathur and Markandey Katju
|The Code of CriminalProcedure,1973
|Section 154,154(3),156(3),36 and 482 of Criminal Procedure Code,1973 and Articles 136 and 226 of the Constitution of India,1950.
If a person is in the grievance that the police are not registering his FIR under Sec.154 of Cr.P.C., then he or she could approach the Superintendent of Police (SP) under Sec.154 (3) of the Cr.P.C. with a written application. And still, if the SP also fails to register the FIR or in spite of registering the FIR no suitable action has been taken then the aggrieved person could approach the concerned Magistrate under Sec.156(3) of Cr.P.C. The same has been decided in the case of Sakiri Vasu v/s State of UP & Ors.
In the above-mentioned case, an army officer’s dead body was found on the railway tracks of the Mathura Railway Station on 23th August 2003. As the matter was related to the railway department so GRP Mathura investigated the matter and gave its report on the 29th of the same month. According to the report, the death of the army personnel was either due to accident or suicide. But the appellant i.e. the father of the deceased was of the opinion that his son has been murdered and so he filed a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India in the Allahabad High Court praying that this issue should be investigated by a special investigating agency. However, the Allahabad High Court rejected his plea and declined his prayer. Therefore, the appellant filed another writ petition under Article 136 of the Indian Constitution in the Supreme Court of India.
But the Apex Court was also of the same opinion and dismissed the appellant’s plea but it also laid down the ambit and scope of Section 156(3) of Cr.P.C. It held that albeit an FIR has been registered and albeit the police has made the investigation, or is in the process of making the investigation, which the aggrieved person feels isn’t justifiable then he could approach the Magistrate under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. But if the Magistrate is satisfied then only he could order a suitable investigation and pass such orders as he thinks necessary for ensuring a proper investigation otherwise he could reject the plea.
The principle of Section 156(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code is extremely wide. This provision entitles the Magistrate with such incidental powers which are necessary for ensuring a proper investigation. The case of Sakiri Vasu vs. State of U.P. and Ors is of serious importance because it was during this case that the Supreme Court directed the flow of writ under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. towards the Magistrate thereby empowering him under Section 156(3) to direct the police within the case where the FIR isn’t registered or where proper investigation has not been administered.
Sakiri Vasu v/s State of U.P. and Others is regarded as one of the landmark judgements dealing with Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. In this case, a writ petition was filed by the appellant who is the father of an army officer whose dead body was found on the railway tracks of the Mathura Railway Station. As the appellant was not satisfied with the GRP Mathura’s report which states that the death occurred either due to accident or suicide, he filed a petition under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution in the Allahabad High Court to reconsider the matter and also added a prayer that the issue should be investigated by a special investigating agency. But the Allahabad High Court rejected his plea and prayer as well. But the appellant didn’t lose hope and finally filed a writ petition under Article 136 of the Constitution of India in the Supreme Court of India. However, the Apex Court also didn’t approve his plea and dismissed it but also laid down some legal redressals pertaining to the issue mentioned above. It held that an individual who is not satisfied with the investigation could demand an appropriate one but couldn’t demand it from some specialised agency.
Background Of The Case
Information in cognizable instances according to Section 154 (1) Cr. P.C elucidates that any information regarding the fee of a cognizable offence if given orally to an officer accountable to the police station, will be reduced to writing through himself or below his direction, and every such fact, whether or not or now no longer in writing or decreased to writing as aforesaid, will be signed through himself or herself who furnishes it. Section 154 (3) Cr. P.C explicates that criticism will be given in writing or through the post to the Superintendent of Police if any character is aggrieved with the useful resource of a refusal at the segment of an officer in the price of a police station to record the information cited in subsection. The Superintendent of Police, upon receipt of such complaint, if comfortable that such facts disclose the charge of a cognizable offence, shall each study the case himself or direct research to be made through the use of any police officer subordinate to him, withinside the way provided through the use of this code. Judicial magistrate’s electricity to study the cognizable case as given under Section 156(3) involves that any Magistrate empowered under Section one hundred ninety also can order research through a police officer acting its responsibilities under Chapter XII of Cr.P.C.
The above-mentioned provisions are used in the case of Sakiri Vasu v/s State of UP and others. Mr S. Ravishankar was a major in the Indian Army and was very much respected everywhere. Suddenly one day his dead body was found lying on the railway tracks of the Mathura Railway Station. After the investigation, it was found that the sudden death of the major was a result of either an accident or a suicide. Since the major’s father i.e. the appellant was not satisfied with the report of his son’s death, he filed a writ petition in the Allahabad High Court under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution which was rejected. Again he filed a petition in the Supreme Court of India under Article 136 of the Constitution of India which was also dismissed. But the Apex court laid down some redressals.
Facts Of The Case
The appellant’s son was a Major in the Indian Army. He was well esteemed everywhere. Suddenly one day his dead body was found on the railway tracks on 23rd August 2003 at Mathura Railway Station. As the issue was related to the railway department so the G.R.P. Mathura investigated the matter and gave a detailed report on 29th August of the same year. The report stated that the death was due to an accident or suicide. Not only this, but the Army officials at Mathura held two Courts of Inquiry also but both the times the report submitted by them stated that the deceased Major S. Ravishankar i.e. the appellant’s son had committed suicide at the railway track at Mathura junction. The Court of Inquiry relied on the statement given by the deceased’s ‘Sahayak’ (domestic servant) Pradeep Kumar. According to him, deceased Major Ravishankar never looked cheerful. He monotonously used to sit on a chair in the veranda, simply gazing at the roof with blank eyes which shows that he was deeply involved in some kind of thoughts and he always used to remain oblivious of the surroundings. The report of the Court of Inquiry was also based on the deposition of the main eye-witness i.e. Gangman Roop Singh, who stated that Major Ravishankar was hit by a goods train which was coming from Delhi.
The first Court of Inquiry was held by the Army which submitted its report in September 2003 stating that it was a case of suicide. As the appellant i.e. the deceased major’s father was not satisfied with the findings of this Court of Inquiry and hence on 22nd April 2004 he made a representation to the then Chief of the Army Staff, General N.C. Vij which resulted in another Court of Inquiry. However, the second Court of Inquiry also came to the same conclusion as that of the first inquiry i.e. it was a case of suicide.
But the appellant, who is the father of Major Ravishankar, was not willing to accept that his son had committed suicide so he alleged that in fact, it was a case of murder and not suicide. According to the allegation of the appellant, there was rampant corruption in the Mathura unit of the Army about which Major Ravishankar i.e. his son was aware of and he made oral complaints about it also to his superiors and also to his father. Therefore, his son has been murdered because of this reason.
Aggrieved by this, the appellant filed a writ petition in the Allahabad High Court under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution which was dismissed by the impugned judgment. The petitioner (appellant herein) prayed in the writ petition that the matter should be ordered to be investigated by a special investigating agency i.e. the Central Bureau of Investigation. Since his prayer was also rejected by the Allahabad High Court, he filed another appeal in the Hon’ble Supreme Court under Article 136 of our Constitution.
Issues Raised Before The Court
Several issues were raised before the Supreme Court of India which are as follows:
- Whether the concerned Magistrate could interfere in the case of improper or unfair investigation,
- And whether one can insist that investigation should be carried out by a particular specialised agency of his or her choice.
Arguments From The Appellant’s Side
- The learned counsel of the appellant submitted that the appellant’s son, i.e. Major Ravishankar was rather murdered. He alleged that there was a rampant corruption in Mathura unit if the army about which his deceased son was aware of and so he made oral complaints about the issue to his superiors and also to his father, i.e. the appellant. Therefore, the appellant argued that his was murdered for this reason.
- The appellant also raised issues regarding the investigation done by GRP Mathura which declared that Major Ravishankar committed a suicide.
- And since the appellant was not satisfied with the enquiries conducted by the army, he demanded for the CBI enquiry for the matter concerned.
Arguments From The Respondent’s Side
- The learned counsel for the State of UP submitted that according to the enquiries conducted by the army, Major Ravishankar i.e. appellant’s son died because of an accident.
- They also contended that according to the investigation done by GRP Mathura, it was concluded that the appellant’s son committed a suicide but though the appellant raised some issues regarding the investigation, the State ordered another enquiry by the army.
- Further they alleged that a person cannot demand for an enquiry by a special investigation agency but if he or she is not satisfied with the enquiry held then he could ask for another investigation but couldn’t demand investigation from a specialised agency.
- Section 154 of Cr.P.C.: According toSection 154 of Cr.P.C.,each and every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, will be decreased to writing through him or beneath his direction, and be read over to the informant; and each such records, whether or not given in writing or decreased to writing as aforesaid, will be signed through the individual giving it, and the substance thereof will be entered in a book to be stored through such officer in such form because the State Government might also additionally prescribe in this behalf.
- Section 154(3) of Cr.P.C.: According toSection 154(3) of Cr.P.C., if any individual is discontented through a refusal from an officer in charge of a police station in recording the information cited withinside the clause then a grievance will be given in writing or through post to the Superintendent of Police. And if the Superintendent of Police after receiving such complaint is satisfied that such information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, shall both look at the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by any police officer subordinate to him, withinside the manner furnished through this Code.
- Section 156(3) of Cr.P.C.: According to Section 156(3) of Cr.P.C., the Magistrate empowered beneath Section 190 might also additionally order an enquiry by a police officer performing its duties beneath Chapter XII of Cr.P.C. A simple reading of the above-mentioned Section makes it clear that, the police officer is bound to investigate any cognizable case, when information is received by him. But if the police refused to analyse any cognizable case then the aggrieved individual has been given a remedy to approach the Magistrate under Section 156 (3) of the Cr.P.C. and further the Magistrate under this provision has been empowered to pass an order for investigation in the case wherein a cognizable offence has been committed.
- Section 36 of Cr.P.C.: According to Section 36 of Cr.P.C., police officers who are superior in rank to other officers in charge of a police station might exercise the same powers, throughout the local area to which they are appointed, as may be exercised by such officers within the limits of their station.
- Section 482 of Cr.P.C.: According to Section 482 of Cr.P.C., “Nothing in this Code will be deemed to restriction or have an effect on the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be mandatory to give effect to any order beneath this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.”
- Article 226 of the Indian Constitution: According to Article 226 of the Constitution of India, if a person’s fundamental rights are infringed then he or she could approach any High Court of the Indian territory. It also endowed the high court with the power to issue the various orders and writs to any individual or authority, inclusive of government so as to effectuate the legal rights of each citizen.
- Article 136 of the Indian Constitution: Article 136 of the Constitution of India, deals with a special jurisdiction to appeal within the Supreme Court of India. This may be understood as a residuary power vested withinside the Supreme Court. Article 136 is a power to appeal within the apex courtroom docket, which may be filed by any individual in opposition to any judgment or order of any Court or tribunal within the territory of India, this is often the facility to grant special leave. The power of the courtroom docket is voluntary in nature. This discretionary power could also be exercised by the court, wherein the very essence of granting justice is violated, and consequently the courtroom docket under has performed incorrect to the regulation and therefore the parties. Since there’s no said rule when can or can’t the power beneath Article 136 may be invoked. Thus, it will become the discretionary power of the Apex Court.
The Supreme Court after taking a view of the case of CBI and others vs. Rajesh Gandhi and others stated that any person who is aggrieved by any decision could claim for proper investigation but doesn’t have a right to choose a particular agency for that investigation. Considering the above condition the Apex Court stated that beneath Section 154 of Cr.P.C. if the police station is not registering FIR then a person by making an application in writing under Section 154(3) of Cr.P.C. could approach the Superintendent of Police and then also if the individual isn’t satisfied with the investigation which was carried out then he, under Section 156(3) of Cr.P.C., could approach the Magistrate. Whereas, the Magistrate under Section 156(3) has the powers to order the police to register the FIR and could also monitor the investigation process it wishes to.
The Apex Courtroom docket was of the opinion that one should not immediately rush to the High Court in case of grievance related to non-registration of FIR and/or improper investigation, rather, one must first rely on the alternative remedies provided under Section 154(3) and Section 36 of Cr.P.C. Even after this if a person is not satisfied then he may approach the Magistrate under Section 156(3).
Based on the above-mentioned observations, the Supreme Court was of the opinion that the High Court was justified in rejecting the CBI investigation demanded by the appellant as there was no prima facie case calling for such investigation. As two investigations were carried out by the Army authorities along with the investigation made by G.R.P. at Mathura. The reports of all the investigations stated that it was a case of either suicide or accident.
The Court further stated that it was not clear whether the report was accepted or not by the Magistrate. If the report is not accepted and no order has been passed by the Magistrate then he might do so by keeping in mind the above observations. However, if the report is already accepted then it’s the end of the matter.
After giving a straightforward read to the case of Sakiri Vasu v/s State of UP & Ors., it would be concluded that so as to continue the wheels of our criminal justice system moving, filing of “FIR” is most essential. it’s obvious that sufficient powers are vested with the Magistrate to require a glance at arbitrary arrests, police excesses and to facilitate an additional incisive probe into the invention of truth, at a spread of tiers of an investigation, and even after filing of the police report. Never should a judge discover himself in a very scenario where he needs to make a grudging confession of acquitting an acknowledged perpetrator thanks to lack of proof or investigative lapses. A conscientious magistrate’s Dharma additionally lies within the deft use of those provisions, so as to uphold constitutional values and also the Rule of law, and during this, he ought to not hesitate in recalibrating the scales of justice and even protectively discriminating to right systemic asymmetries and hazards closer to the weaker accused, witness or the complainant. Existing provisions will be interpreted creatively. Cues may be taken from the magisterial role, as envisaged in numerous jurisdictions. No doubt, there would be questions raised over the magistrate having descended into the sector. But the magistrate must not be unnecessarily cautious of such aspersions; or be a worshipper of lifeless habit, convention, or the complacency of the reputation quo, for no ideals, howsoever hallowed, are often allowed to obstruct the voyage of discovery, an affirmative obligation for the search of truth.
Therefore, within the above case, it had been observed that the Supreme Court discouraged the practice of filing writ petition directly within the state supreme court for non-registration of FIR and/or improper investigation. It thereby proposed that if someone is aggrieved that his FIR isn’t being filed or the police aren’t doing proper investigation then such an individual should first avail the choice remedies mentioned under Section 154(3) and Section 156(3) instead of directly approaching the state supreme court.