CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 13 OF 2023
Anant Thanur Karmuse v. Rajender Singh & Ors.
DATE OF ORDER:
24 February 2023
JUDGE(S): Hon’ble Mr. Justice MR Shah and Hon’ble Mr. Justice CT Ravikumar
Appellant: Anant Thanur Karmuse
Respondent: The State of Maharashtra & Ors.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Court’), noted that a victim’s right to fair investigation and fair trial is a fundamental right and cannot be taken away. It was held by the Ld. Court that mere framing of the charges cannot be a ground to prevent further investigation if the facts so warrant.
Accordingly, the appeal was partly allowed.
Indian Penal Code, 1880
- Section 292 - Sale, etc., of obscene books, etc - For the purposes of sub-section (2), a book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation, figure or any other object, shall be deemed to be obscene if it is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect, or (where it comprises two or more distinct items) the effect of any one of its items, is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt person, who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it.
- Section 324 - Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means - Whoever, except in the case provided for by section 334, voluntarily causes hurt by means of any instrument for shooting, stabbing or cutting, or any instrument which, used as weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, or by means of fire or any heated substance, or by means of any poison or any corrosive substance, or by means of any explosive substance or by means of any substance which it is deleterious to the human body to inhale, to swallow, or to receive into the blood, or by means of any animal, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
- Section 365 - Kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person - Whoever kidnaps or abducts any person with intent to cause that person to be secretly and wrongfully confined, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
- Section 506 - Punishment for criminal intimidation - Whoever commits, the offence of criminal intimidation shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both; If threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, etc.—And if the threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, or to cause the destruction of any property by fire, or to cause an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, or to impute, unchastity to a woman, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ACT, 2005
- Section 66E - Punishment for violation of privacy - Whoever, intentionally or knowingly captures, publishes or transmits the image of a private area of any person without his or her consent, under circumstances violating the privacy of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine not exceeding two lakh rupees, or with both.
- On 05.04.2020, the appellant, a Civil Engineer, shared a viral picture of one Mr. Jitendra Awhad, the then sitting Cabinet Minister of the State of Maharashtra (accused No. 13) on his Facebook account, criticising his act of mocking the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India.
- At around 11.50 pm on the same day, four Policemen, two dressed in Civilian Dress and other two in uniform visited the residence of the appellant and allegedly used force to take him to the Bungalow of the said Minister. Aas per the appellant, once the appellant was taken to the Bungalow, the Minister ordered his men to beat him and make him apologise for his Facebook post. The appellant was allegedly threatened by the Minister to delete the post immediately and his wife was also phone called to do the same. The appellant claimed that he was ruthlessly beaten up by the police officers.
- On 06.04.2020, the appellant was informed that an FIR bearing No. 119 of 2020 u/s 292 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 66(E) of the Information and Technology Act has been lodged against him by the Police on the basis of information given by one Mr. Hitesh Wani (Accused No. 3).
- Thereafter, the appellant narrated the entire incident and registered an FIR bearing No. 120 of 2020 against the Minister and his men for the offences u/s 365, 143, 144, 147, 149, 324 and 506(2) IPC.
- Aggrieved by the inaction of the police officials, the appellant filed a writ petition in the High Court seeking transfer of the investigation of the aforesaid FIRs to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), or any other agency.
- During the pendency of the writ petition in the Court, a charge sheet was filed and the name of the Minister and his men were mentioned on it. However, the charges were only for the lesser offences than the ones which were actually committed, like, kidnapping, abducting and causing grievous hurt. Subsequently, the writ petition was dismissed by the High Court on the ground that the investigating agency filed the chargesheet after conducting proper investigation and further investigation cannot be conducted.
- Feeling aggrieved with the impugned judgement and order, the original writ petitioner filed the present appeal.
- Whether the High Court was justified in denying the transfer of the investigation to CBI and refusing to order further investigation / reinvestigation / de novo investigation?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT:
- The counsel for the Appellants contended that no FIR was lodged against the Minister, Mr. Jitendra Awhad and his other men despite the fact that their names were disclosed in the FIR and a clear case of kidnapping and causing grievous hurt was alleged.
- It was also contended by the appellants that only after the intervention by the High Court via the pending writ petition a charge sheet was filed and the names of the alleged accused persons were included after a period of two years from the filing of the FIR.
- It was submitted by the Counsel for the appellants that even when the charge sheet was filed, it was only the lesser offences that the accused persons were charged with and not the actual offences like for the offences u/s 324 and 365 and other lesser offences only.
- It was further submitted that the same was done deliberately to shield these affluent men by the police officials.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT:
- The Ld. Counsel for the Respondent argued that no case can be made out for transfer of the investigation to the CBI because not only the investigation has been concluded and the chargesheets have been filed but also because the charges have been framed by the Trial Court.
- It was also contended by the Respondents that a trial begins after the framing of charges. Therefore, the case cannot be transferred to the CBI or any other agency for that matter.
- It is further contended that the charges framed in the chargesheet are the ones that were made out during the investigation. The contention of the appellant that the more serious offences are not mentioned in the chargesheet is a weak argument as the allegations raised by the appellant were not supported by the investigation.
ANALYSIS BY THE COURT:
- The Ld. Court placed reliance on the Bharati Tamang Vs. Union of India and Ors., (2013) 15 SCC 578 case where it was observed by the Apex Court that reinvestigation or further investigation or nova investigation can be allowed in order to meet the ends of justice.
- It was also observed by the Court that in the case of Dharam Pal Vs. State of Haryana and Ors., (2016) 4 SCC 160, the Apex Court had held that the constitutional courts have the power and authority to order further investigation or investigation by some other investigating agency for the purpose of a fair trial.
- The Court noted that proper investigation was not carried out by the State investigating agency and the material evidence was not collected. Even the State investigating agency believes that further investigation is required on certain aspects.
- The Apex Court agreed with the contentions put forth by the appellant and the state investigating agency that further investigation is required.
- Consequently, the Court observed that each victim has a fundamental right of fair investigation and fair trial. Therefore, the Court can allow further investigation even after the framing of charges to meet the ends of justice.
It was held by the Ld. Court that the High Court erred in dismissing the writ petition filed by the appellant and holding that further investigation cannot be carried out once the charges are framed. Thereby, the impugned order and the judgement of the High Court was set aside.