Neeraj Gulati Vs. State of HP
DATE OF ORDER:
5th September 2022
Justice Ajay Mohan Goel
Petitioner: NEERAJ GULATI
Respondent: STATE OF HIMACHAL PRADESH
According to the Himachal Pradesh High Court, no one may be referred to as a "suspect" in the Final Report, which must be filed by the Investigating Officer in accordance with Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The Justice Ajay Mohan Goel Bench stated that it is illegal to refer to someone as a "suspect" in the investigation report when the investigating officer has not discovered any evidence incriminating them. This is because the word "suspect" undoubtedly reflects a negative connotation on such a person.
Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973: Report of police officer on completion of investigation
- Each investigation conducted in accordance with this Chapter must be finished quickly.
- As soon as it is finished, the officer in charge of the police station shall forward to a Magistrate authorised to take cognizance of the offence on a police report, a report in the form prescribed by the State Government, stating: (a) the names of the parties; (b) the nature of the information; (c) the names of the people who appear to be familiar with the circumstances of the case; (d) whether any offence appears to have been committed and, if so the officer must also inform the person, if any, who initially provided the information about the offence, of the action he took, in the way that the State Government may specify.
- When a superior officer of police has been appointed pursuant to Section 158, the report must be submitted through that officer in any circumstance where the State Government so directs by general or special order, and he may, pending the orders of the Magistrate, direct the officer in charge of the police station to conduct additional investigation.
- In 2016, a FIR was filed against the Indian Technomac Company Limited and its employees under Sections 420, 406, 409, 411, 467, 468, 471, 201, 217, and 120B of the Indian Penal Code as well as Sections 13(I) d), 13(I) d (ii), 13(I) (e), and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
- The petitioner had been the company secretary of the aforementioned Company for approximately fourteen months prior to the filing of the FIR. The petitioner was included as a suspect in a Supplementary Charge Sheet that the police filed in 2020.
- The petitioner therefore filed the current plea with the court, claiming that no evidence has been presented to show his involvement in the crimes listed in the FIR and as a result, he has not been named as an accused. He also disputed the inclusion of his name as a suspect in the supplementary charge sheet.
The main issue here was whether someone who is not found as an accused be referred to as ‘suspect’ in the final report filed by the investigating officer in accordance with Section 173 of the CrPC?
ARGUMENTS OF THE PETITIONER
Since it is established law that the trial is always of an accused, and since the investigation has shown that the petitioner is not an accused and he has not done anything to make him an accused in terms of the sections mentioned in the FIR, learned counsel representing the petitioner has argued that the designation of the petitioner as a "suspect" in the Police Report, filed under the provisions of Section 173 of the Cr.P.C is not valid.
ARGUMENTS OF THE RESPONDENT
- The learned additional advocate general has argued that since it has been made clear in the report that the petitioner has not been charged, that no evidence has emerged to establish his involvement in the creation of the fake record, and that the petitioner is not cited as an accused due to a lack of sufficient corroboration and supporting evidence, the petitioner is not required to file the current petition.
- Mentioning the petitioner as a ‘suspect’ is only procedural and nothing more than that.
- Therefore, it has been prayed that the petition be dismissed.
ANALYSIS BY THE COURT
- The Court first considered Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Report of Police Officer on Completion of Investigation), noting that this provision nowhere requires or mandates that any reference of any "Suspect" is to be there in the report and that the Investigating Officer has to mention the name of the accused as well as the names of the people who appeared to be familiar with the circumstances of the case. However, the Court emphasises that there is no provision that the same "Suspect" must be mentioned in both the report.
- In addition, the Court cited the ruling of the Bombay High Court in the case of Gyanchand Verma v. Sudhakar B. Pujari and others, [2011 (6) Mh.L.J. 904], wherein similar observations were made and it was decided that no one could be referred to as a "suspect" in the Final Report, which must be filed by the Investigating Officer in accordance with Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
- After a thorough consideration of all the facts and circumstances, the present petition was granted, and it was ordered that all instances of the word "suspect," as it appears in Column 12 of the investigation report, be deleted. The investigating officer was also instructed to prepare a new report after making the required modifications.
- It's important to note that the Court instructed the state government to issue the necessary directives to ensure that the Form in which the Investigation Report is submitted to the learned Magistrate complies with the provisions of Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code and that the word "suspect" is not used therein in reference to someone who has not been identified as an accused during the investigation.
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