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Key takeaways

  • Initially, the case, Charansingh V. State of Maharashtra was filed because of feeling of dissatisfaction by the appellant.
  • SC gave a very important judgment in regards with the prevention of anti-corruption acts.

Why the case was filed?

  • A Complaint was received against the appellant in the office of the Director General, Anti- Corruption Bureau, Maharashtra State, Mumbai on 07-02-2018.
  • Various allegations were made against the appellant and his brothers with regard to accumulating the assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.
  • The appellant at that time was a member and president of Municipal council, Katol, district Nagpur.
  • The police inspector, anti-corruption bureau issued a notice to the appellant asking to provide documents relating to his property, assets, bank statements etc and also asked the appellant to give statement to the police.
  • The appellant felt aggrieved and dissatisfied with the notice dated 04.03.2020 issued by the Police Inspector, calling upon the appellant to personally remain present before the investigating officer of the Anti-corruption Bureau, Nagpur to give his statement in an ‘open enquiry’ in respect of the property owned by him along with the information on the points stated in the said notice.
  • Hence, preferred Criminal Writ Petition no. 226 of 2020 before the High Court
  • The High Court dismissed the writ petition which challenged the notice dated 04.03.2020 issued by the Police Inspector, Anti-Corruption Bureau, Nagpur.
  • The appellant felt dissatisfied and therefore had preferred to appeal at SC.

Judgment passed by the Supreme Court

  • The Supreme Court in the case of Charansingh V. State of Maharashtra[CrA 363 of 2021] on 24 march 2021, observed that “ it is permissible to hold discrete or open enquiry, at pre-Fir stage in corruption cases”
  • In appeal, the bench consisting of Justice D.Y Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah pondered upon the question that whether such an enquiry at pre-FIR stage would be legal and to what extent such an enquiry is permissible?
  • The bench referring to Lalita Kumari V. Government of Uttar Pradesh, 2016, thus observed that:
  1. Such an enquiry at pre-Fir stage is not only permissible but desirable as well in the cases of corrupt practices as on the basis of preliminary enquiry if it is found that there is no substance at all in the complaint, and then the FIR shall not be lodged.
  2. However, if it discloses an existence of a prima facie a commission of the offence alleged, then the FIR will be lodged and the criminal proceedings will be put in motion and the further investigation will be carried out under Code of Criminal Procedure.
  3. Therefore, such an enquiry would be permissible only to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not and only thereafter the FIR would be registered.
  4. Hence, such a preliminary enquiry is in the interest and favor of the alleged accused and also against whom the complaint is made.
  • The court also added that even at the stage of registering the FIR, the police does not need to be convinced or satisfied that a cognizable offence has been committed as the information only sets in motion the investigative machinery with the view to collect all necessary evidence and thereafter to take action in accordance to the law.
  • Also, the court clarified while dismissing the appeal that the statement of the appellant on the points mentioned in the impugned notice would be only to satisfy whether a cognizable offence is disclosed or not and so as to enable the appellant to clarify the allegations made against him with respect to accumulation of assets disproportionate to his known source of income the same shall not be treated as a confessional statement.

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