PRELIMINARY INQUIRY IS NOT A PRE-REQUISITE IN ALL CORRUPTION CASES

The Supreme Court has in a recent of The State of Telangana vs Sri Managipet dated 6th December, 2019 held that a preliminary inquiry before registration of a First Information Report (FIR) is not required to be mandatorily conducted in all corruption cases. The Judgement was given by the Bench consisting of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Hemant Gupta, while considering an appeal against a Police Officer who was said to be in possession of assets which were disproportionate to his disclosed income. The rationale behind the decision of the Bench is that preliminary investigation is to screen completely pointless complaints and to act fairly on serious ones.

Previously in the case of Lalita Kumari vs. Government of Uttar Pradesh 2013, the Supreme Court held that that a preliminary inquiry before registering a cognizable offence is necessary. On the contrary, the Supreme Court overruled its decision given in Lalita Kumari (supra) and held that, “The scope and ambit of a preliminary investigation inquiry being necessary before lodging a FIR would depend upon facts of each case. There is no set format or manner in which a preliminary inquiry is to be conducted. The objective of the same is only to ensure that a criminal investigation process is not initiated on a frivolous and untenable complaint. Thus, if the officer recording the FIR is satisfied with such disclosure, he can proceed against the accused even without conducting any inquiry on the receipt of the information received by him.”

Thus, the Court clarified that it depends upon the facts of the case and the officer recording the complaint to decide if prior investigation is required or not. Presently in this case a prior information was available that the Police Officer was in possession of disproportionate income which was sufficient to move against the Accused for cognizable offence. The Court while overruling Lalita Kumari (supra) judgement, was of opinion that if the information received by the police officer registering the complaint is credible in nature then investigation is not mandatory to move against the accused. Therefore, any FIR registered cannot be said to be quashed solely because it was conducted without a prior investigation.

Thus, the Supreme Court herein was of view that the Order of the High Court of Telangana to quash the proceedings against the Accused Officer was not sustainable and was, therefore, set aside.

Aakritee Gambhir

Associate

The Indian Lawyer

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