Delhi High Court on Wednesday quashed the lower’s Court’s order, which had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to release the documents seized by it during the raids at the office of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar on December 15. The search was carried after a search warrant was issued by the lower Court
Quashing the order, Justice P.S. Teji observed, “In the impugned order, error has been committed and jurisdiction has been exceeded in accepting the claim of the return of the documents, selected by the respondent no.1, mentioned in para 8 of the application as it over shadow the investigation.”
It further observed that the direction given in the impugned order to disclose the relevancy of the documents was “neither justifiable nor desirable nor sustainable in the eyes of law at this stage”. Such an inquiry or reply, it opined, would hamper the investigation and amount to unnecessary interference with the same. “Neither it was possible to check each and every document at the spot nor was it possible to scrutinize the documents for the purpose of seizing the same,” the Court observed.
Furthermore, commenting on the contention of seizure of documents other than the ones mentioned in the annexure to the application, the Court stated that an application under Section 93 of Cr.P.C. for issuance of search warrant does not curtail the scope of the investigation into the allegations and for considering the other factors for the purpose of investigation. It was of the view that mere mentioning of the period of offence does not curtail the power of the Investigating Officer to seize the documents subsequent to the same as it was in the continuation of the material required for the investigation during subsequent period also.
“It is against the principle of privacy, as the investigation which is the sole domain of the Investigating Officer and his mindset need not to be disclosed during the pendency of the investigation and required to be disclosed only at the time of filing the charge sheet before the Court. Needless to say that the Court has ample power to consider the relevancy of the documents filed along with the charge sheet by the Investigating Officer on the completion of investigation. The Court is always empowered to release the unrelied documents by the investigating agency,” the Court observed.
The High Court rapped the lower Court for observing that CBI had registered the FIR in question without conducting preliminary inquiry, stating that the observation was uncalled for, as the application did not show any concern about the registration of FIR. “Such observations may even affect the ultimate judgment to be passed at the finality of the trial and thus the same are not warranted to be made in the impugned order,” the Court reasoned. The Lower Court had also failed to take into account the application filed by CBI for retention of documents.
Petitioning the High Court, CBI had demanded quashing of the order of the Special CBI Judge, who had directed the agency to return the documents seized by it during the raids.
While directing the CBI to return the documents, Special Judge Ajay Kumar Jain had made certain stern observations on the manner in which searches were carried out and documents were seized.
The Judge noted that the as per the allegations in the FIR, accused Rajendra Kumar was able to manage multiple Managing Directors of Intelligent Communication Systems India Limited (ICSIL) and senior public servants (i.e. A.K. Duggal, G.K. Nanda and R.S. Kaushik) between the year 2010 to 2014. Thereafter, in conspiracy with them, he provided favors to the private firms.
“In this scenario when the public servant while discharging his official duty misuses its power and when there is no direct allegation of pecuniary advantage, then some sort of preliminary inquiry is required. However in present case the FIR is registered on oral information, thus proceedings initiated by CBI appear to be in haste,” the Judge was quoted as saying.
The Judge had further noted that despite the requirement in the CBI manual to abstain from indiscriminate seizure of documents, in the present case, the CBI could not even categorically state that the seized documents related to the case at hand.
Challenging this order, CBI had contended before the High Court that the Trial Court order was “wholly misconceived” as the Special CBI Judge had failed to consider that Delhi government has already obtained photocopies of the documents seized. It had further submitted that CBI cannot give documents to somebody who is not related to the case and they needed the documents as the investigation was still on. You may read the LiveLaw article here.
Read the Judgment here.