The Karnataka High Court has held that a Police Sub-Inspector is empowered to investigate and file charge sheet. There is no defect in the charge sheet filed by the Police Sub-Inspector after due investigation.
A single judge bench of Justice K Natarajan said,
"The Police Sub-Inspector or Inspector both are in charge of the police station..., there is no defect in the charge sheet filed by the Police Sub-Inspector after due investigation. Therefore on that ground the petitions are not entitled for quashing criminal proceedings."
The Petitioners, in jail for more than six months, had sought quashing of FIR registered against them under charges of 306 (abetment to suicide) r/w section 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
Senior Advocate Hashmath Pasha appearing for the petitioners contended that Police Inspector is the SHO of the police station and such being the case, the charge sheet filed by the police Sub-Inspector who is inferior officer to the police inspector has no authority to file charge sheet. Therefore the charge sheet is liable to be set aside and returned back as it was defective, filed by an officer who is unauthorised under the law.
"The official in-charge of police station is always Police Inspector but not the Police Sub-Inspector and any officers can investigate the matter but charge sheet can be forwarded only by the officer in-charge of Police Station but Police Sub-Inspector is not the officer in-charge of police station," Pasha submitted.
Special Public Prosecutor V S Hegde contended that as per the provisions of Sections 154 and 156 of Cr.P.C, no court can question the investigation of the Police Officer. It does not reveal who has to investigate and on the basis of the faulty investigation, the charge sheet cannot be set aside and it is only irregularity and the same can be cured.
"There is no bar for filing chargesheet by the Sub-inspector of Police who is also in-charge of the police station. The preliminary investigation is done by the police inspector. Therefore, the Police Sub-inspector filed a charge sheet who received the complaint and filed the charge sheet," Hegde submitted.
The Court took note of the judgment in Fertico Marketing and Investment Pvt. Limited and others Vs. CBI and another, where the Supreme Court has categorically held that any error or irregularity in filing the charge sheet by the police and the cognizance taken by the Court on the basis of such charge sheet would, not be set aside nor could further proceedings in pursuance thereof be quashed.
Reference was also made to H.N. Rishbud v. State of Delhi, where it was held that if cognizance is in fact taken, on a police report vitiated by the breach of a mandatory provision relating to investigation, there can be no doubt that the result of the trial which follows it cannot be set aside unless the illegality in the investigation can be shown to have brought about a miscarriage of justice. That an illegality committed in the course of investigation does not affect the competence and the jurisdiction of the Court for trial.
The bench referred to section 154 to 156 of Criminal procedure code said, "As contended by the learned SPP that as per Section 156 of Cr.P.C, the Cr.P.C empowers to investigate the matter by the police officer and it does not say whether Inspector of Police or Sub-Inspector of Police. On plain reading it says only Police Officer and it says no proceedings of the police officer in any such case shall at any stage be called in question on the ground that case was one which such officer is not empowered under the Section to investigate which reveals the police officer whoever may be the officer either Sub-Inspector or Police Inspector are empowered to investigate the matter and it cannot be questioned."
It added, "It is well settled that officers in charge of police stations include Inspector of Police, Police Sub-Inspector, Assistant Sub-Inspector and a Head Constable not below the rank of Police Constable."
Then referring to the Karnataka Police Manual the bench said, "On perusal of these guidelines and police manual which clearly reveals the Sub-Inspector are also empowered and he was an officer in charge of the police station to file charge sheet, as already held above, the complaint itself filed by the Police Inspector showing Sub-Inspector as SHO and the Police Sub-Inspector who registered the FIR, investigated the matter and filed charge sheet. Therefore it cannot be said the charge sheet is vague or unauthorised or illegal."
Following which it dismissed the petitions.
Case Title: E S Praveen Kumar v. State of Karnataka
Case No: Criminal Petition 2807/2022
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 171
Date of Order: 19th May 2022
Appearance: Senior Advocate Hashmath Pasha a/w Advocate Nasir Ali for petitioner; Special Public Prosecutor V S Hegde a/w Advocate Vinayaka V S for respondent