Dismissing a Writ Petition, the Madras High Court held that the Police Complaints Authority (the Authority) was not empowered to issue directions to Police for registration of FIR or further investigation.
Police Complaints Authorities were established at district and state level as supervisory bodies across the country on the directions of Supreme Court in Prakash Singh & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors., (2006) 8 SCC 1, to oversee the Police force until introduction of police reforms. The issue that came up in the present matter was whether this Authority was empowered to issue directions to register an FIR under Section 156(3) of Cr.P.C. or to conduct further investigation under Section 173(8) of Cr.P.C.
The case of the Petitioner was that the Respondent Police did not comply with the Authority's order to investigate the matter disclosed in the FIR filed by the Petitioner. It was contended that the powers and functions of the Authority under Puducherry G.O.Ms. No. 71 authorized the Authority to enquire into the petitions filed before it and give appropriate directions to the Police. The directions given by the Authority were binding in nature and the Respondent was thus duty bound to comply with them and investigate the matter.
The Respondent submitted that the Authority was empowered only to deal with allegations of misconduct by the Police personnel and recommend for departmental action and/or criminal action against the delinquent Police Officer. The Authority could not, as per the Respondent, give any directions for registration of FIR, further investigation etc.
The court found merit in the Respondent's arguments and held that the Authority was not empowered to give any directions for registration of FIR, further investigation etc., in disputes involving two private parties, and such powers are vested only with a Court under CrPC. Justice N. Anand Venkatesh observed that the scope of the function performed by the Authority could not be taken to such a level, wherein, the authority began to function as an alternative to Courts.
The court held that the power to give a direction to register an FIR or to transfer investigation or to complete the investigation within a particular period or to alter the offence or to direct further investigation or to file a further report, were all powers of a competent Court under CrPC. A supervisory body, such as the Police Complaints Authority, which draws all its powers from the Supreme Court's verdict and Government Orders, cannot be conferred with such wide powers. "If this goes unchecked, there is a possibility where there can be a clash between a direction given by the Court and a direction given by a Police Complainants Authority ...This will lead to unnecessary compound.", the court said.
Petitioner was represented by Advocate P. R. Thiruneelakandan and the Respondent by PP D. Bharatha Chakravarthy.
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