The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that delay on part of investigating agency in filing the charge sheet does not attract Section 468 CrPC, which prescribes bar on taking cognizance after lapse of the period of limitation.
The bench comprising Justice Sureshwar Thakur observed that if delays in investigations made into the FIR are construed to fall within the ambit of Section 468(2) CrPC, then the mandate of Section 173 of the Code would become threatened.
Except for the offences enumerated in clause 1(A) of the provision, no limitation(s) of time for completion of investigations is prescribed, and, as such, the investigating officer concerned, is given latitude to complete the investigations, not within a certain statutorily ordained period of time, but to complete them without any 'unnecessary delay', the Court said.
"Moreover, when sub Section (8) of Section 173 Cr.P.C., also permits the making of further investigations, by the investigating officer concerned, resultantly, when recourse is made to Section (8) of Section 173 Cr.P.C, as such, Section 468 of Cr.P.C., would not become attracted, nor, any police report filed within the ambit of sub Section (8) of Section 173 Cr.P.C., subsequent to the holding of further investigations, and, even if filed beyond the period of limitation prescribed in Section 468 Cr.P.C., would never bar the jurisdictionally empowered Magistrate to either assume cognizance, or, assume jurisdictions qua the offences mentioned thereins."
In the instant case, the FIR for offences under Section 188 IPC, under Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and, under Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 was registered on 25.05.2020. All offences are punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year.
In conclusion, the Court held,
"It is only in the context of assumptions of jurisdictions, and, cognizance upon private complaints, or upon statutorily ordained complaints being instituted by the aggrieved, before the jurisdictionally empowered Magistrate, that the mandate of sub Section (2) of Section 468 Cr.P.C., is applicable, but the above mandate may not be applicable, when a crime event is reported to a police station, and, results in an FIR being registered. The reason being, that if the crime event, is promptly reported to the police, and, results in the registration of an FIR, and, even if some delay has occurred in the relevant investigations, rather at the instance of the investigating officer concerned, and, may be also when the delayed investigations rather exceed the term of limitation prescribed in Section 468 Cr.P.C. (supra), hence for assumption(s) of jurisdiction, and, cognizance(s). Nonetheless, the delayed institution of a police report, as may arise from innumerable factors deterring the investigating officer to speedily complete the investigations, may not neither omnibusly nor can always threaten the assumption of cognizance, and, jurisdiction by the jurisdictionally empowered Magistrate, upon, the apposite police report."
Case Title : Sukhpal Singh Khaira v. State of Punjab and Another
Citation:2022 LiveLaw (PH) 240