The Supreme Court has observed that, when the offence complained are both under Indian Penal Code and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes(Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the investigation which is being made by a competent police officer in accordance with the provisions of the Code cannot be quashed for non-investigation of the offence under Section 3 of the Act by a competent police officer.
In this case, the accused were charged for offences punishable under Section 302/34, 404/34 of the IPC and Section 3(2)(v) of the SC-ST Act. On the ground that the investigation has been conducted by an Officer below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, the High Court had quashed the criminal proceedings in respect of offences under both SC-ST Act and IPC.
In appeal, the bench comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi agreed with the High Court observation to the extent that an officer below that rank cannot act as investigating officer in holding investigation in reference to the offences committed under any provisions of the SC-ST Act. It said:
it is the duty and responsibility of the State Government to issue notification conferring power of investigation of cases by notified police officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. Rule 7 of the Rules 1995 provides rank of investigation officer to be not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. An officer below that rank cannot act as investigating officer in holding investigation in reference to the offences committed under any provisions of the Act
However, referring to the judgment in State of M.P. Vs. Chunnilal @ Chunni Singh 2009(12) SCC 649, it said:
Undisputedly, in the instant case, the respondents were charged under Sections 302/34, 404/34 IPC apart from Section 3(2)(v) of the Act, 1989 and the charges under IPC have been framed after investigation by a competent police officer under the Code, in such a situation, in our view, the High Court has committed an apparent error in quashing the proceedings and discharging the respondents from the offences committed under the provisions of IPC where the investigation has been made by a competent police officer under the provisions of the Code. In such a situation, the chargesheet deserves to proceed in an appropriate competent Court of jurisdiction for the offence punishable under the IPC, notwithstanding the fact that the chargesheet could not have proceeded confined to the offence under Section 3 of the Act, 1989.
Thus it held that the trial in respect of offences punishable under the IPC can be proceeded with accordance with law.
Case name: State of Madhya Pradesh vs. Babbu RathoreCase no.: Cri. Appeal 123 of 2020Coram Justices Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi
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