The Supreme Court has referred to a larger bench the issue whether Section 340 of the Code of Criminal Procedure mandates a preliminary inquiry and an opportunity of hearing to the would-be accused before a complaint is made under Section 195 of the Code by a Court?
The bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar also referred the question on the scope and ambit of such preliminary inquiry.
Section 340 CrPC provides that, if the Court is of the opinion that an inquiry should be made into any offence referred to in clause (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 195, which appears to have been committed in, or in relation to a proceeding in that Court or, as the case may be, in respect of a document produced or given in evidence in proceeding in that Court, such Court may, after such preliminary inquiry, if any, as it thinks necessary, record a finding to that effect and thereafter make a complaint thereof in writing.
In any event, given that the decision of the three Judge Bench in Sharad Pawar (supra) did not assign any reason as to why it was departing from the opinion expressed by a Coordinate Bench in Pritish (supra) regarding the necessity of a preliminary inquiry under Section 340 of the CrPC, as also the observations made by a Constitution Bench of this Court in Iqbal Singh Marwah (supra), we find it necessary that the present matter be placed before a larger Bench for its consideration, particularly to answer the following questions: (i) Whether Section 340 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 mandates a preliminary inquiry and an opportunity of hearing to the would-be accused before a complaint is made under Section 195 of the Code by a Court? (ii) What is the scope and ambit of such preliminary inquiry?
The bench also noted that Section 195(3) CrPC clarifies that the term "Court" means a Civil, Revenue or Criminal Court, and includes a tribunal constituted by or under a Central, Provincial or State Act, if declared by that Act to be a Court for the purposes of the said section.
Case name: THE STATE OF PUNJAB vs. JASBIR SINGHCase no.: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.335 OF 2020Coram: Justices Ashok Bhushan and Mohan M. Shantanagoudar