No blanket protection orders while probe on: Supreme Court to HCs
- The Supreme Court cautioned the high courts from passing blanket orders protecting accused persons from arrest during pendency of investigation.
- SC also ruled that in case it ordered that “no coercive steps (are) to be adopted…the High Court must clarify what does it mean by” that, lest it is “too vague and/or broad which can be misunderstood and/or misapplied”.
- The High Court shall not, and as such is not justified in passing the order of not to arrest and/or ‘no coercive steps’ either during investigation or till investigation is completed, and/or till the final report/chargesheet is filed under Section 173 Cr.P.C., while dismissing/disposing of the quashing petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. and/or under Article 226 of the Constitution.
- Though, while passing interim orders, it is not necessary to elaborately deal with the merits, it is certainly desirable and proper for the High Court to indicate the reasons which have weighed with it in granting such an extraordinary relief in the form of interim protection.
- Passing such type of blanket interim orders without assigning reasons, of not to arrest and/or “no coercive steps” would hamper the investigation and may affect the statutory right/duty of police to investigate the cognizable offence.
- Granting of such blanket order would not only adversely affect the investigation but would have far-reaching implications for maintaining the Rule of Law.
- Therefore, such a blanket order is not justified. The order of the High Court must disclose reasons why it has passed an ad-interim direction during pendency of proceedings under Section 482 Cr.P.C. Such reasons, however brief, must disclose an application of mind.
- The ruling reiterated that the FIR is not an “encyclopedia” which must disclose all facts and details relating to the offence reported, and courts should not go into the merits of the allegations when investigation by the police is in progress.
- Therefore, when investigation by the police is in progress, the court should not go into the merits of allegations in the FIR. Police must be permitted to complete the investigation.
- It would be premature to pronounce the conclusion based on hazy facts that the complaint/FIR does not deserve to be investigated or that it amounts to abuse of process of law.
- After investigation, if the investigating officer finds that there is no substance in the application made by the complainant, the investigating officer may file an appropriate report/summary before the learned Magistrate which may be considered by the learned Magistrate in accordance with the known procedure.