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[Landmark Judgement] Mukund Lal v. Union of India (1989)

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Landmark Judgment Law Insider (1)

Published on: 01 October 2022 at 13:42 IST

Court – Supreme Court of India

Citation – Mukund Lal v. Union of India1989 Supp (1) SCC 622

Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has held that the Case Diary under Section 172 CrPC contains not only the statements of witnesses recorded under Section 161 CrPC, and the site plan or other documents prepared by the Investigating Officer.

These reports are of a confidential and privilege information. The report under Section 172 CrPC invariably contains the opinion of such officers and their opinion is inadmissible in evidence.

Para – 4

The public interest requirement from the standpoint of the need to ensure a fair trial for an accused is more than sufficiently met by the power conferred on the court, which is the ultimate custodian of the interest of justice and can always be trusted to be vigilant to ensure that the interest of accused persons standing the trial, is fully safeguarded.

This is a factor which must be accorded its due weight. There would be no prejudice or failure of justice to the accused person since the court can be trusted to look into the police diary for the purpose of protecting his interest.

Therefore, the public interest requirement from the perspective of safeguarding the interest of all persons standing trial, is not compromised. On the other hand the public interest requirement from the perspective of enabling the investigating agency to investigate the crime against the society in order that the interest of the community to ensure that a culprit is traced and brought to book is also safeguarded.

The argument inspired by the observations in Raj Narain case and SP Gupta case in the context of claim for privilege in regard to Section 123 of the Evidence Act, which have no direct bearing, is also effectively answered in the light of the foregoing discussion as the “Public Interest” aspect is also taken care of. In the ultimate analysis, it is not possible to sustain the plea of the petitioners, which is rooted in the mistrust of the court itself, that the provision is unreasonable and arbitrary.

There is also another dimension of the issue. Section 172 embodies a composite scheme. The duty cast under Sub-section (1) and the rider added by Sub-section (3) thereof form integral part of the scheme. Sub-section (3) cannot be struck down in isolation whilst retaining Sub-section (1). The legislature in its wisdom has cast this obligation only subject to the rider. Sub-section (3) cannot be viewed in isolation.

Under the circumstances, we concur with the view of the High Court and repulse the challenge. These are the reasons which impelled us to dismiss the petitions.

Drafted by – Abhijit Mishra