Supreme Court Upholds Summon Orders Against Police Officials in Corruption Case

LI Network

Published on: January 12, 2024 at 10:00 IST

The Supreme Court has affirmed the summon orders against police officials facing corruption allegations, as per Section 319 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. This section grants the authority to proceed against individuals suspected of committing an offence.

In its decision, the Supreme Court endorsed both the Trial Court and the contested order from the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which had summoned the implicated police officials.

The Division Bench, comprising Justices Vikram Nath and Rajesh Bindal, identified prima facie evidence, deeming it sufficient to establish a triable case against one of the accused police officials.

“In light of the preceding discussion, there seems to be prima facie evidence on record, making it a triable case against the appellant. Consequently, we are not inclined to interfere with the contested order,” declared the Court.

The case revolves around a complaint filed against Devraj Miglani under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, concerning the alleged misappropriation of paddy. The investigation shifted to the Vigilance Bureau, where the appellant was assigned to probe the crime, leading to the arrest of the accused, Devraj.

According to the complainant, Head Constable Kikkar Singh demanded Rs.50,000 from Devraj’s niece at her workplace, prompting a complaint against the police officials by Devraj’s son.

Although the chargesheet targeted only Kikkar, the trial Court, responding to an application under Section 319 Cr.P.C., summoned four police officials, including the appellant. Displeased with this, the appellant contested the summoning order at the High Court.

Among other arguments, the appellant contended that the summoning order did not adhere to the principles set forth in the case of Hardeep Singh vs. the State of Punjab. Nevertheless, the High Court dismissed this plea, leading to the case’s escalation to the Supreme Court.

For context, in the Hardeep Singh case, the Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench emphasized the need for stronger evidence than mere probability to establish a prima facie case.

The Court explained that the applied test should surpass a prima facie case at the charge framing stage but fall short of reaching the satisfaction level that, if unchallenged, would lead to conviction.

Observations and Findings by the Supreme Court:

At the outset, the Court scrutinized the witness statements, noting their detailed accounts of threats, monetary demands, and torture inflicted upon Devraj.

“Considering that everything unfolded on the same day, it is plausible that the entire narrative from Devraj’s surrender may not have been recounted immediately. However, at the first instance, the conduct of the appellant and other police officials attempting to extort money from Devraj and his family members was thoroughly detailed by all the witnesses.”

Witnesses claimed the money was demanded for various reasons, such as preventing physical harm to Devraj and aiding in securing his bail.

Regarding the appellant’s argument of being coerced due to his role as the Investigating Officer against Devraj, the Court did not concur but acknowledged it as a potential defense in the trial.

In light of these considerations, the Court affirmed that the parameters established in Hardeep Singh were met.

Finally, the Court clarified two essential points: firstly, refraining from commenting on the police report against Kikkar Singh and secondly, emphasizing that the Court’s remarks in the present order would not impede the proceedings of the Trial Court.

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