The Supreme Court has said that the high courts while exercising their ”wide powers” should be sparing and cautious in ordering probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as this cannot be done as a ”matter of routine”.
Referring to a judgment of the court’s constitution bench, Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik said in their verdict that “the powers of the high court under Article 226 of the Constitution to direct investigation by the CBI are to be exercised sparingly, cautiously and in exceptional situations…”
Justice Patnaik said that an order directing the CBI to investigate a matter is not to be passed as a matter of routine or merely because a party has levelled some allegations against police.
The apex court giving its ruling July 29 set aside the Madras High Court’s order for a CBI probe into a complaint by V. Engammal against three people, including P. Kalaikathiravan, an inspector of Tamil Nadu Police.
The judges said that the high court had exercised its power under Section 482 Cr.P.C. (Criminal Procedure Code). Engammal complained that she was cheated of Rs.3 lakh in a loan transaction and the case was not being properly investigated as one of the accused, Kalaikathiravan, was a police inspector.
Engammal contended that though she received Rs.3 lakh Aug 5, 2006 – a day after she lodged the complaint with superintendent of police – no proper investigation was carried out on her complaint.
“In our considered view, this was not one of those exceptional situations calling for exercise of extra-ordinary powers of the high court to direct investigation into the complaint by the CBI,” the judgment said.
The apex court said that if the high court found that the investigation was not being completed because Kalaikathiravan, an inspector of police, was one the accused, then it should have directed the superintendent of police to entrust the probe to a senior officer.
The court said that directing the CBI to take over the probe was not the right course.