4 Jan 2010

Police cannot decide jurisdiction to investigate: Supreme Court

In a recent decision, the Supreme Court has declared that it is not within the realms of the investigating agency (police) to decline to investigate on the grounds that the offence was not committed within the territorial confines of the jurisdiction of the agency. The Apex Court was dealing with the validity of the order wherein the police agencies in Ahmedabad had refused to investigate into an offence holding out that the offence was committed in Mumbai.

The Supreme Court declared the law as under;
In our view, both the trial Court as well as the Bombay High Court had correctly interpreted the provisions of Section 156 Cr.P.C. to hold that it was not within the jurisdiction of the Investigating Agency to refrain itself from holding a proper and complete investigation merely upon arriving at a conclusion that the offences had been committed beyond its territorial jurisdiction.
We are also unable to accept the submission that it was for the Investigating Officer in the course of investigation to decide whether a particular Court had jurisdiction to entertain a complaint or not. It is the settled law that the complaint made in a criminal case follows the place where the cause arises, but the distinguishing feature in the instant case is that the stage of taking cognizance was yet to arrive. The Investigating Agency was required to place the facts elicited during the investigation before the Court in order to enable the Court to come to a conclusion as to whether it had jurisdiction to entertain the complaint or not. Without conducting such an investigation, it was improper on the part of the Investigating Agency to forward its report with the observation that since the entire cause of action for the alleged offence had purportedly arisen in the city of Mumbai within the State of Maharashtra, the investigation should be transferred to the concerned Police Station in Mumbai. Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. contemplates a stage where the learned Magistrate is not convinced as to whether process should issue on the facts disclosed in the complaint. Once the facts are received, it is for the Magistrate to decide his next course of action.

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