(Petition u/S 482 of the Cr.P.C)
1. This petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as "the Code") has been filed by the petitioners for quashing FIR dated 29.5.2005 registered under Crime No. 194/05 and all connected criminal proceedings by police of Police Station-Bhilai Nagar, District Durg, alleging commission of offence under Section 304-B and Section 498-A read with Section 34 of the IPC.
2. The relevant and necessary facts giving rise to instant petition are that petitioner No.1- Manoj Kumar Sharma was married to Nandani, daughter of R.P. Sharma on 27.4.1999. While the deceased Nandni Sharma was residing with her husband-petitioner No.1, she died in suspicious circumstance on 20th September, 1999. An information in writing (Annexure P-1) regarding death of Nandani was sent to the Station House Officer of Police Station - Mullana, Ambala Cantt. on that very date i.e. 20th September, 1999 by one P.S. Ghosh, Flying Officer, Security Officer for Commanding Officer of 2207 Squadron Air Force. In the said letter, it was stated that Mrs. Nandani Sharma, wife of petitioner No.1 died unnatural death on 20th September, 1999. One Sunita Verma, wife of Wing Commander - N. N. Verma was informed and when she went to the house of petitioner No.1, he was found crying and saying that his wife hanged herself. Deceased-Nandani was then sent to hospital at Ambala for necessary medical care where she was declared dead. Upon receipt of the information, the police of Police Station - Ambala proceeded to hold an inquiry under Section 174 of the Code. The dead body was sent for postmortem and also for chemical examination in the Forensic Science Laboratory. The father of the deceased namely R. P. Sharma was informed. The details of the inquiry made under Section 174 of the Code were entered in the General Diary by one Balbeer Singh, ASI on 22.9.1999. It was recorded therein that upon receiving information regarding unnatural death, the police went to the place of occurrence and upon inquiry, no offence was found to have been committed. Report of the inquiry made under Section 174 of the Code was forwarded to the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Ambala, by the Station House Officer on 24th January 2000 stating that Mrs. Nandani died due to hanging and postmortem was conducted and chemical report from F.S.L. was also obtained. The father of the deceased requested that the remains of the body of the deceased be handed over to him for performing last ceremony and it was also stated in the said report that father of the deceased does not want any further action in the matter of death of his daughter - Nandani. On the basis of the said report, the Superintendent of Police, Ambala, recorded on 19.2.2000 that the deceased died on 20th September, 1999 and no cognizable offence was found to have been committed and the case is therefore closed. This report was accepted and endorsed by the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Ambala. The acceptance report has been placed on record as Annexure P-8. Simultaneously, an inquiry was also conducted by the Indian Air Force Authority and upon completion of inquiry, the inquiry officer submitted final report on 18.2.2000 (Annexure P-9) stating that civil police has completed the investigation under Section 174 of the Code and no foul play is suspected in the case and therefore the case has been closed and case file sent to Dy. Suptt. of Police Narayangarh for disposal. The aforesaid inquiry report, prepared by Squadron Leader and forwarded to the higher authorities, was finally accepted and the case was closed vide Annexure P-10.
3. After about 5 years, on the basis of report submitted by Shashi Bhushan, brother of the deceased- Nandani Shamra, the police of Police Station - Bhilai Nagar, District Durg registered a crime under Crime No.194/05 dated 29.5.2005 against the petitioners, registering offences under Section 304-B and 498-A read with Section 34 of the IPC (placed on record as Annexure P-18). The FIR, in substance, recorded that the application was received from brother of the deceased-Nandni and upon inquiry made, it was found that deceased-Nandani was married to petitioner No.1 on 27.4.1999 and ever since the deceased was married, the petitioners did not accord proper treatment and expected car by way of dowry and further that the in-laws of the deceased used to provoke Manoj Sharma, husband of the deceased and on telephone, the deceased used to inform regarding incidents of quarrel. On 20th September, 1999, deceased- Nandani Sharma informed her brother over telephone regarding her quarrel with petitioner No.1 and on that very date, she died in suspicious circumstance. The police found that the deceased was subjected to cruelty in connection with demand of dowry by her husband, father-in-law-Hiralal Sharma, mother-in-law- Hemlata and uncle-in-law Mahaveer Prasad Sharma, resulting in her death in suspicious circumstance within 4 months of her marriage in the house of her husband. In the FIR, it has been alleged that on the basis of some letter received on 7.4.2005, it came to light that the deceased had not committed suicide, but she was murdered by Manoj Sharma and it was given colour of a case of suicide. The petitioner No.1 was arrested on 1st June, 2005 and was produced before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Durg, where from he was remanded to judicial custody. The petitioner- Manoj had moved an application for grant of bail which was rejected by the Additional Sessions Judge, Durg and thereafter, bail application was rejected by the High Court. A writ petition registered as W.P. No.2890/05 was preferred by the petitioners for quashing of FIR under Crime No.194/05 registered by Police Station-Bhilai Nagar, Durg. Vide order dated 25.7.2005 (Annexure P-13), petitioner No.1 was directed to be released on bail and it was further directed that till the writ petition is disposed of, investigation against the writ petitioners may continue but none of the petitioners will be arrested without the leave of the Court. Later on, writ petition was disposed of as withdrawn reserving liberty to the petitioners to question the validity or otherwise of the FIR said to have been filed against the writ petitoenrs before an appropriate forum and further that withdrawal of the writ petition would not come in the way of writ petitioners raising all such contentions which are available to them including the contention raised in the writ petition.
4. In the aforesaid background, the instant petition under Section 482 of the Code has been filed by the petitioners for quashing FIR and the connected criminal proceedings under Crime No.194/05 registered by Police Station-Bhilai Nagar, District-Durg.
5. Learned counsel for the petitioners assailed the FIR and criminal proceedings by contending that the registration of a criminal case under Crime No.194/05 is an abuse of the process of law as no second FIR could be entertained and registered by the police of Police Station-Bhilai Nagar in respect of the same incident regarding which report was earlier made to the police of Police Station-Mullana, which conducted the inquiry and investigated into the alleged commission of offences and found that no cognizable case was made out and the report was finally accepted by the Sub Divisional Magistrate, closing the case. Learned counsel for the petitioners vehemently argued that once a report of commission of cognizable offence was made to Police Station-Mullana, investigation held and the case closed, it was beyond the authority and jurisdiction of the police of Police Station -Bhilai Nagar to entertain and investigate into the same allegation alleging commission of cognizable offence by registering crime under Crime No.194/05 against the petitioners. It is submitted, in extenso, that the law does not permit fresh investigation of the same incident by a different investigating agency, once it has already been investigated by one police station and case closed and report of closure accepted. It is contended that even if an occasion arises for further investigation, the only course of action permissible under the law is to hold further investigation by the same investigating agency with the specific permission of the concerned Magistrate having territorial jurisdiction over the concerned area. Further contention of learned counsel for the petitioners is that as the incident of death of deceased - Nandani had taken place at Amabala in the State of Haryana within the territorial area of Police Station- Mullana, it is beyond the territorial jurisdiction of Police Station-Bhilai Nagar, District-Durg to take cognizance of the report, register case and hold investigation into the alleged commission of offence. The criminal case has been registered after 5 years of the incident without there being any reason assigned in the FIR and the prosecution, therefore, appears to be not fair and initiated with mala fide intention to subject the petitioners to harassments. Further submission is that the offence which has now been registered by the Police Station -Bhilai Nagar is highly suspicious as no information as required under Section 157 of the Code was sent to the Magistrate, which is clear from the order Annexure P-17 rejecting petitioners' application for supply of copy of FIR on the ground that no copy of FIR has been submitted in the Court of Addl. Chief Judicial Magistrate, Durg. It is then contended that from the FIR and the statements recorded by the police during investigation, there is no iota of evidence of demand of dowry or any cruelty soon before death or any overt act by the petitioners so as to prima facie make out a case of commission of offence under Section 498 -A or 304-B of the IPC. On the basis of above submissions, it is submitted that present is a fit case for quashing FIR and entire criminal proceedings initiated against the petitioners under Crime No.194/05. Learned counsel for the petitioners, in support of the contention so advanced by him and referred to above, has relied upon number of authorities, reference of which has been made in the written submissions.
6. On the other hand, learned counsel for the State, representing respondents N. 1 to 3 and learned counsel for respondent No.4 opposed the petition by submitting that there was no FIR lodged in Mullana Police Station nor was there any investigation carried out into any allegation of commission of cognizable offence, but upon receipt of information regarding death, the police had conducted inquiry under Section 174 of the Code and submitted a report to the Sub Divisional Magistrate. It is submitted that the present is not a case where the police of Police Station -Mullana registered any FIR alleging commission of offence, carried out investigation and submitted a final report under Section 173 of the Code, stating that no offence was found committed, which was accepted by the Court of a competent Magistrate and case finally closed. It is urged that initially when Nandani died at Ambala in suspicious circumstances, the police after having made inquiry submitted a report under Section 174 of the Code before the Magistrate stating that no case is made out, which was accepted by the Magistrate, which cannot be said to be an investigation and submission of report as contemplated under Section 173 of the Code so as to say that second FIR was lodged in regard to the same incident in a different police station. It is further submitted that father of the deceased had submitted an application in the Police Station- Mullana in the circumstances which were prevailing at that time and in his letter (Annexure P-12), all that was stated was that he was informed that it was a case of suicide and on the basis of the information then available, he does not want any action against the petitioner-Manoj Sharma. Later on, it came to the notice and knowledge of the members of the family of the deceased, particularly her brother Shashi Bhushan that deceased Nandani did not commit suicide, but she was murdered, therefore, a report was lodged in the police station at -Bhilai Nagar, Durg, specifically alleging that the deceased Nandni was murdered. He further submits that when Nandani died and inquiry was made under Section 174 of the Code by the police of Police Station - Mullana, there was no material available with the father and brother of the deceased, but later on when they received the postmortem report, inquest report, Panchanama and when Sr. Scientific Officer, Scene of Crime Unite, District-Durg vide his report dated 15.4.2005 as also Director of Medico Legal Institute in his report dated 25.4.2005 stated that the death is very-very suspicious, specially in reference of hanging, the police registered offence under Crime No.194/05. It is submitted that the FIR was thus lodged for the first time in the Police Station- Bhilai Nagar and cannot be said to be second FIR of the same incident. It is submitted that two reports of Scene of Crime Unit Durg and Director Medico Legal Institute, contents of FIR and case diary statements clearly make out a case warranting registration of offence against the petitioners for alleged commission of offence under Section 304-B, 498 A read with Section 34 of the IPC. The circumstances in which the FIR came to be lodged in the year 2005 have been elaborated in the FIR and, therefore, the FIR alleging commission of a grave offence is not liable to be quashed on the technical ground of delay. It is further submitted that even if it is found that the police of Police Station-Bhilai Nagar had no territorial jurisdiction to interfere into alleged commission of offence for the reason that the deceased died at Ambala, the police may be directed to forward the entire material collected during investigation to the concerned police station i.e. Police Station- Mullana to hold detailed and proper investigation into the allegations of dowry death in the light of the judgment of Supreme Court in the case of Satvinder Kaur Vs. State (Govt. of N.C.T. of Delhi) and another1.
7. I have considered the rival submissions made by learned counsel for the parties and pursed the records.
8. The foremost contention advanced by learned counsel for the petitioners is that the registration of FIR by the police of Police Station-Bhilai Nagar amounts to a second FIR before an agency other then investigating agency before whom the FIR was first lodged and which investigated and closed the case. The submission proceeds on the premise that the earlier information regarding unnatural death amounted to first information report under Section 154 of the Cr.P.C. which was investigated by the police of Police Station - Mullana and after investigation, the case was closed. Therefore, the second FIR of the same incident and fresh investigation or re-investigation in the garb of the FIR lodged under Crime No.194/05 is not permissible under the law. The contention of the petitioners proceeds on an assumption that the information which was earlier sent on 20th September, 1999 (Annexure P-1) by on one P.S. Ghosh Flying officer, was the First Information Report, on the basis of which the police investigated and found that no cognizable offence was committed. A careful reading of information dated 20th September, 1999 (Annexure P-1) shows that it was information regarding unnatural death of Nandani, wife of the petitioner No.1. Information was placed before the police of Police Station- Mullana, Ambala Cantt. that the incident occurred in Officers' Enclave on 20th September, 1999 at 18:20 hrs. The contents of the letter further stated that the petitioner No.1 telephonically informed one Mrs. Sunita Verma, wife of Wing Commander N.N. Verma that his wife is unconscious and she was requested to come. When Mrs. Sunita Verma went to his house, she saw petitioner No.1 crying and saying that his wife has hanged herself and he was trying to give her artificial respiration, but there were no sign of recovery.
The information was also to the effect that thereafter Nandani was sent to Military Hospital Ambala for necessary medical care and there she was declared dead. It was also informed that petitioner No.1 is reported to be unconscious and admitted at Military Hospital Ambala Cantt. The substance of the information, on a close scrutiny cannot be categorized under information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, within the meaning and import of Section 154 of the Code. In essence and substance, information was an information that wife of petitioner No.1 Nandani died unnatural death. If that be so, the information is one of the categories of information specified under Section 174 of the Code. Provision of Section 174 of the Code makes provision with regard to power of the police to inquire into in a case of accidental or suspicious death. Sub-section (3) of Section 174 of the Code was added by Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 1983, which was enacted to deal with the increasing incidents of dowry death or cases of cruelty to married woman by their in-laws. Provision was made for inquest by the Executive Magistrate and for postmortem in all case where a woman has, within 7 years of her marriage, committed suicide or died in suspicious circumstances. The proceedings which have been drawn by the police of Police Station-Mullana, stated by the petitioner himself in the petition, are proceedings under Section 174 of the Cr.P.C., which is clear from the contents of the general diary entry dated 22.9.1999 (Annexure P-2), which shows that when the information was given to the police, the police made inquiry as contemplated under Section 174 of the Code. The body of the deceased was sent for postmortem and parts of the body were also sent for chemical examination. The cause of death was shown to be asphyxia as is indicated from the report of doctor (Annexure P-6). After holding an inquiry under Section 174 of the Code, the Station House Officer of Police Station - Mullana submitted its report dated 24.1.2000 before the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Ambala, stating therein the details of the inquiry made. The report stated that it was a case of hanging. It is further stated that father of the deceased Nandani namely R.P. Sharma, requested the police official to handover the mortal remains of the deceased for performing last ceremony, to which police had no objection because R.P. Sharma expressed that he does not want any further action to be taken in the matter. The aforesaid report of S.H.O. was considered by the Superintendent of Police Ambala and it was recorded that Nandani committed suicide and no cognizable offence is found to have been committed and therefore the papers be filed. This report was also approved by the Sub Divisional Magistrate, who endorsed the conclusion recorded by the S.P. Ambala. The documents which have been referred to above clearly go to show that what was undertaken by the police was an inquiry contemplated under Section 174 of the Code and the matter was closed.
9. In view of the above discussion and close scrutiny of information dated 20th September, 1999 (Annexure P-1) as elaborated above, it further reveals that the intimation was merely an information as contemplated under Section 174 of the Code rather than it being an information regarding commission of cognizable offence. Though first information report has not been defined under the Code, but whether information constitutes First Information Report, is to be determined in the light of the provision contained in Section 154 of the Code. Section 154 (1) of the Code being relevant, is reproduced as below:
"154. Information in cognizable cases- (1) Every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction, and be read over to the informant; and every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing as aforesaid, shall be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf."
(2) x x x
(3) x x x
10. Reading of the aforesaid provision clearly shows that information must be one relating to the commission of a cognizable offence. It further provides that if the information is given orally to an officer in-chare of a police station, it shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction and be read over to the informant. The aforesaid provision also states that every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing, shall be signed by the person giving it and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Govt. may prescribe in this behalf. In the case of Tapinder Singh Vs. State of Punjab and another2, the Supreme Court, while dealing with the issue as to whether the information constituted first information report, observed (para-4 at page 1569 of the report):
"(4.) But prima facie this cryptic and anonymous oral message which did not in terms clearly specify a cognizable offence cannot be treated as first information report. The mere fact that this information was the first in point of time does not by itself clothe it with the character of first information report. The question whether or not a particular document constitutes a first information report has, broadly speaking, to be determined on the relevant facts and circumstances of each case."..
Therefore, merely because there is some information first in point of time, without looking into contents of the same, it cannot be said to be a First Information Report within the meaning of Section 154 of the Code. In another decision in the case of Sheikh Ishaque and Ors. Vs. State of Bihar3, the Supreme Court was dealing with a situation where some cryptic information at the police station was given which was to the effect that there was commotion in the village as firing and brick batting was going on. That information was recorded in the police diary. The Supreme Court observed that such information did not amount to a First Information Report disclosing commission of a cognizable offence, in following words (para-7 at page 2685 of the report):
(7.) According to the statement of the Investigating Officer, Gulabi Paswan had given some cryptic information at the police station to the effect that there was commotion in the village as firing and brick batting was going on. This information was recorded in the police diary. It did not strictly speaking even disclose the commission of a cognizable offence, let alone disclosing as to who were the assailants or the victims. The cryptic statement of Gulabi Paswan therefore cannot be treated to be an FIR within the meaning of Section 154 of the Cr.PC.".
The requirement of FIR within the meaning of Section 154 of the Code was more elaborately dealt with by the Supreme Court in the its authoritative pronouncement in the case of State of Haryana Vs. Bhajan Lal4, it was held :
"(32.) Be it noted that in Section 154(1) of the Code, the legislature in its collective wisdom has carefully and cautiously used the expression "information" without qualifying the same as in Section 41(1)(a) or (g) of the Code wherein the expressions, "reasonable complaint" and "credible information" are used. Evidently, the non-qualification of the word "information" in Section 154(1) unlike in Section 41(1)(a) and (g) of the Code may be for the reason that the police officer should not refuse to record an information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence and to register a case thereon on the ground that he is not satisfied with the reasonableness or credibility of the information. In other words, `reasonableness' or `credibility' of the said information is not a condition precedent for registration of a case. A comparison of the present Section 154 with those of the earlier Codes will indicate that the legislature had purposely thought it fit to employ only the word "information" without qualifying the said word. Section 139 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1861 (Act 25 of 1861) passed by the Legislative Council of India read that `every complaint or information' preferred to an officer in charge of a police station should be reduced into writing which provision was subsequently modified by Section 112 of the Code of 1872 (Act 10 of 1872) which thereafter read that `every complaint' preferred to an officer in charge of a police station shall be reduced in writing. The word `complaint' which occurred in previous two Codes of 1861 and 1872 was deleted and in that place the word `information' was used in the Codes of 1882 and 1898 which word is now used in Sections 154, 155, 157 and 190(c) of the present Code of 1973 (Act 2 of 1974). An overall reading of all the Codes makes it clear that the condition which is sine qua non for recording a first information report is that there must be an information and that information must disclose a cognizable offence."
11. Therefore, from the aforesaid decision of the Supreme Court, it is clear that the condition which is sine-qua-non for in recording First Information Report is that there must be an information and that information must disclose a cognizable offence. If the contents of the information dated 20th September, 1999 (Annexure P-1) and what was recorded by the police in its case diary upon receipt of such information and inquest and postmortem reports, are scrutinized, it leaves no manner of doubt that the intimation was an information of the nature contemplated under Section 174 of the Code and it could not be categorized as information disclosing a cognizable offence. This is also fortified from the established facts and circumstances narrated by the petitioners and the documents filed by the petitioner himself that all that the police did was to hold an inquiry under Section 174 of the Code and submitted a report to the Sub Divisional Magistrate, who accepted the same closing the case. The petitioners have neither placed on record any FIR registered by the police of Police Station- Mullana indicating any crime number, though non-mentioning of crime number may not be a conclusive proof of the fact of lodging of FIR. There is no material to show that the police conducted investigation after recording FIR relating to commission of a cognizable offence. There is no material placed before the Court by the petitioners to show that the police after investigation, submitted a report under Section 173 of the Code before the Competent Magistrate, who accepted the said report and closed the case. General diary notings made by ASI-Balbeer Singh of Police Station -Mullana also show that the police had made an inquiry under Section 174 of the Code but having found that no cognizable case was prima facie made out, closed the case without registering any FIR or conducting any investigation, much less submitting any report under Section 173 of the Code before the Competent Magistrate.
12. The inevitable conclusion, therefore, is that there was no FIR in the eye of law before the Mullana Police Station, nor any investigation, nor submission of report under Section 173 of the Code. Therefore, challenge to impugned FIR under Crime No. 194/05 registered by police of Police Station -Bhilai Nagar could not be assailed on the ground that it was second FIR in the garb of which, investigation or fresh investigation on the same incident was initiated. Therefore, reliance placed by the petitioners on the decision of Supreme Court in the case of T.T. Antony Vs. State of Kerala and Ors. (AIR 2001 SC 2637) and other decisions on the same line is completely misplaced. The submission of learned counsel for the petitioners on this ground, therefore, fails.
13. Learned counsel for the petitioner vehemently contended that the police of Police Station-Bhilai Nagar had no territorial jurisdiction to investigate the matter alleging commission of offence under Section 304- B and 498-A of the IPC, because none of the part of offence was committed within the territorial jurisdiction of Bhilai Nagar Police Station in district- Durg. According to him, the allegation contained in the FIR and the case diary statements which so far have been recorded by the police in the matter, goes to show that the alleged offence was committed within the territorial jurisdiction of Mullana Police Station and therefore, the FIR and all connected criminal proceedings are liable to be quashed. In support of his contention learned counsel for the petitioners has placed reliance mainly on the decision of Supreme Court in the case of Y. Abraham Ajith and Ors. Vs. Inspector of Police, Chennai (AIR 2004 SC 4286), Ramesh and Ors. Vs. State of Tamil Nadu (AIR 2005 SC 1989) and Manish Ratan and Ors. Vs. State of M.P. and Anr. [(2006) 35 OCR (SC) 891].
14. In the considered opinion of this Court, the FIR and connected criminal proceedings are not liable to be quashed at this stage when the investigation is not complete and even charge sheet has not been filed, nor cognizance taken by the Magistrate. On the other hand, in the present fact situation where investigation is not complete, FIR cannot be quashed only on the ground that the Police Station -Bhilai Nagar did not have territorial jurisdiction to investigate the offence. A similar fact situation was considered by the Supreme Court in the case of Satvinder Kaur (supra). In that case, appreciating the submission that the offence was alleged to have been committed at Patiala, the High Court arrived at the conclusion that the police of Police Station - Paschim Vihar, New Delhi was not having territorial jurisdiction to entertain and investigate the FIR lodged therein. The Supreme Court, holding that the findings were illegal and erroneous, observed as under:
"(8.) In our view, the findings given by the High Court are, on the face of it, illegal and erroneous because:
(1) The SHO has statutory authority under Section 156 of the Criminal Procedure Code to investigate any cognizable case for which an FIR is lodged.
(2) At the stage of investigation, there is no question of interference under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code on the ground that the investigating officer has no territorial jurisdiction.
(3) After investigation is over, if the investigating officer arrives at the conclusion that the cause of action for lodging the FIR has not arisen within his territorial jurisdiction, then he is required to submit a report accordingly under Section 170 of the Criminal Procedure Code and to forward the case to the Magistrate empowered to take cognizance of the offence."
The Supreme Court also analyzed the statuary scheme of investigation under Chapter-XIII of the Code and held:
"(9.) This would be clear from the following discussion. Section 156 of the Criminal Procedure Code empowers the police officer to investigate any cognizable offence. It reads as under:
"156. Police officer's power to investigate cognizable case.-(1) Any officer in charge of a police station may, without the order of a Magistrate, investigate any cognizable case which a court having jurisdiction over the local area within the limits of such station would have power to enquire into or try under the provisions of Chapter XIII.
(2) No proceeding of a police officer in any such case shall at any stage be called in question on the ground that the case was one which such officer was not empowered under this section to investigate.
(3) Any Magistrate empowered under Section 190 may order such an investigation as above-mentioned."
(10.) It is true that territorial jurisdiction also is prescribed under sub-section (1) to the extent that the officer can investigate any cognizable case which a court having jurisdiction over the local area within the limits of such police station would have power to enquire into or try under the provisions of Chapter XIII. However, sub-section (2) makes the position clear by providing that no proceeding of a police officer in any such case shall at any stage be called in question on the ground that the case was one which such officer was not empowered to investigate. After investigation is completed, the result of such investigation is required to be submitted as provided under Sections 168, 169 and 170. Section 170 specifically provides that if, upon an investigation, it appears to the officer in charge of the police station that there is sufficient evidence or reasonable ground of suspicion to justify the forwarding of the accused to a Magistrate, such officer shall forward the accused under custody to a Magistrate empowered to take cognizance of the offence upon a police report and to try the accused or commit for trial. Further, if the investigating officer arrives at the conclusion that the crime was not committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the police station, then FIR can be forwarded to the police station having jurisdiction over the area in which the crime is committed. But this would not mean that in a case which requires investigation, the police officer can refuse to record the FIR and/or investigate it.
(11.) Chapter XIII of the Code provides for "jurisdiction of the criminal courts in enquiries and trials". It is to be stated that under the said chapter there are various provisions which empower the court for enquiry or trial of a criminal case and that there is no absolute prohibition that the offence committed beyond the local territorial jurisdiction cannot be investigated, enquired or tried. This would be clear by referring to Sections 177 to 188. For our purpose, it would suffice to refer only to Sections 177 and 178 which are as under:
"177. Ordinary place of enquiry and trial.-Every offence shall ordinarily be enquired into and tried by a court within whose local jurisdiction it was committed.
178. Place of enquiry or trial.-(a) When it is uncertain in which of several local areas an offence was committed, or
(b) where an offence is committed partly in one local area and partly in another, or
(c) where an offence is continuing one, and continues to be committed in more local areas than one, or
(d) where it consists of several acts done in different local areas, it may be enquired into or tried by a court having jurisdiction over any of such local areas."
(12.) A reading of the aforesaid sections would make it clear that Section 177 provides for "ordinary" place of enquiry or trial. Section 178, inter alia, provides for place of enquiry or trial when it is uncertain in which of several local areas an offence was committed or where the offence was committed partly in one local area and partly in another and where it consisted of several acts done in different local areas, it could be enquired into or tried by a court having jurisdiction over any of such local areas. Hence, at the stage of investigation, it cannot be held that S.H.O does not have territorial jurisdiction to investigate the crime."
15. Therefore, in the present case also, where investigation is still going on and not completed, if upon investigation, the police officer arrives at the conclusion that the crime was not committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the police station, then FIR can be forwarded to the police station having jurisdiction over area, in which crime is committed. The authorities, which have been relied upon by the petitioners, relate to the cases where after completion of investigation, charge sheet was filed in the Court and the Magistrate took cognizance or on a complaint filed, cognizance was taken. The decision in the case of Ramesh (Supra), Y. Abraham Ajith (supra) and Manish Ratan(supra) are therefore distinguishable on facts and not applicable in the present facts situation where investigation is not complete. In the present facts situation, the course of action is required to be adopted, as laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Satvinder Kaur (supra). Therefore, for this reason the FIR and connected criminal proceedings cannot be quashed.
16. The prayer for quashing FIR and connected criminal proceedings has been made by further contending that the allegation contained in the FIR and the case diary statements do not make out any case and there is no iota of evidence to even prima face show that there was any harassment or cruelty meted-out to deceased -Nandani or that she was subjected to harassment and cruelty in connection with demand of dowry, soon before her death on 20th September, 1999. This Court has perused the contents of FIR (Annexure P-18) as also the case diary statements, collectively placed on record as Annexure P-15. In the first information report (Annexure P-18), it has been alleged that after marriage, the husband and other relatives were not giving proper treatment and they expected car by way of dowry and that the in-laws used to provoke the husband against the deceased and she was subjected to mental cruelty. On 20th September, 1999 deceased had informed her brother that there was quarrel between the deceased and her husband Manoj Sharma and on that very date, she died in suspicious conditions. The contents of FIR and the case diary statements, particularly that of the brother of the deceased, contains allegation of cruelty meted-out to the deceased and it has also been alleged that on the date of incident, the deceased had talked to her brother Shashi Bhushan twice, in which she stated that on 19.9.1999, phone call of mother-in-law, father-in-law and uncle-in-law was received, in which objectionable things were said and on that, the husband quarreled with the deceased. It is relevant to mention here that the father of the deceased had given a letter in the police station for handing over the mortal remains of the deceased and in one of his letters dated 23.9.2000 (Annexure P-12), he said that on the basis of information available till that time he does no want any action. Later on, upon receiving some anonymous letter that the husband of the deceased was having illicit relation and deceased Nandani was murdered, the matter was reported in the police station along with panchnama, postmortem report, F.S.L. report and statements etc. True it is that at the time when the brother and father of the deceased had gone to Ambala after receiving information regarding death of Nandani, they did not say anything with regard to cruelty meted-out and all these allegation are contained in the FIR which has been lodged in the police station in the year 2005, it only raises certain suspicion, but, only on that ground, this Court is not inclined to quash the FIR and criminal proceedings, particularly taking into consideration the attending circumstances in which the mortal remains were taken from the police station of Mullana.
17. It would not be proper for this Court to examine the reliability or otherwise of the material which has been placed before the police and collected by the investigating agency so far, particularly when the investigation is not complete and the police has not come to any definite conclusion by way of report under Section 173 of the Code one way or the other. However, this Court is unable to uphold the contention of learned counsel for the petitioner that the allegations are so inherently improbable or absurd, on the basis of which no prudent person can ever reach a just conclusion that there is sufficient ground for proceedings against the accused. It has to be noted that earlier, father of the deceased himself stated in his letter dated 23.9.2000 (Annexure P-12) given to the S.H.O. of Police Station - Mullana stating that on the basis of information available till that time, he does not want any action to be taken against the petitioner. It was only subsequently when Medico-Legal expert's opinion that the death is under very-very suspicious circumstances that the police was approached and FIR was registered. Therefore, at this stage, it is difficult to accept the contention that the criminal proceedings are opened with mala fide intention to wreck-vengeance, particularly in a case where a newly married lady died in suspicious circumstances in her matrimonial house. Interest of justice requires that the investigation should be allowed to continue. Learned counsel for the petitioners relied upon the decision in the case of All Cargo Movers (I) Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Dhanesh Badarmal Jain and another, Vijay Shekhar and another Vs. Union of India and ors. and M/s. Zandu Pharmaceutical Works Ltd. and others Vs. Md. Sharaful Haque and Ors. Those decisions are clearly distinguishable. The peculiar facts and circumstances of the present case relating to death of wife of petitioner No.1 in the matrimonial house in very-very suspicious circumstances, require proper and thorough investigation by the police so that truth may come out. Reliance placed by learned counsel for the petitioner in the case of Pankaj Kumar Vs. State of Maharashtra and Ors.8 is also misplaced. The Supreme Court in that case has taken into consideration number of circumstances including the fact that in relation to an incident of 1982, FIR was lodged in the year 1998, investigation was dragged for over 3 years. The Supreme Court had also taken note of the fact that there was no explanation to offer for the delay in investigation and the reason why the trial did not commence for eight long years.
18. In view of the aforesaid discussions and applying the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Bhajan Lal (supra), particularly, the principles laid down in paragraph-102 of the said decision, this Court is of the considered opinion that present is not one of those rarest of rare cases where allowing the proceedings to continue would be an abuse of the process of the Court or that the ends of justice require that the proceedings should be quashed.
19. It appears that though there was no interim order bythis Court in the present proceedings, because of the pendency of the present petition, the investigation has not so far been completed nor final report has been submitted by the police. The Station House Officer of Police Station -Bhilai Nagar, District-Durg is directed to hold fair and proper investigation to ensure logical conclusion of the investigation without unnecessary delay.
20. With the aforesaid observations, the petition is dismissed.