NEW DELHI: Holding that the two organs of the state — police and judiciary — operate in their specific spheres of activities and one should not tread over the other's domain, the
on Tuesday deprecated the practice of courts interfering in police investigations by passing orders routinely to stay probe or grant protection to the accused.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, M R Shah and
initiated by police ought not to be scuttled at the initial stage and courts can interfere by staying or quashing the probe only in
when no prima facie case is made out against an accused and the case appears to have been lodged only to harass.
Against the present practice followed not only by high courts but also the Supreme Court when a very brief order is passed to stay the probe without giving any reason, Justice Shah, who wrote the verdict for the bench, said a brief on the reasons is warranted in the order to justify why such an interim order is required to be passed so that it can demonstrate the application of mind by the court.
"Police have the statutory right and duty under the relevant provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code to probe a cognisable offence. Courts would not thwart any investigation into cognisable offences. It is only in cases where no
or offence of any kind is disclosed in the first information report that the court will not permit an investigation to go on. The power of quashing should be exercised sparingly with circumspection," the bench said.
It said extraordinary and inherent powers of the court do not confer an arbitrary jurisdiction to act according to its whims or caprice and the courts should be cautious while interfering in criminal investigations. The bench said courts should not go into the merits of the allegations in the
when the investigation is in progress and police must be permitted to complete the probe. "It would be premature to pronounce the conclusion based on hazy facts that the complaint/FIR does not deserve to be investigated or that it amounts to abuse of process of law," the bench said and added that the FIR is not an encyclopaedia which must disclose all facts and details relating to the offence.
"Quashing of a complaint/FIR should be an exception rather than an ordinary rule. Ordinarily, the courts are barred from usurping the jurisdiction of police, since the two organs of the state operate in two specific spheres of activities and one ought not to tread over the other’s sphere. The functions of the judiciary and police are complementary, not overlapping. Save in exceptional cases where non-interference would result in miscarriage of justice, the courts and the judicial process should not interfere at the stage of investigation of offences," it said.
"Therefore, passing such type of blanket interim orders without assigning reasons, of not to arrest and/or no coercive steps would hamper the investigation and may affect the statutory right/duty of police to investigate the cognisable offence conferred under the provisions of the CrPC. Therefore, such a blanket order is not justified at all. The order of the high courts must disclose reasons why it has passed an ad-interim direction during the pendency of the proceedings under Section 482 CrPC. Such reasons, however brief must disclose an application of mind," the court said.