Prevention Of Corruption Act- An Enquiry At Pre-FIR Stage Is Not Only Permissible But Desirable
Case: Charansingh Vs. State of Maharashtra
Coram: Justices Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah
Case No: [CrA 363 OF 2021]
Court Observation: Thus, an enquiry at pre-FIR stage is held to be permissible and not only permissible but desirable, more particularly in cases where the allegations are of misconduct of corrupt practice acquiring the assets/properties disproportionate to his known sources of income. After the enquiry/enquiry at pre-registration of FIR stage/preliminary enquiry, if, on the basis of the material collected during such enquiry, it is found that the complaint is vexatious and/or there is no substance at all in the complaint, the FIR shall not be lodged.
However, if the material discloses prima facie a commission of the offence alleged, the FIR will be lodged and the criminal proceedings will be put in motion and the further investigation will be carried out in terms of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Therefore, such a preliminary enquiry would be permissible only to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not and only thereafter FIR would be registered. Therefore, such a preliminary enquiry would be in the interest of the alleged accused also against whom the complaint is made.
“It is enough if the information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence as the information only sets in motion the investigative machinery, with a view to collect all necessary evidence, and thereafter to take action in accordance with law. Therefore, as such, holding such an enquiry, may be discrete/open enquiry, at preregistration of FIR stage in the case of allegation of corrupt practice of accumulating assets disproportionate to his known sources of income, cannot be said to be per se illegal” , it said.
The same cannot be said to be a fishing or roving enquiry. Such a statement cannot be said to be a statement under Section 160 and/or the statement to be recorded during the course of investigation as per the Code of Criminal Procedure. Such a statement even cannot be used against the appellant during the course of trial. Statement of the appellant and the information so received during the course of discrete enquiry shall be only for the purpose to satisfy and find out whether an offence under Section 13(1)(e) of the PC Act, 1988 is disclosed. Such a statement cannot be said to be confessional in character, and as and when and/or if such a statement is considered to be confessional, in that case only, it can be said to be a statement which is self-incriminatory, which can be said to be impermissible in law.