Karnataka High Court: K. Natarajan, J., allowed the petition and quashed the impugned order.
The facts of the case are such that accused 1 i.e. Greenbuds Agro Farms Limited Company and accused 2 to 5 are the Managing Directors and Directors of the said Company who are alleged to have collected investments from the general public and cheated the public. The individual investors have filed complaints before different Police Stations consequent to which jurisdictional Assistant Commissioner was appointed as Competent Authority for the purpose of taking action against the accused under Section 5 of the Karnataka Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments Act, 2004 (hereinafter referred to as ‘Act’). Accordingly, investigation was done and a common charge-sheet was filed by the Police Inspector, Financial and Vigilance Unit, C.I.D., before the Trial Court. The Trial Court, by its impugned order, rejected the charge-sheet filed under the Act on the ground that the Police Inspector is not the Competent Officer to file the report, and the accused were discharged for the offence punishable under Section 9 of the Act. Aggrieved by this, the State by C.I.D. filed the instant petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (for short, ‘Cr.P.C.’).
Counsel for the State submitted that as per Section 4 of the CrPC, the Special Court established under the Act is having power to try the offences punishable under the IPC as well as the offences punishable under the Special Law, but the Trial Court misread Section 5 of the Act and committed error in discharging the accused which is illegal.
The Court relied on judgment State v. Khimji Bhai Jadeja (Crl. Ref. No.1 of 2014 dated 8-7-2019) wherein it was held that
…“76. From Chapter XII of the Cr.P.C., it is evident that upon disclosure of information in relation to commission of a cognizable offence, the police is bound to register the FIR. The registration of FIR sets into motion the process of investigation. The same culminates into the filing of the final report by the police officer before the Magistrate. Thus, in respect of every FIR, there would be a separate final report and, there could be, further report(s) in terms of Section 173(8)…
The Court observed that the offences which are similar in nature committed by the same accused within twelve months can be tried together by framing a common charge as per Section 219 of the CrPC, but the question of filing common charge-sheet in multiple crimes or complaints is impermissible.
The Court also observed that though the Trial Court rightly refused to accept the charge-sheet, but committed error in discharging the accused. As per Section 4 of Criminal Procedure Code i.e. CrPC, once the Special Court is established, the question of discharging the accused of the reasons that the charge-sheet is filed by incompetent Investigating Officer does not arise.
The Court further observed that the State-C.I.D. Police have no authority to file common charge-sheet in different complaints. However, the Investigating Officer has to file separate chargesheet against each crime registered by the Police on individual complaint. Thereafter, the Special Court shall take cognizance of the offences both punishable under the IPC and the Special Act by following the Cr.P.C. and dispose of the matter in accordance with law.
The Court thus held “the Trial Court committed error in rejecting the charge-sheet on the ground that the Investigating Officer is not the Competent Authority to file the charge-sheet and wrongly discharged the accused for the offence punishable under Section 9 of the Act.”[State of Karnataka v. Greenbuds Agro Form Limited Company, 2021 SCC OnLine Kar 12475, decided on 31-05-2021]
Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
Counsel for Petitioner: Mr. Sheelavanth V.M.
Counsel for Respondents: Mr. B.L. Ravidnranath and Mr. Raghavendra N.