‘S.I.R cannot be generated at the drop of a hat’; Karnataka High Court quashes corruption proceedings initiated by ACB under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988

Karnataka High Court

   

Karnataka High Court: M Nagaprasanna, J. quashed the proceedings initiated against a public servant working as an Executive Engineer in the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited, (‘the petitioner') as the entire process initiated by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (‘ACB') is contrary to the law. This is due to no preliminary inquiry being conducted as was necessary, moreover, source information report was prepared in haste without following necessary steps and disproportionate assets being alleged are displayed on the source report as zero. The dates in the present case are of significance.

A crime was registered against one J. Jnanendra Kumar on 15-03-2022 in connection with which the house of one Munavar Pasha was searched as preliminary enquiry conducted by the ACB. While searching the house of Munavar Pasha two travel bags and one carton box, neither belonging to Munavar Pasha nor J. Jnanendra Kumar were found. They allegedly belonged to the petitioner. The ACB immediately prepared a source report, registered an FIR and conducted searches in the house and office of the petitioner on 17-03-2022. The house of the petitioner was searched on the basis of FIR registered on 16-03-2022 for offences punishable under Section 13(1)(b) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 Act (‘PCA, 1988') after drawing up a source information report which also was prepared on 16-03-2022. The proceedings emanating from this FIR form the subject matter of the instant petition.

What is a Source Information Report (‘S.I.R')?

A source information report is a report which forms the basis to charge a public servant with Section 13(1) PCA, 1988 which deals with criminal misconduct, and being in possession of assets disproportionate to his known source of income. Thus, the report in corruption parlance is a source information report. The preparation of S.I.R is the responsible work of a responsible officer i.e., Inspector of Police, under the guidance and supervision of a superior police officer, a Deputy Superintendent of Police and it has to be drawn up after calculating entire period of service of a public servant and arrive at a conclusion albeit, prima facie, that he has amassed wealth disproportionate to his known source of income.

The Court noted that on perusal of the SIR, the column total years of service of the petitioner reads ‘not yet ascertained’. Therefore, the ACB did not even know how many years of service a public servant has put in. The check period which is the most important ingredient of a source information report is left vague by stating ‘from the date of joining service to till date'. Wife's designation, salary particulars, Annual Property Returns (‘APR') etc. are not even looked into. The official income that is petitioner's salary and petitioner's wife's salary read as ‘yet to be ascertained’. The value of total property is mentioned, and the percentage of disproportionate income is zero as it is left completely blank. It is this source information report that becomes a FIR under Section 13(1)(b) and 13(2) PCA, 1988. Section 13(1)(b) PCA, 1988 deals with criminal misconduct against a public servant. The basis being the source information report, it is trite that the report assumes a great significance while imputing allegations of criminal misconduct.

Thus, placing reliance on P. Sirajuddin v. State of Madras, (1970) 1 SCC 595, Lalita Kumari v. Government of UP, (2014) 2 SCC 1 and Charansingh v. State of Maharashtra, (2021) 5 SCC 469, the Court observed that the Anti-Corruption Bureau which performs a very significant role in checking corruption amongst public servants cannot indulge itself in such casual act of drawing up the source information report on the instant, registering the FIR and conducting the search. The entire narration of the allegation which would become criminal misconduct against the petitioner is on the basis of the records found in somebody else's house in connection with someone else's crime. Such a source information report against the petitioner is no report in the eye of law.

The Court concluded that there was no preliminary inquiry worth the name that was even conducted by the ACB in the case of the petitioner as every act of the ACB i.e., preparation of the source information report, registration of FIR and conduct of search on the house of the petitioner have all happened on one single day — 24 hours.

The Court thus held it was a fit case, where “the Court cannot turn a blind eye to the plea of petitioner for exercise of jurisdiction of this Court under Section 482 Criminal Procedure Code and obliterate registration of crime against the petitioner.”

[K R Kumar Naik v. State, WP No. 7911 of 2022, decided on 26-06-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Satish K, Advocate, for the Petitioner;

Manmohan PN SPl. PP, Advocate, for State.


*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.