Himachal Pradesh High Court : While allowing a petition filed under S. 482 CrPC seeking to quash/delete the name of the petitioner as ‘suspect’ from the supplementary charge sheet and discharge him from the charges, Ajay Mohan Goel, J, held that no one can be reflected as a ‘suspect’ in the Final Report.
In the instant matter, a FIR under Ss. 420, 406, 409, 411, 467, 468, 471, 201, 217, 218 and 120-B of IPC and Ss. 13(I) d, 13(I) d(ii), 13(I)(e) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 was filed against the Indian Technomac Co. Ld. and its officials. The petitioner worked as the Company Secretary of Indian Technomac Co. Ld. for a period of about fourteen months till 16-03-2011 which is prior to filing of the FIR. The petitioner applied for anticipatory bail and the same was granted to him. On 19-03-2020, the investigation agency filed a supplementary charge sheet naming him as ‘suspect’.
The petitioner approached the Court with a plea to quash/delete his name as ‘suspect’ and discharge him from the charges as it is evident from bare perusal of the charge sheet that no evidence was found against him to establish his involvement in the offences mentioned in the FIR and also, he was not cited as an accused.
The petitioner contended that the act of investigation agency i.e. naming him as ‘suspect’ in the supplementary charge-sheet is illegal, arbitrary and detrimental to his legal rights. The petitioner also contended that
“it is settled law that the trial is always of an accused and once the investigation has demonstrated that the petitioner is not an accused and he has not done anything so as to make him an accused in terms of the sections mentioned in the FIR, reflection of the name of the petitioner as a ‘suspect’ in the Charge Sheet is complete miscarriage of justice and is a travesty of justice”
After a keen analysis of S. 173 CrPC, the Court observed that there is no mandate to refer someone as a ‘suspect’, the Investigating Officer only have to the name of the accused and names of the persons who appeared to be acquainted with the circumstances of the case. The Court stated that
“A careful perusal of Section 173 of CrPC, ‘in general’ and Section 173(2) of CrPC, ‘in particular’, demonstrates that what has to be provided in the report by the Investigating Officer, are the names of the parties, nature of the information, names of the persons who appeared to be acquainted with the circumstances of the case, whether any offence appears to have been committed and if so, by whom, whether the accused has been arrested, whether he has been released on bail, whether he has been forwarded in custody and whether the report of medical examination of the woman has been attached, where investigation relates to an offence under Sections 376, 376-A, 376-AB, 376-B, 376-C, 376-D, 376-DA, 376-DB or Section 376-E of the Indian Penal Code.”
Concurring with finding in Gyanchand Verma v. Sudhakar B. Pujari, 2011 SCC OnLine Bom 524, the Court observed that during the course of the investigation if the Investigating Officer has not found anything incriminating against someone, then reflecting him or her as a ‘suspect’ in the Investigation Report is not acceptable in law and use of world ‘suspect’ undoubtedly casts a stigma on such a person. The Court stated that
“in terms of the scheme of statute, the Investigating Officer has to disclose the name of the persons who are acquainted with the facts of the case in the report, as also the names of the parties and he also has to clearly spell out the name or names of the accused in light of the investigation, which stands carried out. However, there is no provision in the statute of referring to someone connected with the matter against whom no evidence is there that he has been involved in the commission of the offence as an accused, as a ‘suspect.”
While allowing the petition, the Court directed that the word ‘suspect’ be expunged wherever it appears in the Investigation Report and asked the Investigating Officer to file a fresh report after carrying out necessary corrections in the same.
The Court advised the State issue necessary directions that the Form, in which the Investigation Report is submitted to the Magistrate is in consonance with the provisions of S. 173 CrPC. and opined that the word ‘suspect’ should not be used with reference to someone who is not found to be an accused during the course of investigation.
[Neeraj Gulati v. State of H.P., 2022 SCC OnLine HP 4942, decided on 05-09-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Mr. Anuj Nag, Advocate, Counsel for the Petitioner;
Mr. Sumesh Raj, Mr. Dinesh Thakur and Mr. Sanjeev Sood (Additional Advocates General) with Mr. Amit Kumar Dhumal (Deputy Advocate General), Advocates, Counsel for the Respondents/State.
*Ritu Singh, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.