Delhi High Court: The Single Judge Bench of Dinesh Kumar Sharma, J. held that the order of MM and the ASJ, denying Investigating Officer (IO), the right to conduct TIP was not in accordance with law and further held that TIP could be ordered even after the release of articles to the person who was in lawful custody of the articles.
In the present case, a consignor was carrying the gold, diamond and silver articles and a robbery was conducted. During the investigation, recovery was affected. Later, an application was filed by the proprietor of Jai Mata Di Logistics for release of the articles and the State gave its no objection based on which the release of the articles was ordered. On 30-9-2022, the State moved an application for conducting TIP of the case property, but it was rejected by the MM inter alia on the ground that once the articles had been ordered to be released to the person who was in lawful custody of the articles, there was no reason for identification of the articles.
MM noted that the articles were ordered to be released upon production of original bills by the consignor and opined that the application for TIP had to be moved prior to the order of release of articles and the IO should have raised an objection at the time of reply to the application, if the articles had not been identified. Therefore, the MM dismissed the application on the ground that it was moved at the belated stage and might also lead to an inconsistency. Further, MM held that in the contract of consignment, it was up to the jewellers/jewellery shop owners to claim the articles back from the consignor as the articles were stolen while being in the custody of the consignor.
Further, the State invoked revisional jurisdiction and ASJ dismissed the revision petition on the ground that the recovered stolen articles were easily identifiable through the bills and the photographs which were issued by their respective owners before they were handed over to the consignor for their delivery to their respective destinations. Therefore, ASJ opined that the documents the attested copies of which had been directed to be supplied to the IO could be used for the purpose of identification of the recovered jewellery articles by comparing and matching them with the said documents.
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The Court noted that Chapter XII of the CrPC dealt with the information to the police and their power to investigate and upon registration of FIR and on receipt of information of cognizable offence, the duty of the investigating agency to conduct the investigation commences. Further, the Court opined that the investigation agency must be given a free hand for the purpose of conducting the investigation except in the cases where there was violation of principle of natural justice, or some illegality had been conducted.
The Court noted that the judicial TIPs were conducted under Section 9 of the Evidence Act, 1872 (Act) and the TIP was not a substantive piece of evidence, and it was only a relevant fact which was to be considered during the appreciation of the evidence. The Court opined that the investigating agency, unless found to have committed some illegality, should be given a free hand to conduct the investigation.
The Court opined that “the order of the MM indicated that even the MM was of the view that the application for TIP should have been moved earlier. This might have been a slip on the part of the IO but for this, the right of the investigating officer to get the TIP conducted cannot be taken away”. Therefore, the Court held that the orders of the MM and the ASJ denying the investigating officer the right to conduct the TIP was not in accordance with law, hence, both these orders were bound to be set aside. Lastly, the Court held that the TIP should be conducted before 15-12-2022.
[State (NCT of Delhi) v. Sunil Kumar Proprietor Jai Mata Di Logistics, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 4226, decided on 2-12-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Petitioner: ASC Amit Peswani;
ASC Nandita Rao;
For the Respondent: Advocate Deepak Singh Thakur.