Delhi High Court: In a petition filed by the State seeking to set aside orders passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, South District, Saket Courts in a bail application and seeking to expunge extra judicial remarks made against the police officers and setting aside directions of initiating inquiry against the police officers, Anish Dayal J., directed that all extrajudicial remarks made against the police officers including the IO, DCP (South) and the Commissioner of Police are expunged from the orders as sought. It was further directed to delete all directions relating to conduct inquiries against police officers or notices that have been issued to the police officers for contempt or for criminal proceedings.
The issue arose in relation to a hearing of a bail petition of the respondent, wherein the ASJ noted two of his concerns. First, a delay in the registration of the FIR and second, the omission to ascertain the opinion of the doctor on some of the injuries (nail in the leg and glass injury) mentioned in the statement of the victim recorded under Section 164 Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
ASJ stated that “this is a serious lapse on the part of Investigating Officer and makes her liable for departmental action. DCP (South) shall take appropriate action against the Investigating Officer for the aforesaid lapses”. ASJ further directed DCP (South) to conduct an inquiry into the reasons for the delay in the registration of FIR, fix the responsibility of police officials who were responsible for such delay, and take disciplinary action.
ASJ further concluded that no proper, fair, or impartial inquiry was conducted by the DCP (South) and the report submitted was “nothing but eyewash to cover up the lapses on the part of concerned delinquent police officials”. ASJ went ahead and noted that “sordid and pathetic state of affairs in the Administration of Delhi Police” and stated that the entire matter to be brought to the notice of Home Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India for taking remedial steps.
The Court noted that ASJ has far exceeded his jurisdiction and scope of powers issuing the directions as in the impugned orders as also has been unnecessarily scathing and discordant. The genesis of these directions arose while hearing a bail petition and, therefore, it was beyond the scope and jurisdiction of the ASJ who was merely adjudicating on a bail plea.
The Court further noted that without giving an opportunity to the investigating officers or other police personnel for what seemed to be a lapse by the ASJ, the ASJ summarily noted that the IO was liable for departmental action. This was a highly disproportionate prejudgment on the issue and even if the ASJ had to ascertain certain facts, it could have been achieved by merely seeing and making a request to the investigating agency to investigate the same.
The Court remarked that once having got the report of the DCP which gave a reasonable explanation to the concerns of the ASJ, to yet again dismiss the report as simply an ‘eyewash’ concluding that there was a lapse of concerned delinquent police officials and further directing an inquiry by the Commissioner of Police was not warranted. Thus, the remarks are uncalled for and was amplifying the issue beyond proportion.
Placing reliance on Sanjay Kumar Sain v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2023 SCC OnLine Del 1260, the Court held that the issuance of all the directions, in quick succession, inexorably escalating and accelerating the matter ignores the fact that a reasonable explanation had been given to the ASJ at the first instance itself by a senior police official and if at all it had to be doubted, the reasons for the same ought to be specific, substantial, fully articulated, well-reasoned, pursuant to the application of mind, in consonance with legal principles and in deference to settled principles of law.
[State v Sumit Gupta, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 1441, decided on 06-03-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Mr. Sanjeev Bhandari, ASC (Crl.) with Mr. Sushant Bali, Kunal Mittal and Mr. Saurabh Tanwar, Advs. for the State with ACP Ram Sundar, PS: Sangam Vihar Division, SHO/Insp. Sangam Vihar, IO/WASI Anju Tyagi, PS: Sangam Vihar, New Delhi;
Mr. Rajan Kumar Prasad, Ms. Vikas Sneha Kumari and Ms. Sonam, Advocates for the Respondent.