Supreme Court ticks off Gujarat High Court

The Supreme Court has ticked off the Gujarat High Court for wrongly and hurriedly transferring the investigation of a criminal case from one police station to another.
An apex court bench of Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice L.S. Panta has held that the high courts have ‘limited jurisdiction’ in transferring probes into criminal cases.
A high court’s power to transfer investigation of a case from one police station to another is circumscribed by ‘an embargo’ in section 156(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, the apex court ruled.
The ’embargo’ provides that “no proceeding of a police officer shall be challenged on the ground that he has no territorial power to investigate,” the bench said in a ruling delivered Thursday but released Saturday.
‘The undue haste with which the high court has exercised its jurisdiction, in our opinion, should not be encouraged,’ the apex court has observed.
The high court was rebuked for transferring the investigation of a case of cheating and forgery from the Vadodara police station in that city to the Wagodhia police station on Dec 28, 2006, merely five days after it was registered.
The case was lodged by Vadodara resident Naresh Kavarchand Khatri and another resident against authorities of a school, alleging that latter had extracted a huge sum of money from them on the promise of admitting their children in the school.
The school even admitted the children but within a few days cancelled the same without returning the money, they alleged.
As the parents lodged the criminal case at the Vadodara police station, school authorities moved the high court, seeking transfer of the case to another police station on the grounds that the Vadodara police station had no territorial jurisdiction to probe the matter.
The high court obliged the school authorities without even issuing notice to the parents and inviting them to have their say in the matter.
Censuring the high court ruling, the apex court said, ‘The informants (parents) were not impleaded as a party therein. No notice was issued on the school authorities’ appeals. No reason has been assigned.’
“The court did not advert to the question as to whether it had any jurisdiction to pass the said order. Why such a concession was made on the very first day of hearing is not known,” the apex court remarked.
It quashed the high court ruling and ordered the transfer of the probe back to the Vadodara police station despite school authorities’ counsel Soli J. Sorabjee contending that the Wagodhia police station had already completed investigation and had even arrested the accused.
The apex court ordered the Vadodara police station to probe the matter afresh, albeit utilising the documents and witnesses’ statements collected by the Wagodhia police station officers during their probe into the matter.
From correspondents in Delhi, India, 07:31 PM IST


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