The Orissa High Court has quashed the Police Circular and State Government’s proposal by which power of investigation was conferred upon the Graduate Constables (GC) and Criminal Intelligence Havildars (CIH) and further directed the Home Department, Government of Odisha to consider the whole issue afresh and after due deliberation, to bring a fresh police circular order in consonance with Sections 156 and 157 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) as well as the Police Act and Manual.

The Bench of Justice Aditya Kumar Mohapatra observed that “this Court has no hesitation to come to a conclusion that either the Graduate Constables or Crime Investigation Havildars can never be equated with an officer in the police department. Moreover, to carry out the duties which have been assigned to them by virtue of impugned circular and as has been provided under Sections 156 and 157, Cr.P.C., the Graduate Constables as well as Crime Investigation Havildars are to be first designated as officer for the purpose of Sections 156 and 157, Cr.P.C. by either promoting them to the existing post of officers by creating new posts of junior officer in the cadre.”

“Further, it is needless to mention that such promotion to the post of officer or any other designation from the post of G.Cs. and C.I. Havildars would also accompany with it and enhancement in their remuneration either by fixing a higher scale of pay or by providing them some allowance/increment.” added the Court.

Advocate B. Routray appeared for the petitioners and Additional Government Advocate P.K. Rout appeared for the opposite parties.

The Court was hearing a batch of Writ Petitions wherein the quashing of Police Circular was sought. The Police Circular was passed after the Odisha government had earlier approved the proposal to allow Graduate Constables and CI Havildars to investigate certain petty offences under certain Minor Acts having punishments of up to 3 years.

As per the circular the selected GCs and CIHs were allowed to investigate certain petty offences after they were provided with institutional training in any recognized institutions for 30 days, followed a practical training in Police Stations for further period of 45 days and thereafter an examination would be conducted on successful completion of the training, but no additional benefits or increment in the remuneration was to be given.

It was contended by the counsel for the petitioners that unless, the trained GCs and CIH were designated as Officers by the State Government they could not conduct the investigation directly as had been intended in the Government Resolution as well as the Police Circular

The Court interpreted Section 156 of the CrPC and observed that “a provision clearly reveals that cognizable cases can only be investigated by police officer and when the order of a Magistrate Sub-section (3) of Section 156 provides that a Magistrate is also competent and is empowered under Section 190 may also order such an investigation as provided under Subsection(1) of Section 156 of the Cr.P.C. Therefore, Police Officer authorized for the purpose can only investigate into cognizable cases and none- else.”

The Court observed that even if the GC and CIH were given the training, they could not have been termed as Officers as prescribed under Section 157 of CrPC and said that “the power of investigation under section 157 Cr.P.C. has been clearly conferred upon the Officer-in-Charge of the Police Station who may depute one of his subordinate officers ( not Havildar or Constable) for the purpose of such investigation.”

Therefore, the Court observed that “In view of the language employed in the aforesaid two Sections, this Court has no hesitation in holding that the cases are to be investigated and the police report is required to be submitted to the Magistrate by the Police Officer, their designation may vary depending upon the notification.”

Accordingly, the Writ Petition was allowed.

Cause Title- Minaketan Nayak and others v. State of Odisha and others

Click here to read/download the Judgment