The Supreme Court has observed that the High Court can exercise the inherent powers under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to direct further investigation or even reinvestigation in appropriate cases.

The Court further held that the provisions of Section 173(8) CrPC do not limit the powers of the High Court to pass an order under Section 482 CrPC for further investigation or reinvestigation, if the High Court is satisfied that such a course is necessary to secure the ends of justice.

"Even when the basic power to direct further investigation in a case where a charge-sheet has been filed is with the Magistrate, and is to be exercised subject to the limitations of Section 173(8) CrPC, in an appropriate case, where the High Court feels that the investigation is not in the proper direction and to do complete justice where the facts of the case so demand, the inherent powers under Section 482 CrPC could be exercised to direct further investigation or even reinvestigation.", the Bench of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Aniruddha Bose observed.

The Court has further held that such powers are to be exercised sparingly, with circumspection, and in exceptional cases.

The Court noted that the powers under Section 482 CrPC are not unlimited or untrammelled and are essentially for the purpose of real and substantial justice. The Court held that while exercising such powers, the High Court cannot issue directions so as to be impinging upon the power and jurisdiction of other authorities.

"In exercise of such inherent powers in extraordinary circumstances, the High Court cannot specifically direct that as a result of further investigation or reinvestigation, a particular person has to be prosecuted.", the Court observed also.

In this case, a petition under Section 482 of CrPc, was filed by respondent No. 3-Class IV employee, against the order passed by the ACJM, Barh, District Patna whereby, the Magistrate had taken cognizance of the offences under Sections 409, 467, 468 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 on the allegations against the respondent No. 3 of misappropriation of stocks worth Rs. 16,99,648/- from the godown of the Bihar State Food and Civil Supplies Corporation.

The main plank of the submissions before the High Court in the aforesaid petition by the respondent No. 3 had been that he was only a Class IV employee of the Corporation and that the 'entire game was played' by the present appellant, who was holding the position of the District Manager.

The High Court expressed surprise that the then District Manager of the Corporation (i.e., the present appellant), who was ultimately responsible for the illegalities, was given a clean chit by the informant, i.e., the Senior Dy. Collector-cum-District Manager (in-charge of the godown).

The High Court proceeded to direct the Magistrate to give directions to the police to further investigate the case in terms of Section 173(8) CrPC regarding the allegations against the appellant.

The order aforesaid was questioned by the appellant in whose relation the directions have been issued for further investigation, inter alia, on the ground that investigation is the prerogative of the investigating agency/officer and no mandate could be issued to the Magistrate so as to usurp such powers to investigate.

Senior Advocate Siddharth Dave represented the Appellants whereas Advocate Samir Ali Khan represented the State.

The Court observed that the instant case was a case of exceptional and special features where the High Court was justified in ordering further investigation, particularly qua the role of the appellant.

Therefore, the Court refused to interfere with the principal part of the order impugned, directing further investigation.

However, the Court observed that there were certain other aspects and features of the order impugned which are difficult to be appreciated and approved.

The Court noted that "The High Court has chosen to use such harsh and severe expressions in the impugned order which carry all the potential of causing prejudice to the appellant and even to distract a fair and dispassionate investigation."

The Court held that the High Court is not justified in making such observations, comments, and remarks, which leave little scope for an independent investigation and which carry all the potential to cause prejudice to the appellant.

"In the totality of circumstances and in the larger interest of justice, we are clearly of the view that in this case, the investigation contemplated by the order impugned should be allowed to be taken to its logical end but, while effacing the unwarranted and unnecessary observations of the High Court, lest there be any prejudice to any party only because of such observations. In other words, the entire matter is left open for examination by the investigating agency, by the sanctioning authority, and by the Court concerned at the relevant stage and in accordance with law.", the Court held while dismissing the appeal.

Cause Title- Devendra Nath Singh v. State of Bihar & Ors.

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