The Supreme Court in its recent judgment has reiterated that the power of ordering further investigation rests with the concerned Magistrate or with a higher Court and an order from the District Police Chief for further investigation is not the same as an order passed by the Judicial Magistrate. The Court affirmed the fact that "Requirement of permission for further investigation or to file a supplementary report is accepted within the law and is therefore required to be complied with".

The Bench of Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Sanjay Karol while dealing with a Criminal Appeal challenging the order passed by the Kerala High Court noted that the Appellant was charged with an offence under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code for which the Police had primarily placed a report stating the 'case to be false' and subsequently placed another report of further investigation on the order of District Police Chief, Kottayam.

The Bench noted that the High Court of Kerala had refused to quash the proceedings under Section 482 of the CrPC challenging which the Appellant contended that the reinvestigation was ordered in violation of the procedure laid down in law and that the ingredients of Section 420, IPC were not met as no specific role was attributed on the appellant.

As per the prosecution's version, the Appellant had cheated the defacto complainant and seven other persons of Rs. 3,83,583/-, in exchange for securing jobs for them or their wives at the Kottayam Rubber Board, as clerks. In its judgment, the Apex Court noted that before them were two issues: "whether under the recognized parameters of exercise of power under Section 482, the non­ exercise of power by the High Court was justified and whether the District Police Chief, Kottayam could have ordered the further investigation pursuant to which the second final report was filed."

Adjudicating the first issue, the Supreme Court found that Section 173 (8) of the CrPC deals with the issue of further investigation and that under Section 190 of the CrPC, a Magistrate ordering such investigation would encompass further investigation under Section 173 (8). Differentiating between 'further investigation' and 'fresh investigation' the Court held that the former is a continuation of a previous investigation and the latter can only be done with a definite order from the Court which clarifies why the previous investigation is incapable of being acted upon.

The Court found that in the present case, the Police conducted a further investigation as per an Order passed by a police officer and not by any duly empowered judicial officer and that this can not be treated as an order issued by the concerned Magistrate. The Court noted that further investigation was without any basis and held that "the requirement of permission for further investigation or to file a supplementary report is accepted within law and is therefore required to be complied with."

The Supreme Court while relying on its earlier decisions also noted that a magistrate has the power to order further investigation and that fresh investigation/reinvestigation/de novo investigation falls into the purview of the jurisdiction of a higher court.

With the second issue, the Apex Court stated that powers under Section 482 of CrPC are to be used only sparingly and to facilitate the ends of justice. The Court found that in the present case, no proof of any financial transaction is on record, much less concerning the present appellant, and the threshold of Section 420 is not breached.

In the above circumstances noted, the Court set aside the order passed by the High Court and allowed the appeal.

Cause Title: Peethambaran v. State Of Kerala & Anr. [Crl.A. No. 0013

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