Former Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has approached the Kerala High Court challenging an order of the Enquiry Commissioner and the Special Judge at Thiruvananthapuram, who had dismissed his complaint about the illegal alignment of the main sewerage pumping line of Kerala Water Authority.
The High Court, however, found out that another person had filed an FIR in the very same regard, and hence dismissed Achuthanandan’s petition, stating that a second FIR based on the very same allegations cannot be registered, more so, when the first FIR has been quashed on merits.
The court noticed that the averments in the current complaint reveal that the allegations are substantially the same. Therefore, if the petitioner’s prayer is allowed, it will result in the registration of a second FIR on the very same set of facts.
In dismissing this, the court referred to the Supreme Court’s observation in TT Antony vs State of Kerala. There, the top court had said, “…there can be no second FIR and consequently, there can be no fresh investigation on receipt of every subsequent information in respect of the same cognisable offence or the same occurrence or incident giving rise to one or more cognisable offences.”
Achuthanandan’s plea was that he had complained that the main sewerage pumping line of Kerala Water Authority, which was initially laid diagonally through the property of respondent Avruthi Mall Management Co Ltd, was shifted to a part of this property, which effectuated construction over a larger area.
However, his complaint was dismissed by the Enquiry Commissioner and the Special Judge in Thiruvananthapuram.
Achuthanandan had claimed that the order authorising the shifting of the pipeline was issued by suppressing adverse reports and in violation of the prescribed procedure. These, he said, were offences punishable under Section 120B IPC read with Section 13(1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
However, the court opined that the facts stated were not in dispute, because another public spirited citizen had, earlier, filed a complaint before the Lok Ayukta. Moreover based on the findings, it was held that the FIR did not disclose commission of the offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Accordingly, FIR and further proceedings were quashed.
Achuthanandan claimed the allegations in his complaint and the FIR were different. He also said that the complaint should not have been rejected without conducting preliminary enquiry.
At this, the Court said: “In my considered opinion, the above finding cannot be understood to be a declaration that even in cases where an FIR is already registered, preliminary enquiry is bound to be held on a subsequent complaint, containing the very same allegations being filed.”
The court quoted Lalita Kumari vs State of UP, as to “what type and in which cases preliminary inquiry is to be conducted will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case.
“The category of cases in which preliminary inquiry may be made are as under: (a) Matrimonial disputes/family disputes (b) Commercial offences (c) Medical negligence cases (d) Corruption cases (e) Cases where there is abnormal delay/laches in initiating criminal prosecution, for example, over three months’ delay in reporting the matter without satisfactorily explaining the reasons for delay.
“The aforesaid are only illustrations and not exhaustive of all conditions, which may warrant preliminary inquiry,” added the Bench.