Supreme Court allowed the appeal filed by State of Madhya Pradesh and restored the trial of accused persons under Section 302/34, 404/34 Indian Penal Code.
Counsel for the State submitted before the Supreme Court that alleged offences were under Section 302/34, 404/34 of the IPC and Section 3(2) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities), Act, 1989, and trial court discharged them at the advanced stage of trial when almost all the material witnesses have been examined by the prosecution.
Supreme Court said, “The order of trial court shall be restricted to the offence under Section 3 of the Act and not in respect of offences punishable under the IPC.”
During the proceedings at the trial court the accused persons raised a grievance that they had been charged under Section 3(2)(v) of the Act, 1989 and since the investigation has been conducted by an Officer below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police which is the mandate of law as provided under section 9 of the Act, 1989 read with Rule 7 of Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995, the very investigation is faulty and illegal and that deserves to be quashed and set aside and in consequences thereof, further proceedings in trial does not hold good and they deserves to be discharged.
Taking note of the above submissions, that the investigation not conducted by competent officer and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, trial court had discharged the accused persons not only from offence under the SC/ST act but also from offences under the IPC. Later it was challenged by State in High Court which had also upheld the order of Trial Court.
Supreme Court said High Court made a grave error in discharging the accused persons and the investigation being done by a competent police officer, in view of the judgment laid down in case of State of MP V Chunnilal @ Chunni Singh 2009(12) SCC 649, wherein it was held, “when the offence complained are both under IPC and any of the offence enumerated in Section 3 of the Act, the investigation which is being made by a competent police officer in accordance with the provisions of the Code cannot be quashed for non-investigation of the offence under Section 3 of the Act by a competent police officer. In such a situation the proceedings shall proceed in an appropriate court for the offences punishable under IPC notwithstanding investigation and the charge sheet being not liable to be accepted only in respect of offence under Section 3 of the Act for taking cognizance of that offence.”
“In our view, the High Court has committed an apparent error in quashing the proceedings and discharging the accused persons from offences committed under the provisions of IPC where investigation has been made by a competent police officer under the provisions of the Code. In such a situation, the Chargesheet deserves to proceed in an appropriate competent Court of Jurisdiction for the offence punishable under the IPC, notwithstanding the fact that the charge sheet could not have proceeded confined to the offence under Section 3 of the Act, 1989”, said Supreme Court.
Accordingly, order of the High Court set aside and restored the Special Case No. 37/11 to the Special court, District Anuppur MP and direct trial court to conclude trial expeditiously in respect of offences punishable under IPC.
-India Legal Bureau