Sunday, 30 September 2018

Whether court has power to extend time for investigation of criminal case?

 We now turn to the subsidiary issue, namely, whether the
High Court could have extended the period. The provisions of the Code do
not empower anyone to extend the period within which the investigation
must be completed nor does it admit of any such eventuality. There are
enactments such as the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act,
1985 and Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 which clearly
contemplate extension of period and to that extent those enactments have
modified the provisions of the Code including Section 167. In the absence
of any such similar provision empowering the Court to extend the period, no
Court could either directly or indirectly extend such period.

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1218 OF 2018
@ SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO.6453 OF 2018

Achpal @ Ramswaroop & Another Vs State of Rajasthan.

Uday Umesh Lalit, J.
Dated:September 24, 2018

1. Leave granted.
2. This appeal challenges the correctness of the judgment and order
dated 23.07.2018 passed by the High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan
Bench at Jaipur in SBCRMB No.9035 of 2018.
3. FIR No.16 of 2018 was registered on 24.03.2018 with Police Station
Baharwanda Kalan, Distt. Sawai Madhopur for offences punishable under
Sections 143, 341, 323, 452, 336, 302 read with Section 149 of the Indian
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Penal Code against 18 persons. The appellants were named as Accused
Nos.1 and 2 in said crime and came to be arrested on 08.04.2018. They
were subsequently remanded to police/magisterial custody from time to
time.
4. Later, Criminal Misc. Petition No.3517 of 2018 was filed by the
complainant praying for fair and impartial investigation in the matter, in
which an order came to be passed by the High Court on 03.07.2018. Said
order recorded the submission of the Public Prosecutor as under:
“The learned Public Prosecutor for the State, to allay the
apprehension of the petitioner, at the outset, has submitted that
not only fair investigation shall be conducted by a gazetted
police officer, not below the rank of Additional Superintendent
of Police but the report of the investigation along with the
opinion of the Investigating Officer shall be submitted in the
concerned Court within a period of two months from the date of
receipt of certified copy of this order by the Investigating
Officer.”
The petition was disposed of in terms of the submissions so recorded.
5. Since the appellants had been in custody from 08.04.2018, the
investigation, in terms of Section 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure
(the Code for Short) had to be completed by 07.07.2018. On 05.07.2018 a
report under Section 173 of the Code was filed by the police before the
concerned Judicial Magistrate. Since said report was filed by a police

officer lower in rank than an ASP and was thus contrary to the order passed
by the High Court on 03.07.2018, an application was filed by the
complainant placing certified copy of the aforesaid order dated 03.07.2018.
The Magistrate having noted the contents of said order, returned the chargesheet
with certified copy of the order dated 03.07.2018 to the police for due
compliance. Thus as on the expiry of 90th day i.e. on 07.07.2018 no report
under Section 173 of the Code was on record with the Magistrate.
6. Immediately after the expiry of 90 days the appellants filed an
application for bail under the provisions of Section 167(2) of the Code.
7. The Judicial Magistrate, Khandar, Distt. Sawai Madhopur by his order
dated 09.07.2018 rejected the prayer for benefit under Section 167(2) of the
Code. It was observed that since the charge-sheet filed on 05.07.2018 was
not in compliance of the order passed by the High Court, the charge-sheet
was returned due to technical fault. It was further observed that the effect of
the order dated 03.07.2018 passed by the High Court was extension of
period within which the investigation could be completed.
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8. The rejection as aforesaid came to be challenged by filing SB Crl.
Misc. Bail No.9035 of 2018 and the High Court while rejecting said petition
on 23.07.2018 stated as under:
“No case for grant of bail under Section 167(2) Cr.P.C. is made
out, as the time was extended by the High Court in Criminal
Miscellaneous (Petition) No.3517 of 2018 and Investigating
Officer was afforded two months time to file charge-sheet. It is
also important to note that the Investigating Officer had
produced the charge-sheet before the concerned Court prior to
90 days but the same was returned in view of the order of the
High Court.”
9. The order passed by the High Court is presently under appeal. We
heard Mr. Siddhartha Dave, learned Advocate for the appellants, Mr. Milind
Kumar, learned Advocate for the State and Mr. M.C. Dhingra, learned
Advocate for the complainant. It was submitted by Mr. Dave, learned
Advocate that the report filed under Section 173 of the Code on 05.07.2018
having been returned by the Magistrate for due compliance of the High
Court order dated 03.07.2018, as on the expiry of 90 days, there was no
charge-sheet for the consideration of the Court. He further submitted that
the Code does not contemplate any extension of period within which the
investigation could be completed and as such the High Court order dated
03.07.2018 can never be construed to have extended the period for
investigation. In his submission, the appellants having shown their
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willingness to be admitted to the benefit of bail and preferred appropriate
application, in view of the law laid down by this Court they were entitled to
be released on bail. The learned Advocates for the State and the
complainant on the other hand submitted that the investigation was
completed and appropriate charge-sheet was filed on 05.07.2018 and the
return of the papers in compliance of the order dated 03.07.2018 ought to be
construed as a step towards further investigation in the matter.
10. The law on the point as to the rights of an accused who is in custody
pending investigation and where the investigation is not completed within
the period prescribed under Section 167(2) of the Code, is crystallized in the
judgment of this Court in Uday Mohanlal Acharya v. State of
Maharashtra1. This case took into account the decision of this Court in
Hitendra Vishnu Thakur and Others v. State of Maharashtra and others2,
Sanjay Dutt v. State through C.B.I., Bombay (II)3 and Bipin Shantilal
Panchal v. State of Gujarat4. Justice Pattanaik (as the learned Chief Justice
then was) speaking for the majority recorded conclusions in para 13 of his
judgment. For the present purposes, we may extract conclusions 3 and 4 as
under:-
1 (2001) 5 SCC 453
2 (1994) 4 SCC 602
3 (1994) 5 SCC 410
4 (1996) 1 SCC 718
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“……………………………………
3. On the expiry of the said period of 90 days or 60 days, as
the case may be, an indefeasible right accrues in favour of the
accused for being released on bail on account of default by the
investigating agency in the completion of the investigation
within the period prescribed and the accused is entitled to be
released on bail, if he is prepared to and furnishes the bail as
directed by the Magistrate.
4. When an application for bail is filed by an accused for
enforcement of his indefeasible right alleged to have been
accrued in his favour on account of default on the part of the
investigating agency in completion of the investigation within
the specified period, the Magistrate/court must dispose of it
forthwith, on being satisfied that in fact the accused has been in
custody for the period of 90 days or 60 days, as specified and
no charge-sheet has been filed by the investigating agency.
Such prompt action on the part of the Magistrate/court will not
enable the prosecution to frustrate the object of the Act and the
legislative mandate of an accused being released on bail on
account of the default on the part of the investigating agency in
completing the investigation within the period stipulated.
……….……………………………........................ ”
11. The principles laid down in Uday Mohanlal Acharya (supra) have
been consistently followed by this Court namely in State of W.B. v. Dinesh
Dalmia5; Sanjay Kumar Kedia v. Intelligence Officer, Narcotics Control
Bureau and Another6; Union of India v. Nirala Yadav7 and in Ranbeer
5 (2007) 5 SCC 773
6(2009) 17 SCC 631
7 (2014) 9 SCC 457
7
Shokeen v. State (NCT of Delhi)8. It must therefore be taken to be well
settled that in terms of 3rd conclusion as recorded in Uday Mohanlal
Acharya (supra), on the expiry of the period stipulated, an indefeasible right
accrues in favour of the accused for being released on bail on account of
default by the investigating agency in the completion of the investigation
within the period stipulated and the accused is entitled to be released on bail,
if he is prepared to and furnishes the bail as directed by the Magistrate.
12. The questions however arise in the present matter are slightly of
different dimension. Here investigation was completed and Challan under
Section 173 was filed on 05.07.2018. However, just two days before that, an
order had been passed by the High Court recording submission of the public
prosecutor that investigation in the matter would be conducted by a Gazetted
Police Officer. The investigation which led to the filing of the report on
05.07.2018, was not in conformity with the statement made before the High
Court. It was for this reason that the papers were returned by the Magistrate.
All this happened before the expiry of 90th day. Can it be said that the
investigation was complete for the purposes of Section 167(2) of the Code
so as to deny the benefit to the accused in terms of said provision.
Additionally another issue which arises for consideration is whether the
8 (2018) 4 SCC 405
8
order passed by the High Court could be construed as one under which the
period for completing the investigation was extended.
13. We may at this stage extract the relevant provisions namely Section
167 (1) & (2) of the Code:
“167 . Procedure when investigation cannot be completed
in twenty-four hours. – (1) Whenever any person is arrested
and detained in custody and it appears that the investigation
cannot be completed within the period of twenty-four hours
fixed by section 57, and there are grounds for believing that
the accusation or information is well-founded, the officer in
charge of the police station or the police officer making the
investigation, if he is not below the rank of sub-inspector,
shall forthwith transmit to the nearest Judicial Magistrate a
copy of the entries in the diary hereinafter prescribed
relating to the case, and shall at the same time forward the
accused to such Magistrate.
(2) The Magistrate to whom an accused person is forwarded
under this section may, whether he has or has not
jurisdiction to try the case, from time to time, authorize the
detention of the accused in such custody as such Magistrate
thinks fit, for a term not exceeding fifteen days in the
whole; and if he has no jurisdiction to try the case or
commit it for trial, and considers further detention
unnecessary, he may order the accused to be forwarded to a
Magistrate having such jurisdiction:”
Provided that (a) the Magistrate may authorise the
detention of the accused person, otherwise than in the
custody of the police, beyond the period of fifteen days, if
he is satisfied that adequate grounds exist for doing so, but
no Magistrate shall authorise the detention of the accused
person in custody under this paragraph for a total period
exceeding, -- (i) ninety days, where the investigation relates
to an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life
or imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years; (ii)
sixty days, where the investigation relates to any other
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offence, and, on the expiry of the said period of ninety days,
or sixty days, as the case may be, the accused person shall
be released on bail if he is prepared to and does furnish bail,
and every person released on bail under this sub-section
shall be deemed to be so released under the provisions of
Chapter XXXIII for the purposes of that Chapter; (b) no
Magistrate shall authorise detention in any custody under
this section unless the accused is produced before him; (c)
no Magistrate of the second class, not specially empowered
in this behalf by the High Court, shall authorise detention in
the custody of the police.”
14. The historical background which led to the enactment of Section 167
of the Code, as it presently stands has been dealt with by Madan B. Lokur, J.
in paragraphs 11 to 15 of his judgment in Rakesh Kumar Paul v. State of
Assam9. Paragraphs 11 and 12 extract portions from the report of Law
Commission of India in its 41st report, the proposed provisions as suggested
by the Law Commission and the Statement of Objects and Reasons dated
07.11.1970 while introducing the Code. Said Paragraphs 11 and 12 are
quoted here:-
“11. Unfortunately, all laws tend to be misused whenever
opportunity knocks, and Section 167 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure, 1898 was no exception. Since there was a practical
difficulty in completing investigations within the 15-day timelimit,
the prosecution often took recourse to the provisions of
Section 344 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 and filed
a preliminary or incomplete report before the Magistrate to
keep the accused in custody. The Law Commission of India
noted this in its 41st Report (after carefully studying several
9 (2017) 15 SCC 67
10
earlier Reports) and proposed to increase the time-limit for
completion of investigations to 60 days, acknowledging that:
“14.19. … such an extension may result in the maximum
period becoming the rule in every case as a matter of routine;
but we trust that proper supervision by the superior courts will
prevent that.”
(emphasis supplied)
The view expressed by the Law Commission of India and its
proposal is as follows:
“14.19. Section 167.—Section 167 provides for remands.
The total period for which an arrested person may be remanded
to custody—police or judicial—is 15 days. The assumption is
that the investigation must be completed within 15 days, and
the final report under Section 173 sent to court by then. In
actual practice, however, this has frequently been found
unworkable. Quite often, a complicated investigation cannot be
completed within 15 days, and if the offence is serious, the
police naturally insist that the accused be kept in custody. A
practice of doubtful legal validity has therefore grown up. The
police file before a Magistrate a preliminary or “incomplete”
report, and the Magistrate, purporting to act under Section 344,
adjourns the proceedings and remands the accused to custody.
In the Fourteenth Report, the Law Commission doubted if such
an order could be made under Section 344, as that section is
intended to operate only after a Magistrate has taken
cognizance of an offence, which can be properly done only
after a final report under Section 173 has been received, and not
while the investigation is still proceeding. We are of the same
view, and to us also it appears proper that the law should be
clarified in this respect. The use of Section 344 for a remand
beyond the statutory period fixed under Section 167 can lead to
serious abuse, as an arrested person can in this manner be kept
in custody indefinitely while the investigation can go on in a
leisurely manner. It is, therefore, desirable, as was observed in
the Fourteenth Report, that some time-limit should be placed on
the power of the police to obtain a remand, while the
investigation is still going on; and if the present time-limit of 15
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days is too short, it would be better to fix a longer period rather
than countenance a practice which violates the spirit of the legal
safeguard. Like the earlier Law Commission, we feel that 15
days is perhaps too short, and we propose therefore to follow
the recommendation in the Fourteenth Report that the
maximum period under Section 167 should be fixed at 60 days.
We are aware of the danger that such an extension may result in
the maximum period becoming the rule in every case as a
matter of routine; but we trust that proper supervision by the
superior courts will prevent that. We propose accordingly to
revise sub-sections (2) and (4) of Section 167 as follows:
‘167. (2) The Magistrate to whom an accused person is
forwarded under this section may, whether he has or has not
jurisdiction to try the case, from time to time authorise the
detention of the accused in such custody as such Magistrate
thinks fit, for a term not exceeding fifteen days at a time and
sixty days in the whole. If he has no jurisdiction to try the case
or commit it for trial, and considers further detention
unnecessary, he may order the accused to be forwarded to a
Magistrate having such jurisdiction:
Provided that—
(a) no Magistrate shall authorise detention in any custody
under this section unless the accused is produced before him;
(b) no Magistrate of the Second Class not specially
empowered in this behalf by the High Court shall authorise
detention in the custody of the police.
* * *
(4) Any Magistrate other than the Chief Judicial Magistrate
making such order shall forward a copy of his order, with his
reasons for making it, to the Chief Judicial Magistrate.’”
12. The recommendations of the Law Commission of India
were carefully examined and then accepted. The basic
considerations for acceptance, as mentioned in the Statement of
Objects and Reasons dated 7-11-1970 for introducing the (new)
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 were:
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“3. The recommendations of the Commission were
examined carefully by the Government, keeping in view among
others, the following basic considerations—
(i) an accused person should get a fair trial in accordance
with the accepted principles of natural justice;
(ii) every effort should be made to avoid delay in
investigation and trial which is harmful not only to the
individuals involved but also to society; and
(iii) the procedure should not be complicated and should, to
the utmost extent possible, ensure fair deal to the poorer
sections of the community.
The occasion has been availed of to consider and adopt where
appropriate suggestions received from other quarters, based on
practical experience of investigation and the working of
criminal courts.”
15. As observed by the Law Commission in paragraph 14.19 of its 41st
Report, a practice of doubtful legal validity had grown up where Police used
to file before a Magistrate a preliminary or incomplete report and the
Magistrate, purporting to act under Section 344 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure, 1898 used to adjourn the proceeding and remand the accused to
custody. It was observed that such remand beyond the statutory period fixed
under Section 167 would lead to serious abuse and therefore some time limit
was required to be placed on the power of the police to obtain remand and as
such the maximum period for completion of investigation was suggested.
The objects and Reasons for introduction of new Code voiced similar
concern.
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16. The letter of and spirit behind enactment of Section 167 of the Code
as it stands thus mandates that the investigation ought to be completed
within the period prescribed. Ideally, the investigation, going by the
provisions of the Code, ought to be completed within first 24 hours itself.
Further in terms of sub-section (1) of Section 167, if “it appears that the
investigation cannot be completed within the period of twenty-four hours
fixed by Section 57” the concerned officer ought to transmit the entries in
the diary relating to the case and at the same time forward the accused to
such Magistrate. Thereafter, it is for the Magistrate to consider whether the
accused be remanded to custody or not. Sub-Section (2) then prescribes
certain limitations on the exercise of the power of the Magistrate and the
proviso stipulates that the Magistrate cannot authorize detention of the
accused in custody for total period exceeding 90 or 60 days, as the case may
be. It is further stipulated that on the expiry of such period of 90 and 60
days, as the case may be, the accused person shall be released on bail, if he
is prepared to and does furnish bail.
17. The provision has a definite purpose in that; on the basis of the
material relating to investigation, the Magistrate ought to be in a position to
proceed with the matter. It is thus clearly indicated that the stage of

investigation ought to be confined to 90 or 60 days, as the case may be, and
thereafter the issue relating to the custody of the accused ought to be dealt
with by the Magistrate on the basis of the investigation. Matters and issues
relating to liberty and whether the person accused of a charge ought to be
confined or not, must be decided by the Magistrate and not by the Police.
The further custody of such person ought not to be guided by mere suspicion
that he may have committed an offence or for that matter, to facilitate
pending investigation.
18. In the present case as on the 90th day, there were no papers or the
charge-sheet in terms of Section 173 of the Code for the concerned
Magistrate to assess the situation whether on merits the accused was
required to be remanded to further custody. Though the charge-sheet in
terms of Section 173 came to be filed on 05.07.2018, such filing not being in
terms of the order passed by the High Court on 03.07.2018, the papers were
returned to the Investigating Officer. Perhaps it would have been better if
the Public Prosecutor had informed the High Court on 03.07.2018 itself that
the period for completing the investigation was coming to a close. He could
also have submitted that the papers relating to investigation be filed within
the time prescribed and a call could thereafter be taken by the Superior
Gazetted Officer whether the matter required further investigation in terms

of Section 173(8) of the Code or not. That would have been an ideal
situation. But we have to consider the actual effect of the circumstances that
got unfolded. The fact of the matter is that as on completion of 90 days of
prescribed period under Section 167 of the Code there were no papers of
investigation before the concerned Magistrate. The accused were thus denied
of protection established by law. The issue of their custody had to be
considered on merits by the concerned Magistrate and they could not be
simply remanded to custody dehors such consideration. In our considered
view the submission advanced by Mr. Dave, learned Advocate therefore has
to be accepted. We now turn to the subsidiary issue, namely, whether the
High Court could have extended the period. The provisions of the Code do
not empower anyone to extend the period within which the investigation
must be completed nor does it admit of any such eventuality. There are
enactments such as the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act,
1985 and Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 which clearly
contemplate extension of period and to that extent those enactments have
modified the provisions of the Code including Section 167. In the absence
of any such similar provision empowering the Court to extend the period, no
Court could either directly or indirectly extend such period. In any event of
the matter all that the High Court had recorded in its order dated 03.07.2018

was the submission that the investigation would be completed within two
months by a Gazetted Police Officer. The order does not indicate that it was
brought to the notice of the High Court that the period for completing the
investigation was coming to an end. Mere recording of submission of the
Public Prosecutor could not be taken to be an order granting extension. We
thus reject the submissions in that behalf advanced by the learned Counsel
for the State and the complainant.
In our considered view the accused having shown their willingness to
be admitted to the benefits of bail and having filed an appropriate
application, an indefeasible right did accrue in their favour.
19. We must at this stage note an important feature. In Rakesh Kumar
Paul (supra), in his conclusions, Madan B. Lokur, J. observed in para 49 as
under:
“49. The petitioner is held entitled to the grant of “default
bail” on the facts and in the circumstances of this case. The trial
Judge should release the petitioner on “default bail” on such
terms and conditions as may be reasonable. However, we make
it clear that this does not prohibit or otherwise prevent the arrest
or re-arrest of the petitioner on cogent grounds in respect of the
subject charge and upon arrest or re-arrest, the petitioner is
entitled to petition for grant of regular bail which application
should be considered on its own merit. We also make it clear
that this will not impact on the arrest of the petitioner in any
other case.”

In his concurring judgment, Deepak Gupta, J. agreed10 with
conclusions drawn and directions given by Madan B. Lokur, J. in paragraphs
49 to 51 of his judgment. According to the aforesaid conclusions, it would
not prohibit or otherwise prevent the arrest or re-arrest of the accused on
cogent grounds in respect of charge in question and upon arrest or re-arrest
the accused would be entitled to petition for grant of regular bail which
application would then be considered on its own merit.
20. We, therefore, allow this appeal and direct that the appellants are
entitled to be admitted to bail in terms of Section 167(2) of the Code on such
conditions as the trial Court may deem appropriate. The matter shall be
immediately placed before the trial court upon receipt of copy of this
Judgment. We also add that in terms of conclusions arrived at in the
majority Judgment of this Court in Rakesh Kumar Paul (supra), there would
be no prohibition for arrest or re-arrest of the appellants on cogent grounds
and in such eventuality, the appellants would be entitled to petition for grant
of regular bail.
10Para 86 of the Judgment of Hon’ble Deepak Gupta

21. The appeal thus stands allowed.
…………………..……J.
(Abhay Manohar Sapre)
…………………..……J.
(Uday Umesh Lalit)
New Delhi,
September 24, 2018
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