The Supreme Court has opined that it is permissible to hold open/discrete enquiry at pre-FIR Registration stages in corruption cases.
In the instant case, Hon’ble High Court dismissed a challenge against a notice issued to the appellant by Police Inspector, ACB, Nagpur, through which he was called to give his statement regarding properties owned by him in a disproportionate assets case.
Case Before the Apex Court:
The question before the Bench was whether an enquiry at the pre FIR stage was legal or permissible.
In this context, the Court relied on Lalita Kumari v. Government of Uttar Pradesh and observed that an enquiry at the pre-trial stage was permissible but desirable in cases disproportionate cases. If, after enquiry, it is found that no case has been made out, then the FIR will not be registered. However, if prima facie a case has been made out, then FIR can be lodged, and criminal proceedings will start.
Therefore, such an inquiry is in the accused’s interest and against the person against whom the complaint is made.
The Court further clarified that even after an FIR is registered, the IO is not required to be convinced or satisfied that a cognizable offence has been made out.
Hon’ble Court also referred to the notice in question and observed that information sought has to have a direct connection to the offence in question ( accumulating disproportionate assets in this case )
While dismissing the appeal, the Bench clarified that the appellant’s statement about points mentioned in the impugned notice would be whether a cognizable offence is made or not. The appellants’ statement cannot be treated as a confessional statement.