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SC says “open investigation” by ACB only to determine if a felony was revealed; dismisses appeal of former public official | India News

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MUMBAI: The Supreme Court (SC) recently dismissed an appeal filed by Charansingh Thakur to challenge a notice from the Anti-Corruption Office (ACB) to participate in an ‘open investigation’ into the ‘disproportionate assets’ allegations made in 2018 against him.
The CV said that conducting a “discreet / open investigation, in the pre-registration stage of the FIR in the case of an allegation of corrupt practice of accumulating assets disproportionate to their known sources of income, cannot be considered illegal per se.”
The SC court of judges DY Chandrachud and MR Shah who issued the ruling said that an investigation in the pre-FIR stage is permissible and also “desirable”, in cases of “disproportionate assets” “only to determine whether to reveal or not a recognizable crime. ” . ”
The CV clarified that his statement would be “only to satisfy whether or not a recognizable crime is revealed so that the appellant can clarify the accusations made against him with respect to the accumulation of assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.”
Any statement made as part of the ‘open investigation’ “will not be treated as a confessional statement,” nor may it be used against the public servant during the trial, if any, held.
Charansingh is a former political rival of Maharashtra (Home) Cabinet Minister Anil Deshmukh in Nagpur. Last year he had made Deshmukh a party to his petition to the Bombay High Court, Nagpur Bank, while questioning the legality of the CBA notice. HC had rejected his request. In his appeal to the SC, Deshmukh was not a party.
“Such an investigation would also be to safeguard his interest, which could prevent further harassment,” the CS said on March 24, finding no reason to interfere with a judgment handed down last November by the superior court.
The HC court of Judges SB Shukre and AG Gharote had dismissed Charansingh’s challenge to the notice seeking his personal appearance before the ACB officer. The HC had said that the ACB’s notification was only to facilitate a preliminary investigation and “cannot be considered wrong in law.” But the HC had said that the notification “cannot compel” Charansingh to appear personally before the ACB. But its non-appearance could be at your own “risk”, as detectives can “make an adverse inference.”
Before the SC, Charansingh’s lead attorney Subodh Dharmadhikari had argued that ACB Nagpur’s March 2020 notice was “malicious political revenge on the part of the ruling party in Maharashtra to harass a political opponent.”
The state, through lead attorney Raja Thakare, pointed to the ACB manual to argue that it allows discreet inquiries and open inquiries, to ascertain the veracity of the allegations in the complaint. He said that such an investigation is justified to find out if a crime is disclosed under section 13 (e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act on the alleged accumulation of assets disproportionate to the known source of income of a public servant.
The SC noted: “A detailed procedure is provided under the 1968 Instruction Manual of the Maharashtra State Anti-Prohibition and Anti-Corruption Intelligence Office, pending open investigations.”
After completing the consultation, a final report along with the consultation documents is required to be sent to the Director General, ACB.
He said that “an infallible guarantee and procedure is provided before filing an FIR complaint with the Court against the public servant, who faces accusations of corrupt practice.”
The SC also said that even when registering an FIR, “the police officer is not required to be satisfied or convinced that a recognizable crime has been committed. It is sufficient if the information reveals the commission of a recognizable crime, as the information only sets the investigative machinery in motion, with a view to gathering all the necessary evidence and, thereafter, taking action in accordance with the law. ”
The SC said that the 2013 Lalita Kumari ruling makes clear that it is “mandatory to register an FIR if the information reveals the commission of a recognizable crime” and must “be strictly adhered to.”
“But if the information received does not reveal a recognizable crime but indicates the need for an investigation, a preliminary investigation can be conducted to determine whether or not a recognizable crime is revealed.”
Thakare said and the SC noted that the public servant joined the ‘open investigation’ in January by attending the ACB office with relevant documents and his ‘partial statement was recorded’.

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