The Supreme Court has held that a director general of police (DGP) has the power to appoint a superior police officer to investigate a criminal case registered outside his territorial jurisdiction.
A bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Prafulla C Pant set aside a Kerala high court order which held that a state police chief cannot appoint any officer beyond the territorial jurisdiction to probe a criminal case on account constraints in Section 36 (powers of superior officers of police) of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
“We do not see how Section 36 in the CrPC, in any way, can debar the exercise of powers by the state police chief to appoint any superior officer who, in his opinion, would be competent and fit to investigate a particular case keeping in view the circumstances thereof,” the bench said.
Adding that “Section 36 of the CrPC does not fetter the jurisdiction of the state police chief to pass such an order based on his satisfaction”, it said the power will be subject to the condition that such superior officer would be competent to exercise powers within the territorial/local limits of his jurisdiction.
The bench, however, clarified the power of the state police chief will be amenable to the judicial process on grounds of malafide or as being without justification and reasonable cause.
The court’s order came while deciding the appeals moved by Kerala and complainant PB Sourabhan against the high court order.
Two criminal cases arising out of matrimonial disputes were lodged in Kerala. In one case, Sourabhan was the complainant while in the other he was an accused.
Sourabhan made a representation to the state police chief requesting appointment of a superior officer to probe both the cases but the appointment was later challenged.