State Of Kerala Vs P.B.Sourabhan & Ors. on 4th March, 2016, Supreme Court of India: Case Brief – Read Judgement

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Power of State Police Chief/ Director General of Police to appoint Superior Police Officer to investigate the cases
Criminal Appeal No. 192 of 2016
Bench: Justice Ranjan Gogoi; Justice Prafulla C. Pant

Case Brief: The present case is brought in the form of an appeal by the State of Kerala against the order of Kerala High Court, where the question that whether the State Police Chief or Director General of Police is having power to appoint a Superior Police Officer to investigate a Crime case registered outside the territorial jurisdiction of such office was decided in negative. In the facts of the case, the complainant in one of the case had sought the further investigation by the competent/ neutral officer over the certain matrimonial disputes between the parties. On his request the State Police Chief ordered the District Police Chief of Thiruvanthapuram city that Assistant Commissioner of Police, Cantonment, Thiruvanthapuram City may be entrusted with the further investigation in such cases. And such directions in the order were complied and one- Assistant Commissioner of Police was appointed. And thereafter, such Assistant Commissioner of Police had filed an application before the learned Trial Court for further investigation of these two cases, as such Trial Court granted permission. Such orders being the order of the appointment and order of the Trial Court permitting him for further investigation were challenged before the High Court primarily on the ground that the said orders were made in excess of the powers provided under Section 36 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and that the power of administration, supervision and direction and control of the police throughout the entire State of Kerala is vested in the State Police Chief under Section 18 of the Kerala Police Act, which cannot override the effect of the said Section 36 of the Code. The Apex Court held that the Section 36 of the Code is empowering the Police officer superior in rank to an officer in charge of Police State, to exercise the same powers as that of an officer in charge of police station in so far as the territorial or local area within the jurisdiction of such superior police officers is concerned. On the other hand, the section 18 of the Act is vesting the administration, supervision, direction and control of the police throughout the State in the State Police Chief. Moreover, the court further observed that the Section 36 of the Code is providing powers to be exercised by the District Police Chief, who can appoint an officer above the rank of an officer in charge of a police station to exercise the same powers as may be exercised by an officer in charge of police station, however, this is subject to condition that such superior officer would be competent and fit for investigation in a particular case. Thus, the Court held that the Section 36 of the Code does not fetter the jurisdiction of the State Police Chief to pass such order based on his own satisfaction. And as such, the appointment made so, would not be hedged by the limitations imposed by Section 36 of the Code. However, the Section 18 of the Act is not conferring any such power and only recognizing the State Police Chief as the head of the Police force in the State. Thus, setting aside the judgement of the High Court, the Apex Court has allowed the appeal.

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Read the Judgement: State Of Kerala Vs P.B.Sourabhan & Ors.