IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
TRANSFER PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 351 OF 2013
SUJATHA RAVI KIRAN @
STATE OF KERALA & ORS. …Respondents|
WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO.164 OF 2013
TRANSFER PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 384 OF 2013
J U D G M E N T
R. BANUMATHI, J.
Transfer Petition (Crl.) Nos. 351 of 2013, 384 of 2013 have been filed to
transfer the petitions filed under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. being
Criminal M.C. No.2551 of 2013 and Criminal M.C. No.2424 of 2013 pending
before the High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam to the High Court of Delhi.
2. The petitioner got married to Lt. Ravi Kiran Kabdula on
09.03.2012 as per Hindu rites and customs. Petitioner’s husband Lt. Ravi
Kiran Kabdula is a naval officer who was then posted at Kochi, Kerala.
After marriage, the petitioner was residing with her husband at Kochi. As
brought on record, the relationship between the petitioner and her husband
was not very cordial. On 22.02.2013, the petitioner gave an oral complaint
that her husband was withholding her identity card, laptop, mobile phone,
original marriage certificate etc. The respondent was called to the
police station and directed to handover the belongings to the petitioner.
On 04.04.2013, the petitioner lodged a complaint against her husband, her
parents-in-law and sister-in-law alleging that they have subjected her to
physical and mental cruelty. The petitioner had also levelled charge of
sexual abuse against five naval officers and wife of one of the naval
officers. Based on her complaint, a case was registered in FIR No.260 of
2013 for the offences punishable under Sections 498-A, 354, 506 (Part-I)
IPC read with Section 34 IPC against the petitioner’s husband Lt. Ravi
Kiran Kabdula, her parents-in-law, sister-in-law and the said five naval
officers and wife of one of them. In the complaint lodged subsequently,
the petitioner had made allegations of wife-swapping and also implicated
new names. Investigation in the said case is pending with Harbour Police
Station, Kochi, Kerala.
3. Petitioner’s husband had moved an anticipatory bail application
before the High Court of Kerala, which was rejected vide order dated
10.06.2013. While declining anticipatory bail, the High Court has directed
that a thorough investigation must be conducted by the police. Pursuant to
the said order of the court, Deputy Commissioner of Police vide order dated
12.06.2013 constituted a special team headed by the Assistant Commissioner
of Police, Kochi.
4. Navy officers shown as accused in FIR No.260 of 2013 and
private respondents in these transfer petitions namely, Capt. Ashok K
Aukta, Preena Aukta, Lt. Ishwar Chand Vidyasagar, Anand Balakrishnan and
Ajay Jaykrishnan have filed petitions under Section 482 Cr.P.C. in Criminal
M.C. No. 2551 of 2013, and Criminal M.C. No.2424 of 2013 before the High
Court of Kerala, which the petitioner now seeks to transfer. The
petitioner claims transfer of the said two petitions contending that she
has no means or a male member in her family to support her to pursue the
case at Kerala. The petitioner also alleges that she faces threat to her
life on account of the private respondents. When these transfer petitions
came up for hearing, by an order dated 16.09.2013, this Court granted
interim stay of further proceedings in the said quash petitions.
5. We have heard the counsel appearing for the parties at
considerable length and perused the impugned order and material on record.
6. As noticed earlier, investigation in FIR No. 260 of 2013
registered at Harbour Police Station, Kochi, is pending in the State of
Kerala and stated infra, we have directed further investigation in the said
case by a special team of state police officers. When the investigation is
pending in the State of Kerala, it is desirable that the quash petitions
filed under Section 482, Cr.P.C. are heard in the High Court of Kerala, as
the High Court will be in a better position to take note of further
progress in the investigation and also consider the evidence recorded. The
Supreme Court will transfer a case from one State to another State only if
there is a reasonable apprehension on the part of a party to a case that
justice will not be done. The petitioner has pleaded that “the atmosphere
in Kerala is not conducive for the case to progress and reach its judicious
end”. The petitioner has only alleged that the accused are naval officers
and are influential. Mere apprehension that the accused are influential may
not be sufficient to transfer the case. Since a special team of state
police officers is constituted for further investigation, we are not
inclined to order the transfer of the criminal miscellaneous petitions from
the High Court of Kerala to the High Court of Delhi. As the petitioner has
expressed difficulties in travelling Kerala and pursuing the matter, we
request the Kerala State Legal Services Authority to nominate a senior
counsel to represent the petitioner in the matters before the High Court.
7. In Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 164 of 2013, the petitioner has
prayed for issuance of writ, directing investigation of FIR No. 260 of
2013, to be entrusted to an independent investigating agency or Central
Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to ensure fair and impartial investigation.
The petitioner has alleged lackadaisical approach by the state police to
defeat petitioner’s case. In the writ petition on 20.09.2013, this Court
passed an interim order staying of the investigation in connection with FIR
No. 260 of 2013 and also proceedings before the Board of Enquiry, INS
Vendurthy, Naval Base, Kochi.
8. The State of Kerala has filed counter affidavit denying
petitioner’s allegation of inaction and lackadaisical approach by the state
police. In the counter affidavit filed by the State, it is stated that
after taking over the investigation by the special team on 14.06.2013, the
petitioner was examined on 10.07.2013 and subjected to medical examination
at Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi on 11.07.2013. It is further stated
that as many as seventy one witnesses, including the petitioner, friends of
the petitioner, doctors and other witnesses have been examined and
investigation is continuing. It is further stated that in the anticipatory
bail application filed by the husband in B.A. No. 2719 of 2013, the High
Court of Kerala on 10.06.2013 passed certain remarks about the
investigation of the case and directed a thorough investigation by police.
Pursuant to that, vide order dated 12.06.2013, Deputy Commissioner of
Police, Kochi City had constituted a special team headed by Assistant
Commissioner of Police, Crime Detachment, Kochi City and investigation of
the case was taken over by them on 14.06.2013. Pursuant to the order of the
High Court, the state police did proceed with the further investigation.
9. It is well settled that the extraordinary power of the
constitutional courts in directing C.B.I. to conduct investigation in a
case must be exercised rarely in exceptional circumstances, especially,
when there is lack of confidence in the investigating agency or in the
national interest and for doing complete justice in the matter. A
Constitution Bench of this Court in State of West Bengal & Ors. vs.
Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, West Bengal & Ors. (2010) 3
SCC 571 held as under:
“69. In the final analysis, our answer to the question referred is that a
direction by the High Court, in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article
226 of the Constitution, to CBI to investigate a cognizable offence alleged
to have been committed within the territory of a State without the consent
of that State will neither impinge upon the federal structure of the
Constitution nor violate the doctrine of separation of power and shall be
valid in law. Being the protectors of civil liberties of the citizens,
this Court and the High Courts have not only the power and jurisdiction but
also an obligation to protect the fundamental rights, guaranteed by Part
III in general and under Article 21 of the Constitution in particular,
zealously and vigilantly.
70. Before parting with the case, we deem it necessary to emphasise that
despite wide powers conferred by Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution,
while passing any order, the Courts, must bear in mind certain self-imposed
limitations on the exercise of these constitutional powers. The very
plenitude of the power under the said articles requires great caution in
its exercise. Insofar as the question of issuing a direction to CBI to
conduct investigation in a case is concerned, although no inflexible
guidelines can be laid down to decide whether or not such power should be
exercised but time and again it has been reiterated that such an order is
not to be passed as a matter of routine or merley because a party has
levelled some allegations against the local police. This extraordinary
power must be exercised sparingly, cautiously and in exceptional situations
where it becomes necessary to provide credibility and instil confidence in
investigations or where the incident may have national and international
ramifications or where such an order may be necessary for doing complete
justice and enforcing the fundamental rights. Otherwise CBI would be
flooded with a large number of cases and with limited resources, may find
it difficult to properly investigate even serious cases and in the process
lose its credibility and purpose with unsatisfactory investigations.
71. In Minor Irrigation & Rural Engg. Services, U.P. v. Sahngoo Ram Arya
(2002) 5 SCC 521, this Court had said that an order directing an enquiry
by CBI should be passed only when the High Court, after considering the
material on record, comes to a conclusion that such material does disclose
a prima facie case calling for an investigation by CBI or any other similar
agency. We respectfully concur with these observations.”
10. Taking into account the law laid down by this Court in
Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (supra), direction for
investigation by C.B.I. was declined by this Court in the case of K.
Saravanan Karuppasamy & Anr. v. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors. (2014) 10 SCC
406 and Sudipta Lenka v. State of Odisha & Ors. 2014 (11) SCC 527.
11. Considering the facts and circumstances of the case in hand, in
the light of the above principles, we are of the view that the case in hand
does not entail a direction for transferring the investigation from the
state police/special team of State Police Officers to C.B.I. The facts and
circumstances in which the offence is alleged to have been committed can be
better investigated into by the state police. However, having regard to
the nature of allegations levelled by the petitioner, we deem it
appropriate to direct the State of Kerala to constitute a special team of
police officers headed by an officer not below the rank of Deputy Inspector
General of Police to investigate the matter.
12. In the result, the Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 164 of 2013 is
disposed of with direction to the Director General of Police, Kerala to
constitute a special investigation team headed by a police officer not
below the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police to take up further
investigation in FIR No.260 of 2013. The special investigation team shall
take up further investigation in accordance with law and complete the
investigation at an early date preferably within a period of three months
from today. We request the High Court to take up the Criminal M.C.
Nos.2551 of 2013 and 2424 of 2013 after the special investigation team
completes the investigation.
13. The Transfer Petitions (Criminal) Nos. 351 of 2013 and 384 of
2013 are dismissed. This order, however, shall not prevent the petitioner
from seeking transfer of Divorce Petition filed by the husband if she is so
advised. We make it clear that we have not expressed any opinion on the
merits of the matter.
………………………….J.(UDAY UMESH LALIT)
May 12, 2016.
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