Police cannot refuse to register a case on the ground that information given by the complainant is not reliable or credible,the Bombay High Court has said directing the city police to initiate an inquiry against Andhra Pradesh police officers for alleged extortion and threat.
It is a well-established position that it is no business of a police officer to inquire as to whether the information laid before him is reliable or genuine and refuse to register a case on the ground that the information is not reliable or credible, a division bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and P D Kode observed recently.
The court was hearing a petition filed by businessman Mukesh Gokal,seeking direction to police to register FIR against three Andhra Pradesh police officers and another person,claiming to be a close-aide of former AP Chief Minister Rajasekhara Reddy.
According to the petitioner,he had entered into a business transaction with an Andhra Pradesh-based company Lalitha Fashions in 2000. However,after Gokal had failed to deliver some material on time,the company had registered a case of cheating against him,the investigations of which were on.
On May 3,2006,seven persons,including the proprietor of Lalitha Fashions forcibly entered my office in Mumbai and threatened me at gun point. Out of the seven persons,three were AP police officers,including deputy superintendent of police of Cuddapah district,Bhaskaran and one Rammana Reddy,who claimed to be a close aide of former CM Rajasekhara Reddy, the petition claimed.
It further said that Bhaskaran and the two police constables allegedly kept a gun on Gokal’s forehead and directed him to pay back Rs 25 lakh to the proprietor or face dire consequences.
Gokal,fearing for his life,paid the amount,but later issued a letter to Mumbai police commissioner and senior police inspector of N M Joshi Marg police station.
When police failed to initiate action on his complaint,Gokal approached the high court,seeking direction to police to register an FIR and for the probe to be handed over to an independent investigating agency.
We have no hesitation in taking the view that the complaint written by Gokal discloses commission of cognizable offence by the named persons. In view of the matter,it was mandatory for the police to initiate inquiry, the bench observed,while directing an officer of the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police to register an FIR and start inquiry into the allegations.
The court further observed that police do not have any power or authority to force a person to pay money to the complainant.
Action of compelling the petitioner (Gokal) to part with such huge amount to settle the claim of Lalitha Fashions,by no stretch of imagination,can be said to be legitimate and part of process of investigation of the case, said the court.
It is no duty of the investigating officer to force the accused to return the amount to the complainant, the bench observed.