The Supreme Court has set aside the Jammu and Kashmir High Court verdict which had quashed criminal proceedings in a case lodged in connection with alleged misappropriation of government funds in purchase of sub-standard medical kits under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
The top court said the FIR and criminal proceedings in the case, registered for the alleged offences under the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Corruption Act and section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Ranbir Penal Code, are to be investigated and proceeded further by the authorised officer expeditiously.
A bench of Justices M R Shah and A S Bopanna said the high court had committed a “grave error” in quashing the entire criminal proceedings by holding that authorisation in favour of an inspector to investigate the FIR for the alleged offences under the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Corruption Act, 2006 was “bad in law”.
“We are of the opinion that in the facts and circumstances of the case and considering the authorisation read with the second proviso to section 3 (of the Act), authorisation cannot be said to be illegal and/or invalid,” the bench said in its verdict delivered on October 29.
The top court allowed the plea filed by Jammu and Kashmir and others challenging the May 2018 judgement of the high court which had quashed the criminal proceedings in the FIR.
The FIR had alleged that during 2010-11, the accused had misappropriated huge amount of government money by way of effecting purchases of sub-standard medical kits under the NRHM at highly exorbitant rates and in violation of the conditions of supply orders placed by the department.
The high court had also quashed the November 2012 entrustment order passed by the senior superintendent of police authorising an inspector to investigate the FIR in the case.
It had passed the order on the plea filed by accused seeking quashing of criminal proceedings in the case.
In its verdict, the top court noted it cannot be said that there was “any non-application of mind” on the part of the senior superintendent authorising the inspector to enquire into the FIR.
“In the present case, the offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act is a substantive offence and the investigation in respect of the offence under the PC Act, when considered and coupled with the offence of conspiracy, there is no requirement of prior sanction of the magistrate,” the bench said.
“Merely because the offence of the conspiracy may be involved, investigation into the substantive offence, i.e., in the present case, offence under the PC Act which is cognisable is not required to await a sanction from the magistrate, as that would lead to a considerable delay and affect the investigation and it will derail the investigation,” it said.
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