The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 5thSeptember 2019, in the matter of P. Chidambaram v. Directorate Of Enforcement observed that whether the answers given by the accused during investigation are “satisfactory” or “evasive”, is purely within the domain of the investigating agency and the court cannot substitute its views by conducting mini trial at various stages of the investigation.
The question of law before the court was:
Whether the court is called upon to hold a mini inquiry during the intermediary stages of investigation by examining whether the questions put to the accused are ‘satisfactory’ or ‘evasive’, etc.?
Interrogation of the accused and the answers elicited from the accused and the opinion whether the answers given by the accused are “satisfactory” or “evasive”, is purely within the domain of the investigating agency and the court cannot substitute its views by conducting mini trial at various stages of the investigation. (Para 59)
The investigation of a cognizable offence and the various stages thereon including the interrogation of the accused is exclusively reserved for the investigating agency whose powers are unfettered so long as the investigating officer exercises his investigating powers well within the provisions of the law and the legal bounds. (Para 60)
Investigation into crimes is the prerogative of the police and excepting in rare cases, the judiciary should keep out all the areas of investigation. (Para 63)
There is a well-defined and demarcated function in the field of investigation and its subsequent adjudication. It is not the function of the court to monitor the investigation process so long as the investigation does not violate any provision of law. It must be left to the discretion of the investigating agency to decide the course of investigation. If the court is to interfere in each and every stage of the investigation and the interrogation of the accused, it would affect the normal course of investigation. It must be left to the investigating agency to proceed in its own manner in interrogation of the accused, nature of questions put to him and the manner of interrogation of the accused. (Para 64)
Since the interrogation of the accused and the questions put to the accused and the answers given by the accused are part of the investigation which is purely within the domain of the investigation officer, unless satisfied that the police officer has improperly and illegally exercised his investigating powers in breach of any statutory provision, the court cannot interfere. (Para 66)
Copy of judgement: Judgement_05-Sep-2019
-Adv. Tushar Kaushik