The SC observed that when an offence complained is provided under both Indian Penal Code and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the investigation carried out by a competent police officer according to the due procedure established under the provisions of the Penal Code cannot be quashed for non-investigation of the offence by the competent police officer under Section 3 of the Act.
In this case, the accused were charged for offences under Sections 302/34 (punishment for murder read along with common intention), Sections 404/34 (dishonest misappropriation of property possessed by deceased at the time of death along with common intention) of the Penal Code read along with Section 3(2)(v) of the SC-ST Act. The HC quashed the criminal proceedings in respect of those offences on the ground that investigation was carried out by an officer below the rank of DSP.
However, on appeal, Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi, JJ. agreed with the HC’s observation that it is the duty of the State Government to issue notification conferring the power of investigation of cases by notified police officer not below the rank of DSP (Rule 7, Rules 1995).
However, referring to the case of State of M.P. v. Chunnilal @ Chunni Singh, it held that in the current case, the respondents were charged under the above sections after investigation was carried out by a competent police officer under the Code and it appears that the HC committed an apparent error in quashing the proceedings and discharging the responses from the offences. Thus, it held that trial in respect of those offences can be proceeded in accordance with the law.