HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad High Court has ruled that a non-cognizable offence can be treated as a cognizable offence if a crime consists of both cognizable and non-cognizable offences.
Justice T Sunil Chowdary passed this order on a petition filed by one Kolli Buchi Kotaiah seeking quashing of the proceedings in a criminal case registered against him at the Chikkadpally police station in Hyderabad.
The petitioner and three others (Kolli Satyanarayana, K Pandu Ranga Rao and K Rama Devi) started a partnership firm in the name of Sri Krishnaveni Poultry Needs in 1986. One Kolli Venkata Padmanabham joined the firm as a partner in 1988. The said firm was registered with the registrar of firms. K Satyanarayana retired from the partnership firm in 1992 and one Gangaram joined as a partner.
The petitioner submitted Form-V affidavits of Venkata Padmanabham, Pandu Ranga Rao and Rama Devi before the registrar of firms, Hyderabad. Basing on the Form-V affidavits, the registrar had made necessary entries in the relevant registers. On coming to know of it, Pandu Ranga Rao and Rama Devi filed an appeal before the registrar who, in turn, rectified the entries.
Buchi Kotaiah moved the High Court in 2011 challenging the action of the registrar. The petition was dismissed in April 2012.
Meanwhile, in January 2011, the registrar lodged a written complaint with the Chikkadpally police who registered a case against the petitioner under Sections 420, 468 and 471 of IPC and Section 70 of Indian Partnership Act.
The crime was registered on the ground that the petitioner submitted Form-V affidavits as if they contained the signatures of Kolli Venkata Padmanabham, Kolli Pandu Ranga Rao and Kolli Rama Devi. As per the allegations made in the complaint, the petitioner herein forged the signatures of the above three persons and submitted the affidavits along with Form-V before the registrar of firms as if they voluntarily retired from the firm in 2009.
The petitioner then moved the High Court with a plea for quashing of the proceedings against him in the criminal case registered at the Chikkadpally police station.
The petitioner’s counsel contended that the SHO ought not to have registered the crime under Section 70 of Indian Partnership Act, which is a non-cognizable offence, without obtaining prior permission from the magistrate concerned. Besides, two FIRs cannot be registered for the same offences against the same person.
Section 2(l) of CrPC defines non-cognizable offence. As per Schedule-II of CrPC, if the punishment prescribed for an offence (other than IPC) is less than three years or with fine only, it is a non-cognizable offence. Section 155(2) of CrPC mandates that no police officer is entitled to investigate a non-cognizable offence without obtaining the permission of the magistrate concerned.
The punishment prescribed under Section 70 of Indian Partnership Act is three months or fine or both. Undoubtedly, the offence under Section 70 of Indian Partnership Act will come within the definition of non-cognizable offence. The SHO concerned had not obtained any order from the magistrate to conduct investigation.
As per Schedule-I of CrPC, Sections 420, 468 and 471 of IPC are cognizable offences. In view of Section 156 of CrPC, the police officer need not obtain any permission from the magistrate to conduct investigation into a cognizable offence. The crime was registered for cognizable and non-cognizable offences.
Citing various judgments of the High Court and Supreme Court, the counsel appearing for the respondents submitted that if the crime comprised cognizable and non-cognizable offences, the police officer was entitled to investigate the matter without obtaining prior permission from the magistrate concerned. In view of seriousness of the allegations made against the petitioner, it is not a fit case to quash the proceedings.
On perusing the material on record, justice Chowdary noticed that one Kolli Venkata Padmanabham had died in 1994 whereas the affidavit of the said Padmanabham was filed before the registrar of firms in 2009. The allegations made in the complaint, prima facie, disclose the offences alleged to have been committed by the petitioner punishable under Sections 420, 468, 471 of IPC and Section 70 of Indian Partnership Act. The court is not justified in embarking upon the enquiry to ascertain the truthfulness or otherwise of the allegations made in the complaint at the initial stage of investigation. The judge made it clear that the court shall not stifle the investigation.
Referring to the Supreme Court’s decisions in the State of Orissa vs Sharat Chandra Sahu and Pravin Chandra Mody vs State of AP cases, the judge ruled that if a crime consists of both cognizable and non-cognizable offences, non-cognizable offence can be treated as cognizable offence because of the legal fiction enshrined therein.
While dismissing the petition, the judge observed: “Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case and also the principles enunciated in the cases RP Kapoor vs State of Punjab and the State of Haryana vs Bhajanlal, I am of the considered view that it is not a fit case to quash the proceedings against the petitioner in the crime of Chikkadpally PS.”