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Can the court quash FIR if there is a delay of twelve years in the investigation of the case considering the right to speedy trial of the accused?

HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE FOR RAJASTHAN AT JODHPUR

S.B. Criminal Misc(Pet.) No. 4462/2021

Anil Kumar Vyas

Vs

State Of Rajasthan,

For Petitioner(s) : Mr. Gajendra Singh Butati
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE PANKAJ BHANDARI

1. Petitioner has preferred this Misc. Petition for quashing the FIR No. 91/2009 dated 29.04.2009 lodged at Police Station – Anti- Corruption Bureau, Jaipur District for the offence under Sections 13(1)(e) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

2. It is contended by counsel for the petitioner that petitioner was working as AEN with the Public Works Department from the year 1980. An anti corruption case no. 64/2009 was registered against him in which after trial, petitioner was acquitted. It is also contended that in the present FIR, the allegation was with regard to disproportionate assets. It is further contended that the first Investigating Officer submitted negative report to the Bureau on 04.06.2016, mentioning therein that the assets are not more than the income of the petitioner. It is also contended that petitioner’s father was doing business of money lending and most of the assets which are shown as assets of the petitioner actually belong to father and mother of the petitioner. All the borrowers who had taken money from the father of petitioner had kept their original documents with father of petitioner. It is contended that petitioner was regularly filing his returns and all assets of petitioner were shown in his Income Tax returns filed prior to the present FIR

3. It is contended that after submission of the negative report in June, 2016, the matter was kept pending by the Bureau and information was sought from the Investigating Officer. The second Investigating Officer on 18.12.2019 submitted his report, wherein he mentioned that the income of the petitioner is more than the assets of the petitioner. Another query was then raised before the present Investigating Officer Mr. Madho Singh, Addl. S.P. A.C.B. who has also stated that the income of the petitioner is not more than his assets.

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4. Counsel for the petitioner contends that right to speedy trial includes right to speedy investigation. In this regard, counsel for the petitioner has placed reliance on judgment of the Apex Court, AIR 2009 SC 1822 (Vakil Prasad Singh Vs. State of Bihar), wherein Apex Court held that right to speedy trial in all criminal prosecution is an inalienable right under the Court. This right applies not only to the actual proceedings in Court but also includes within its sweep the police investigation. It is also held that where right to speedy trial is infringed Court can quash the proceedings.

5. Counsel for the petitioner has also placed reliance on Lokesh Kumar Jain Vs. State of Rajasthan (2013) 11 SCC 130, wherein it was observed that speedy investigation and trial are mandated by the letter and spirit of the provisions of of Code of Criminal Procedure. The Apex Court referred to Lokesh Kumar Jain Vs. State of Rajasthan (2013) 11 SCC 130, (1880) 1 SCC 130, Abdul Rehman Antulay Vs. R.S. Nayak (1992) 1 SCC 225 and J. Lalthangsei Vs. State of Manipur and Ors., wherein the FIR was quashed as period of 18 years and has elapsed since the registration of the case.

6. Counsel for the petitioner has placed reliance on Klopfer Vs. North Carolina decided on 13.03.1967, Smith Vs. Hooey, Judge Certiorary to the Supreme Court of Texas decided on 20.01.1969 and Barker Vs. Wingo, Warden decided on 02.06.1972, wherein right of speedy trial and investigation was dealt with.

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7. Learned Public Prosecutor has opposed the Criminal Misc. Petition. It is contended that the matter pertains to disproportionate assets and the Bureau is competent to decide the fate of investigation and if the case is made out, Bureau is competent to file the charge-sheet.

8. I have considered the contentions and have perused the entire record.

9. It is evident that petitioner has worked with the Public Works Department for almost 39 years and retired from service in 2019. He has been filing his income tax returns from the beginning, wherein all his assets are shown. It is admitted by the Investigating Officer that prior to the lodging of this FIR, regular Income Tax returns were being filed by the petitioner, wherein his assets were shown. In the initial investigation done by the Investigating Officer, no case of disproportionate assets was found to be made out against the petitioner and therefore, he submitted his negative report to the bureau on 04.06.2016. The Bureau kept the matter pending and sought further information from the Investigating Officer. The second Investigating Officer also sent information to the Bureau on 18.12.2019 mentioning therein that the assets of the petitioner are not more than his income. Similar is the conclusion of the present Investigating Officer.

10. It is pertinent to note that the FIR was lodged in the year 2009 and has remained pending for investigation for now more than 12 years. In the list submitted with the FIR, the properties which belong to his father and mother are also shown as his assets. Certain properties in which the purchaser’s name is mentioned are also shown as assets of the present petitioner.

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11. The Apex Court in catena of judgments have held that accused has a right to speedy trial and right to speedy investigation. Present is a case wherein, investigation is pending for last 12 years and conclusion of the Investigating Officer so far till date is that the assets of the petitioner are less than his income. In view of the judgments referred to hereinabove, also taking note of the facts and circumstances of the present case, where the Investigating Officers have come to the conclusion that the assets of the petitioner are not more than his income and the petitioner has shown his assets and his income in the income tax returns right from the beginning, petitioner has retired. There is no explanation by the Investigating Officer for the delay in investigation and the delay is not attributable to the petitioner. The delay in investigation clearly violates the Constitutional guarantee of speedy investigation and trial under Article 21 of the Constitution. The proceedings pending against the present petitioner, therefore, deserves to be and accordingly, quashed.

12. Misc. Petition is accordingly, allowed. FIR No. 91/2009 dated 29.04.2009 lodged at Police Station-Anti-Corruption Bureau, Jaipur is quashed.

13. Stay application stands disposed of.

(PANKAJ BHANDARI),J

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