A bench comprising justices Ranjana Gogoi and Prafulla C Pant set aside a Kerala High Court order which held that state police chief cannot appoint any officer beyond the territorial jurisdiction to probe a criminal case on account constraints in section 36 (powers of superior officers of police) of CrPC.
"We do not see how Section 36 in CrPC in any way, can debar the exercise of powers by the state police chief to appoint any superior officer who, in his opinion, would be competent and fit to investigate a particular case keeping in view the circumstances thereof. "Section 36 of CrPC does not fetter the jurisdiction of the state police chief to pass such an order based on his satisfaction," the bench said.
It said the said power will be subject to the condition that such superior officer would be competent to exercise powers within the territorial/local limits of his jurisdiction.
The bench, however, clarified the power of the state police chief will be amenable to the judicial process on grounds of mala fide or as being without justification and reasonable cause. The court's order came while deciding the appeals moved by Kerala and complainant P B Sourabhan against high court order.
Two criminal cases arising out of matrimonial disputes were lodged in Kerala and in one of the case the Sourabhan was a complainant while in other he was accused.
Sourabhan made a representation to the state police chief requesting appointment of a superior officer for probing both the case and a senior police officer was appointed to probe the cases which was later challenged.