Delay in probe doesn’t imply unfairness always: High Court : The Tribune India

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Delay in probe doesn’t imply unfairness always: High Court

Delay in probe doesn’t imply unfairness always: High Court


Tribune News Service

Saurabh Malik

Chandigarh, June 8

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that mere delay in carrying out a probe does not automatically imply unfairness on the investigating agency’s part. The Bench ruled that dissatisfaction with the pace of an investigation did not justify the presumption of bias and the party dissatisfied with the delay could file an application before the “illaqa magistrate”.

House trespass

The Bench was hearing a petition seeking directions to the State of Haryana and other respondents to ensure a fair and impartial investigation by an independent agency in a case alleging house trespass and other offences

Justice Vinod S Bhardwaj ruled that the magistrate was authorised to examine the delay and call for a report from the police station concerned, ensuring in the process that the grievance regarding the pace of investigation was addressed within the statutory framework.

Justice Bhardwaj also brought to fore the misuse of petitions seeking the transfer of investigations by observing that the parties at times filed restructured pleas to circumvent the statutory remedies. The Bench made it clear that the burden of proof, in such matters, was on the petitioner seeking the remedy.

“The onus to establish failure to meet the ends of justice, bias, malice or undue pressure on the investigating agency is on the petitioner seeking transfer and a mere delay does not satisfy the requirement for invoking inherent powers of the high court…. The filing of a restructured petition only for this reason, instead of approaching the illaqa magistrate is merely a bypass of the statutory remedy,” Justice Bhardwaj ruled.

The Bench was hearing a petition seeking directions to the State of Haryana and other respondents to ensure a fair and impartial investigation by an independent agency in a case alleging house trespass and other offences.

The ruling has significant implications on how parties approach delays in investigations. Stressing the importance of adherence to statutory remedies, the judgment discourages the misuse of judicial processes to alter the course of investigations.

Referring to a plethora of rulings, Justice Bhardwaj said the power to transfer investigation was to be used only in exceptional circumstances and for securing justice for parties. Numerous judgments had consistently held that requests to transfer an investigation should not be allowed to be “used or deployed by any party for steering the investigation and/or taking the investigation to an agency, which is more feasible to the parties seeking any transfer of investigation”.

Before parting with the order, Justice Bhardwaj asserted the incident occurred in August 2023. As such, it was deemed appropriate that the investigation be concluded promptly, and the investigating agency file the final report without delay.

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