Punjab and Haryana High Court reinforces timely investigation mandate; imposes Rs 1 lakh costs for delayed probe : The Tribune India

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Punjab and Haryana High Court reinforces timely investigation mandate; imposes Rs 1 lakh costs for delayed probe

Punjab and Haryana High Court reinforces timely investigation mandate; imposes Rs 1 lakh costs for delayed probe

Photo for representation only.



Saurabh Malik 

Chandigarh, May 25

In a significant ruling reinforcing accountability within law enforcement, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has imposed a whopping Rs 1 lakh costs on an investigating agency for a two-year delay in concluding a probe.

Justice Harkesh Manuja clarified that such delays breach Section 173 of the CrPC, which mandates the completion of investigations without unnecessary delay.

This decision sets a critical precedent, signaling that investigative delays will now attract substantial financial liabilities. The ruling underscores the essentiality of timely investigations to maintain the integrity of the judicial process. The court also emphasised the necessity of adhering to procedural timelines to ensure that justice is both prompt and effective.

The ruling, reaffirming the principle that delayed investigation diminishes the essence of justice, came on a petition filed against Punjab and other respondents by Ranjit Singh through counsel Ishan Gupta, Palvi, and Harita Panthey.

The petitioner, among other things, was seeking directions to the respondents to ensure a free and fair investigation in a case registered in April 2022 for cheating, forgery, and other offences under Sections 419, 420, 467, 468, 471, and 120-B of the IPC at Barnala City police station in Sangrur district.

The Bench was told that allegations of impersonation had been leveled against the accused by the complainant-petitioner in the matter. Justice Manuja asserted Section 173 stipulates the completion of investigations without unnecessary delay. But the probe remained inconclusive even after two years.

Justice Manuja noted an accused might become entitled to default bail after 90 days, adding that timely conclusion of investigations was crucial to ensure the integrity and accuracy of the process.

“As time passes, the memories of witnesses and involved parties can fade, leading to potential discrepancies and weakened testimonies. Moreover, a fair and timely investigation is a fundamental right of the complainant, ensuring that justice is served efficiently and effectively.”

Justice Manuja added delays in investigations not only compromised the quality of evidence, but also undermine the confidence of the complainant and the public in the justice system. As such, it was imperative to prioritise prompt and thorough investigative procedures to uphold the principles of justice and accountability.

Referring to the facts of the case, Justice Manuja asserted the investigating agency had not even cared to record the statement of the complainant-petitioner and the officials concerned for the past two years despite repeated representations, compelling him to approach the court.

Before parting with the order, Justice Manuja ruled that the costs would be borne and apportioned by all the investigating officers in the police station concerned from the FIR’s registration till date.

In case the cost was not paid, their salaries would remain attached until the amount was released.


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