SC asks police to exercise heightened caution in cases relating to 'Unethical private issues'

Read Time: 10 minutes


Court said that often the valuable time of the police is consumed in investigating disputes that seem more suited for civil resolution

The Supreme Court on February 19, 2024 asked the police to exercise heightened caution in disputes pertaining to unethical transactions between private parties which appear to be prima facie contentious in their previous inquiries or investigations. 

"The need for vigilance on the part of the police is paramount, and a discerning eye should be cast upon cases where unscrupulous conduct appears to eclipse the pursuit of justice," a bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Satish Chandra Sharma said.

The apex court quashed an FIR lodged against appellant Deepak Kumar Shivas and another person by one Rajkumari Maravi on July 27, 2022 for allegedly taking Rs. four lakh cash from her in April 2019 to get a job for her daughter.

Interestingly, the appellant himself lodged a complaint with the Collector district Janjgir-Champa alleging the woman took Rs one lakh from him for getting a job for his brother. When she failed to fulfill her promise, she stopped taking his call.

The matter enquired by the police revealed that the woman had alleged that the appellant himself had taken money from her and when failed to fulfill the promise, he refunded some amount. Both the parties had lodged false complaints against each other. The police recommended on July 25, 2021, to close the matter as none of the parties could produce any relevant documents for monetary transaction.

The woman, however, subsequently on July 27, 2022, managed to lodge the FIR against the appellants.

The appellants then filed a plea in the Chhattisgarh High Court to get the FIR quashed. 

However, on failure, they approached the Apex Court.

In the arguments, their counsel contended that the present FIR was a counterblast and was maliciously lodged only to resist the appellants from recovering the amount. They also said that it was mala fide and an abuse of the process of law.

The State counsel opposed the plea, saying there was no justification for scuttling the investigation at this stage and the appellants could seek discharge from the trial court.

The court, however, found that the FIR suffered from a serious delay of three years which was totally unexplained.

"It was totally an unlawful contract between the parties where money was being paid for securing a job in the government department(s) or private sector. Apparently, a suit for recovery could not have been filed...the respondent found a better medium to recover the said amount by building pressure under the threat of the FIR," the bench said.

The bench said prima facie, the conduct exhibited by the parties involved appears tainted with suspicion, casting a shadow over the veracity of their claims. 

"The report from the previous inquiry reflects a convoluted landscape and unveils a trail of unethical, maybe even criminal, behaviour from both parties. The unexplained inordinate delay in bringing these allegations to the police’s attention despite knowledge of previous inquiry, raises even more doubts and adds a layer of scepticism to the authenticity of the claims," the bench said.

The court noted that the facts stated, as well as the prior inquiry, revealed a shared culpability between the parties, indicative of a complex web of deceit, and unethical transactions where even civil remedies may not be sustainable. 

"Thus, the object of this dispute, manifestly rife with mala fide intentions of only recovering the tainted money by coercion and threat of criminal proceedings, cannot be allowed to proceed further and exploit the time and resources of the law enforcement agency," the bench said.

The court pointed out that this case exemplified the need for a circumspect approach in discerning the genuine from the spurious and thus ensuring that the resources of the state are utilised for matters of true societal import.

"As a law enforcement agency, the police force shoulders the vital responsibility of preserving public order, guarding social harmony, and upholding the foundations of justice. However, the current case, full of counter-accusations of financial impropriety and broken promises, highlights the complex matters that occasionally make their way into the hands of the police force," the bench said. 

The bench said that beyond the immediate contours of the case, a broader question emerged regarding the balancing of interests that ought to be done between addressing unscrupulous private grievances and safeguarding public interests.

"From the counter-allegations levelled against each other between the parties in the present case, it becomes evident that the police finds itself entangled in the irrelevant and trivial details of such unethical private issues, diverting the resources away from the pursuit of more consequential matters," the court said.

"The valuable time of the police is consumed in investigating disputes that seem more suited for civil resolution. This underscores the need for a judicious allocation of law enforcement resources, emphasising the importance of channelling their efforts towards matters of greater societal consequence," the court added.

Case Title: Deepak Kumar Shivas & Anr Vs State of Chhattisgarh & Ors