State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal and Others

Statement of Facts

The first Respondent was a minister and subsequently Chief Minister of Haryana State. Later he became Union Minister. Bhajan Lal at the same time of the case was the Union Minister of Environment and Forests and Devi Lal was elected as the Chief Minister of the State of Haryana. In the same election Respondent 2, Dharam Pal lost the election against Smt. Jasma Devi, wife of Bhajan Lal . Owing to various political rivalries and institutions of various criminal cases there was a lot of bad blood between Bhajan Lal and Devi Lal. Consequently, Respondent 2 placed a complaint before the CM, Devi Lal against Bhajan Lal where he alleged that Bhajan Lal possesses disproportionate property or pecuniary resources compared to his indefinite sources of income. It was also alleged that the accumulation of that much property was far beyond his legal means. Special officer on duty in CM’s secretriat passed the message to the office Director General of Police stating that the CM has sought appropriate action in the said case. The complaint was further passed on to the Superintendent of Police (SP) asking for the necessary measure to be taken and report back. The SP asked the SHO (Station House Officer) to register the case and investigate. Subsequently, a case was filed under Sec. 161 and Sec. 165 of the IPC and Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act in November 1987. The copy of the FIR was then sent to the magistrate and the investigation was started.

Issues Raised

  1. Whether just the allegations are enough to constitute a cognizable offences and give the power of investigation to the police?
  2. Whether the action of investigating on the part of SHO on just the order of one word “investigate” from SPis enough as per Sec. 5 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947?
  3. Whether the HC was justified in quashing the FIR and criminal proceedings and acted under the ambit of Article 226 of the Constitution and Sections 482, 154 and 157 of Cr.P.C., and to what extent the orders suffer from legal infirmity?

Critical Analysis

Cases of corruption against politocal leaders in India are not rare. This is one of such case that notified the alleged corruption carried out by a significant political figure leading to registration of a case against him by his rival. Inevitably the suit underwent the question of legitimacy that led to the appearance of the same before the SC. The case holds importance as it significantly points out the powers and limitations of various authorities at different points of time throughout the trial of matter. It re-emphasized the power of investigation that police hlods and in what nature of cases, the necessity of filing an FIR, and the extent to which High Courts should use their special power of quashing Criminal proceedings. The case re-established that our Constitution is based on the concept of Rule of Law which serves as an aorta of governance in our democratic system and no one or authority is higher than law and that law is supreme. Everybody exclusively and on the whole is undeniably under the authority of law irrespective of the wealth and power they possess. The case likewise relooks at the complete and resultant backlogs of evils like corruption that exist in our country. Therefore this parasite of bribery if not battled against all fronts and at the levels checked and completelly removed, will destabilize the very establishments of democracy and erode the foundations of rule of law and make the whole administration ineffectual and broken.