The Supreme Court bench said that precedents of the top court and the provisions of the CBI manual make it abundantly clear that a preliminary enquiry is not mandatory in all cases which involve allegations of corruption.
The Supreme Court ruled that the CBI can directly register a case upon receiving credible information, which discloses cognizable offence and it is not mandatory, for the investigating agency, to conduct a preliminary probe (PE) before registering the case, in all cases of corruption or other offences, and instead it can register a regular case upon the satisfaction of a cognizable offence.
A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud ruled that “since…a Preliminary Enquiry in cases of corruption is not made mandatory before registration of an FIR under CrPC, PC [Prevention of Corruption] Act or even the CBI Manual, for this court to issue a direction to that affect will be tantamount to stepping into the legislative domain”.
Hence, the court delivered, “We hold that in case the information received by CBI, through a complaint or a ‘source information’ under Chapter 8, discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, it can directly register a Regular Case instead of conducting a Preliminary Enquiry, where the officer is satisfied that the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence”.
The bench added that precedents of the top court and the provisions of the CBI manual make it abundantly clear that a preliminary enquiry is not mandatory in all cases which involve allegations of corruption. "The decision of the Constitution Bench in Lalita Kumari case holds that if the information received discloses the commission of a cognisable offence at the outset, no preliminary enquiry would be required," it added, in its 64-page judgement
The top court, however, added this does not take away from the value of conducting a preliminary enquiry in an appropriate case, and conducting a preliminary enquiry would not take away from the ultimate goal of prosecuting accused persons in a timely manner. es for the career of an officer, if the allegations were proved wrong.
The bench further said, “If CBI chooses not to hold a Preliminary Enquiry, the accused cannot demand it as a matter of right”.
The bench finally said that “Even when a Preliminary Enquiry is initiated, it has to stop as soon as the officer ascertains that enough material has been collected which discloses the commission of a cognizable offence ”.