Magistrate has got power to monitor investigation by police = Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides for a check by the Magistrate on the police performing their duties and where the Magistrate finds that the police have not done their duty or not investigated satisfactorily, he can direct the police to carry out the investigation properly, and can monitor the same. ;Merely because there are allegations against Govt. – CBI enquiry should not be ordered =The sweeping remarks that the allegations are against the Government and the Board which consist of Government functionaries; therefore, the matter requires to be investigated by CBI are wholly untenable and such sweeping remarks against the Government and/or the Board should not have been made. The functioning in the Government is by different Officers and the working of the Executive has inbuilt checks and balances. Therefore, merely because, permission has been granted by a functionary of the State Government will not disclose a criminal offence. The High Court has thus travelled much beyond its jurisdiction in directing investigations by CBI in a matter of sale of property of the Deity. Still further, the High Court has issued directions without their being any complaint to the local police in respect of the property of the religious Trust.

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4003 OF 2019
(Arising out of SLP (C) No. 24177 of 2017)
SHREE SHREE RAM JANKI JI …….APPELLANTS
ASTHAN TAPOVAN MANDIR & ANR.
VERSUS
THE STATE OF JHARKHAND & ORS. ….…RESPONDENTS
J U D G M E N T
Hemant Gupta, J.
The present appeal is directed against an order passed by the High Court
of Jharkhand at Ranchi on 07.06.2017 directing the Central Bureau of
Investigation to investigate and to take appropriate action at the earliest and
conclude the investigations preferably within six months. The High Court held as
under:-
“……This Court is of prima facie view that land of the
deity could not have been transferred in any case. This
large scale illegality needs to be enquired into. Now the
question is, who will do so? The land and trust which is
involved in this case is of Ranchi. Allegation is against the
Government and the Board. Board consists of
1
Government functionaries. In this case, another issue is
illegally sanctioning of map by Government Officials.
We find, as submitted by the petitioner that in one Public
Interest Litigation being WP(PIL) No. 1531 of 2011 (Har
Narain Lakhotia Vs. State of Jharkhand and Others) this
Court directed the CBI to enquire/investigate the
criminality part in giving such sanction in respect of many
buildings of Ranchi. The said order has been upheld by
the Hon’ble Supreme Court. This is also one of such case,
which needs investigation.

  1. On this background, this Court feels that this matter
    be also entrusted to the Central Bureau of Investigation
    for investigating the criminality part. This would also
    include the aspects and the intent involved in creation of
    Trust Deed dated 20.9.2005, transfer/conversion of land,
    permission of maps and all other incidental issues
    involved.”
  2. The said directions were issued finding that the property of Deity Shree
    Shree Ram Janki Ji Asthan Tapowan Mandir1
    at Ranchi has been transferred
    against the mandate of the Trust Deed created by the author of the Trust to
    establish Shree Ram Janki Tapowan Mandir Trust2
    on 25.02.1948. The said Trust
    was reconstituted on 12.05.1987 by virtue of registered deed. Still further, by
    another deed dated 20.09.2005, there was again reconstitution of the Trust.
  3. The High Court entertained the Public Interest Litigation preferred by
    Respondent No. 8, and held that there is no provision in the original Trust Deed to
    transfer/sale of the property of the Deity but with ulterior motive, new Trust Deed
    was prepared in the year 2005 to usurp the property of the Deity and to facilitate
    illegal transfer of land of the Deity.
  4. The directions issued by the High Court are subject matter of challenge
    before this Court by the Trust and by Pujari of the Mandir. The argument is that
    there is provision to develop and transfer the property of the Deity. Some of the
    1 Mandir
    2 Trust
    2
    properties of the Trust were being illegally encroached by local inhabitants and for
    better return and to increase the funds, the properties were transferred. The
    appropriate approvals have been obtained from Bihar State Board of Religious
    Trust and that the learned Judicial Commissioner has granted approval of transfer
    of immovable property.
  5. The High Court found that properties were endowed to the Deity by the
    Trust Deed of 1948 and that the Trustees became custodian of the same. The
    subsequent Trust Deed of 1987 again prohibits the Trustees from selling or
    transferring or settling a land of the Mandir or Deity. The Trust Deed of 1948 and
    that of 1987 were authored by Mahant Shri Janki Jiwan Sharan but subsequently
    on 20.09.2005 a new Trust Deed has been created. Mahant Shri Ram Sharan
    Dass registered the said Trust Deed though the founder was Late Janki Jiwan
    Sharan. The said Trust Deed has a clause by which landed property can be sold.
  6. The High Court found that the permission of Jharkhand State Hindu
    Religious Trust Board granted in the year 2006 was based upon permission
    granted by Bihar State Board of Religious Trust in the year 1994 which was
    obtained by misrepresentation and fraud.
  7. The writ petitioner has invoked the Public Interest Jurisdiction of the High
    Court, inter-alia claiming the following reliefs:-
    “(i) For issuance of an appropriate writ(s)/order (s)/
    direction(s) or a writ in nature of mandamus commanding
    upon the respondents to conduct an inquiry preferably by
    an Agency other than the Agency of the State in the
    matter of illegal transfer of property belonging to Sri Ram
    Janki Tapowan Mandir Trust since the substantial
    properties of the trust has been misappropriated by the
    members of the Trust in connivance with the government
    officials for sale of land belonging to the Trust as well as
    for construction of building over the land considering the
    fact that the valuable property of the Trust has been
    3
    illegally transferred to the private persons who have the
    support of the most of the higher authorities of the State.”
  8. The Public Interest Litigation was filed by Respondent No. 8 projecting
    himself as a responsible and vigilant citizen of the Country and being a Hindu by
    faith, therefore, as under pious responsibility to protect the interest of the Deity as
    per his faith. The Respondent No. 8 has not lodged any report before the
    concerned police station making grievance of any one of the facts stated in the writ
    petition so as to initiate the process of investigations under the Code of Criminal
    Procedure, 19733
    . The writ petitioner has not made any grievance to any public
    authority in respect of the alleged transfers by the Trustees as well.
  9. The High Court has passed an order directing investigation by Central
    Bureau of Investigation by casually returning a finding that permission was
    obtained by the Trust by misrepresentation and fraud. The High Court was again
    not careful to return findings on the disputed questions of fact and that too in a
    public interest writ petition.
  10. The vesting of the property in Deity is a religious endowment but has no
    public element in it, the grievance of which can be made in a writ petition filed in
    the public interest. We do not say any more than the fact that the High Court
    should have refrained from entertaining such Public Interest Litigation in respect of
    alleged wrongful sale of property of the religious bodies.
  11. Section 44 of the Bihar Hindu Religious Trust Act, 19504
    gives power of
    transfer of immovable property of a religious trust after taking previous sanction
    from the Board. Such permission is to convert any property of the Trust after
    approval of the District Judge as provided by Section 28 (j) of the Act. The stand
    3 Code
    4 Act
    4
    of the appellants is that they have obtained approval as contemplated by the Act
    and such approval has been sought as an act of prudent management. Therefore,
    the High Court was not justified in creating a suspicion on an act of transferring the
    land of the Deity.
  12. The question as to whether the High Court could direct CBI to take over
    investigation in the facts of the present case needs to be examined. The
    Constitution Bench in its judgment reported as State of West Bengal and Others
    v. Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, West Bengal and Others5
    has examined the question as to the rights of CBI to investigate a criminal offence
    in a State without its consent. This Court examined Entry 2 of List II of VII
    Schedule of the Constitution. It was held that the legislative power of the Union to
    provide for the regular police force of one State to exercise power and jurisdiction
    in any area outside the State can only be exercised with the consent of the
    Government of that particular State in which such area is situated. The Court held
    that though the Court had wide powers conferred by Articles 32 and 226 of the
    Constitution, but it must bear in mind certain self-imposed limitations on the
    exercise of these constitutional powers. This extraordinary power must be
    exercised sparingly, cautiously and in exceptional situations where it becomes
    necessary to provide credibility and instil confidence in investigation or where the
    incident may have national or international ramifications or where such an order is
    necessary for doing complete justice and enforcing fundamental rights. The
    relevant extract from the judgment reads as under:-
    “70. Before parting with the case, we deem it necessary
    to emphasise that despite wide powers conferred by
    Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution, while passing any
    order, the Courts must bear in mind certain self-imposed
    5 (2010) 3 SCC 571
    5
    limitations on the exercise of these constitutional powers.
    The very plenitude of the power under the said articles
    requires great caution in its exercise. Insofar as the
    question of issuing a direction to CBI to conduct
    investigation in a case is concerned, although no inflexible
    guidelines can be laid down to decide whether or not such
    power should be exercised but time and again it has been
    reiterated that such an order is not to be passed as a
    matter of routine or merely because a party has levelled
    some allegations against the local police. This
    extraordinary power must be exercised sparingly,
    cautiously and in exceptional situations where it becomes
    necessary to provide credibility and instil confidence in
    investigations or where the incident may have national
    and international ramifications or where such an order
    may be necessary for doing complete justice and
    enforcing the fundamental rights. Otherwise CBI would be
    flooded with a large number of cases and with limited
    resources, may find it difficult to properly investigate even
    serious cases and in the process lose its credibility and
    purpose with unsatisfactory investigations.”
  13. The Court approved earlier two Judge Bench Judgment reported as
    Secretary, Minor Irrigation & Rural Engineering Services, U.P. and Others v.
    Sahngoo Ram Arya and Another6 wherein it was held that the High Court under
    Article 226 of the Constitution can direct inquiry to be conducted by CBI but such
    power can be exercised only in cases where there is sufficient material to come to
    a prima facie conclusion that there is need for such inquiry. It was held that it is not
    sufficient to have such material in the pleadings. The Court also held that the right
    to live under Article 21 include the right of a person to live without being hounded
    by the police or CBI to find out whether he has committed any offence or is living
    as a law-abiding citizen. The relevant extracts from the judgment read as under:-
    “5. While none can dispute the power of the High Court
    under Article 226 to direct an inquiry by CBI, the said
    power can be exercised only in cases where there is
    sufficient material to come to a prima facie conclusion that
    there is a need for such inquiry. It is not sufficient to have
    6 (2002) 5 SCC 521
    6
    such material in the pleadings. On the contrary, there is a
    need for the High Court on consideration of such
    pleadings to come to the conclusion that the material
    before it is sufficient to direct such an inquiry by CBI. This
    is a requirement which is clearly deducible from the
    judgment of this Court in the case of Common Cause7
    .
    This Court in the said judgment at paragraph 174 of the
    Report has held thus: (SCC p. 750, para 174)
    “174. The other direction, namely, the direction to
    CBI to investigate ‘any other offence’ is wholly
    erroneous and cannot be sustained. Obviously,
    direction for investigation can be given only if an
    offence is, prima facie, found to have been
    committed or a person’s involvement is prima facie
    established, but a direction to CBI to investigate
    whether any person has committed an offence or
    not cannot be legally given. Such a direction would
    be contrary to the concept and philosophy of ‘LIFE’
    and ‘LIBERTY’ guaranteed to a person under Article
    21 of the Constitution. This direction is in complete
    negation of various decisions of this Court in which
    the concept of ‘LIFE’ has been explained in a
    manner which has infused ‘LIFE’ into the letters of
    Article 21.”
  14. It is seen from the above decision of this Court that the
    right to life under Article 21 includes the right of a person
    to live without being hounded by the police or CBI to find
    out whether he has committed any offence or is living as a
    law-abiding citizen. Therefore, it is clear that a decision to
    direct an inquiry by CBI against a person can only be
    done if the High Court after considering the material on
    record comes to a conclusion that such material does
    disclose a prima facie case calling for an investigation by
    CBI or any other similar agency, and the same cannot be
    done as a matter of routine or merely because a party
    makes some such allegations. In the instant case, we see
    that the High Court without coming to a definite
    conclusion that there is a prima facie case established to
    direct an inquiry has proceeded on the basis of “ifs” and
    “buts” and thought it appropriate that the inquiry should be
    made by CBI. With respect, we think that this is not what
    is required by the law as laid down by this Court in the
    case of Common Cause.”
    7 (1999) 6 SCC 667
    7
  15. It is the said findings, which were approved specifically by the Constitution
    Bench in State of West Bengal (supra) holding as under:-
    “71. In Minor Irrigation & Rural Engg. Services,
    U.P. v. Sahngoo Ram Arya this Court had said that an
    order directing an enquiry by CBI should be passed only
    when the High Court, after considering the material on
    record, comes to a conclusion that such material does
    disclose a prima facie case calling for an investigation by
    CBI or any other similar agency. We respectfully concur
    with these observations.”
  16. A three Judge Bench Judgment reported as Sujatha Ravi Kiran v. State of
    Kerala and Others8 held that the extraordinary power of the Constitutional Courts
    in directing CBI to conduct investigation in a case must be exercised rarely in
    exceptional circumstances, especially, when there is lack of confidence in the
    investigating agency or in the national interest. This Court held as under:-
    “10. Taking into account the law laid down by this Court
    in Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights 9
    ,
    direction for investigation by CBI was declined by this
    Court in K. Saravanan Karuppasamy v. State of
    T.N.10 and Sudipta Lenka v. State of Odisha11
    .
  17. Considering the facts and circumstances of the case
    in hand, in the light of the above principles, we are of the
    view that the case in hand does not entail a direction for
    transferring the investigation from the State police/special
    team of State police officers to CBI. The facts and
    circumstances in which the offence is alleged to have
    been committed can be better investigated into by the
    State police. However, having regard to the nature of
    allegations levelled by the petitioner, we deem it
    appropriate to direct the State of Kerala to constitute a
    special team of police officers headed by an officer not
    below the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police to
    investigate the matter.”
    8 (2016) 7 SCC 597
    9 State of W.B. v. Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (supra)
    10 (2014) 10 SCC 406
    11 (2014) 11 SCC 527
    8
  18. In another three Judge Bench Judgment reported as K.V. Rajendran v.
    Superintendent of Police, CBCID South Zone, Chennai and Others12, it was
    held that the Court could exercise its constitutional powers for transferring an
    investigation from the State investigating agency to any other independent
    investigating agency only in rare and exceptional circumstances. The Court gave
    instances such as where high officials of State authorities are involved, or the
    accusation itself is against the top officials of the investigating agency thereby
    allowing them to influence the investigation, and to instil confidence in the
    investigation.
  19. In another two Judge Bench Judgment reported as Bimal Gurung v. Union
    of India13 , this Court held that the power of transferring such investigation must be
    in rare and exceptional cases where the Court finds it necessary in order to do
    justice between the parties and to instil confidence in the public mind. It was held
    as under:-
    “29. The law is thus well settled that power of transferring
    investigation to other investigating agency must be
    exercised in rare and exceptional cases where the court
    finds it necessary in order to do justice between the
    parties to instil confidence in the public mind, or where
    investigation by the State Police lacks credibility. Such
    power has to be exercised in rare and exceptional cases.
    In K.V. Rajendran v. Supt. of Police, this Court has noted
    few circumstances where the Court could exercise its
    constitutional power to transfer of investigation from State
    Police to CBI such as: (i) where high officials of State
    authorities are involved, or (ii) where the accusation itself
    is against the top officials of the investigating agency
    thereby allowing them to influence the investigation, or (iii)
    where investigation prima facie is found to be
    tainted/biased.”
    12 (2013) 12 SCC 480
    13 (2018) 15 SCC 480
    9
  20. In an earlier two Judge Bench Judgment reported as T.C. Thangaraj v. V.
    Engammal and Others14, this Court found that merely because complaint was
    against the police officer, the investigations should not be entrusted to Central
    Bureau of Investigation. The Court held as under:-
    “8. The learned counsel for the complainant, on the other
    hand, cited a decision of two-Judge Bench of this Court
    in Ramesh Kumari v. State (NCT of Delhi)15 in which this
    Court directed CBI to register a case and investigate into
    the complaint of the appellant because the complaint was
    against the police officer and the Court was of the view
    that the interest of justice would be better served if the
    case is registered and investigated by an independent
    agency like CBI.
  21. The decision of the two-Judge Bench of this Court
    in Ramesh Kumari v. State (NCT of Delhi) will have to be
    now read in the light of the principles laid down by the
    Constitution Bench of this Court in State of
    W.B. v. Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights.
    The Constitution Bench has considered at length the
    power of the High Court to direct investigation by CBI into
    a cognizable offence alleged to have been committed
    within the territorial jurisdiction of a State and while taking
    the view that the High Court has wide powers under
    Article 226 of the Constitution cautioned that the courts
    must bear in mind certain self-imposed limitations.

  1. In the impugned order, the High Court has not
    exercised its constitutional powers under Article 226 of the
    Constitution and directed CBI to investigate into the
    complaint with a view to protect the complainant’s
    personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution or to
    enforce her fundamental rights guaranteed by Part III of
    the Constitution. The High Court has exercised its power
    under Section 482 CrPC on a grievance made by the
    complainant that her complaint that she was cheated in a
    loan transaction of Rs 3 lakhs by the three accused
    persons, was not being investigated properly because
    one of the accused persons is an Inspector of Police. In
    our considered view, this was not one of those
    exceptional situations calling for exercise of extraordinary
    14 (2011) 12 SCC 328
    15 (2006) 2 SCC 677
    10
    power of the High Court to direct investigation into the
    complaint by CBI. If the High Court found that the
    investigation was not being completed because P.
    Kalaikathiravan, an Inspector of Police, was one of the
    accused persons, the High Court should have directed the
    Superintendent of Police to entrust the investigation to an
    officer senior in rank to the Inspector of Police under
    Section 154(3) CrPC and not to CBI.
  2. It should also be noted that Section 156(3) of the
    Code of Criminal Procedure provides for a check by the
    Magistrate on the police performing their duties and
    where the Magistrate finds that the police have not done
    their duty or not investigated satisfactorily, he can direct
    the police to carry out the investigation properly, and can
    monitor the same. (See Sakiri Vasu v. State of U.P.16)”
  3. We find that the finding recorded by the High Court that the Deity could not
    transfer its land in any case is not tenable. The appellant relies upon statutory
    provisions in support of its stand to transfer of land. The sweeping remarks that
    the allegations are against the Government and the Board which consist of
    Government functionaries; therefore, the matter requires to be investigated by CBI
    are wholly untenable and such sweeping remarks against the Government and/or
    the Board should not have been made. The functioning in the Government is by
    different Officers and the working of the Executive has inbuilt checks and
    balances. Therefore, merely because, permission has been granted by a
    functionary of the State Government will not disclose a criminal offence. The High
    Court has thus travelled much beyond its jurisdiction in directing investigations by
    CBI in a matter of sale of property of the Deity. Still further, the High Court has
    issued directions without their being any complaint to the local police in respect of
    the property of the religious Trust.
    16 (2008) 2 SCC 409
    11
  4. It may be kept in mind that the public order (Entry 1) and the police (Entry
    2) is a State subject falling in List II of the VII Schedule of the Constitution. It is a
    primary responsibility of the investigating agency of the State Police to investigate
    all offences which are committed within its jurisdiction. The investigations can be
    entrusted to Central Bureau of Investigation on satisfaction of the conditions as
    specified therein only in exceptional circumstances as laid down in State of West
    Bengal (supra) case. Such power cannot and should not be exercised in a routine
    manner without examining the complexities, nature of offence and some time the
    tardy progress in the investigations involving high officials of the State investigating
    agency itself.
  5. We find that the High Court has completely misdirected itself in directing the
    Central Bureau of Investigation to take over investigation in a matter which relates
    to the rights of the trustees to sell property of a religious Trust or Deity, giving rise
    to civil dispute.
  6. In view of the above, the appeal is allowed. The order of the High Court is
    set aside and the writ petition is thus dismissed.
    ..….…………………………………….J.
    [Dr. Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud]
    .…………………………………………J.
    [Hemant Gupta]
    New Delhi
    May 1, 2019.
    12