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Registration of FIR against public servant involves social stigma: SC

"Registration of FIR against public servant involves a social stigma,” the Supreme Court on Wednesday said as it asked the CBI to file its reply on whether preliminary enquiry (PE)was conducted before registration of the Disproportionate Asset (DA) case against an IRS officer and her husband Audimulapu Suresh, who is presently Andhra Pradesh Education Minister.

Registration of FIR against public servant involves social stigma: SC

New Delhi

A bench of Justice DY Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli agreed with the submission of Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for CBI, that the High Court while hearing the petition seeking quashing of the FIR against the accused has gone into the merit of the case. 

“We see from the finding of the High Court that it has virtually conducted a trial in the case. We will set aside the order of the High Court and quash the FIR, provided that you have not conducted a preliminary enquiry. Then you can conduct the PE and register a fresh case. You must know that registration of FIR against public servant involves a social stigma. Hence, you must conduct PE before registration of FIR as per Lalita Kumari judgement,” the bench said. 

Bhati said that in 2016 a search and seizure operation was conducted by the CBI against several IRS officers and during that time, it has come to knowledge of the agency about disproportionate assets of the accused. 

“Why don’t you state these facts on affidavit and file a rejoinder in the matter that why no need for Preliminary Enquiry was felt by the agency,” the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks. 

Senior advocate Siddharth Dave, appearing for the accused IRS officer TN Vijayalakshmi and her husband, said that no PE was conducted by the agency and an FIR was registered on the basis of source information but they never disclosed the source. 

He said that it is just harassment and the High Court was correct in quashing the FIR as it was not in accordance with the top court verdicts. Dave sought stay of the investigation by the CBI saying that they are being unnecessarily summoned by the agency. On February 26, the top court had stayed February 11 order of the Telangana High Court by which it quashed the CBI FIR against the couple. The CBI had contended that in breach of the well-settled principles which have been laid down by this Court, the Single Judge of the High Court has quashed a an FIR lodged in 2017 in the case involving allegations of the possession of disproportionate assets, under Section 109 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 read with Section 13(2) and Section 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988. The probe agency has said that the Single Judge of the high court had gone into a detailed inquiry, more akin to a trial. 

After the stay of High Court order by the top court, the investigation against the couple has been progressing. 

Bhati on Wednesday said that the 1992 batch IRS officer Vijayalakshmi is the main accused in the case, while her husband, a former civil servant-turned-politician is an abetter. The CBI has claimed that the couple has acquired assets worth over Rs. 5.95 crore against the income of over Rs. 4.84 crore during the check period of 2010-2016. 

Bhati said that there was 22.6 per cent jump in their income.

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