New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that
higher courts can monitor the progress of investigation in
criminal cases if it is found that influential persons are
trying to impact the course of justice.
A Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph
rejected the argument of some accused persons in a criminal
case that courts have no power to monitor investigations as it
amounted to usurping the role of the investigating agencies.
"The courts, and in particular the high courts and the
Supreme Court, are the sentinels of justice and have been
vested with extraordinary powers of judicial review and
supervision to ensure that the rights of the citizens are duly
"There is, therefore, no doubt that in appropriate cases,
the courts may monitor an investigation into an offence when
it is satisfied that either the investigation is not being
proceeded with or is being influenced by interested persons,"
the Bench observed while dismissing an appeal.
The observation came while hearing an appeal in which the
accused had challenged the Gujarat High Court`s decision to
monitor the criminal case registered against them at the
Sabaramati Police Station on a dispute relating to a housing
estate named the Shivalik (Ambali) Cooperative Housing Society
According to the apex court, the courts have to maintain
a constant vigil against any inaction by the authorities in
discharging their duties and obligations in the interest of
the citizens for whom they exist.
"This court, as also the high courts, have had to issue
appropriate writs and directions from time to time to ensure
that the authorities performed at least such duties as they
were required to perform under the various statutes and orders
passed by the administration," the Bench observed.
According to the apex court, the high courts under
Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution were sufficiently
empowered to direct a public authority to perform its duties
in accordance with law when it is brought to its notice that
the said functions were not being discharged by the public
"There is little doubt that normally investigation of
offences is the function of the investigating agencies and the
courts do not ordinarily interfere with the same.
"But, at the same time the high court is vested with such
powers, though the same are invoked only in cases where
extraordinary facts are involved, necessitating such
monitoring by the courts," the apex court said.