Shento Varghese vs Julfikar Husen 2024 INSC 407 – S 102(3) CrPC – Non- Reporting Of Seizure Forthwith

Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973; Section 102(3)- Non reporting of the seizure forthwith by the police officer to the jurisdictional court would not vitiate the seizure order- But it does not mean that there would be no consequence whatsoever as regards the police officer, upon whom the law has enjoined a duty to act in a certain way- in deciding whether the police officer has properly discharged his obligation under Section 102(3) Cr.P.C., the Magistrate would have to, firstly, examine whether the seizure was reported forthwith- The meaning of the word ‘forthwith’ discussed- In doing so, it ought to have regard to the interpretation of the expression, ‘forthwith’-If it finds that the report was not sent forthwith, then it must examine whether there is any explanation offered in support of the delay. If the Magistrate finds that the delay has been properly explained, it would leave the matter at that. However, if it finds that there is no reasonable explanation for the delay or that the official has acted with deliberate disregard/ wanton negligence, then it may direct for appropriate departmental action to be initiated against such erring official- However, the act of seizure would not get vitiated by virtue of such delay. (Para 16-23)

Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973; Section 482- if delay in registration of FIR is no ground to quash the FIR, then delay in forwarding such FIR to the Magistrate can also afford no ground for nullification of the FIR- Unless serious prejudice is demonstrated to have been suffered as against the accused, mere delay in sending the FIR to the Magistrate by itself will not have any deteriorating effect on the case of the prosecution- If prejudice is demonstrated and the prosecution fails to explain the delay, then, at best, the effect of such delay would only be to render the date and time of lodging the FIR suspect and nothing more. (Para 16)

Words and Phrases – Forthwith– The expression ‘forthwith’ means ‘as soon as may be’, ‘with reasonable speed and expedition’, ‘with a sense of urgency’, and ‘without any unnecessary delay’. In other words, it would mean as soon as possible, judged in the context of the object sought to be achieved or accomplished- The interpretation of the word ‘forthwith’ would depend upon the terrain in which it travels and would take its colour depending upon the prevailing circumstances which can be variable. (Para 22-23)

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