SRINAGAR The J&K High Court has dismissed a petition filed by a senior bureaucrat, seeking directions to quash an FIR registered against him by Crime Branch of Police for allegedly fudging his date of birth in his service records.
The FIR was lodged against Commissioner/Secretary to the Government, ARI and Training Mohammad Mehraj-ud-din Khan, for "resorting to the change of date of birth in his service records
The FIR delineates that a communication was received from the Additional Secretary to the Government General Administration Department (GAD), depicting that the date of birth of Mohammad Meraj-ud-Din Khan is 09-11-1958. It further reveals that the officer was due to retire in the month of November 2018, the Government had to issue a notification with regard to his date of retirement. Accordingly, vide communication dated 26-12-2017, the officer was asked to furnish his original Service Book along with the proof of his date of birth as spelt out in his matriculation certificate. Nevertheless, despite multiple reminders, the requisite information was not provided by the officer to the concerned Department.
The competent authority, in the meantime, accorded approval to notify the date of the retirement of the officer, as on 31-11-2018 as per the available records. However, before the retirement date could be notified, the officer submitted the original Service Book before the concerned authorities, which revealed his D.O.B as 09-11-1961 instead of 09-11-1958. It is further stated in the FIR that in view of the contradictory DOBs of the officer, the matter was referred to the Director, Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) for examination of the Service Book, on 20-08-2018. The FSL, in terms of its report dated 27-08-2018 opined that the insertion in the first page of the original Service Book has been made at a later stage and the Provisional Certificate in the original Service Book has been pasted on the typed certificate of the Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences & Technology (SKUAST).
Aggrieved by the registration of the FIR, Khan challenged its vires in the petition on the grounds, inter alia, that the forcible entry of the police personnel into his house during the night hours was illegal and in contravention of the guiding principles laid down by the apex Court. He further stated that since his custody and arrest is illegal, therefore, the entire investigation becomes unconstitutional.
He further stated that the prosecution initiated against him is due to his protest for frequent transfers and assignments of functions not commensurate to the status of rank of a Commissioner Secretary to Government. He said that even the preliminary verification has not been conducted before the registration of the FIR. No departmental enquiry has been ordered to establish his culpability with regard to his DOB record in order to provide an opportunity to him to establish his innocence.
On the basis of the mere opinion of the FSL, the GAD cannot go ahead with the criminal investigation of forgery, unless or until it is established, during the criminal investigation, that a forged document has been made because the reliance on the FSL report, gathered prior to the criminal investigation of the case, is of no significance, he said.
After hearing both sides, a bench of Justice M K Hanjura said that the investigation of the case cannot be scuttled, stalled, desiccated or thwarted at this stage of the initial probe in the matter.
The FIR in a case like the present one cannot be quashed promptly without allowing the Investigating Agency to investigate the case appropriately. The Supreme Court has in a catena of judicial pronouncements held that the FIR cannot be quashed at the threshold itself without allowing the investigation to proceed, the court said and dismissed the Khan petition.
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