Royden Harold Buthello & Anr. Versus State of Chhattisgarh & Ors.

Royden Harold Buthello & Anr.  Versus State of Chhattisgarh & Ors.  

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले

       (Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No.2454 of 2022)
Royden Harold Buthello & Anr.             .… Appellant(s)   
State of Chhattisgarh & Ors.          …. Respondent(s)
Crl.Appeal No.635 of 2023 @ SLP (Crl.) No.7306 of 2022
A.S. Bopanna, J.
1. Leave granted. 
2. The appellants, as also the respondents are common to
these appeals and the subject matter relates to the same issue.
Hence, they are taken up together and disposed of through the
common judgment. The appeal arising out of SLP Criminal
No.2454 of 2022 is filed assailing the order dated 10.01.2022
passed in WPCR No. 686 of 2020. In an appeal arising out of
the SLP Criminal No.7306 of 2022, the order dated 15.09.2021
passed in Criminal Revision No.468 of 2021 is assailed. Both
the said orders are passed by the High Court of Chhattisgarh,
3. The   said   order   dated   10.01.2022   is   passed   in   Writ
Petition   filed   under   Article   226   wherein   the   appellant   had
prayed to direct for investigation under the supervision of the
Court, by the Central Bureau of Investigation (for short, ‘CBI’)
relating   to   (i)   FIR   No.   232/2020   registered   at   Azad   Chowk
Police   Station,   Raipur,   (ii)   FIR   No.255/2020   registered   at
Kotwali   Police   Station,   Raipur,   (iii)   Online   complaint   No.
3334104012000003   dated   27.10.2020   made   before   the
Superintendent of Police, Raipur and (iv) Online complaint No.
24488049072000014   dated   06.11.2020   made   before   the
Talcher Police Station, Angul, Odisha. The appellant had also
prayed to quash the charge sheet in Special Case No.87/2020
and Special Case No.98/2020 filed by the respondent Azad
Chowk Police, Raipur and Kotwali Police, Raipur filed pursuant
to the said FIRs No.232/2020 and 255/2020, pending before
the learned Special Judge under NDPS Act, Raipur. The further
direction   which   was   prayed   is   for   the   CBI   to   submit   a
periodical progress report of the investigation to the Court and
to monitor the same.
4. In the connected appeal, the challenge is to the order
dated 15.09.2021 whereby the Criminal Revision Petition filed
by the appellant herein, before the High Court assailing the
legality and correctness of the order dated 14.07.2021 passed
by the Special Judge under NDPS Act at Raipur in Special Case
No.98/2020   whereby   the   appellants application   filed   under
Section 227 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short,
‘CrPC’) was dismissed and charges were framed against the
appellant under Section 29 read with Sections 22(b), 22(c), 25
and 27 of the NDPS Act, which was not interfered by the High
5. The brief facts leading to the above appeals are that the
appellant No.1 is accused of indulging in sale of psychotropic
NDPS substance, due to which the prosecuting agency under
the respondent No.1 has registered the FIRs No.232/2020 and
255/2020 and are proceeding in the matter as noted above.
The appellant No.1 claims to be innocent, while the appellant
No.2 who is his father being agitated by such alleged illegal
action by the prosecuting agency under the respondent No.1
had   filed   the   online   complaints   dated   27.10.2020   and
06.11.2020 raising his concern and sought for action in that
6. The appellants claim that they are residents of Mumbai
and the appellant No.1 is a qualified automobile engineer, who
is an income tax payee. The appellant No.2 is a businessman
carrying on business of logistics, transportation, renting out
vehicles etc. for the last 36 years in the name and style, M/s
Buthello Travels at R/3, Mathur Estate, Premier Road, Kurla
(W), Mumbai. The appellant No.1 was also taking care of the
business of his father and as such was visiting the State of
Odisha as also the State of Chhattisgarh in respect of contracts
relating to the transportation of minerals. It is averred that
appellant No.1 had accordingly travelled to Odisha and had
booked  room  no.220  in  Hotel   Green  Park,  Talcher,  District
Angul, Odisha from 15.10.2020 to 20.10.2020. It is the case of
the   appellants   that   on   20.10.2020   at   13.00   hours,   four
unknown persons visited the said hotel in a white Innova car
with   a   broken   front   bumper,   impersonating   themselves   as
police officers. They contacted Shri Vijaya who is working as a
receptionist and accordingly met the appellant No.1 in room
No.220. The appellant No.1 was thereafter abducted and taken
into the car and was driven to Raipur.
7. The appellant No.1 claims that while taking dinner at
dhaba between Sambalpur and Sonipat he overheard the name
of the four persons who had taken him to be, Pramod Behra,
Sultan,   Santosh   and   Ali,   from   their   discussion.   He   also
contends that the mobile phone was with the appellant No.1
and he made calls from his cell No. 8249518758. It is averred
that after reaching Raipur at about 12:30 AM on 21.10.2020
the said four persons took the appellant No.1 to respondent
No.5 where he was detained for some time and his cell phone
as also laptop were taken.  It is claimed that the appellant No.1
was thereafter kept in the lockup throughout the night without
disclosing   the   reasons   for   such   action   and   on   21.10.2020
about 19:15 hours, police Sub­inspector Shri Priyesh Mathew
John   lodged   FIR   against   him,   bearing   No.232/2020   for   an
alleged offence under Section 22(b) of the NDPS Act. Thereafter
his   name   was   also   included   in   the   earlier   registered   FIR
No.255/2020 which is noted above.
8. In that background, the grievance put forth on behalf of
the   appellants   is   that   the   appellant   No.1 though   being a
qualified citizen, who was travelling with regard to his business
has been illegally abducted, detained and a case under NDPS
has been foisted on him due to which online complaints were
lodged by his father­ appellant No.2. It is in that light, the
appellants are seeking for the directions as prayed and noted
9. The   respondents   have   filed  their   objection   statement
denying the allegations and also contending with regard to the
involvement   of   the   appellant   for   which   he   has   been
apprehended and is proceeded against in accordance with law.
10. In that background, we have heard Shri Shyam Divan
and Shri Gopal Sankaranarayanan, learned senior counsel for
the   appellants,   Dr.   Abhishek   Manu   Singhvi,   learned   senior
counsel for the State of Chhattisgarh as also the counsel for
State of Odisha and perused the appeal papers.
11. At the threshold it is necessary to take note that though
initially the petition filed before the High Court had included
the   relief   to   quash   the   charge   sheet   and   the   further
proceedings, considering that charges have been framed by the
trial court and also detailed orders have been passed declining
discharge of the appellant No.1, at present, the reliefs sought is
essentially limited with regard to the direction to the CBI to
conduct an investigation into the issue.
12. In that regard, the contention as noted is that, the FIR
No.232/2020 is registered on 21.10.2020 alleging that at about
19:15 hours the appellant No.1 was apprehended by the Azad
Chowk Police when the appellant No.1 was near Ashram Tiraha
in front of Sulabh Complex Police Station, Azad Chowk, Raipur
attempting   to   sell   contraband   and   on   apprehending   9.240
grams cocaine was recovered from him. It is contended by the
appellants   that   such   offence   could   not   have   been   alleged
against the appellant to have been committed in Raipur on
21.10.2020, when in fact the police personnel named Pramod
Behra,  Sultan,   Santosh   and  Ali   of   Chhattisgarh  Police   had
abducted and taken away the appellant No.1 from the hotel in
Odisha on 20.10.2020 itself.  As such,  he was in their illegal
custody at the point when it is alleged that he had indulged in
committing   the   offence.   The   circumstances   are   referred   to
claim that there is something more than what meets the eye.
The concern expressed is that a citizen who is carrying on his
lawful business activities in various states has been ‘framed’
and a case has been foisted, whereby the personal liberty has
been taken away, which warrants a detailed investigation. It is
contended that the situation which unfolded in Hotel Green
Park on 20.10.2020 at about 1 PM would indicate that the said
four persons acting on behalf of the Chhattisgarh Police had
taken him away from the hotel. Subsequent thereto his name
has been included in FIR No.255/2020 as well, though it was
an earlier registered case.
13. The learned senior counsel for respondent No.1­State
would contend that the allegations are unjustified. Pursuant to
the registration of the FIR, an investigation has been conducted
and the charge sheet has been filed. The contentions urged by
the appellants are available to be put forth in defence, in the
proceedings before the trial court where the charges have been
framed and the trial is proceeding. Insofar as the allegation
that he was abducted and taken away from the hotel, it is
denied and contended that even though the police had gone to
Odisha in connection with the earlier F.I.R., they were unable
to trace the appellant No.1 there, but he was subsequently
found to be indulging in the illegal activity in Raipur itself
when   he   was   apprehended   and   proceedings   have   been
initiated. It is contended that the claim for investigation by the
CBI is without basis and the well laid down guidelines of this
Court does not permit referring the investigation to CBI in
every case where the accused makes an allegation against the
law enforcing authorities.
14. Having   noted   the   rival   contentions,   we   have   also
perused the impugned order passed by the High Court while
taking note of the plea put forth by the parties. In fact, the
High Court having framed two points for its consideration, on
the aspect relating to the transfer of the case to CBI as sought
for,   has   considered   it   while   answering   point   No.2.     The
guidelines as laid down by this Court has been referred to in
detail before adverting to the facts and has thereafter declined
the prayer for referring to an investigation by CBI. In that
background, as noted, the case sought to be made out seeking
for CBI investigation is on the allegation that the appellant
No.1 has been illegally detained and thereafter was charged
with a serious offence, though he is completely innocent. In
this regard, it is contended that the allegation of the appellant
No.1 being in possession of 9.240 grams of cocaine on his
person   and   that   he   was   attempting   to   sell   the   same   near
Ashram   Tihara   in   front   of   Sulabh   Complex   in   Raipur   on
21.10.2020, is a false case. It is to establish this aspect of the
matter it is contended that the police personnel of respondent
No.1­State of Chhattisgarh had illegally abducted him on the
previous   day   itself   i.e.   on   20.10.2020 from   the   hotel   in   a
different   State   where   he   was   staying.     According   to   the
appellants, it is a foisted case against appellant No.1 with an
illegal and ulterior motive and the matter requires a detailed
investigation by the CBI.
15. The learned senior counsel for the appellants in order to
buttress his contention with regard to the contradictory stand
being  taken  by the   respondents  has   sought  to  rely  on  the
affidavit filed before this Court. In that regard, an affidavit filed
by   respondent   Nos.1   to   5   before   this   Court,   the   counter
affidavit filed by the respondent No.6­State of Odisha, as also
the additional affidavit filed on behalf of respondent Nos.1 to 5
in reply to the affidavit filed by the respondent No.6 are relied
upon. Though the specific averments contained in the affidavits
were placed before us and have been taken note of, by us, we
do not propose to refer to each of the statements made therein
to analyse the manner in which the learned senior counsel for
the appellant has sought to highlight, which according to him
contradicts   the   stand   of   State   of   Chhattisgarh.   We   have
adopted   this   course   since   the   consideration   herein   is   the
limited scope of this petition and it should not affect the rights
of the parties in the pending criminal proceedings. Such a
serious dispute on facts, in any event, is to be resolved based
on evidence and not based on affidavits.
16. However, the limited aspect which we propose to note is
that the affidavit filed by the respondent No.6­State of Odisha
is essentially to explain the manner of consideration made by
them in relation to FIR No.0027 dated 22.01.2021 lodged at
Talcher   Police   Station,   Angul   District,   Odisha   which   is
pursuant to the complaint on behalf of the appellants. The said
affidavit also refers to the investigation made relating to the
online complaint. In the course of the said affidavit, reference
has been made to the process of investigation during which
they had visited the Green Park Hotel and recorded statements
relating   to   the   four   persons   having   come   to   the   hotel   and
having   introduced   themselves   as   Chhattisgarh   Police   and
asked them about the room number of the appellant No.1. The
staff of the hotel had indicated that the appellant No.1 himself
had stated that there is no problem and he had checked out
after   paying   the   bill.   In   reply   to   the   said   affidavit,   the
respondent Nos. 1 to 5 have sought to indicate that even as per
the said affidavit, appellant No.1 himself had indicated that
everything was alright and it is contended that even so far as
the Police Officers mentioned by the appellants, they belong to
a different department. The learned senior counsel for the State
of   Chhattisgarh   in   fact   referred   to   the   counter   affidavit   on
behalf of the respondent Nos. 1 to 5 to clarify that the Police
Officers of the Chhattisgarh Police having travelled to Odisha
were not denied, in as much as, they have disclosed that a
team of abled Police Officers had travelled to Odisha to look up
for the appellant and his whereabouts but it was of no avail
and they came back empty handed. It is therefore contended
on behalf of the respondents that the appellant No.1 being a
habitual offender was required to be investigated in relation to
FIR   No.255/2020.   Though   on   information,   an   attempt   was
made   to   apprehend   him   in   Odisha,   the   same   was   not
successful  but  he  was  found  in  Raipur  itself  the  next  day
where he was indulging in the illegal activity when he was
apprehended. Hence the incident in Green Park Hotel as put
forth by the appellants is disputed. Whether these seriously
disputed facts justifies the prayer seeking for investigation by
CBI, is the question to be answered herein.
17. Having noted this aspect of the matter it is appropriate
to refer to the decision in the case of State of West Bengal &
Ors.   vs.   Committee   for   Protection   of   Democratic   Rights,
West Bengal & Ors. (2010) 3 SCC 571 wherein it is held as
“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   self­imposed   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
Also Mithilesh Kumar Singh vs. State of Rajasthan & Ors.
(2015) 9 SCC 795 wherein it is held hereunder:­
“12. Even so the availability of power and its exercise
are two distinct matters. This Court does not direct
transfer   of   investigation   just   for   the   asking   nor   is
transfer directed only to satisfy the ego or vindicate the
prestige of a party interested in such investigation. The
decision   whether   transfer   should   or   should   not   be
ordered rests on the Court's satisfaction whether the
facts and circumstances of a given case demand such
an   order.   No   hard­and­fast   rule   has   been   or   can
possibly be prescribed for universal application to all
cases. Each case will obviously depend upon its own
facts.   What   is   important   is   that   the   Court   while
exercising  its  jurisdiction to direct  transfer  remains
sensitive to the principle that transfers are not ordered
just because a party seeks to lead the investigator to a
given conclusion. It is only when there is a reasonable
apprehension about justice becoming a victim because
of shabby or partisan investigation that the Court may
step   in   and   exercise   its   extraordinary   powers.   The
sensibility of the victims of the crime or their next of
kin is not wholly irrelevant in such situations. After all
transfer of investigation to an outside agency does not
imply that the transferee agency will necessarily, much
less falsely implicate anyone in the commission of the
crime. That is particularly so when transfer is ordered
to an outside agency perceived to be independent of
influences, pressures and pulls that are commonplace
when   State   Police   investigates   matters   of   some
significance.   The   confidence   of   the   party   seeking
transfer in the outside agency in such cases itself rests
on   the   independence   of   that   agency   from   such   or
similar other considerations. It follows that unless the
Court sees any design behind the prayer for transfer,
the same must be seen as an attempt only to ensure
that the truth is discovered. The hallmark of a transfer
is the perceived independence of the transferee more
than any other consideration. Discovery of truth is the
ultimate purpose of any investigation and who can do
it better than an agency that is independent.
13. Having said that we need to remind ourselves that
this Court has, in several diverse situations, exercised
the   power   of   transfer.   In Inder   Singh v. State   of
Punjab this Court transferred the investigation to CBI
even when the investigation was being monitored by
senior   officers   of   the   State   Police.   So   also   in R.S.
Sodhi v. State   of   U.P. investigation   was   transferred
even   when   the   State   Police   was   doing   the   needful
under the supervision of an officer of the rank of an
Inspector General of Police and the State Government
had appointed a one­member Commission of Inquiry
headed by a sitting Judge of the High Court to enquire
into the matter. This Court held that however faithfully
the police may carry out the investigation the same
will lack credibility since the allegations against the
police force involved in the encounter resulting in the
killing   of   several   persons   were   very   serious.   The
transfer   to   CBI,   observed   this   Court,   “would   give
reassurance   to   all   those   concerned   including   the
relatives of the deceased that an independent agency
was looking into the matter”.
14. Reference may also be made to the decision of this
Court   in State   of   Punjab v. CBI wherein   this   Court
upheld the order transferring investigation from the
State Police to CBI in connection with a sex scandal
even   when   the   High   Court   had   commended   the
investigation conducted by the DIG and his team of
officers.   In Subrata   Chattoraj v. Union   of   India,   this
Court directed transfer of the Chit Fund Scam in the
States of West Bengal and Orissa from the State Police
to   CBI   keeping   in   view   the   involvement   of   several
influential persons holding high positions of power and
influence or political clout.
15. Suffice it to say that transfers have been ordered
in varied situations but while doing so the test applied
by the Court has always been whether a direction for
transfer, was keeping in view the nature of allegations,
necessary   with   a   view   to   making   the   process   of
discovery of truth credible. What is important is that
this Court has rarely, if ever, viewed at the threshold
the  prayer  for   transfer   of  investigation  to  CBI  with
suspicion. There is no reluctance on the part of the
Court to grant relief to the victims or their families in
cases,   where   intervention   is   called   for,   nor   is   it
necessary for the petitioner seeking a transfer to make
out a cast­iron case of abuse or neglect on the part of
the State Police, before ordering a transfer. Transfer
can   be   ordered   once   the   Court   is   satisfied   on   the
available material that such a course will promote the
cause of justice, in a given case.”
18. The   above­noted   decisions   are   in   fact   cited   by   the
learned Senior Counsel for the appellants to contend that this
Court should exercise its extraordinary power to refer to the
matter to CBI in the instant facts. In that regard, it is also
necessary to note that the High Court on the other hand has
referred to the various decisions on the said aspect and has
also taken into consideration the recent decision in the case of
Arnab Ranjan Goswami vs. Union of India (2020) 14 SCC 12
wherein the entire aspect has been crystalized and this Court
has held that the power to transfer an investigation must be
used sparingly.  The relevant portion reads as hereunder:­
“52. In assessing the contention for the transfer of the
investigation   to   CBI,   we   have   factored   into   the
decision­making calculus the averments on the record
and submissions urged on behalf of the petitioner. We
are unable to find any reason that warrants a transfer
of the investigation to CBI. In holding thus, we have
applied the tests spelt out in the consistent line of
precedent of this Court. They have not been fulfilled.
An   individual   under   investigation   has   a   legitimate
expectation of a fair process which accords with law.
The   displeasure   of   an   accused   person   about   the
manner   in   which   the   investigation   proceeds   or   an
unsubstantiated allegation (as in the present case) of a
conflict of interest against the police conducting the
investigation must not derail the legitimate course of
law and warrant the invocation of the extraordinary
power of this Court to transfer an investigation to CBI.
Courts   assume   the   extraordinary   jurisdiction   to
transfer an investigation in exceptional situations to
ensure   that   the   sanctity   of   the   administration   of
criminal   justice   is   preserved.   While   no   inflexible
guidelines   are   laid   down,   the   notion   that   such   a
transfer   is   an   “extraordinary   power”   to   be   used
“sparingly”   and   “in   exceptional   circumstances”
comports with the idea that routine transfers would
belie not just public confidence in the normal course of
law   but   also   render   meaningless   the   extraordinary
situations that warrant the exercise of the power to
transfer   the   investigation.   Having   balanced   and
considered   the   material   on   record   as   well   as   the
averments of and submissions urged by the petitioner,
we find that no case of the nature which falls within
the ambit of the tests enunciated in the precedents of
this Court has been established for the transfer of the
19.         Hence it is clear that though there is no inflexible
guideline or a straightjacket formula laid down, the power to
transfer the investigation is an extraordinary power.  It is to be
used very sparingly and in an exceptional circumstance where
the Court on appreciating the facts and circumstance arrives at
the conclusion that there is no other option of securing a fair
trial without the intervention and investigation by the CBI or
such   other   specialized   investigating   agency   which   has   the
20. In that background, even if the rival contentions are
taken note, we do not find that there is any issue of public
importance which requires to be unearthed by an investigation
to be conducted by the CBI. Even from the facts noted above
and the allegations made against the police, though we are
sensitive to   the   sentiment   of   the   appellants   herein,   the
contention ultimately is that the offence alleged against him to
have   been   committed   on   21.10.2020   could   not   have   been
committed by him inasmuch as he had been abducted from a
different State and was already in the illegal detention of the
police   on   20.10.2020   itself.   This   essentially   would   be   the
defence in the criminal trial. As already noted, the charges
have been framed and the evidence is being tendered. Insofar
as the allegation that the said persons namely Pramod Behra,
Sultan, Santosh and Ali had gone to Odisha and had illegally
abducted   him,   from   the   very   details   furnished   by   the
appellants themselves, it is noted that the High Court had
through the order dated 17.03.2022 in a collateral proceeding
directed that the five officers stated in the said order be called
as witnesses for examination and cross­examination.
21. In that view, even though it is contended that the CCTV
footage would be relevant to establish the presence of the said
four persons in the hotel at Odisha and the same has not been
seized by the police, the fact remains that even from the same
what is sought to be established is that the said four persons
had abducted the appellant No.1. In the course of trial the five
persons specified by the appellants would now be available to
be cross­examined and any other orders in that regard can be
sought in the pending proceedings. That apart, on the other
aspects also since the trial is under progress, the appellant
No.1   would   be   entitled   to   put   forth   his   case   when   the
statement under Section 313 of CrPC is recorded and also he
would be entitled to tender evidence if necessary. The case of
the appellant is clear as to the reason why he contends that
the   appellant   No.1   cannot   be   held   to   have   committed   the
offence as registered in FIR No.232/2020 based on which his
name has also been included in an earlier FIR No.255/2020.
These are matters which could be established through evidence
in   the   trial   before   the   Competent   Court   in   the   judicial
proceedings wherein all these matters would be appreciated
and   a   conclusion   would   be   reached.   In   that   regard,   the
appellants in any event would have the further remedy of the
legal course which is available to them if they are dissatisfied.
Further, insofar as the complaint said to have been lodged by
the   appellant   No.2,     from   the   affidavit   as   filed   by   the
respondent No.6, the nature of investigation carried out by
them has been stated. In that regard also the appellant No.2
would have the legal remedy in accordance with law.
22. In   addition,   in   the   said   process   of   the   judicial
proceedings   if   the   appellants   bring   out   the   fact   that   the
appellant No.1 who was not involved, had been framed up and
a case was foisted, the appellants would still have the legal
remedy   to   take   action   for   malicious   prosecution,   loss   of
reputation, action against involved persons, compensation and
for such other relief in that regard. Therefore, when the issue
raised is only a matter of evidence to be considered in the
judicial   proceedings   to   arrive   at   a   conclusion,   we   are   not
convinced that in a case of the present nature, a direction to
the CBI to hold an investigation would be justified nor is it
required   at   this   juncture   when   the   trial   in   the   judicial
proceedings has progressed unhindered. Hence to that extent,
all contentions of the appellants are kept open.  For the very
reason, at this stage either quashing or discharge would also
not arise.  All contentions are left open to be urged before the
trial court.
23. For all  the aforestated  reasons  we see no reason  to
interfere with orders impugned in these appeals.  The appeals
are accordingly dismissed with no order as to costs.
24. Pending applications if any, shall stand disposed of.
New Delhi;
February 28, 2023


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