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MUMBAI: The State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA) a body meant to inquire into complaints against police officers, has no powers to direct police to register an FIR, Bombay HC held and struck down an FIR registered by Azad Maidan police station against five executives of a private bank on such orders.

The court held that an order passed by SPCA in 2019, directing police to register an FIR for alleged fraud and forgery against HSBC Bank employees was legally unsustainable and beyond its jurisdiction, and quashed both, the order and the FIR.

The complaint against six persons including a relationship manager and COO and the bank’s CEO was that executives of the bank allegedly fraudulently forced a senior citizen to take an insurance policy and contrary to representation, pay regular premium due to which the family suffered an alleged likely cumulative loss of over Rs 1 crore.

Maharashtra Police Act was amended in 2014 to introduce the SPCA, to go into complaints against police of malpractice and misconduct.

The HC judgment by Justice Revati Mohite-Dere and Justice S M Modak enunciated and clarified that the legal mandate of SPCA is to only inquire into a police officer’s conduct for various actions and offences listed and forward the report to the state government.

The amended Act clearly doesn’t empower it to order police to register FIRs against anyone, it clarified.

Two petitions by five executives of HSBC Bank sought quashing of the FIR registered against them. Their counsel Pranav Badheka said SPCA clearly has no authority to direct registration of an FIR and when it is a well-settled proposition that when the FIR or initial action itself has no legal basis, it and all consequential proceedings be set aside.

HC also heard senior counsel Raja Thakare for the complainant who had gone to SPCA against the bankers who accepted SPCA lacked power to order registration of FIR but said since it was already registered and police began its investigation, court ought not to intervene in the probe now.


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