Power of police in investigation


Investigation is one of the crucial steps in a criminal case. The principal agency to carry out investigation of offences is police. It starts investigation on the basis of information provided while registering the case. Police investigations are covered under section 154 to 176 of chapter 12 of CrPC with the title

Information to police and their power of Investigation”.

The first step after information received by a police officer about the commission of an offence,the police starts the investigation. Section 156 of the code confers power on police officers to investigate cognizable cases. In non-cognizable cases police officer has no authority to investigate without warrant and has to obtain it from magistrate under section 155 (2).


Stages of Investigation :

Investigation includes all proceedings under the code for the collection of evidence in a proceeding conducted by a police officer or by any person other than a magistrate who is authorised by a magistrate.

MC Mehta versus Union of India, 2007 SC ( Taj corridor Scam)

Supreme Court has held that investigation consists of

  • proceeding to the spot
  • acertainment of facts and circumstances of the case
  • discovery and arrest of suspected offender
  • collection of evidence
  • examination of various persons,
    search of places or seizure of things.
  • filing of chargesheet under section 173.

Information to police:

  • Information in cognizable cases (section 154)
  • Information as to noncognizable cases (section 155)

Information in cognizable cases:

Any person can give information to police relating to commission of a cognizable offence. The statement of information recorded under section 154 is termed as FIR. Police officer cannot refuse to register FIR.
Power of POLICE to investigate and procedure is mentioned under section 156 to 176. After information has been received by police officer, he start investigation provided he has reason to suspect that a cognizable offence has been committed.

Role of police as to noncognizable cases:

Section 155 provides if any person gives information to police officer as to commission of a non cognizable offence , the officer shell enter the substance of information in a book prescribed for this purpose and shall refer the information to Magistrate.
Section 155(1) provides the police officer has no further duty and the officer is ordered by a magistrate to investigate the case.
After receiving order from the competent magistrate police officer shall investigate the case exercising same powers as in cognizable cases.
If there are two or more offences out of which one is cognizable and other is noncognizable nature the offence shall be dealt as cognizable offence.
If the police officer incharge of a police station has reason to suspect the commission of a cognizable offence on the basis of FIR or any information so received, a prompt intimation of the FIR be sent to Magistrate.
The officers then proceed in person to the spot for investigation of facts and circumstances or send his subordinate officer.
Measures for discovery and arrest of person shall be taken by the police officer.
If police officer is of the view that there is no sufficient ground for entering on an investigation he shall not investigate the case and shall inform the complainant.
The report of cognizable cases is sent to magistrate to keep him informed of investigation. Sending report to Magistrate under section 158 is called police report. It is sent by superior police officer so as to make magistrate aware of a particular case being investigating by police.

Reports to be submitted by police at different stages:

Reports submitted by police at different stages of an investigation are:

  • Preliminary report under section 157
  • Interim report under section 168
  • Final report under section 173
  • In-Quest report under section 174.

Police officer’s power to require attendance of witness: Section 160

According to Section 160 an investigating police officer can by written order require attendance of any person before him. If person is one who appears to be acquainted with facts and circumstances of the case and person is within limits of police station of investigating police officer or adjoining police station it is legal duty of every person to attend if required.
Section 160 further provides where such person intentionally gives false information or refuses to attend, he is liable to be punished under section 174 IPC.

Exception :

No male person below 15 years or above 65 years , women or mentally disabled person can be required to attend other than his place of residence.

Expenses :

State government shall make rules for payment of reasonable expenses incurred by persons for attending any place other than residence.

Examination of witnesses by police:

Section 161 and 162 deals with oral examination of witnesses by police. Sec. 161 says any person acquainted with fact and circumstances of the case can be examined by police officer making investigation of the case or any officer acting as such.
Under section 161 statement to police not to be signed by the witnesses and neither should be used at any inquiry or trial. The statement made by witnesses can be used only to contradict him as given under section 145 Indian Evidence Act.

Tehsildar Singh vs State of UP, 1959

The statement recorded by police officer are only summary of what a witness says and often prefunctry. Not taking signature of person indicating that statement is not binding on witness. The word statement under section 162 includes both oral, written statement, signs or gesture.

Statement under inducement or threat: section 163:

Section 163 prohibits the police officer or person in authority from making any offer, inducement, threat or promise under section 24 Indian Evidence Act to make any disclosure to any person.

Confessional statements: section 164:

It provides a special procedure for recording of confessions by competent magistrate after ensuring that confessions are being made freely and voluntarily and not made under any pressure or influence.

Nazeer Ahmed vs Emperor, 1936 Privy Council

The court relied upon Taylor vs Taylor, opined that when a statutory power is conferred and mode of exercising is pointed out it means that no other modes to be adopted. A magistrate cannot in the course of Investigation record a confession except in the manner lead in section 164.

Evidentiary value:

Pyare lal vs state of Rajasthan, 1963 Supreme Court

Statement record of confession is inadmissible as evidence and Court must carefully weigh it with other material evidences.

Search by police officer: section 165:

Section 165 empowers the police officer to make a general search. As search is a process exceedingly arbitrary in character, stringent statutory conditions are imposed.

Conditions for exercise of search power:

  • Police officer must have reasonable ground to believe that anything necessary for purpose of Investigation of an offence cannot be in his opinion obtained otherwise then by making a search without undue delay.
  • He must record in writing the grounds of his believe.
  • He must conduct search if practical, personally, and if not personally possible must record reasons in writing and authorise his subordinate officer to conduct the search.

Seizure memo: section 165(5):

It says copies of Record of search be sent to the magistrate nearest and power to take Cognizance.

Search within limits of another police station: section 166:

Sec. 166 empower the officer to conduct search of a place situated within limits of another Police Station by an officer incharge of police station, one in another can do search in urgent calls.

Investigation in foreign countries: 166 A and 166 B:

Investigation in foreign countries of criminal offences committed by Indian national, a formal communication is issued by Court.

Case Diary : Sec 172

Section 172 impose duty on every investigating officer to maintain diary of his investigation where in he is required to enter day by day his proceedings in the investigation known as case diary or special diary or police diary or station house report.

State vs Anil Jacob, 2009 Bombay High Court

The objective of case diaries is to enable the court to check method of Investigation adopted by police so as to assure transparency in police investigation. Entries should be made with promptness in sufficient details and in chronological order with complete objectivity procedure.

When investigation cannot be completed in 24 hours:

  • Section 167 is supplementary to section 57. An accused arrested for case without warrant cannot be detained by police for more than 24 hours.
  • If investigation is not completed within 24 hours and police considered the detension of such person necessary, procedure under section 167 is to be followed.
  • It provides when the police believes accusation is well founded, investigating officer of officer in charge of police station shall transmit copy of entries in the case diary to nearest Judicial Magistrate and shall also at the same time forward accused to the such magistrate.
  • The judicial magistrate may authorise detention of person in custody for a term not exceeding 15 days.
  • Nature of custody can be altered from judicial custody to police custody and vice versa during first 15 days.
  • Magistrate shall authorise detention only when accused is produced before him.
  • Magistrate shall authorise detention of accused if he has reasons to believe the necessity of doing so but in any case magistrate cannot order detention for a period:
  • exceeding 90 days when person is accused of an offence punishable with at least 10 year or life imprisonment or
  • that 60 days when accused of any other offence.
  • On expiry of 60 or 90 days, whatever the case maybe, he shall be released on bail if he is able to furnish sureties.
  • Period is to be calculated from date of detention and not from date of arrest.
  • If order is given by magistrate other than chief judicial magistrate, he shall forward the copy of his order to chief judicial magistrate.
  • In case if investigation is not completed within 6 months, magistrate is required to stop the investigation under section 167(5) unless reasons to believe that further investigation is necessary.

Rajnikant vs Intelligence Officer CBI, 1990 SC

The Supreme Court observed that an order for release on bail under proviso (a) to Section 167 can be termed as an order on default or default bail.
The right to bail under section 167(2) is absolute and free from judicial discretion.

Completion of Investigation (section 169 to 173)

when there is no sufficient evidence: section 169

if it appears to officer in charge of police station that there is no official evidence to forward accused to Magistrate, he shall release the accused on executing a bond with or without sureties.

When there is sufficient evidence: section 170:

If it appears to officer in charge of police station that there is sufficient suspicion for the trial of accused, the officer shall produce accused under custody to a magistrate.
He will also send to Magistrate any weapon or other articles necessary to produce.

Submission of Chargesheet:

Under section 173 as soon as investigation is completed the officer in charge of police station shall forward report to a magistrate empowered to take cognizance of offence on a police report in the form prescribed by State Government.

Rupan Deol Bajaj vs KPS Gill, 1966 Supreme Court

A complaint was filed against the high ranking police officer for outraging modesty of an IAS Lady officer. Police submitted report under section 173 recommending discharge of accused. Supreme Court set aside order holding that no prima facie case was made out.

Inquest report :

Inquest report is a report to be made by investigating officer just to indicate the injuries which he has found on bodies of deceased persons. It has to be handed over to doctor along with dead body to be sent for postmortem examination.

Evidentiary value of Inquest Report:

The Inquest report cannot be substantive evidence but maybe used for corroboration of evidence given by police officer making the report.

Inquest Report is made by:

Under section 175 by police for ascertainment of cause of death in case of suicide and unnatural death. Under section 176 by magistrate ascertainment of cause of death occurring in police custody and in other cases.

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