December 26, 2023

The criminal justice system in our country consists of three distinct steps: the investigation, the inquiry, and the trial. The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973’s steps must be followed in the investigation, questioning, and trial of any offence covered by the Indian Penal Code or any other legislation.  An “investigation” is defined as any legal action conducted under this Code to obtain evidence, whether they are carried out by a police officer, someone other than a magistrate, or both, in accordance with Section 2(h) of the CrPC.

section 156(3) of crpc: About

  • Police may investigate a criminal offence with no formal FIR or a magistrate’s order, as per Section 156 of the CrPC. If the police choose not to conduct an investigation, the magistrate may. If the police decide to investigate, the magistrate cannot stop them from doing so.
  • It is against the law for courts to limit or impede the police’s statutory authority to carry out investigations. Courts may or may not intervene when the police request a charge sheet after an investigation, but that is when their involvement begins.

section 156(3) of crpc: Power of Magistrates

  • If the police authority neglects to fulfill its obligation to record the complaint or FIR, the magistrate designated under Section 190 of the CrPC may, in accordance with Section 156(3) of the CrPC, order a police officer to conduct an investigation.
  • When a police officer registers a complaint or F.I.R. without conducting a complete investigation, this paragraph is applicable.
  • The phrase “any magistrate” refers, not to the executive magistrate, but to the judicial magistrate who is qualified to take cognizance of a cognizable offence.
  • A cognizable offence cannot have its investigation led by the Executive magistrate.
  • Any magistrate can take cognizance of a cognizable offence; this applies to the judicial magistrate, not the executive magistrate.
  • Investigating a cognizable offence cannot be done under the direction of an executive magistrate.

section 156(3) of crpc: Power of Police

  • The officer commanding a police station is the sole person who can request a magistrate’s order to investigate Section 156(3). The officer in charge of a police station located beyond the magistrate’s jurisdiction may not be given any orders or authority.
  • Sections 155 and 156 of the Criminal Procedure Code grant the person in charge the power to investigate crimes committed inside the station’s boundaries, even though Section 154 forbids the officer in charge who obtains the information from reporting it.
  • A magistrate has the power to order the station’s chief police officer to investigate a crime that is subject to local jurisdiction at the station. For this reason, a magistrate is required to sustain territorial jurisdiction.

section 156(3) crpc judgments: Important Case Rulings

  • In the case of Vinubhai Haribhai and Ors. v State of Gujarat and Anr, the legal question of whether the magistrate can order more investigation after the police submit a charge sheet and, if so, what level of investigation was conducted was looked into. It was concluded that the magistrate has considerable discretion under the virtue of Section 156(3) of the CrPC after referencing multiple precedents and relevant legislative legislation. This is because the magistrate must be satisfied that the police are conducting a valid investigation.
  • In Mohd Yousuf v Smt. Afaq Jahan and Anr case, according to the Supreme Court, a judicial magistrate may, prior to taking notice of the offense, order an investigation under the virtue of Section 156(3) of the Code. If he does, he cannot claim his ignorance of any crime as an excuse to make the complaint swear an oath.

section 156(3) crpc latest judgments

  • In the case of Khalid Khan and Anr v State of UP and Anr, the Allahabad High Court recently ruled that, in situations where no cognizable offence is made out, a judicial magistrate may choose to order a preliminary investigation prior to registering a First Information Report (FIR) in accordance with Section 156(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Observation of the Court

  • The Court noted that in circumstances where a Judicial Magistrate believes that no cognizable offence is made out, he may choose to order a preliminary investigation before directing the filing of the FIR when handling an application submitted under Section 156(3) CrPC.
  • The Court further stated that the purpose of the preliminary inquiry is to determine whether the information received exposes any offences that are punishable, rather than to confirm the accuracy of the information.
  • The Court further stated that the competent Magistrate must order the filing of the First Information Report (FIR) in cases where the application under Section 156(3) CrPC reveals the commission of a cognizable offence.

A magistrate may order the registration of a formal investigation and the filing of a formal police report if they believe that the police have not or aren’t carrying out a proper investigation. Section 156(3) of the CrPC gives them all the authority necessary to guarantee a proper investigation.

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