Investigation under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC): A Comprehensive Guide

November 30, 2023

Investigation has been defined under Section 2 (h) of the Crpc as-

“It includes all the proceedings under the Code for the collection of evidence conducted by a Police Officer or any person (other than a magistrate) authorized by a Police Officer”.

The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is a crucial legislation that governs the procedural aspects of criminal cases in India. Investigation, as a fundamental part of the criminal justice system, plays a vital role in establishing the truth and ensuring justice is served. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of investigation under the CrPC, covering its objectives, powers, stages, and the rights and safeguards available to both the accused and the investigating agencies.

Objectives of Investigation

The primary objective of investigation under the CrPC is to collect and preserve evidence to establish the guilt or innocence of an accused person. This involves identifying and apprehending suspects, gathering evidence, conducting inquiries, and preparing a report for submission to the appropriate court. The investigation process aims to ensure fair and impartial proceedings, protect the rights of the accused, and prevent false or malicious prosecutions.

Stages of Investigation

Investigation under the CrPC typically consists of several distinct stages. These stages can be summarized into following headings.

  1. Section 154 (FIR Registration)- The first stage involves receiving information about an alleged cognizable offence and registering a First Information Report (FIR). Under Section 154, any person can report an offense to the police, and the police are bound to register an FIR. (A cognizable offence is defined under Section 2 (c) of the Crpc. According to which any offence to which a Police Officer may investigate without warrant is a cognizable offence). If such a warrant or permission has been received, then as per Section 155, a police officer may investigate a non-cognizable case in the same manner as the cognizable offence.

 In Lalita Kumari v. Government of Uttar Pradesh (2014) – The Supreme Court held that registration of an FIR is mandatory under Section 154 if the information discloses a cognizable offence.

  • Section 156 (Investigation by Police Officer)– After registering the FIR, the police officer in charge conducts an investigation.

In the case of State of West Bengal v. Swapan Kumar Guha (1982) – The Supreme Court held that the police have wide powers to investigate and collect evidence during the investigation process.

  • Section 157 (Procedure for Investigation)– The police officer proceeds for the purpose of investigation. Also, he intimates the same to the Magistrate who is empowered to take cognizance of the offence. Also, he may depute his subordinate to proceed to the alleged place in the following circumstances-
  • When the information of the offence has been given by name
  • Case is not of serious nature

In the case of State of Rajasthan v. Kishan Singh (2013) – The Supreme Court held that the police must conduct a fair and impartial investigation, without any bias or prejudice.

  • Section 160 and 161(Examination of Witnesses)- The police officer may secure the attendance of witnesses who may be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case and may examine them  during the investigation and records their statements. The witnesses are bound to answer all the questions truly except which those expose them to any criminal liability.

In the case of Nandini Satpathy v. P.L. Dani (1978) – The Supreme Court held that the statements recorded under Section 161 are not substantive evidence but can be used for corroborating or contradicting the testimony of witnesses during trial. Also, the court stated that a person shall not be compelled to disclose anything which has the tendency to expose him to criminal liability or forfeiture of property as that would be against the article 20(3) of the Constitution as a rule against self –incrimination.

  • Recording of statements or confession by the Magistrate (Section 164)-Magistrate records during investigation statement or confession under this Section.
  • Section 155 and 156 (Power of collecting evidence to the Police officers through search and seizure) –Police officers, conducting investigation have been bestowed upon with the powers to collect evidence through search and seizure under these sections.
  • Section 167 ( Time period of investigation)- As per Section 167 it has been mandated that investigation must be completed within 24 hours, however if it has not been completed then in that case, further extension may be granted for
    • 90 days if the offence is punishable with death, life imprisonment or imprisonment of more than 10 years, or
    • 60 days in any other case.
  • Section 173 (Police Report) –After completing the investigation, the police submit a report before the Magistrate, known as a police report or charge sheet. However, if the Police officer is satisfied that there are not sufficient evidence or if there are no reasonable grounds to forward the accused to the Magistrate, he shall be released under Section 169.

In the case of State of Maharashtra v. Caste Tribunal (2019) the Supreme Court held that the police report should be complete and include all relevant details and documents related to the investigation.

Powers of Investigating Agencies

As has been discussed earlier, investigating agencies, such as the police or other authorized bodies, are granted specific powers under the CrPC to conduct thorough investigations. These powers include the authority to search and seize property, arrest suspects, examine witnesses, record statements, conduct forensic examinations, and gather other relevant evidence. However, these powers are not absolute and are subject to certain limitations to prevent abuse or violation of individual rights.

Rights and Safeguards

The CrPC provides various rights and safeguards to ensure a fair and just investigation process which is in conformity to the Constitution. These include the right to legal representation, the right to be informed of the grounds of arrest, the right against self-incrimination, and the right to bail. Additionally, the accused has the right to remain silent during questioning and cannot be compelled to be a witness against themselves. The CrPC also mandates that all investigations be conducted in a time-bound manner, preventing unnecessary delays and ensuring swift justice. Furthermore, the law prohibits torture or any form of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment during the investigation.

Challenges and Reforms

While the CrPC provides a framework for investigation, there are several challenges that need to be addressed. Some of these challenges include corruption within investigating agencies, inadequate training of personnel, and delays in completing investigations. To address these issues, reforms have been proposed, such as establishing specialized investigative units, improving forensic capabilities, and promoting transparency and accountability within the system.

Investigation under the CrPC is a crucial step in the criminal justice process. It serves as the foundation for establishing guilt or innocence and ensuring justice is served. By understanding the objectives, powers, stages, and rights associated with investigation, both the accused and the investigating agencies can navigate the process more effectively. It is essential to continually evaluate and reform the investigation system to ensure it remains fair, efficient, and in line with the principles of justice.

Significance of the Topic

The investigation procedure is very significant from the perspective of judicial examinations. Therefore, judiciary coaching suggests that judiciary aspirants should prepare the process thoroughly. Also, judiciary coaching suggests that the process of investigation must be prepared with linking it to the constitutional provisions given under Article 22.

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