Criminal Procedure- The provisions regarding F.I.R, Investigation, Search and Final Report
First Information Report:
Under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, an FIR or First Information Report is registered. FIR puts a case into motion. An FIR is an information given by someone (aggrieved) to the police relating to the commitment of an offense.
In case a police officer refuses to record an FIR, an aggrieved person can send the substance of such information in writing and by post to the Superintendent of Police (SP) under Section 154 (3) of the Code.
If the SP is satisfied that such information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence then he may take the charge of the investigation on himself or order a sub-ordinate officer to carry out the same.
Investigation by the Investigating officer I/O (Police):
As under Section 156(1) of the Act, a police officer (in charge of a police station) may investigate any cognizable case without the order of a Magistrate. Under the sub-section (3) of the same Section, a Magistrate is empowered to order further investigation (pre-cognizance).
However, for investigation of a non-cognizable case, the said police officer has to obtain an order from the Magistrate before moving ahead [Section 155 (2)]
Under Section 157(1), if a police officer (in charge of a police station) has received information and has a reason to suspect the commission of an offence which he is empowered u/s 156 to investigate then, he may send a report to the Magistrate empowered to take cognizance of such offence.
After such a report, he may proceed with the investigation or appoint sub-ordinate officers to carry out the same. This Section is also called the “The Second FIR” (recognized in Lalita Kumari v. Uttar Pradesh AIR 2004, SC 187)
Search can be initiated by a police officer (in charge of a police station) under Section 165(1) when he believes that something is necessary for an investigation. A police officer may also do the search in person [165(3)].
Procedure when investigation cannot be completed in 24 hours [Section 167}:
When a person has been taken into custody and the investigation cannot be completed within 24 hours (as u/s 54) and there are grounds for believing the accusation is well-founded then, the police officer may transmit a copy of diary of the case facts to the nearest Judicial Magistrate. Under Section 167(2), he can authorize detention of the accused in custody for no more than 15 days.
In case such Magistrate does not possess the jurisdiction to try the case or commit it for trial or believes that there is no need for further detention then, he may forward the accused to such Magistrate having the jurisdiction to:
---Authorize detention of the accused beyond the 15 day mark, provided he is satisfied that there are sufficient grounds for doing so. But, no Magistrate in such a scenario may authorize the detention of the accused in custody for a total period of-
i. 90 Days, where the investigation relates to a grievous offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or for a term not less than 10 years.
ii. 60 days.
As under Section 172 of the Act, the investigating police officer has to maintain a day-by-day diary of the said investigation in excruciating detail (like the timestamps, places visited, statements and evidence collected, and all such details relevant to the complaint).
Section 172 (1A): The statements of witnesses (u/s 161) are to be recorded in the diary.
Section 172(3): Neither the accused nor his agents are entitled to call for such diaries nor will he be given a chance to see them (as they are for the Court to refer to).
Section 173: Report of a police officer after completion of investigation:
173(2) (i): As soon as the investigation is completed, the officer in charge of the Police Station (OC) shall forward to a Magistrate who is empowered to take cognizance of the offence on a police report, a report form will be prescribed by the State Govt. which will state:
a) The names of the parties
b) The nature of information
c) The names of persons who appear to be acquainted with the circumstances of the case.
d) Whether any offence appears to have been committed and, if so, by whom;
(e) Whether the accused has been arrested;
(f) Whether he has been released on his bond and, if so, whether with or without sureties;
(g) Whether he has been forwarded in custody under Section 170 (Cases that are sent to the Magistrate when evidence is sufficient).
The officer shall also communicate a note about his own actions towards the case [173(1) (ii)].
In case a superior officer was appointed for the investigation, he shall be the one to complete the aforementioned requirements or may direct a junior officer to conduct a further investigation under Section 173 (3).
Section 173(5) As mentioned, if there arises a case to which Section 170 applies the police officer may forward to the Magistrate along with the report:
All relevant extracts to which the prosecution proposes to rely on (apart from those files that are already sent to the Magistrate)
The statements are recorded under Section 161 of all the persons whom the prosecution proposes to examine as a witness.
Final Report [Section 173(8)] and recent developments:
As per the provisions of this Section, after completion of investigation in cognizable offence, the police files a final report under Section 173(8) of Criminal Procedure Code, commonly known as charge sheet.
After such a report has been forwarded to the Magistrate, at times, the police can conduct further investigation as well, under Section 173(8) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
However, whether such exercise can be gone into at the post-cognizance stage was a matter which needed to be thrashed out. The Hon'ble Apex Court in a number of citations such as in the case of H.N. Rishbud v. State of Delhi AIR 1955 SC 196 paved the way for further investigation even after the Magistrate had taken the cognizance.
In the case of Hemant Dhasmana v. CBI (2001) 7 SCC 536, it was held that the power of police to conduct a further investigation can be triggered out at the instance of the Court.
In the case of Randhir Singh Rana v. State (Delhi Administration) (1997) 1 SCC 361, it was held that Magistrate cannot suo motu direct further investigation or direct reinvestigation but an application has to be filed before him.
In the case of Amrutbhai Shambhubhai Patel v. Sumanbhai Kantibhai Patel (2017) 4 SCC 177, it was held that after cognizance has been taken, further investigation under Section 173(8) of Criminal Procedure Code, cannot be directed either suo motu or at the behest of the complainant.
However, as held in Popular Muthiah v. State, Represented by Inspector of Police, 2006 7 SCC 296: When the power under Section 173(8) is exercised, the Court cannot issue directions to investigate the case from a particular angle or by a particular agency.
Recently, a three-Bench Judge of the Supreme Court in the case of Vinubhai Haribhai Malviya v. State of Gujarat in 2019 SCC 1346:
Held in favour of the view that a magistrate had the power to direct further investigation by an investigating agency post cognizance on a police report right up to the stage of framing of charge. In paragraph 38, the Court expressly overruled those decisions of the Apex Court that interpreted Section 173(8) Cr. P.C restrictively. This resolution of conflicting views by the Bench is both welcome as it promotes certainty in the law, and unexceptionable, as it undoubtedly redounds in the interest of justice.