Further Investigation: Its Legal Dimensions

Further investigation means

Further investigation is the subsequent investigation that succeeds the investigation primarily conducted by the police.

Its purpose is to supplement the earlier investigation. It is a continuation of the earlier one. It is not reinvestigation or fresh investigation or de novo investigation. It cannot be started ab initio wiping out the earlier investigation altogether.  It is part of an investigation into a crime.

Investigation essentially is the processes for collection of evidence by police in regard to a crime. On completion of investigation the police submit a police report under section 173(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC).

But on completion of the “further investigation”, the police or investigating agency has to forward to the Magistrate a “further report” regarding “further evidence” obtained during such part of the investigation. Such further report should be conjointly read along with the initially submitted police report while proceeding further.

The police officers who conduct further investigation derive power under Section 173 (8) of the CrPC. Further investigation is conducted when police obtain further evidence. Filing a final report does not extinguish or take away the police’s power to conduct further investigation when they receive further evidence. Further investigation is an exclusive prerogative of the police but not of the court ordinarily.

After cognizance has been taken, process has been issued and accused has entered appearance thereto, a Magistrate has no authority to order further investigation either suo moto or on application by the complainant.

However on the request of the Investigating Agency Magistrate can order further investigation. Similarly, a Magistrate can direct further investigation if she finds that police investigation is improper or shoddy. The hands of the court are not tied at all when it needs to cure a defective investigation with a further investigation. On the other hand, the Code in unequivocal terms affirms that the investigating officer has sufficient powers to conduct further investigation under Section 173 (8) of the CrPC.

During the course of the investigation, the Magistrate is normally not empowered to supervise or monitor the process of investigation by her suggestions, proposals or ideas about the mode of investigation. The process and mode of investigation are exclusive domains of the investigating officer. They are subject to assessment when the police forward their report to the Magistrate under Section 173(2) of the CrPC. The report either will confirm or not confirm the charge.

Actions a Magistrate can take on a police report

If the police report confirms the charge, the Magistrate can:

  1. Accept the report and proceed with the case
  2. Disagree with the report and drop the case
  3. Direct further investigation under Section 156(3) to make further report.

On the other hand, if the police report identifies no offence, the Magistrate may

  1. Accept it and drop the proceedings
  2. Disagree with it and take cognizance
  3. Direct further investigation under 156 (3)

A Magistrate is not bound by the opinion of the court. She can ignore the report and proceed further by applying her mind on it.

Source of power for further investigation

The power of the Magistrate to order further investigation in fact comes from Section 156 (3) and not from 173 (8) of the CrPC.

The power of Magistrate under Section 202 (1) of the CrPC cannot be used to conduct further investigation as investigation under section 202(1) is in the nature of an inquiry to satisfy the court itself whether the proceedings initiated is to be furthered or not.

Even after the court taking cognizance on the strength of police report the Police can conduct “further investigation” under Section 173 (8) of the CrPC. Submission of the police report on conclusion of investigation does not preclude the power of the police to carry out further investigation.

Investigation is an executive function

Investigation is a statutory function of the police. The superintendence of it is vested in the state government.

The court, without compelling reasons, should not interfere with the investigation. Once cognizance of the offence is taken on the basis of its investigation under section 173 (2), the duty of the investigating officer comes to an end. Nothing under Section 173 (8) requires a police officer to seek permission of the court to proceed with further investigation ordinarily. Express permission of the court is not necessary for the police to conduct further investigation.

Though the right to conduct further investigation remains with the Police even after the filing of a police report, the investigation agency is expected to inform the court concerned and seek a formal permission when they conduct further investigation for the sake of propriety and procedural cohesion. Similarly the court can trigger the further investigation into motion by a direction.

No investigating agency can be compelled to seek the opinion of the Public Prosecutor at the stage of investigation even in the name of legal advice. Law prescribes that the Investigation must be conducted by the officer who need not be trained in law. Legal aspects come into play only when the police report reaches the court though public prosecutor.

The State can order further investigation

The State, under Section 3 of the Police Act 1861, can give direction to a superior officer for further investigation under Section 173 (8). However the court, many a time, has pointed out that after taking cognizance the Magistrate cannot order further infestation. The Magistrate taking cognizance of an offence does not have the police’s power to conduct further investigation on discovery of fresh facts. The police seek court’s permission to make further investigation to express their due regard and respect for the court. It is the Police that have the real powers to conduct further investigation. There cannot have any inhibition for the court to direct the police to conduct further investigation though it is an exercise of the power vested with the police themselves.

Seeking Court’s permission is a matter of propriety

Further investigation can be conducted if the investigation officer obtains further oral or documentary evidence after filing the final report. Such a “further report” can be termed supplementary report. It has been a matter of propriety that the police seek court’s permission to continue further investigation and file supplementary charge sheet.

When the court directs the investigating agency to conduct further investigation it is nothing but triggering the investigating agency to exercise its own jurisdiction conferred on them under Section 173 (8).

Court can interfere in shoddy investigation

If investigation conducted by the police is shoddy the Magistrate can issue orders to the superior police officers to supervise the investigation personally and file periodical compliance reports.  

However when investigation is going on in the proper manner, the Magistrate has no power to interfere in it. If the investigation is shoddy the Magistrate can interfere. This is a limited power.

Reinvestigation by the higher courts

The constitutional court under Article 32, 226 and 136 order reinvestigation by a different agency like CBI etc. 

Fresh investigation, reinvestigation and de novo investigation can only be done by a definite court order from a higher court.

Selected Judgments for Additional Reading

  1. Vinay Tyagi v Irshad Ali : 2013 5 SCC 762 (https://indiankanoon.org/doc/84627277/)
  2. Abdul Latheef & others v State of Kerala: 2014 (3) KLT 905
  3. Nirmal Singh Kahlon v State of Punjab: 2009 (1) KLT Suppl 262 (SC)  (https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1041213/ 
  4. Ram Lal Narang v State of Delhi Administration: AIR 1979 SC 1791  (https://indiankanoon.org/doc/889775/ )
  5. Rama Chaudhary v State of Bihar : AIR 2009 SC 2308  (https://indiankanoon.org/doc/409332/)

The author can also be reached at rajankila@hotmail.com

 

Published in Criminal Law
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