Criminal

Whether police, on its own, conduct further investigation after filing final report

CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE

143. The decision, in STATE OF RAJASTHAN VS. ARUNA DEVI AND OTHERS[Supreme Court Of India, 08 Nov 1994] , has, thus, two important aspects, namely, even after acceptance of the ‘final report’, ‘further investigation’, at the instance of the police, is permissible even if no permission has been formally obtained from the Magistrate and, if on completion of such an investigation too, a ‘police report’ is filed disclosing commission of offence, there is no bar, in law, in the Magistrate taking ‘cognizance’ of the offence, which such a police report may disclose. It needs to be carefully noted that Aruna Devi (supra) was a case, wherein ‘cognizance’ had not been taken and ‘further investigation’ had been carried out without any formal order from the Magistrate and when the Magistrate took ‘cognizance’ on the basis of such a police report, the Supreme Court upheld the Magistrate’s decision. The case of Aruna Devi (supra) has also no application to the issue at hand inasmuch as even Aruna Devi (supra) does not relate to court’s power to direct further investigation after cognizance has already been taken and accused has entered appearance.

144. The case of Kishan Lal (supra), makes it dear that ‘further investigation’ can be directed at various stages of a trial, i.e., even after congizance has been taken. Kishan Lal (supra) also takes note of its earlier decision, in Mithabhai Pashabhai Patel and Ors. v. State of Gujarat,MANU/SC/0858/2009 , wherein, drawing the distinction between ‘further investigation’ and ‘re-investigation’, the court took the view that ‘re-investigation’ being forbidden, no superior court should, ordinarily, direct ‘re-investigation’. The relevant observations, appearing in para 15 and 16, are as under:

“15. An order of further investigation can be made at various stages including the stage of the trial, that is, after taking cognizance of the offence. Although some decisions have been referred to us, we need not dilate thereupon as the matter has recently been considered by a Division Bench of this court in Mithabhai Pashabhai Patel v. State of Gujarat in the following terms: (SCC pp. 336-37, paras 12-13)

‘12. This court while passing the order in exercise of its jurisdiction under article 32 of the constitution of india did not direct reinvestigation. This court exercised its jurisdiction which was within the realm of the Code. Indisputably the investigating agency in terms of sub-section (8) of section 173 of the code can pray before the court and may be granted permission to investigate into the matter further. There are, however, certain situations, where such a formal request may not be insisted upon.

13. It is, however, beyond any cavil that ‘further investigation’ and ‘reinvestigation’ stand on different footing. It may be that in a given situation a superior court in exercise of its constitutional power, namely, under articles 226 and 32 of the constitution of indiacould direct a ‘‘State’ to get an offence investigated and/or further investigated by a different agency. Direction of a reinvestigation, however, being forbidden in law, no superior court would ordinarily issue such a direction. Pasayat, J in Ramachandran v. R. Udhayakumar, opined as under: (SCC p. 415, para 7)

‘7. At this juncture it would be necessary to take note of section 173 of the code. From a plain reading of the above section it is evident that even after completion of investigation under sub-section (2) of section 173 of the code, the police has right to further investigate under sub-section (8), but not fresh investigation or reinvestigation.”

We have referred to the aforementioned decision only because Mr. Tulsi contends that in effect and substance the prayer of the appellant before the learned Magistrate was for reinvestigation but the learned Magistrate had directed further investigation by the Investigating Officer inadvertently.

16. “The Investigating Officer may exercise his statutory power of further investigation in several situations as, for example, when new facts come to his notice; when certain aspects of the matter had not been considered by him and he found that further investigation is necessary to be carried out from a different angle(s) keeping in view the fact that new or further materials came to his notice. Apart from the aforementioned grounds, the learned Magistrate or the superior courts can direct further investigation, if the investigation is found to be tainted and/or otherwise unfair or is otherwise necessary in the ends of justice.” The question, however, is as to whether in a case of this nature a direction for further investigation would be necessary.” [Emphasis is added]

145. Kishan Lal (supra) is also not a case, wherein the question arose as to whether ‘further investigation’ can be directed by Magistrate at the instance of the informant or de facto complainant after cognizance had been taken. What Kishan Lal (supra), indeed, decides is that the police can seek permission for further investigation at any stage and, in certain situations, formal request from the police may not be insisted upon meaning thereby that it is permissible, in tune with what had happened in Aruna Devi (supra), for the police to conduct ‘further investigation’ without formal permission from the Magistrate and such a further investigation would not be interfered with if, otherwise, justified and was warranted by the fact situation of a given case.

146. In the case of Ramachandran (supra), the Supreme Court has, in no uncertain words, laid down that even after completion of investigation and submission of ‘police report’ under sub-section (2) of section 173, police has the ‘right’ to further investigate the case under sub-section (8) of section 173, though not ‘fresh investigation’ or ‘re-investigation’ can be conducted by the police. The relevant observations, appearing at para 6 and 7, read as under:

“6. Learned counsel for respondent 1 supported the order of the High Court.

7. At this juncture it would be necessary to take note of section 173 of the code. From a plain reading of the above section it is evident that even after completion of investigation under sub-section. (2) of section 173 of the code, the police has right to further investigate under sub-section (8), but not fresh investigation or reinvestigation. This was highlighted by this court in K. Chandrasekhar v. State of Kerala. It was, inter alia, observed as follows: (SCC p. 237, para 24)

“24. The dictionary meaning of ‘further’ (when used as an adjective) is ‘additional; more; supplemental’. ‘Further’ investigation, therefore, is the continuation of the earlier investigation and not afresh investigation or reinvestigation to be started ab initio wiping out the earlier investigation altogether. In drawing this conclusion we have also drawn inspiration from the fact that sub-section (8) clearly envisages that on completion of ‘further investigation’ the investigating agency has to forward to the Magistrate a ‘further’ report or reports and not fresh report or reports regarding the ‘further’ evidence obtained during such investigation.”

(emphasis added)

147. In Ramachandran (supra), though the High Court had directed for ‘further investigation’, the Supreme Court held the said direction to be indefensible and directed, instead of a ‘fresh investigation’, ‘further investigation’, if required.

148. Before proceeding further and in order to resolve the controversy, which this writ appeal has raised, namely, as to whether the law laid down, in Randhir Singh Rana (supra), is, in the light of the decision, in Reeta Nag (supra), still holds good or not, appropriate it is that we pause here and point out as to what was the question, which Randhir Singh Rana (supra), was required to answer, because, without clearly understanding the question, which had been raised in Randhir Singh Rana’s case (supra), it would not be proper, on our part, to, finally, decide the issues of law raised in this appeal.

149. The question, raised in Randhir Singh Rana’s case (supra), was described by Hansaria, J, speaking for the court, at paragraph 6, in the following words,

“Question posed by us was if for further investigation, the police should ordinarily take formal permission of the court, can the court on its own not ask for further investigation, if the same be thought necessary to arrive at a just decision of the case.”

(emphasis added)

150. In the backdrop of the question, posed above, namely, whether a court can, on its own, ask the police to conduct ‘further investigation’ if the same was found necessary by the court to arrive at a ‘just decision of the case’, the court observed, in Randhir Singh Rana (supra), that the contention, that the courts are meant to advance the cause of justice, cannot be doubted and it is this principle, namely, that the courts are meant to advance the cause of justice, that led a Full Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, in State v. Mehar Singh1974 Crl. LJ 970 , to take the view that even after cognizance has been taken, court can order ‘further investigation’ in exercise of inherent power. What was held, in Mehar Singh (supra), is really what is contended, even now, in this appeal, by the learned amicus curiae to be the reason for existence of courts.