What is further investigation ?

‘Further investigation’ is where the Investigating Officer obtains further oral or documentary evidence after the final report has been filed before the Court in terms of Section 173(8). This power is vested with the Executive. It is the continuation of a previous investigation and, therefore, is understood and described as a ‘further investigation’. Scope of such investigation is restricted to the discovery of further oral and documentary evidence. Its purpose is to bring the true facts before the Court even if they are discovered at a subsequent stage to the primary investigation. It is commonly described as ‘supplementary report’. ‘Supplementary report’ would be the correct expression as the subsequent investigation is meant and intended to supplement the primary investigation conducted by the empowered police officer. Another significant feature of further investigation is that it does not have the effect of wiping out directly or impliedly the initial investigation conducted by the investigating agency. This is a kind of continuation of the previous investigation. The basis is discovery of fresh evidence and in continuation of the same offence and chain of events relating to the same occurrence incidental thereto. In other words, it has to be understood in complete contradistinction to a ‘reinvestigation’, ‘fresh’ or ‘de novo’ investigation.

16. However, in the case of a ‘fresh investigation’, ‘reinvestigation’ or ‘de novo investigation’ there has to be a definite order of the court. The order of the Court unambiguously should state as to whether the previous investigation, for reasons to be recorded, is incapable of being acted upon. Neither the Investigating agency nor the Magistrate has any power to order or conduct ‘fresh investigation’. This is primarily for the reason that it would be opposed to the scheme of the Code. It is essential that even an order of ‘fresh’/’de novo’ investigation passed by the higher judiciary should always be coupled with a specific direction as to the fate of the investigation already conducted. The cases where such direction can be issued are few and far between. This is based upon a fundamental principle of our criminal jurisprudence which is that it is the right of a suspect or an accused to have a just and fair investigation and trial. This principle flows from the constitutional mandate contained in Articles 21 and 22 of the Constitution of India. Where the investigation ex facie is unfair, tainted, mala fide and smacks of foul play, the courts would set aside such an investigation and direct fresh or de novo investigation and, if necessary, even by another independent investigating agency. As already noticed, this is a power of wide plenitude and, therefore, has to be exercised sparingly. The principle of rarest of rare cases would squarely apply to such cases. Unless the unfairness of the investigation is such that it pricks the judicial conscience of the Court, the Court should be reluctant to interfere in such matters to the extent of quashing an investigation and directing a ‘fresh investigation’. In the case of Sidhartha Vashisht v. State (NCT of Delhi) [(2010) 6 SCC 1], the Court stated that it is not only the responsibility of the investigating agency, but also that of the courts to ensure that investigation is fair and does not in any way hamper the freedom of an individual except in accordance with law. An equally enforceable canon of the criminal law is that high responsibility lies upon the investigating agency not to conduct an investigation in a tainted or unfair manner. The investigation should not prima facie be indicative of a biased mind and every effort should be made to bring the guilty to law as nobody stands above law de hors his position and influence in the society. The maxim contra veritatem lex nunquam aliquid permittit applies to exercise of powers by the courts while granting approval or declining to accept the report. In the case of Gudalure M.J. Cherian & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. [(1992) 1 SCC 397], this Court stated the principle that in cases where charge-sheets have been filed after completion of investigation and request is made belatedly to reopen the investigation, such investigation being entrusted to a specialized agency would normally be declined by the court of competent jurisdiction but nevertheless in a given situation to do justice between the parties and to instil confidence in public mind, it may become necessary to pass such orders. Further, in the case of R.S. Sodhi, Advocate v. State of U.P. [1994 SCC Supp. (1) 142], where allegations were made against a police officer, the Court ordered the investigation to be transferred to CBI with an intent to maintain credibility of investigation, public confidence and in the interest of justice. Ordinarily, the courts would not exercise such jurisdiction but the expression ‘ordinarily’ means normally and it is used where there can be an exception. It means in the large majority of cases but not invariably. ‘Ordinarily’ excludes extra- ordinary or special circumstances. In other words, if special circumstances exist, the court may exercise its jurisdiction to direct ‘fresh investigation’ and even transfer cases to courts of higher jurisdiction which may pass such directions.[ Supreme Court of India Vinay Tyagi vs Irshad Ali @ Deepak & Ors  decided on 13 December, 2012 ]

Next question that comes up for consideration of this Court is whether the empowered Magistrate has the jurisdiction to direct ‘further investigation’ or ‘fresh investigation’. As far as the latter is concerned, the law declared by this Court consistently is that the learned Magistrate has no jurisdiction to direct ‘fresh’ or ‘de novo’ investigation. However, once the report is filed, the Magistrate has jurisdiction to accept the report or reject the same right at the threshold. Even after accepting the report, it has the jurisdiction to discharge the accused or frame the charge and put him to trial. But there are no provisions in the Code which empower the Magistrate to disturb the status of an accused pending investigation or when report is, filed to wipe out the report and its effects in law. Reference in this regard can be made to K. Chandrasekhar v. State of Kerala [(1998) 5 SCC 223]; Ramachandran v. R. Udhayakumar [(2008) 5 SCC 413], Nirmal Singh Kahlon v State of Punjab & Ors. [(2009) 1 SCC 441]; Mithabhai Pashabhai Patel & Ors. v. State of Gujarat [(2009) 6 SCC 332]; and Babubhai v. State of Gujarat [(2010) 12 SCC 254].