Police Investigation

Power of the police to investigate has been made independent of any control by the Magistrate

In S.N. Sharma vs. Bipen Kumar Tiwari and Ors. [(1970) 1 SCC 653].,this Court took the view that there is no mention of any power to stop an investigation by the police. The power of the police to investigate any cognizable offence is uncontrolled by the Magistrate, and it is only in cases where the police decide not to investigate the case, the Magistrate can intervene and either direct an investigation, or, in the alternative, himself proceed or depute a Magistrate subordinate to him to proceed to enquire into the case. “The power of the police to investigate has been made independent of any control by the Magistrate.” It is further held :

“though the Code of Criminal Procedure gives to the police unfettered power to investigate all cases where they suspect that a cognizable offence has been committed, in appropriate cases an aggrieved person can always seek a remedy by invoking the power of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution under which, if the High Court could be convinced that the power of investigation has been exercised by a police officer mala fide, the High Court can always issue a writ of mandamus restraining the police officer from misusing his legal powers.”

This position has been made further clear by this Court in its authoritative pronouncement in State of Bihar and Anr. v. J.A.C. Saldanha and Ors. [(1980) 1 SCC 554]. thus :

“25. There is a clear-cut and well demarcated sphere of activity in the field of crime detection and crime punishment. Investigation of an offence is the field exclusively reserved for the executive through the police department, the superintendence over which vests in the State Government. The executive which is charged with a duty to keep vigilance over law and order situation is obliged to prevent crime and if an offence is alleged to have been committed it is its bounden duty to investigate into the offence and bring the offender to book. Once it investigates and finds an offence having been committed it is its duty to collect evidence for the purpose of proving the offence. Once that is completed and the Investigating Officer submits report to the Court requesting the Court to take cognizance of the offence under Section 190 of the Code its duty comes to an end. On a cognizance of the offence being taken by the Court the police function of investigation comes to an end subject to the provision contained in Section 173(8), there commences the adjudicatory function of the judiciary to determine whether an offence has been committed if so. whether by the person or persons charged with the crime by the police in its report to the Court, and to award adequate punishment according to law for the offence proved to the satisfaction of the Court. There is thus a well defined and well demarcated function in the field of crime detection and its subsequent adjudication between the police and the Magistrate. This has been recognised way back in King Emperor v. Khwaja Nazir Ahmad ………………. pp26. This view of the Judicial Committee clearly demarcates the functions of the executive and the judiciary in the field of detection of crime and its subsequent trial and it would appear that the power of the police to investigate into a cognizable offence is ordinarily not to be interfered with by the judiciary.” (Emphasis is of ours)

 The observations of this Court in M.C. Abraham and Anr. vs. State of Maharashtra and Ors. [(2003) 2 SCC 649].in this regard deserve to be noticed. In the said case it was held :

“The principle, therefore, is well settled that it is for the investigating agency to submit a report to the Magistrate after full and complete investigation. The Investigating agency may submit a report finding the allegations substantiated. It is also open to the investigating agency to submit a report finding no material to support the allegations made in the first information report. It is open to the Magistrate concerned to accept the report or to order further enquiry. But what is clear is that the Magistrate cannot direct the investigating agency to submit a report that is in accord with his views. Even in a case where a report is submitted by the investigating agency finding that no case is made out for prosecution, it is open to the Magistrate to disagree with the report and to take cognizance, but what he cannot do is to direct the investigating agency to submit a report to the effect that the allegations have been supported by the material collected during the course of investigation.”

In State of West Bengal vs. S.N. Basak (1963) 2 SCR 52, this Court reiterated the principle that the police has statutory right to investigate into the circumstances of any alleged cognizable offence without authority from a Magistrate and that power of the police to investigate cannot be interfered with by the exercise of power under the inherent power of the High Court. In Hazari Lal Gupta vs. Rameshwar Prasad and Ann Etc. [(1972) 1 SCC 452), this Court while explaining the nature and purport of the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court observed that in exercising jurisdiction under Section 561 -A of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898, the High Court can quash proceedings if there is no legal evidence or if there is any impediment to the institution or continuance of proceedings but the High Court does not ordinarily enquire as to whether the evidence is ‘reliable or not’. Where again, investigation into the circumstances of an alleged cognizable offence is carried on under the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code the High Court does not interfere with such investigation because it would then be the impeding investigation and jurisdiction of statutory authorities to exercise power in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

 In Nirmaljit Singh Hoon vs. The State of West Bengal and Anr. (1973) 3 SCC 753.this Court held that :

“The police authorities have under Sections 154 and 156 of the Code a statutory right to investigate into a cognizable offence without requiring any sanction from a judicial authority and even the High Court has no inherent power under Section 561-A of the Code to interfere with the exercise of that statutory power.”

In State of W.B. and Ors. vs. Sujit Kumar Rana [(2004) 4 SCC 129], this Court while dealing with the nature of inherent powers of the High Court held that the inherent power of the High Court is saved only where an order has been passed by the Criminal Court which is required to be set aside to secure the ends of justice or where the proceedings pending before a court amounts to abuse of the process of Court. The power under Section 482 of the Code can be exercised by the High Court in relation to a matter pending before a criminal court or where a power is exercised by the Court under the Code of Criminal Procedure.


Categories: Police Investigation

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