After a complaint has been received and verified by the CBI, a preliminary enquiry is conducted by the Bureau into the allegations that are included in the complaint.
If the preliminary enquiry reveals the occurrence of a cognizable offence that falls under the purview of the Bureau’s jurisdiction, a First Information Report is recorded under Section 154 of the CrPC (Code of criminal procedure) and CBI Investigation is initiated.
The DSPE provides the CBI officers with the necessary powers to investigate any case related to an offence mentioned in Section 3 of the DSPE Act.
These powers, however, aren’t restricted only to the territory of Delhi. The DSPE Act, in Articles 5 and 6 provides for the investigating officers- under CBI- to investigate cases occurring in Union Territories or in Territories of other States with the consent of the Union Government or the s\State governments respectively.
Once the consent has been provided, it can not be revoked under any case.
CBI Investigation Process
The first step to be taken by any investigating officer who is handling a case is to create a Plan of Investigation.
This is a very methodical process which involves-
- Analyzing the allegations reported in the FIR,
- Categorizing the analysed allegations into the main allegations and secondary allegations,
- Drawing points as to how the investigation is to be proceeded with.
This “Plan of Investigation” is to be made by the Investigating officer with the help of the Superintendent of police and should contain among other things a list of the following:
- Main allegations to be proved as per the FIR.
- Witnesses to be examined during the course of the investigation.
- Any documents to be seized during the course of the investigation.
- Any technical existence required and if so, then what?
- Any expert opinions to be obtained.
- Searches to be conducted.
- Interpol references required.
- Any CBI Investigation required outside the territory of India.
A Plan of Investigation, once made, will not be considered to be final and binding.
It is a flexible document that can be altered as and when necessary. If due to any change in circumstances, modification or addition is required in the Plan, it can be done at any point during the CBI Investigation.
The Superintendent of police has to review the same whenever he makes a progress report on the same and the report is to be based around the information provided in such Plans.
In cases of supreme importance, the Director In General of Police also has the power to review such plans and issue any order as he may deem necessary regarding modifications and alterations of such plans.
Once the Plan of CBI Investigation has been made, the 2nd step involved in the investigation process is to proceed to the spot of the crime.
The CBI Investigation process proceeds with an inspection of the spot of crime.
As defined by the CBI manual, a scene of crime or an event under CBI Investigation can be any place through which an investigating officer can get crucial evidence regarding the case.
This step forms the base of the CBI Investigation as the information that one gets at the scene of the crime usually includes evidence like information on the victim, information of the Modus Operandi used by the criminals, circumstantial evidence revolving around the commission of the crime, physical evidence tying suspects to the scene of the crime and so on.
The importance is usually more so in cases of physical harm like offences of rape, murder, dacoit, riot and so on. Cases involving corruption and bribery usually do not bear much fruit in this stage as there is no physical evidence that can be found at such place regarding such crimes.
However, with improving digital security and improved forensic abilities, this step has become as important for solving these offences as well.
This step involves the following two processes:
- Getting a Plan of the scene of offence: In all cases of CBI Investigation, the investigating officers has to make or has to procure from others a plan of the building or the area in which the crime has been committed. This not only helps in studying the area better, but also allows the investigating officer to better understand the way in which the crime being investigated was committed.
- Photographing/video graphing/trapping the scene of crime and search proceedings: This is an important part of the CBI Investigation process and should be adhered to at all times. In case the photos are being taken in the conventional method, the negatives are to be preserved. The videos should be burned into a Write Only Disk in front of the witnesses.
This step helps in ensuring that an exact image of the crime scene as it was found remains with the Investigating Officer so that any clue that was initially missed can be later found. It also ensures that witnesses do not turn hostile at the last moment and so on.
In all important cases of disproportionate assets/ recoveries, search proceedings should also be video graphed so that the Court may appreciate the evidence collected by CBI- about the luxurious lifestyle of the accused or the circumstances under which a particular recovery was made.
The 3rd step in the process involves ascertaining all the facts and circumstances of the case.
For the purpose of this step, the investigating officer is allowed to take assistance of any officer of a different department who might be well versed with the facts and the circumstances of the case.
This, however, can only be done with the approval of the Superintendent of Police. This step has to be carried out very judicially, especially in cases regarding corruption, embezzlement and fraud or while conducting an inquiry- on offences relating to misconduct.
In such cases, the Investigating officer should not only familiarize himself with the facts but, also with the rules and regulations as regards the working of an organizations, with which such inquiries are related to.
If any information is required from the Head of Departments or Vigilance officers, it should be so obtained in a comely fashion. Their cooperation and help should also be taken to understand the way a particular department works.
The fourth step involved is Discovery and arrest of the suspected officer.
For the purpose of carrying out this step in the process, the investigating officers have been given the same powers as that of a police officer as laid down in the Code of Criminal procedure.
The fifth step involved is collection of evidence relating to the commission of the offence which consists of acts like-
- examining various people.
- Recording of statements.
- The search and seizure of the places or any document that may be deemed necessary for the purpose of the investigation.
However, it is necessary to ensure that the evidence so collected is not done with force, coercion or any such unfair means or practice. It is the duty of the Senior Superintendent of Police to ensure that there is no inducement, threat or promise made to any person from whom the information is collected.
If the information is collected in such a manner, the evidence so accrued will not be admissible and court and the actions of the officer can lead to dismissal from service. Wherever necessary, orders of the competent Court should be obtained for the custody and disposal of the case property in accordance with the provisions of Sections 451, 452 and 457 Cr. P. C.
Also, any documents that have been seized should be reviewed properly and necessary action should be taken to ensure that all those documents that are not required as a part of the CBI Investigation are returned as soon as possible.
If any photocopy of the documents seized by the CBI from a department is asked by the department, the same can be prepared by the department under the supervision of the Investigating Officers. In case this is not possible, the CBI has the responsibility to supply the same to them.
The sixth and the final stage in the process of CBI Investigation involves formulation of expert opinion on the guilt of the accused on the basis of the material evidence collected during the period of the investigation.
Once the investigating officer has reviewed all the evidence collected by him over the course of CBI Investigation, he has to make a decision regarding whether there is reasonable doubt against the accused and whether such doubt is enough to place him before the magistrate on trial.
If the answer to that question is yes, it becomes the duty of the investigating officer to take the necessary steps involved in getting him before the magistrate. This involves things like filing of a charge-sheet under section 173 of the Cr. P. C. before the competent court and so on.
Powers Of The Investigating Officer During CBI Investigation
The powers conferred upon the Investigating Officer during the course of CBI Investigation are mentioned in the Delhi Special Police Enforcement Act.
However, the powers so granted to the CBI are not that different to the powers granted by the Cr. P. C. Under section 153
All the police employees who are above the rank of an officer have a duty to investigate any action that constitutes a cognizable offence.
The same power is vested in the officers of the CBI under Section 6 of the DSPE Act. Similarly, the power to depute subordinates to go and investigate the crime scene conferred upon the Police by Section 157 of the Cr. P. C. is endowed upon the officers of the CBI by section 2(3) of the DSPE Act.
Therefore, it can be said that the powers and duties of an investigating officer are the same as that of an officer under Section 157-153 of the Cr. P. C.
- The powers to summon any person to attend an investigation (provided that the person so summoned is not under the age of 15).
- To examine such witnesses, to record confessions and statements and so on.
If the case is against senior gazetted officers, then the case should be investigated by the additional Superintendent of Police and the same is to be supervised by the Superintendent through case diaries and case reports, communications with Investigating Officers, examination of Important witnesses and so on.
In cases where accused person(s) has(have) escaped from the country after committing the crime or part of the crime has been committed abroad or the witnesses and other material evidence are available in a foreign country, it may be considered necessary to conduct investigation abroad.
While informal information/material may be collected through Interpol and diplomatic channels, formal investigation to collect evidence and gather material objects/documents may be conducted through formal Letter of Request sent through a competent Court under provisions of 166-A of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The diplomatic missions which are situated in various countries abroad cannot help with such CBI Investigation except for providing information collected from informal channels like the Interpol.
For those countries who do not require a Letter of Request from the court for conducting such investigations, a notice containing relevant facts including various important facets of the investigation are to be sent to the Interpol wing of the CBI, who then continue with the investigation.
When, in cases of utmost importance and absolute necessity, officers of the CBI are sent abroad for the conduct of an investigation, it is important to keep in mind that such officers have no powers in that country.
Any action which impedes upon the law on a foreign land may lead to impeding the sovereignty of the country. In such cases, the National Central Bureau (Interpol) of that country may be requested through the Interpol Wing of CBI and the Competent Authority of the country through the diplomatic channels for taking necessary permission/approving visit of the Police Officers to the concerned country.
Any work that needs to be done out of the territory of India can only be started once such permission has been obtained from the relevant authorities.
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References: K. Chandrasekhar etc. v. State of Kerala [JT 1998 (3) SC 612].  As laid down by the Supreme Court in H.N. Rishbud V. State of Delhi (A.I.R. 1955 S.C. 196)  ibid