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This article has been written by Anubhuti Singh pursuing the Certificate Course in Introduction to Legal Drafting: Contracts, Petitions, Opinions & Articles from LawSikho.

Introduction

The concept of ‘Further Investigation’ and supplementary report is dealt with under Section 173 (8) Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as CrPC, 1973). The earlier Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (hereinafter referred to as CrPC, 1898) did not contain the provision regarding the concept of ‘Further Investigation’ within its ambit. It was in  1969 that for the first time the Law Commission of India in its 41st Report recommended adding the provision relating to ‘Further Investigation’ under CrPC within its ambit.

CrPC, 1898 had no scope to deal with a situation wherein the police officer had submitted the police report to the magistrate who has taken the cognizance, thereafter upon the police report under Section 190 (1) (b) of the said code and later some other relevant facts or evidence were discovered in relation to the same offense. 

A fair trial is a dimension of the Right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of The Constitution of India and therefore without conducting a comprehensive investigation there cannot be a fair trial which will lead to a sheer violation of the fundamental rights of the accused. And thus it was the need of the hour to include a provision relating to the concept of ‘Further Investigation’ in the CrPC, 1973.

What is ‘Further Investigation’?

The name itself is suggestive of the fact that it is the procedure which is followed after the investigation has already been conducted by the Police Officer and the police report has been submitted regarding the same to the magistrate and thereafter magistrate has taken the cognizance under Section 190 (1) (b) of the CrPC, 1973. The Honourable Supreme Court has held that the word ‘Further Investigation’ within the meaning of a provision of Section 173(8) CrPC is additional; more; or supplemental. Therefore, from here we can elucidate that the word ‘Further Investigation’ is the continuation of the earlier investigation and not a fresh investigation or reinvestigation to be started ab initio wiping out the earlier investigation altogether. The rationality behind the further investigation is to arrive at the truth and do real and substantial justice. In other words, the mere fact that there may be further delay in concluding the trial should not stand in the way of ‘Further Investigation’ if that would help the court in arriving at the truth and do real and substantial, and effective justice.

Provision relating to ‘Further Investigation’ under CrPC, 1973 

Section 173 (8) CrPC talks about the provision relating to ‘Further Investigation’, it says that – Nothing in this section shall be deemed to preclude ‘Further Investigation’ in respect of an offence after a report under sub- section (2) has been forwarded to the magistrate and, where upon such investigation, the officer in charge of the police station obtains further evidence, oral or documentary, he shall forward to the magistrate a further report or reports regarding such evidence in the form prescribed; and the provisions of sub- sections (2) to (6) shall, as far as may be, apply in relation to such report or reports as they apply in relation to a report forwarded under sub- section (2).

The word ‘Nothing’ in the abovementioned provision creates a saving clause and the implication is that even if a police report is filed under Section 173 (2) it will not prevent any further investigation in the case. Also, further investigation can be done only after the original police report has been filed under Section 173 (2). Upon ‘Further Investigation’, if a Police Officer finds more evidence then he will submit to the Magistrate a further report which will be called a supplementary report or supplementary charge sheet.

Whether the police officer is required to take permission from the Magistrate to conduct a ‘Further Investigation’?

As per the language of Section 173(8) CrPC, 1973, it is implicit that the Police Officer can suo motu conduct ‘Further Investigation’ and in cognizable cases otherwise also under Section 156(1) he can further carry on the Investigation and in non-cognizable cases, once the order of Section 155(2) has been passed by the Magistrate, he can conduct further investigation. Though in non-cognizable cases, normally a police Officer obtains permission for further investigation from a Magistrate which technically is not required. In cognizable cases, permission is not required but as a matter of prudence, wisdom, or propriety the police officer obtains permission from the magistrate.

Section 173 (8) is not clear on the point as to whether the power to conduct further investigation is limited only to the police officer or whether the magistrate also can suo motu order the further investigation?

Under Section 173 (8) CrPC, the power of the magistrate to order further investigation is also implicit and even the Magistrate can order ‘Further Investigation’ under Section 173 (8). Further, if a Court or any magistrate interprets the section in such a manner that Section does not talk about ‘Magistrate power’s to order ‘Further Investigation’’ then also in the case of Sakiri Vasu vs. State of UP magistrate under Section 156(3) would per se have the power to order ‘Further Investigation’ as its ancillary power in cognizable cases whereas in case of non-cognizable offense under Section 155 (2) CrPC.

In the cases of Tara Singh vs State, Randhir Singh Rana vs State (Delhi Administration)the court held that police officer need not take any permission from magistrate and he can suo motu continue ‘Further Investigation’, but as a matter of prudence or propriety, he can obtain permission from the magistrate. However, on the other hand in the case of Vinay Tyagi vs Irshad Ali the court held that since it has been a long practice to take the permission of the magistrate for conducting ‘Further Investigation’ and hence permission is a must. This case does not lay down good law and therefore it must not be followed.

Can the magistrate order ‘Further Investigation’ before taking cognizance?

In the case of Bhagwant Singh vs Commissioner of Police the court held that before taking cognizance a magistrate can order ‘Further Investigation’. He has power under Section 156 (3), Section 155 (2) or even under Section 173 (8) CrPC to do so. However, in the case of Reeta Nag vs the State of West Bengal the court held that the magistrate cannot order ‘Further Investigation’ before taking cognizance.

Later Honorable Supreme Court in the judgment of Vinay Tyagi vs Irshad Ali and Amrutbhai Shambhubhai Patel vs Sumanbhai Kantibhai Patel said that Bhagwant Singh judgment will prevail on this point and Reeta Nag judgment was per in curium.

Can the magistrate order ‘Further Investigation’ after taking cognizance?

In the course of an investigation, there is no question of ‘Further Investigation’ because no police report has been filed. ‘Further Investigation’ can only be done after the police report has been filed. 

Under Section 190 (1) (b) magistrate can take cognizance of the police report and ‘Further Investigation’ can only be ordered after the police report has been filed to the magistrate. In complaint and information cases magistrate takes cognizance under Section 190 (1) (a) and (c) respectively but the police report is not filed in both the cases and hence magistrate cannot order ‘Further Investigation’ in such cases.

In the case of Kishan Lal vs Dharmendra Bafna the court held that a magistrate can order ‘Further Investigation’ even after taking cognizance. But the exact opposite was held in the case of Amrutbhai Shambhubhai Patel vs Sumanbhai Kantibhai Patel that after taking cognizance, an order of ‘Further Investigation’ cannot be passed by the magistrate.

The above two judgments came in conflict with each other and neither of them prevail because both were two-judge bench decisions so the matter was referred to the three-judge bench in the case of – Vinubhai Haribhai Malviya vs State of Gujarat. It was held that a fair trial is a dimension of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and thus investigating officer should collect all the evidence to find the real truth and to serve the ends of justice, and therefore even after filing the police report if there is a chance of collection of more evidence then the investigating officer shall continue with the investigation to collect those evidence and if he does not do so then the magistrate has the power to order such ‘Further Investigation’ in the interest of justice. The court held that Article 21 is omnipresent and CrPC shall be interpreted in light of Article 21. 

The other issue that was raised in the above-mentioned case was that –

  1. Whether the magistrate can order ‘Further Investigation’ after taking cognizance?
  2. If the magistrate can order ‘Further Investigation’ after taking cognizance then under which provision he will order ‘Further Investigation’ i.e, under Section 156 (3), 173 (8) or will the magistrate use its ancillary power? 

The court held that under Section 173 (8) read with Section 2 (h) or magistrate exercising its ancillary power can order ‘Further Investigation’ after taking cognizance. But the issue crept in the moment court made a sweeping remark that under Section 156 (3) also, the magistrate can order the ‘Further Investigation’ after taking cognizance because until now the law on the point was that Section 156 (3) is a pre-cognizance order and once the court has taken cognizance it cannot revert back to 156(3) as per the decision laid down under Devrapalli Lakshmi Narayana Reddy vs V. Narayana Reddy and others. 

This case related to a complaint case where the issue was that in a complaint case, once cognizance is taken under Section 190 (1) (a) an investigation can be ordered under Section 202 (1), then what was the need of Section 156 (3)? The court, in this case, held that Section 156 (3) is a pre-cognizance order and 202 (1) is post-cognizance order. The purpose of Section 156 (3) is basically to initiate the investigation and the lodging of FIR and Section 202 (1) is to assist the court so that court decides whether it will order the issue of process or dismiss the complaint. Section 156 (3) order cannot be passed after taking the cognizance.

Now the problem was, how can Vinubhai judgment overruled Devarapalli judgment when both of them were three-judge bench decisions. And Vinubhai ‘s judgment was also criticized on the point that if an investigation can be ordered under section 156 (3) after cognizance is taken then it makes Section 202 (1) redundant.

Conclusion

In Vinubhai judgment it has not been clarified whether the judgment will be limited to only police report cases or it will apply also to complaint or information cases. In the latter case i.e in the complaint or information cases, the problem that will arise is, that if there is no original police report then how can there be an order of ‘Further Investigation’ and even if without police report an order of ‘Further Investigation’ was passed then what will happen when supplementary report on such order an is filed. Will it result in the magistrate taking the second cognizance in that same case i.e, the first cognizance on complaint or information case and second cognizance on the police report? That would be improper and absurd.

In light of the above anomalies and the apparent conflict between the Vinubhai and Devrapalli judgment it is hereby suggested that the Vinubhai judgment be limited to only police report cases and Devrapalli judgment be limited only to complaint cases. However, a judgment by a larger bench of the Honorable Supreme Court is required on this point.

References


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