This article is written by Parul Chaturvedi from Dr R.M.L Law College, Bangalore. It deals with the information, and provisions of Section 173 related to the Police Report under Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 and the importance of evidentiary value under Section 161 of Criminal Procedure Code 1973.
The Police Report is an oral and written record of acceptance of the facts and prosecutions as described in the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973. The Police Officer shall send a report to the Magistrate pursuant to subsection (2) of Section 173. The report referred to in Section 173 is a report on the findings of the investigation carried out under Chapter XVI the commencement of proceedings before Magistrates of the Police Report. The final report ends the evaluation process by means of a formal action plan.
If there is no evidence or fairground for suspecting the move of the accused to the court, the investigating authorities will submit the report to the magistrate. To release the accused from custody on enforcement of an immunity bond as ordered by the police, to appear before a magistrate, if necessary and authorised, to do so. The 41st Indian Law Commission Report advises that an offender must have fair trials, attempts must be made to avoid a delay in the prosecution of trial and ensure measures for the weaker parts of society.
When police officers are present at the site of an accident or another incident, a written report called the police report sums up the facts and thoughts. In the case of incidents such as motor vehicle collisions, the incident reports typically describe police response to residents. Police reports do not come under the records of the judiciary, and so official documents are not necessary. Although the right to a copy of a police report is involved in most jurisdictions, it is difficult to rely on the receipt of police reports from others. Exact laws and procedures vary between jurisdictions.
Purpose of a Police Report
Police reports are used to prosecute a defendant at the beginning of a criminal case and to bring civil proceedings against an individual. Police reports act as a factual summary of an incident in order to investigate crimes, including on the form a case number or item number as indicated on or near the top of the form. The case number starts with the year like “2019” or just “19” accompanied by a unique number. In addition to what the investigating officer saw on the scene of an accident, the content of police reports also explains what victims, offenders, and witnesses heard. It is also likely that officers take photos, draw out sketches, and take distance measurements or objects attached to a police report.
General Information on Police Reports
Every police department has its own reporting forms in various jurisdictions, and they may contain similar details. Different sections of the police report contain information about the incident which led to the investigation being released. The personal information required in a police report form like details of the name of a person, time of the incident, and location of an incident. The reporter’s name also includes the officer’s badge number. The person’s personal information, such as name, address and physical appearance. The suspect’s financial and social condition, a number of offences actually happened, a record of injuries and damages.
Types of Police Reports
Police reports are different according to the incidents. Types of police reports include:
An arrest report often called an arrest record, describes allegations or charges against an individual. Following the arrest of a suspect, mostly by a representative of the judge who signed the arrest warrant, the arrest report contains a victim’s claims about a perpetrator and all the information of the suspected crime found in the initial report of the incident. Fingerprint details may also be included in the arrest reports and also included the bail amount if the judge establishes.
When a case is opened by filing a police report, an investigation process may be conducted by a police investigator or another investigating officer. While the Right to Information Act (RTI) makes certain police records accessible to the public, forensic reporting is not made available in public so as not to hinder the prosecution of an accused suspect. Parties outside the police service can conduct their own investigations, such as insurance companies and private investigators. However, these allegations are not subject to an inquiry by the police.
A police traffic report states the violation made by a driver and offence accepted by him and includes his personal details, name, license number, tag number, and model number of the car.
Supplemental police reports
When a police report may be revised, an officer can request an additional report reflecting the new information by updating or rectifying it. For the initial report, the reporting officer can omit unintentionally any information or incorrectly write a typo in the report. In the case of an accident occurred at night, any photographs taken by the officer at that time do not clearly show the details of an accident. For this, the additional supplementary pages are added to the initial report and mark as original report and no alteration can be done to the initial report.
In police interviews with traffic accidents or crime witnesses, police officers record statements on accounts of witnesses. Such witness accounts supplement the primary incident or injury report but are usually conducted in different ways. A big blank area of a witness form for handing out a report about a traffic accident or injury report is also included in the original witness report. Often, a witness will compose their account with a blank sheet of paper. In the case of an accident or injury, the witness reports shall be made after a subsequent interview with the victim.
Police officers and organisations in the corporate business relationship sector must maintain such administrative records comparable with non-police businesses. Such reports can include statistical details on detention, duties, budget items, and other things every day. When a victim or some other member of the public asks for any details on the Right to Information Act (RTI), such requests will be reported in an administrative report and made available by a police department official.
Internal affairs reports
Law enforcement department’s check-and-balance accountability, an officer is often required to submit an inquiry into internal affairs. Those inquiries are reported as complaints of misconduct on internal affairs reports. Every allegation returns one of four findings: sustained (the accusation is proven); unsustained (the accusation does not include sufficient proof to support or disprove it); unfounded (the event did not occur or was not based on facts uncovered by the investigation); or exonerated (the alleged incident did occur in fact, but the action of the officer was considered to be reasonable and lawful).
Provisions relating to Police Report under the Criminal Procedure Code
Section 157: based on the basis of information an officer in charge of a police station has reason to suspect the commission of an offence. He is empowered to investigate under Section 156 and shall send a report thereof to a Magistrate. Admit to classify an offence on a police report and proceed in person or depute one of his subordinate officers.
- Where information is given as to the commission of such offence against any individual by name and the case is not of a severe nature, the officer in charge of the police station does not need to proceed in individual or deploy a subordinate officer to conduct an investigation on the spot.
- Where it appears to the officer in charge of the police station that there is insufficient ground for the agency.
According to Section 158 Report on how to submit an application.
- Any report which is sent to a Magistrate stated in section 157, directed by the State government, shall be sent by a superior police officer in State government, designated in the name of the general or special order.
- The superior officer may give such instruction to the officer in charge of the police station which he thinks fit and shall transmit the same without any delay to the Magistrate after recording such instructions on that report.
According to Section 159 Power to hold an investigation into preliminary inquiry- Power to conduct an investigation or any Magistrate may direct an investigation upon receipt of the report, if it deems it necessary, proceeds immediately or deputes any Magistrate subordinate to it to proceed in the way provided in this code, and make a preliminary inquiry or otherwise dispose of the case.
According to Section 161 it says,
- Any police officer conducting an investigation will orally interview any person who is supposed to be aware of the circumstances of the case, acting on a request from this officer.
- In the course of an investigation under this section, the police officer may reduce to writing the statement made to him in so doing, he must make a separate and accurate report of any person whose statement he records.
According to Section 167(2) during the investigation, if the procedure cannot be completed within twenty-four hours the magistrate has judicial power to proceed with the case against the accused person referred to in this section and permit the custody of the accused person for a period not exceeding 15 days in total.
As per Section 168, Report of investigation to subordinate police officers. When any investigation has been made by a subordinate police officer in this chapter, then the investigation result is reported to the officer in charge of the police station.
According to Section 169, the accused is set free in the absence of evidence. When it appears to the police officer conducting an investigation under this chapter that there is insufficient evidence or fair cause for a suspicion to justify forwarding the accused person to a magistrate, that officer shall release him, with or without sureties as the suspect may direct, if and when the accused is in custody, at the time of executing a bond. (Since the Apex Court held in a case of Sanjay Sinh Ram Rao Chavan Vs. Dattatray Gulab Rao Phalke (2015) that the officer or court referred in Section 169 of the CrPC must be the same, and this is supported by Lokayukta ‘s finding that the accused has no material in place the same has to be read as a reference to Sec 173 CrPC)
Section 173 deals with the police officer’s report on completion of the investigation.
An investigation shall be conducted without unnecessary delay in the context of this Chapter.
i) When it has been completed, the officer in charge of the police station shall submit a report, in the form prescribed by the State Government to the Magistrate authorised to take cognizance of the offence, stating:
- the names of the parties
- the nature of the information
- the names of the persons who appear to be familiar with the circumstances of the case
- whether the accused was arrested
- whether the accused was released on account of his bond and if so, the weather with or without sureties
- whether the accused was held in custody under Section 170.
ii) The officer shall also communicate to the person by whom the information relating to the commission of the offence was first received, in the way specified by the State Government, the action that it undertakes.
As per Section 190(1): Cognizance of offence by Magistrates.
- Subject to the provisions of this Section, any first-class magistrate or second-class magistrate appointed specially for that purpose under subsection (2) can, (a) after receiving a complaint concerning the fact of constituting an offence, and after that recognize any offence.
(1)(b) upon a police report of such facts;
The Power of Reinvestigation – Analysis
Upon receipt of the final report to the Magistrate, provided in Section 173(2), and in Section 169 there is no appeal for a trial on the basis of Section 173(3) for the consent of the report for the filing proceedings. In the event of disagreement with a report, it is appropriate for the Magistrate to order further investigation pursuant to Section 156(3), if he considers the investigation to be unsatisfactory or unfinished.
Otherwise, he may find that the facts set out in the final report constitute an offence and may be made aware of them in compliance with Section 190(1)(b). More inquiry in the crime is constitutionally appropriate as provided for in Section 173(4) of the Criminal Procedure Code, the attorney acting for the State when requested, suggests that the inquiry was not yet complete and the State will come to a definitive conclusion as to the appellant’s guilt only after the investigation has been completed. An investigation into an offence is the police’s legislative duty, its superintendence is the responsibility of the State Government, and the Court can not intervene with the investigation in the absence of any valid and justifiable cause.
In other words, the police have a constitutional right to investigate the circumstances of a suspected cognizable crime without having any authority from the judicial authorities, and it would be tragic if those statutory rights could interfere. The inquiry can be revived, and an additional fee sheet can be submitted only on the basis of information which did not satisfy the expertise of the officer during the inquiry and not periodically. After further investigation by the police and without further evidence against the petitioners, a formal charge sheet could not be submitted. If new evidence comes to light, the police have the right to further investigate.
Section 173(8), CrPC it should be noted that it only sets out a rule which is considered acceptable. The legislation requires the Investigating Officer to perform duties appropriately leading to a report under section 173(2). This may only be in any rare circumstance like murder, kidnapping, theft warranting further investigation, where the Investigating Officer will have to gather any extra facts or documents as supplementary sheets and send it along with his further report to the Magistrate. Such an extraordinary case can only confirm the general rule that the investigation usually ends with the filing in court of the charge sheet. In other words, the Investigating Officer assumes and depends on the facts and information that he has gathered by then.
The evidentiary value of statements recorded by the investigating officer in Section 161 cannot be used as substantive evidence before the court. If a witness statement was not recorded in compliance with Section 161 at the time of the investigation but is challenged in the court, then his evidence can be used only if the accused is not prejudiced.
Any police officer conducting an investigation under Section 161 of the CrPC is certified and authorised to orally examine and record witness statements by any person, who is supposed to be familiar with the facts and circumstances of the case under Section 161 of the CrPC statements. This is the task of collecting facts against the accused. Such claims will also be read by the Court after filing a charge sheet to take cognizance of an offence. Such a statement may be used only to refute the complainant in the manner provided for in Section 145 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
When a person’s signature on his statement reported under Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code is obtained, will such a statement be ignored?
No witness signatures on Section 161 of Criminal Procedure Code statements are needed. It is not the rule that this declaration will be violated if the person’s signature is collected in his statement documented during the investigation. In such a situation the Court must be careful in appreciating the evidence the witness giving the signed statement can make a statement in court (Tilkeshwar Singh And Others vs The State Of Bihar on 8 December 1955,
Facts of the case: The appellants were charged before the Additional Sessions Judge, Darbhanga under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code for the murder of one Balbbadra Narain Singh. They were also charged, some under Section 147 and the others under Section 148, for being members of an unlawful assembly and for rioting.
Court Decision relevant to section 161 CrPC- Section 161(3) of CrPC is that the police are not bound to make a record of the statements of witnesses in which case there is admittedly no bar to the reception of their testimony, it would be anomalous if we were to hold that their evidence is inadmissible, because the statements were also reduced to writing but not in the manner provided in the section. The requirement of Section 138 the Indian Evidence Act contains elaborate provisions as to who are competent witnesses and on what matters their evidence is inadmissible.
In the case of State of U.P Vs. M.K Anthony on 6 November 1984
Facts of the case: Respondent M.K. Anthony was prosecuted for having committed murder of his wife Smt. Anna Kutti and his two children, a son Sajji aged 6 years and a daughter Rita aged 4 years during the night between February 26 and 27, 1973. Learned Sessions Judge, Jhansi convicted him for having committed the murder of the afore-mentioned three persons and awarded him maximum penalty under the law.
Court Held: The investigating officer recorded his statement and obtained his signature thereon and this was contrary to the mandatory provision of Section 162 of the CrPC because the investigating officer is not entitled to obtain the signature of a witness on the statement made in course of the investigation.
Section 162 of the CrPC does not provide that evidence of a witness given in the court becomes inadmissible if it is found that the statement of the witness recorded in course of the investigation was signed by the witness at the instance of the investigating officer. Such is not the effect of Contravention of Section 162 CrPC.
In the case of the State of Rajasthan Vs. Teja Ram and Ors on 19th March 1999.
Facts of the case: It was by a midnight blitz when two sleeping inmates of a dwelling house were axed to death by armed assailants. One of the victims was the old mother of the other victim, The younger among them was not the target of the assailants but he was mistaken for his brother. In the Sessions court, seven persons were put on trial as the assailants in the aforesaid double murder episode. Out of the six were convicted under Section 302 read with Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code and for certain other lesser but allied offences.
Court Held: Section 162(1) of the Code which prohibits collecting signatures of the person whose statement was reduced to writing during interrogation. The material words in the sub-section are these. “No statement made by any person to a police officer in the cause of investigation under the chapter, shall, if reduced to writing, be signed by the person making it”
Conclusion by three cases: It was held in all three cases that the witness’s signature was obtained in the statement recorded. Pursuant to Section 161 and 162(1) of the Code, it shall not make it inadmissible under Section 161 of the Code but may affect the weight to be added to the proof of that complainant. Given the signing of the declaration, it continues to be a statement reported under Sec.161 of the Code, following the said decisions.
Pursuant to Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code
In the cases of Ashok Vishnu Davare Vs. The state of Maharashtra, (2004) 9 SCC 431, Radha Kumar v. State of Bihar (now Jharkhand) [(2005) 10 SCC 216] and Sunil Kumar Sambhudaval Gupta (Dr.) and Others Vs. The state of Maharashtra, (2010) 13 SCC 657, in which the honourable Supreme Court did not accept the testimony of witnesses to the prosecution because of changes in the deposition of witnesses.
In Arjun and Ors vs the State of Rajasthan, AIR 1994 SC 2507, The Hon’ble Court held that the evidence was not automatically demolished by a little difference or change. A little inconsistency or improvement does not necessarily demolish the testimony. Trivial differences, as is well known, should be ignored. Under circumstantial variety, the usual nature of human testimony is substantially true. Likewise, innocent omissions are inconsequential.
A statement under Section 161 CrPC is not a substantial part of evidence as stated in Rajendra Singh vs. State of U.P. and Anr on 6 August 2007 7 SCC 378,
Facts of the case: A special leave petition is filed by respondent no.2 Kapil dev Singh, a petitioner under Section 482 CrPC in Allahabad High Court summoning him to face trial under Section 302 was set aside. He has been charged with triple Murder of Family members of Nigam Singh after this charge sheet was submitted and along with four-person Kapil dev Singh was put on trial.
High Court Decision relevant to section 161 CrPC: the statements recorded by investigating officers under section 161 of CrPC to record a positive finding that the respondent could not be present at the scene of the commission of a crime and he was present at the meeting of Nagar Nigam at Allahabad. A statement under section 161 of CrPC is not a substantive piece of evidence. In view of the proviso to subsection (1) of Section 162 CrPC, the statement can be used only for the limited purpose of contradicting the maker thereof in the manner laid down in the said proviso. Therefore, the High Court committed a manifest error of law in relying upon wholly inadmissible evidence in recording a finding that Kapil Dev Singh could not have been present at the scene of the commission of the crime. “A statement pursuant to Section 161 CrPC is not concrete evidence. Given the provisions of Section 162(1) CrPC, the said statement can only be used for the specific purpose of contradicting the creator thereof in the manner set out in that provision”. The High Court, therefore, committed a gross error of law in relying on entirely inadmissible facts to report a judgment that accused respondent 2 Kapil dev Singh may not have been present at the crime scene.
Section 162 CrPC the use of statements in evidence which explains that when a witness is summoned for the prosecution of an investigation or trial, the evidence is reduced to the statement. if duly proven, are used by the accused, with the permission of the Court, and by the prosecution to contradict the witness in the manner provided for in Section 145 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and any part of that statement shall be used by the prosecution.
In Baldev Singh vs the State Of Punjab, AIR 1991 SC 31, it was pointed out that the statement reported under Section 161 of the CrPC shall not be used for any reason except to refute a witness in Section 145 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 manner specified in Section 162(1) and that the first information report is not a significant piece of evidence.
In this case, Golla Jalla Reddy v. The State of A.P. 25 April 1996, a copy of the statement of the witness was furnished to the accused. There were material omissions in it as compared to statements made under section 161 of the CrPC. It was held that defence was entitled to bring those material omissions on record and rely on the same.
In this case, Amrik Singh v. The State of Punjab on 17 March 2009, the appellant was tried along with three other accused of causing the death of Manna Singh. The trial Court acquitted the other accused. There was evidence by three prosecution witnesses that the appellant had given a gunshot blow to Manna Singh on his chest which proved to be fatal; the council contended for the appellant that the three eyewitnesses had not specifically stated before the police when the statements recorded under section 161, CrPC that Amrik Singh has given a fatal blow.
Section 162 states that under this section only witnesses on behalf of the prosecution could be contradicted by reference to their statements made to the Police, and not court witnesses or defence witnesses.
Facts of the case: Srimati Avinash Kaur wanted to utilize the statement recorded by the police under S. 161, CrPC for cross-examining the complainant and his witnesses. Issues in the case: The only other point which remains for consideration is whether it is the duty of the Magistrate or of the complainant to furnish to the accused copies of documents referred to in Section 173 (4), in the present case, copies of statements of witnesses were recorded under Section 161, CrPC, before the commencement of the trial.
Judgment: On reading Sections 173 and Section 251-A, and also other sections of Chapter XXI, CrPC, it must be held that in cases started otherwise than on a police report it is not the duty of the Magistrate to satisfy himself before the commencement of the trial that copies of the statements of witnesses recorded under Section 161, CrPC have been furnished to the accused nor can the holding of such trial be postponed till copies have been supplied to or received by the accused persons. It shall be for the accused to apply for copies of statements recorded under Section 161 of CrPC to enable him to cross-examine the complainant and his witnesses with reference to earlier statements contained therein. As it is the primary duty of the Courts of law to administer justice in a manner as not to prejudice the interest of the accused, the Magistrate shall have to fix a date for the cross-examination of the complainant and his witnesses such that the accused is able to obtain before-hand copies of the statements recorded under Section 161 of CrPC.
The court held, according to section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the accused was not authorised to use the statements from witnesses made by the police as required by law. Let the record be submitted and a rule issue on the Magistrate to show cause why the conviction and penalty should not be set aside, or it might seem appropriate to pass such an order as to this Court. Furthermore, the District Magistrate would be asked to give, with the record, the police diaries bearing on this matter, and to disclose whether, in addition to those diaries, there is some other record not represented therein, which was made of statements taken from the witnesses in this case by the police officers. Further still pending, the records have been forwarded to us, and we have checked them. While they are in a special diary form, among other items, we find these records containing the correct sections of a special diary taken under Section 172, statements provided by the witnesses, and taken down by the Inspector. Section 161 allows for the approval of declarations. The inspector does not accept the declaration.
It was observed in Dinesh Dalmia v. C.B.I. in 2007; that a charge-sheet is a final report within the meaning of Section 173(2). It is filed in order to allow the court to decide whether it should be taken into account whether the investigating officer considers appropriate proof against an accused who had been absconding, the law does not require the filing of the charge-sheet to wait for the accused to be arrested.
Once the final report has been submitted if the Magistrate has taken cognizance of the offence, further inquiry may be conducted even after cognizance. The statutory right to be released on bail is only available until inquiry and after cognizance, further investigation can be pursued. There is just the constitutional right to be released on bail before the investigation is ongoing. When the charge-sheet is filed, the right gets lost and is not restored as further investigation is pending.
Judgement by Supreme Court of India: To order an inquiry under Section 156(3) of the Code, the Magistrate shall not be permitted to take notice of this offence. Such reports shall be made solely on the basis of a petition obtained from the Judge that contains a police report of such details or knowledge collected from someone other than the policeman.
Section 190 of Subsection 2 in Chapter XIV sets out how the defendant is to be handled and the Magistrate may either examine the case itself or order an investigation to be undertaken before a police officer completes the proceedings.
In compliance with Section 156(3) CrPC, the Magistrate may refer an inquiry to the police authorities both under Section 202 CrPC. The only difference is the point at which can activate the above-mentioned powers. The Police inquiries are at the level of precognition, whereas the powers under Section 202 to perform a similar inquiry are at the level of post cognition.
Finally, as the Code was adopted, the report submitted by the Police according to Section 173 was controversial. This article analysed the section related to the police report under CrPC. It was seen that while the final report is considered conclusive because it represents the conclusion of the inquiry, the police do have a constitutional right to re-investigate the matter when any new evidence comes to light. The courts have learned to hold that the judiciary does not intervene with those freedoms. The Courts have also warned, however, that re-investigation can not be perceived as a routine affair. At the same time, a series of judicial declarations are made that the final report is not bound by the magistrate and may vary validly. The Code has sought to strike a balance among the forces of the police, in the interests of justice and the criminal courts.
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