Information to the Police and their Power to Investigate

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Information to the Police and their Powers to Investigate

Chapter XII of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C.) deals with the Information to the Police and their Powers to Investigate. Such powers are related to all cognizable and non-cognizable matters as well as matters related to suicide, killed by animals or accidents etc. All the powers of police are inherent and are not to have encroached through any means. In the case of S.N. Basak,[1] it was held that the statutory right of the police to carry on an investigation under this chapter before a prosecution is launched, cannot be interfered with by the Courts either under section 401 (High Court’s power of revision) or 482 (Saving of inherent power of High Court) of the code.

Information in case of Cognizable Offence

Section 154 of the Code requires that every information regarding the commission of any cognizable offence is to be reduced to writing either by the police officer-in-charge or under his direction. All such information is written shall be read over to and be signed by the person giving it. The information which is reduced to writing is known as ‘first information’. ‘First Information Report, is not mentioned in the Cr.P.C., but these words are understood to mean information recorded under this section.[2] The main object of the first information report is to set the criminal law in the motion and to set the investigation process in reference to the alleged offence. The FIR is an essential piece of any criminal trial in order to corroborate the evidence. The object of insisting upon the prompt lodging of the FIR is to obtain prior information regarding the circumstances in which crime was committed, the name of actual culprits and the part played by them as well as the names of eye-witnesses.[3]

FIR is a primary information received by the police regarding the commission of the alleged crime. It should not be considered as substantive evidence and it can be used to corroborate the previous statement made by the person making such FIR.  But the Court has to consider other evidence for deciding whether the case should stand or fall.[4]

The first proviso to the section provides any information given by any woman in relation to any specified offences is required to be recorded by a woman police officer or woman officer. The second proviso lays down that any offence which is specified in the first proviso is alleged to be committed against the person who is either mentally or physically disabled is to be recorded by the police officer at the residence of such person or at any other place convenient to such person in presence of an interpreter or a special educator. It is further provided that all such information shall be videographed and the police officer gets the statement to be recorded by the Magistrate.

Investigation of Cognizable Offences

Section 156 of the Cr.P.C. empowers the police officer to investigate a cognizable case without the order of the Magistrate. The police officer can investigate the case only where the Court has the jurisdiction over the local areas.

Information in case of Non-Cognizable Offence

Section 155 of the Code deals with the information in case of non-cognizable offences and their investigation. All the information received under this section will be recorded by the police officer in charge and will be entered in such books as may be prescribed by the State Government. According to section 155 (2), a police officer is not permitted to investigate a case relating to the non-cognizable offence without the order of the Magistrate who has the power to try such cases. A police officer acquires the power to investigate as soon as he receives the order and can exercise the investigating power same as he exercises in any cognizable matter. However, no police officer has the power to arrest any person in the non-cognizable offence unless he has the warrant to arrest. Further, as per section 155 (4) if any case involves 2 or more offences and among all, if one is the cognizable offence, the entire case shall be deemed to be a cognizable case. No defence would lie on such cases mere on the basis that other are non-cognizable offence and the police officer will have the power to investigate the manner as prescribed for the cognizable offence.

Procedure for Investigation

Section 157 of the Code establishes the procedure to be followed for investigation. The section requires that immediate intimation of every complaint or information referred to an officer in charge of a police station of the commission of a cognizable offence shall be sent to the Magistrate having jurisdiction.[5] A police officer as soon as he receives information or has reasons to suspect the commission of any cognizable offence is required to report the Magistrate who has the jurisdiction to try such cases. The Magistrate is empowered to take the cognizance of such offence and order to any subordinate officer to investigate the spot, facts and circumstances of the case and take necessary measures for the discovery and the arrest of the accused. The report is sent to the Magistrate as to keep him abreast of the investigation so he may give appropriate directions. Section 157 requires a police officer to ‘forthwith a report’ which signifies that the report has to be sent without any unreasonable delay. Delay does not render the case doubtful but would put the Court on guard.

This section initiates the investigation. The investigation includes all proceedings under the Code for the collection of evidence conducted by a police officer or by any person other than a Magistrate, who is authorized by the Magistrate in this behalf.[6] In Kari Chaudhary v. Sita Devi,[7] it was held that the object of investigation is to find out whether the alleged offence has in fact been committed, and, if so, who have committed them. However, where there is the commission of any offence which is not of serious nature there is no need to proceed with the investigation on the spot. Also, where it appears to the police officer that there no sufficient reason for the investigation, he shall not proceed with it. All such information is required to be mentioned by the police officer furnishing the report that he will not conduct any investigation.

Further, in case of rape offence, the recording of the statement of the victim shall be recorded by a woman police officer. All such statements shall be recorded at the residence of the victim or the place of her choice and in the presence of his parents or guardian or near relatives or social worker.

Powers of Police Officers

Attendance of witness:

Section 160 of the Cr.P.C. empowers the police officer to require the attendance of witnesses who are within the jurisdiction of such police station. However, where the male person is below the age of 15 years or above the age of 65 years or woman or physically or mentally infirm person, the attendance of such person will be required at his place where he resides.

Examination of witness

As per section 161 of the Code the police officer who has the power to investigate will examine the witness and reduce their statements in writing. This section also empowers to record the stamen in audio-visual electronic means. Moreover, a woman police officer is required to record the statement of the woman against whom an offence is committed.

Preparation of charge sheet

A police officer is empowered to submit a charge sheet post investigation. It includes a copy of FIR, statement of the complainant, witnesses, panchnama, dying declaration etc.

Other powers of a police officer

  1. Police are empowered to extend the custody of the accused up to 15 days when the investigation is not completed within 24 hours.
  2. This custody could be increased beyond 15 days with the permission of Magistrate if there are sufficient grounds. However, no custody would increase beyond 90 days in a case where the offence is punishable with death or life imprisonment or 10 years imprisonment and 60 days in any other offence.
  3. To make the medical examination of a rape victim.

Powers of Police in England

The police officers in England derive their powers from the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, 1984 and Police Act, 1996. All powers of police officers are given to constables. Such constables have the power to enter and search any premise of the person who is arrested for an indictable offence. Indictable offence implies offence of serious nature. The main power which is available to constable is the seizure of the property where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the seizure is necessary in order to protect the property from being lost, damage, concealed, and destroyed. The constables are also empowered to detain a person either with or without arrest.

Powers of Police in France

The French Code of Criminal Procedure authorizes the police officer to arrest a person for a specified time. Such a police officer must have reasonable reasons to believe that the person arrested has committed or attempted to commit a criminal offence. ‘garde a vue’ is the French name for police custody. A person arrested and can be detained for 24 hours and for 48 hours in serious offences or organized crimes like drug trafficking.

 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What are the powers of the police in cognizable offences?

Section 156 of the Cr.P.C. provides all powers to police to investigate cognizable offences. According to this section, a police officer is entitled to investigate the cognizable offences without the order of Magistrate. The section also immunes the police officer by prohibiting any proceedings to be called in question on the ground that such police officer exceeded or was forbidden to exercise such power under the section.

  1. What are the powers of the police in non cognizable offences?

The powers of the police in non cognizable offences are limited as a comparison to powers in cognizable offences. A police officer is not entitled to investigate a non cognizable offence without the order of Magistrate. A police officer is required to obtain an order in order to investigate a non cognizable offence. As soon as the order to investigate is received, the police acquire the same power to investigate a cognizable offence. However, no arrest can be made by a police officer without a warrant in the non-cognizable offence.

  1. What is the procedure to investigate under Cr.P.C.?

Section 157 deals with the procedure to investigate. A procedure to investigate starts after the intimation to the police. Where a police officer receives information regarding the commission of any cognizable offence, he is required to report the same to the Magistrate. A Magistrate is empowered to take the cognizance of such offence. However, where the information is received of the commission of any offence not serious in nature a police officer is not required to proceed with the investigation on spot.   Moreover, in rape cases, the statement of the victim will be recorded by a woman police officer.

[References]

[1] S.N. Basak, AIR 1963 SC 447.

[2] Manimohan Ghosh, (1931) 58 Cal 1312.

[3] Meghaji Godadji Thakore v. the State of Gujrat, 1993 Cr LJ 730 (Guj).

[4] Kanik Lal Thakur v. the State of Bihar,  

[5] Om Prakash v. State of New Delhi, AIR 1974 SC 1983:1974 Cr LJ 1383.

[6] Manimohan Ghosh, (1931)58 Cal 1312.

[7] Kari Chaudhary v. Sita Devi, (2002) 1 SCC 714: AIR 2002 SC 441.

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