Investigation and chargesheet form the genesis of the Criminal Trial.
Chargesheet is the outcome of investigation. Under Section 157 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure, the procedure of investigation in criminal cases has been
incorporated. It requires the intimation of information to the police officer on
the commission of a crime.
Before the commencement of the investigation, the
police officer has to satisfy himself about certain grounds. If the grounds are
present, the investigation shall be begun with. What is the procedure followed
by the police while investigating a criminal case? Let's take a look –-
The procedure elaborated below is the one for cognizable offences. The
investigation includes all the procedures which are done by the police officer
under the Code for the collection of evidence. The investigation may be
conducted by a police officer who has been assigned the case.
The Magistrate can
also authorize any other person to conduct the investigation on his behalf. The
police on registration of FIR shall upon perusal of the facts of the case decide
the line of investigation i.e whether there is circumstantial evidence or
Circumstantial evidence is the something which is a chain of
circumstances that lead to the crime for example previous animosity, threats,
last seen theory. It is basically connection of various circumstances to the
crime. On the other hand eyewitnesses are those who have seen the incident take
Three types of reports are required to be prepared at three different
stages of investigation are as follows:
A preliminary report from the officer-in-charge of a police station to
the Magistrate under Section 157.
Section 168 requires the submission of a report from a subordinate
officer to the officer-in-charge of the station.
Section 173 requires a final report to be submitted to the Magistrate as
soon as the investigation is completed.
The investigation of a case begins after the preliminary report is submitted by
the police officer to the Magistrate.
Sending Report To The Magistrate:
The report which is sent to the Magistrate is defined as the police report.
It is forwarded by the Police Officer to the Magistrate. This is the
Preliminary Report which informs the Magistrate that the police officer
shall be investigating that particular case.
Section 158 of the Code of Criminal Procedure speaks about the submission of
the report to the Magistrate. It is done so that the Magistrate is able to
control the investigation process and give any directions under Section 159
of the Code of Criminal Procedure if necessary. The directions were the
instructions given to the Police Officer for conducting the investigation.
If the police officer is not pursuing the investigation further, this has to
be mentioned in the report which is to be sent to the magistrate.
Report To Be Sent Without Any Delay
The Report needs to be sent to the magistrate without any delay. In Nalli v.
State, the Madras High Court had to acquit a person accused of murder on the
grounds that an unexplained and inordinate delay was there in dispatching
the first information report to the Magistrate however the Hon'ble Supreme Court
in Ombir Singh V. State of Uttar Pradesh and Another on 26/5/2020 has held that
mere delay in forwarding FIR to Magistrate by itself is not a ground to acquit
the accused. The report has to be sent in a reasonable amount of time i.e 24
The use of the term forthwith in Section 157(1) was explained by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in
Alla China Apparao v. State of Andhra Pradesh stating
that the expression forthwith would undoubtedly mean within a reasonable time
and without unreasonable day. If any delay is being caused in sending the
report, it should be explained properly citing the reasons for the same.
Order Of Investigation By The Magistrate
Under Section 159 of the Code, the Magistrate has been given the powers to
direct an investigation into the case. If on receiving the report, the
Magistrate thinks fit that it is necessary to conduct an investigation, he shall
direct a subordinate magistrate to conduct a preliminary inquiry.
The magistrate can also off the case in the manner provided by the Code if
sufficient grounds are not present.
However, the Magistrate has not been empowered to stop an investigation, after
the commencement of the same. In S.N. Sharma v. Bipen Kumar, it was held by the
Supreme Court that the Magistrate has no power to stop the investigation and
direct magisterial inquiry.
Investigation in a country or place outside India (Section 166A)
In the course of an investigation of an offence, it is required that the
investigation or search has to be carried out in a country or a place outside
India. For doing so, an application of request can be made by the investigating
officer, and any Criminal Court may issue a letter of request to the Court or
any authority of that country.
1. Procedure Relating to Accused
The Procedure Relating to Accused is mentioned in Section 41 in The Code Of
Criminal Procedure, 1973 it states when police may arrest without warrant.
who has been concerned in any cognizable offence, or against whom a
reasonable complaint has been made, or credible information has been
received, or a reasonable suspicion exists, of his having been so concerned;
who has in his possession without lawful excuse, the burden of proving
which excuse shall lie on such person, any implement of house- breaking; or
who has been proclaimed as an offender either under this Code or by
order of the State Government; or
in whose possession anything is found which may reasonably be suspected
to be stolen property and who may reasonably be suspected of having
committed an offence with reference to such thing; or
who obstructs a police officer while in the execution of his duty, or
who has escaped, or attempts to escape, from lawful custody; or
who is reasonably suspected of being a deserter from any of the Armed
Forces of the Union; or
who has been concerned in, or against whom a reasonable complaint has
been made, or credible information has been received, or a reasonable
suspicion exists, of his having been concerned in, any act committed at any
place out of India which, if committed in India, would have been punishable
as an offence, and for which he is, under any law relating to extradition,
or otherwise, liable to be apprehended or detained in custody in India; or
who, being a released convict, commits a breach of any rule made under
sub- section (5) of section 356; or
for whose arrest any requisition, whether written or oral, has been
received from another police officer, provided that the requisition
specifies the person to be arrested and the offence or other cause for which
the arrest is to be made and it appears therefrom that the person might lawfully be arrested without a
warrant by the officer who issued the requisition.
Any officer in charge of a police station may, in like manner, arrest
or cause to be arrested any person, belonging to one or more of the categories
of persons specified in section 109 or section 110.
41A. Notice of appearance before police officer:
The police officer shall], in all cases where the arrest of a person is not
required under the provisions of sub-section (1) of section 41, issue a notice
directing the person against whom a reasonable complaint has been made, or
credible information has been received, or a reasonable suspicion exists that he
has committed a cognizable offence, to appear before him or at such other place
as may be specified in the notice.
(2) Where such a notice is issued to any person, it shall be the duty of that
person to comply with the terms of the notice.
(3) Where such person complies and continues to comply with the notice, he
shall not be arrested in respect of the offence referred to in the notice
unless, for reasons to be recorded, the police officer is of the opinion that he
ought to be arrested.
(4) Where such person, at any time, fails to comply with the terms of the notice
or is unwilling to identify himself, the police officer may, subject to such
orders as may have been passed by a competent Court in this behalf, arrest him
for the offence mentioned in the notice.
Procedure when the investigation is not complete within twenty-four hours
Section 57 of the Criminal Procedure Code requires that no person shall be
detained in custody without a warrant after the completion of twenty-four hours.
So, what happens after this twenty-four-hour period is over?
Under section 167 of the Code, provisions have been made when the investigation
is not complete. This is done only if it is believed that there are reasonable
grounds for his accusation, and the investigation is still incomplete. The
investigating officer shall forward a copy of the diary entries and also the
accused to the Judicial Magistrate after the twenty-hour period gets over.
The main objective behind producing the accused before the Magistrate is to
validate the action of remand by him. It is to show that remand is necessary for
the accused. And, also for providing an opportunity to the accused to contradict
the grounds on which the police is asking for remand.
The Magistrate needs to exercise his mind judicially while giving remand to the
The investigation has to be completed within a period of ninety days or sixty
days, otherwise, the accused shall be released on bail under the proviso to
Section 167(2) of the Code.
4. Procedure relating to witnesses
Attendance of witnesses
The police officer who is pursuing the investigation is empowered to require the
attendance of the witnesses. The witnesses shall be such who are acquainted with
the facts and circumstances of the case. The powers have been conferred
under Section 160 of the Code.
The provisions of Section 160 of the Code explicitly mention that no male below
fifteen years or a woman shall be called to attend at any other place than the
place where she resides.
The non-compliance of summons under Section 160 of the Code is punishable
under Section 174 of the Code.
The person who is required to appear when served
summons does not do so shall be liable to simple imprisonment up to one month or
with a fine up to INR 500 or both. The section only requires the attendance of
the witnesses and furnishing of relevant information about them. The police
officer cannot insist upon the witnesses for the production of documents before
him. The order which requires the attendance of a person needs to be in written
Examination of witnesses
The most crucial part of the investigation lies in the examination of witnesses.
The statement made by them can hold a person guilty. The police officer who is
investigating the case has been empowered to conduct witness examination. The
witnesses are bound to answer the questions which are related to the case
truly. Section 161 lays down the procedure for the examination of witnesses by
The investigating officer shall examine the persons who are
acquainted with the facts of the case. It is the duty of the investigating
officer to record the statements of the eyewitnesses without any delay. After
examining the witnesses, it is required by the police officer to write down the
statement made by the witness.There should be no delay on the part of the police
officer investigating the case in examining the witnesses.
In the event of a
delay of the examination of the witness, the onus lies on the investigating
officer for explaining the reasons for the delay. In a case before the Hon'ble
Supreme Court, there was an unexplained delay for ten days, and there were some
contradictions as well, the Supreme Court was of the opinion that evidence
became suspect owing to the delay.
Whereas, when the delay has been properly explained, it does not have any
adverse impact upon the probable value of a particular witness.
The police officer while examining the witnesses is not bound to reduce the
statements made into writing.
It is preferred that the statements should be written or the substance of the
whole examination should be written down at least.
The recorded statements are required to be noted down in the case diary
maintained under Section 172 of the Code.
Statements to the police not to be signed
The statements which are made by the witnesses during the examination needs to
be signed by the witness who is making such a statement. The statements so made
shall not be used for any other purpose.
Statements made under Section 161 can be used for contradiction
Section 161 of the Code requires the person who is acquainted with the facts of
the case to make statements to the police.
Such statements can be used for the purpose of contradiction by the Prosecution
or the Accused. For example, if a witness in court says:
I saw Mahesh running
with a knife covered in blood from her home, this statement can be contradicted
by the statement, I did not see Mahesh running with a knife covered in blood
from her home.
Recording of the statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C
Section 164 of the Code envisages the provisions for the recording of statements
in the presence of a Magistrate. The confession has to be recorded in the course
of the investigation. No confession shall be recorded by a police officer.
Warning to the accused or the person making a confession
Before recording the confession, it has to be explained to the person making the
confession that he is not bound to make a confession. And, if he does so, it can
be used as evidence against him as well. The statement made by a person should
be recorded with his consent and voluntarily. It is a statutory obligation which
is imposed by the Code on the Magistrate to make the accused aware of his
Also, a person cannot be kept in custody if before recording the statement, he
states that he does not want to do so.
Recording of the statement when the Magistrate does not have jurisdiction
The Magistrate may record a statement of the witness even if he does not have
jurisdiction in the case. The Magistrate who recorded this confession shall
forward the same to the Magistrate by whom the case is to be inquired.
The authority of recording confessions is exclusively vested with the Judicial
Magistrate under the Code.
Furthermore, the confessions which are recorded under this Section must be in
the course of an investigation.
Signature of the accused on the confession
The confession which has been made by the accused should be duly signed by him.
If the confession has not been signed, it is not admissible in evidence. It is
absolutely mandatory to obtain the signature of the accused.
A confession under this section should be made either in the course of the
investigation or before the commencement of inquiry or trial.
What happens if the confession is made to an unauthorized person?
In Sasi v. State of Kerala, it was held by the Supreme Court that it is not
necessary to make a confession before an authorized person only. The Supreme
Court had said, Any person to whom a confession has been made can give evidence
of it in the court regarding the confession. Also, if it is made to such a
person, the court has to look after this. The court needs to see that the person
before whom such a confession is being made can be believed or not.
Recovery And Search
Search to be conducted by the police officer
A police officer or the investigating officer has been empowered under section
165 of the Code to search the premises whenever he feels necessary or has
reasonable grounds to believe the same. The investigating officer or the
officer-in-charge conducts the search when he believes that there are sufficient
or reasonable grounds to pursue the same. The search is conducted when there is
an absolute necessity for the same.
Section 93(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides for the grounds under
which a warrant for search shall be issued. Moreover, the search has to recorded
in the diary otherwise it becomes illegal.
Procedure for search
The investigating officer would go to the locality where the offence was
committed and get two people called the ‘Panchas'. The evidence given by the Panchas is of paramount importance. They sign a document called
the Panchnama which contains the evidence collected out of the search. It is
signed by them which validates the search and the procedure adopted during the
What does Panchnama mean?
Panchnama has not been defined anywhere in the law. However, it is a document
which holds great value in criminal cases. The Panchnama states things which
were found at a particular place and at a particular time. Not only the Criminal
Courts but also the Civil Courts use it.
After this, a memorandum of the search is prepared by the investigating officer
or the officer-in-charge. It needs to be submitted to the Magistrate.
The police officer-in-charge or the investigating officer who has a valid
warrant is to be allowed to conduct the search of a place. Force may be used if
he is not allowed to do so. The search is not just only of the premises but also
of a person. If it is a female, a female officer shall search her with utmost
The search of the closed place or of a person has to be made before two
respectable persons of the society. These respectable persons are known as the
‘Panchas'. They need to sign the document validating the search. However, the Panchas need not necessarily be called as witnesses.
A search of a place entered by a person who is sought to be arrested
Under Section 47 of the Code, the search of a place can be conducted by the
police when they have to arrest a person. The police can break in and enter if
they are not being allowed in the place. There is also an allowance for no-knock break-in to take place: this is done to take the person by surprise.
A search memo is prepared by the officer which needs to be sent to the
Magistrate. The same memo is sent by the Magistrate to the owner of the occupier
of the place.
A subordinate officer may be appointed in the place of the officer who is unable
to conduct the search in person. The police officer needs to record his reasons
for not being able to conduct the search in writing.
Moreover, proper reasons shall be recorded for conducting the search. This means
that the police officer should be satisfied that there is a need for conducting
a search to further the investigation. The basic objective of conducting a
search is to find evidence which may help in solving the case.
The Exclusionary Rule
The exclusionary rule of evidence states that the things which are found out of
an illegal search are not admissible in evidence. This is a principle of US
jurisprudence found in the case of Silverthrone Lumber Co. v. USA. In India,
such a rule is not applicable. One needs to show that the search was unjust in
nature to find the application of this rule.
In Pooran Mal v. Dy. Of Inspections, it was however held by the court that:
Any statute can call for search and seizure to be conducted, as long as it
broadly follows the principles as laid down in the CrPC. It was also said that
the findings of a search and seizure cannot be held as inadmissible merely on
the ground of the illegality of the search and seizure. Also, the court held
that if there are some materials acquired during the search which are useless,
this doesn't mean the entire evidence is inadmissible. There is no
constitutional principles or fundamental rights interpretation which gives for
the exclusion of evidence.
Production of documents or other things
Section 91 of the Code of Criminal Procedure states that whenever a Court or the
officer-in-charge of a police station feels that a document or some other thing
is necessary for the purpose of the investigation, such Court may issue summon
or the officer may in writing, order the person in whose possession the document
is to be produced. The document shall be produced at the date and time specified
in the summons served to the person. This section does not apply to a person who
is accused and on trial.
The Court cannot issue a summons for the production of a document or a thing by
the accused. This is because it will become self-incrimination under Article
20(3) of the Constitution of India.
In fact, documents which are not a part of the charge-sheet can also be received
in evidence for prosecution after the commencement of the trial. This was
observed by the Karnataka High Court in a petition filed by an accused in the
case of BL Udaykumar v. State of Karnataka.
The documents which are required to be produced under this Section shall be the
ones which form the subject matter of the criminal offence.
In H.H. The Nizam of Hyderabad v. A.M Jacob, it was held by the Calcutta High
Court that the document which is needed to be produced must have some relation
to, or connection with, the subject-matter of the investigation or inquiry, or
throw some light on the proceedings, or supply some link in the chain of
Under section 92 of the Code, if a document or other thing or a parcel is in the
custody of a postal or telegraph authority, and the Magistrate whether Judicial
or Executive, any of the Courts wanted that that document for the purpose of
investigation, such Magistrate or the Court may order the authority to produce
the document before them.
Report to be filed before the Magistrate after completion of the investigation
Section 173 of the Code requires the investigating officer to file a report
before the Magistrate after the collection of evidence and examination of
witnesses are done with. This section requires that each and every investigation
shall be completed without any unnecessary delay.
Section 173(2) requires the:
the names of the parties;
the nature of the information;
the names of the persons who appear to be acquainted with the
circumstances of the case;
whether any offence appears to have been committed and, if so, by whom;
whether the accused has been arrested;
whether he has been released on his bond, and if so, whether with or
whether he has been forwarded in custody under section 170 to be
submitted in the closure report before the Magistrate.
The report under section 173 is called as the Completion Report. Also known as
the charge sheet. Sending such a report is extremely necessary and mandatory.
In the report, the officer also needs to communicate the action which shall be
taken by him.
The final report will be of two kinds:
Charge Sheet/Final Report
Closure report is the one in which it is stated that there is not enough
evidence to prove that the offence has been committed by the accused. Once the
closure report is filed before the Magistrate, he may accept and the report the
case as closed, direct a further investigation into the case, issue a notice to
the first informant as he is the only person who can challenge the report or he
may directly reject the closure and take cognizance of the case.
The report under Section 169 of the Code can be referred to as the Closure
Charge Sheet What is a Charge Sheet?
A charge sheet is a final report prepared by the investigation or law
enforcement agencies for proving the accusation of a crime in a criminal court
of law. The report is basically submitted by the police officer in order to
prove that the accused is connected with any offence or has committed any
offence punishable under any penal statute having effect in India. The report
entails and embodies all the stringent records right from the commencement of
investigation procedure of lodging an FIR to till the completion of
investigation and preparation of final report. Section 173 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure, 1973 provides for report of the police officer. Filing of
the Charge-Sheet indicates the end of investigation.
Contents of a Charge-Sheet Section 173 (2) prescribes the details which need to be mentioned in a
charge-sheet and they are as under:
the names of the parties;
the nature of the information;
the names of the persons who appear to be acquainted with the
circumstances of the case;
whether any offence appears to have been committed and, if so, by whom;
whether the accused has been arrested;
whether he has been released on his bond and, if so, weather with or
whether he has been forwarded in custody under section 170.
Purpose of a Charge-sheet
The purpose of a charge-sheet is to notify a person of criminal charges being
issued against them. After the charge-sheet is filed, the person against whom
the charge-sheet has been filed comes to be known as an accused. The filing of
charge-sheet with the magistrate indicates commencement of criminal proceedings.
By Whom and Before Whom can a Charge-sheet be filed? The Officer-in-Charge of the police station which conducts the investigation
files the charge-sheet before the magistrate who has jurisdiction to take
cognizance of the matter.
The Magistrate cannot take cognizance of a crime before filing of a
charge-sheet. In R.R. Chari v. State of U.P, it was observed that taking
cognizance refers to the application of judicial mind before the court. This
means that before the charge-sheet is filed, the Magistrate cannot form an
opinion as to the guilt or otherwise of the accused.
Time-Period for filing charge-sheet
In cases where the offence is punishable with imprisonment of less than 10
years, the final report u/s 173 shall be filed by the investigation agency
within 60 days and in cases where the offence recorded to have been committed is
punishable with imprisonment for more than 10 years, life imprisonment or death
penalty, the investigation agency, in such matters, have to file their report
within 90 days from the date of the FIR being registered.
At What Stage Can a Charge Sheet be filed and Further Investigation
As mentioned earlier, a charge-sheet is ordinarily filed as a final report after
the investigation is over. However, this was creating problems as the police
often found further evidence after the filing of charge-sheet, but the courts
were reluctant to accept the same once they took cognizance of the matter.
Therefore, the need for amendment was felt and Section 173 (8) was introduced,
which enabled the investigating agency to file further investigation.
In J. Jayalalitha v. State, the Court held as follows:
Section 173(8) of Code of Criminal Procedure empowers the prosecution to further
investigate into the matter in respect of any offence, even after filing a
report under Section 173(2) of Code of Criminal Procedure and to file a further
report or reports regarding such evidence; and in which event the procedure
provided under Section 173(2) to (6) shall apply again.
However, in Ram Lal Narang v, State, Delhi Administration it was held that the
only requirement under Section 173 (8) is that the police officer inform the
court and seek its permission before embarking on further investigation.
Moreover, in Bhagwant Singh v. Commissioner of Police & Anr., the court also
observed that even after filing of the charge-sheet, if the court is not
satisfied, the Magistrate may order for further investigation.
In fact in Kishan Lal v. Dharmendra Bafna, the court also observed that the
order for further investigation may be made at various stages, including the
stage of trial.
But the courts have also opined very often that the provision only permits a
further investigation and must not be construed to be allowing a
Status of Statements/Confessions mentioned in a Charge-sheet
Section 161 of the Cr.P.C. empowers the investigating agency to record
statements of the witnesses. Though it is not mandatory to record such
statements, however, if any statement has been recorded, the police officer is
obliged to mention the same in the charge-sheet.
However, these statements
cannot be used to conclude whether a person is guilty of the offence or not.
The statements are admissible before the Court not as evidence for prosecution,
but only for contradicting the statements made by the witnesses during
cross-examination and to establish that it is a hostile witness. (Jayalakshmi v.
State of Kerala)
Similarly, if a magistrate records statement of the accused under Section 164
Cr.P.C, there should be mention of same in the charge-sheet. (Patiram v. State
Process After Filing a Charge-Sheet
The report may conclude that an offence appears to have been committed by a
particular person or persons and in such a case, the Magistrate may do one of
he may accept the report and take cognizance of the offence and issue
he may disagree with the report and drop the proceeding or,
he may direct further investigation under sub- section (3) of Section
The investigation process involved in criminal cases is extremely thorough. It
involves a lot of procedures which need to be followed with due diligence. One
mistake, and it can lead to the acquittal of an offender. The police leave no
stones unturned while investigating the case. The investigation starts from the
cognizance of the offence to the filing of the report under section 173 before
the Magistrate. The guilty will get convicted after his Trial gets over and the
Court finds proof that he committed the offence.
Message from the author of the article Ms.Swapana Pramod Kode