What is further investigation? What is its need?

Accordingly, in the Criminal Procedure Code 1973 a new provision, under Section 173(8), was introduced and it says: “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)”.

Anyone acquainted with the day today working of the criminal courts will be alive to the practical necessity of the police possessing the power to make further investigation and submit a supplemental report. It is in the interests of both the prosecution and the defence that the police should have such power.

It is easy to visualise a case where fresh material may come to light which would implicate persons not previously accused or absolve persons already accused. When it comes to the notice of the investigating agency that a person already accused of an offence has a good alibi, is it not the duty of that agency to investigate the genuineness of the plea of alibi and submit a report to the Magistrate ? After all the investigating agency has greater resources at its command than a private individual.

Similarly, where the involvement of persons who are not already accused comes to the notice of the investigating agency, the investigating agency cannot keep quiet and refuse to investigate the fresh information. It is their duty to investigate and submit a report to the Magistrate upon the involvement of the other persons.

In either case, it is for the Magistrate to decide upon his future course of action depending upon the stage at which the case is before him. If he has already taken cognizance of the offence, but has not proceeded with the enquiry or trial, he may direct the issue of process to persons freshly discovered to be involved and deal with all the accused, in a single enquiry or trial. If the case of which he has previously taken cognizance has already proceeded to some extent, he may take fresh cognizance of the offence disclosed against the newly involved accused and proceed with the case as a separate case. What action a Magistrate is to take in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure in such situations is a matter best left to the discretion of the Magistrate.

The criticism that a further investigation by the police would trench upon the proceedings before the Court is really not of very great substance, since whatever the police may do, the final discretion in regard to further action is with the Magistrate. That the final word is with the Magistrate is sufficient safeguard against any excessive use or abuse of the power of the police to make further investigation. It should not, however, be understood to say that the police should ignore the pendency of a proceeding before a Court and investigate every fresh fact that comes to light as if no cognizance had been taken by the Court of any offence.

In the interests of the independence of the magistracy and the judiciary, in the interests of the purity of the administration of criminal justice and in the interests of the comity of the various agencies and institutions entrusted with different stages of such administration, it would ordinarily be desirable that the police should inform the Court and seek formal permission to make further investigation when fresh facts come to light.

What is the difference between “Further and Re investigation” ?

It may be that in a given situation a superior court in exercise of its constitutional power, namely, under Articles 226 and 32 of the Constitution of India could direct a “State” to get an offence investigated and/or further investigated by a different agency. Direction of a reinvestigation, however, being forbidden in law, no superior Court would ordinarily issue such a direction. In Ramachandran Vs. R.Udhayakumar [(2008)5 SCC 413 ] Supreme Court opined as under:-

“At this juncture it would be necessary to take note of Section 173 of the Code. From a plain reading of the above section it is evident that even after completion of investigation under Sub-Section (2) of Section 173 of the Code, the police has right to further investigate under Sub-Section (8), but not fresh investigation or reinvestigation.”

A distinction, therefore, exists between a reinvestigation and further investigation.”

Honourable Supreme Court reported in (1998)5 SCC 223 (K.Chandrasekhar Vs. State of Kerala), has clarified the distinction.

A plain reading of the section 173(8) CrPC it is evident that even after submission of police report under sub-section (2) on completion of investigation, the police has a right of ‘further’ investigation under sub- section (8) but not ‘fresh investigation’ or reinvestigation’.

The dictionary meaning of ‘further’ (when used as an adjective) is ‘additional; more; supplemental”. “Further” investigation therefore 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. In drawing this conclusion we have also drawn inspiration from the fact that sub-section (8) clearly envisages that on completion of further investigation the investigating agency has to forward to the Magistrate a “further” report or reports–and not fresh report or reports– regarding the “further” evidence obtained during such investigation.

Can a judicial magistrate order further investigation under Section 173(8) of the Criminal Procedure Code after taking cognizance on charge sheet?

The Calcutta High Court has held in CRR 2115 of 2017 Sri Indranil Mukherjee Vs. The State of West Bengal & Anr. that a magistrate has ample power to direct further investigation after submission of the charge sheet by the police even when cognizance has been taken on the charge sheet.

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