Crime and investigation
The Criminal procedure code (CrPC) is an enactment which is designed to regulate the procedures governing the investigation of crimes in order to get the perpetrators of the crime punished. A crime is an act or omission prohibited by law attracting certain legal consequences like imprisonment, fine etc. Obviously, acts or omissions constituting offences/crimes are capable of being committed only by persons either natural or juridical.
Duty of investigation agency
The CrPC imposes a duty on the investigating agencies to gather evidence necessary to establish the occurrence of a crime and to trace out the accused of the crime in order to get them punished. Punishment can be inflicted only by a competent Court but not by the investigating agency. Courts are authorized to inflict punishment if only they are satisfied that the evidence gathered by the investigating agency is sufficient to establish that (1) a crime had been committed; and (2) the persons charged with the offence (accused) and brought before the Court by the investigating agency for trial are the perpetrators of the crime.
Under the Scheme of the CrPC, any investigating agency (normally the police) is bound to investigate by following the procedure prescribed therein once it receives either information regarding the commission of a cognizable offence or an order from a Magistrate to investigate into the allegation of the occurrence of a non-cognizable offence and submit a report under Section 173. Section 173(2)(i)(d) inter alia stipulates that the report should contain a statement:
“Whether any offence appears to have been committed and if so by whom?”
The conclusions reached by the police after investigation into the above two questions are required to be scrutinized by a competent Court. It is only after the Court is satisfied that the evidence collected by the investigating agency is sufficient in law to punish the accused, such accused can be punished. Taking cognizance of an offence by the Court is one of the initial steps in the process. Thereafter, the investigating agency is required to collect evidence (investigate) and place the same before the Court under Section 173 Cr.P.C.
Jurisdiction of Court and Criminal procedure code
This is undoubtedly the basic scheme of the Code in respect of cognizable cases and trial follows cognizance and cognizance is preceded by investigation. No doubt a police report which results from an investigation is provided in section 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure as the material on which cognizance is taken. But it cannot be maintained that a valid and legal police report is the foundation of the jurisdiction of the Court to take cognizance. section 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is one out of a group of sections under the heading “Conditions requisite for initiation of proceedings”. The language of this section is in marked contrast with that of the other sections of the group under the same heading i.e. Sections 193 and 195 to 199. These latter sections regulate the competence of the Court and bar its jurisdiction in certain cases excepting in compliance.
Power of Court
It is true that the peremptory provision itself allows an officer of a lower rank to make the investigation if permitted by the Magistrate. But this is not any indication by the Legislature that an investigation by an officer of a lower rank without such permission cannot be said to cause prejudice. When a Magistrate is approached for granting such permission he is expected to satisfy himself that there are good and sufficient reasons for authorizing an officer of a lower rank to conduct the investigation. The granting of such permission is not to be treated by a Magistrate as a mere matter of routine but it is an exercise of his judicial discretion having regard to the policy underlying it. In our opinion, therefore, when such a breach is brought to the notice of the Court at an early stage of the trial the Court have to consider the nature and extent of the violation and pass appropriate orders for such re-investigation as may be called for, wholly or partly, and by such officer as it considers appropriate with reference to the requirements of Section 5-A of the Act.
If, therefore, cognizance is in fact taken, on a police report vitiated by the breach of a mandatory provision relating to investigation, there can be no doubt that the result of the trial which follows it cannot be set aside unless the illegality in the investigation can be shown to have brought about a miscarriage of justice. That an illegality committed in the course of investigation does not affect the competence and the jurisdiction of the Court for trial.