Investigating Officer

From Justice Definitions Project

What is an Investigation?

Investigation is considered to mean all those proceedings that are undertaken for the purpose of collecting evidence, that are conducted by a police officer, or by any person other than a Magistrate, who is in this behalf authorized by a Magistrate. In cognizable cases, police officers have the inherent authority to carry out investigations, whereas, in non-cognizable cases, police officers must first acquire a warrant before carrying out the investigation[1].

Definition of Investigating Officer

Investigating Officer has not been defined under the statutes, however, it can be inferred from CrPC and BNSS.

An Investigating Officer thereby, encompasses the role and responsibilities involved in the collection of evidence during criminal proceedings. According to Section 2(h) of the CrPC, an Investigation includes all proceedings for evidence collection conducted by a police officer or any authorized individual other than a magistrate. Further, as per Section 2(o) of the CrPC, the "officer in charge of a police station" is defined based on hierarchy and authority, specifying the actions to be taken in the absence or incapacity of the designated officer. These provisions establish the framework within which an IO can work, particularly through Chapter XII which outlines procedures related to information provided to "police officers".

Process of Investigation

In the case of HN Rishbud v. State of Delhi[2], the following steps were laid out as constituting the following steps:

  1. Proceeding to the site;
  2. Ascertaining the facts and circumstances of the case;
  3. Arresting the suspected officer after discovering their identity; and
  4. Collecting evidence pertaining to the commission of the offense.

Such evidence may comprise the following aspects:

  1. Examination of relevant persons which can include the accused;
  2. Reduction of the statements of those examined into writing, if this is thought fit by the investigating officer;
  3. Search of places considered necessary and seizure of items considered necessary for the purpose of investigation and for production at the stage of the trial;
  4. Forming the opinion in regard to whether there is a case, on the basis of the material collected, to place the accused for trial before a magistrate;
  5. Taking all steps necessary for producing the accused before the Magistrate by filing a charge-sheet before the competent court in accordance with Section 173 of the CrPC before a competent court.

Powers of the Investigating Officer

Role and Powers of the Investigating Officer in Cognizable Cases

In regards to investigations within the ambit of cognizable offenses, Section 156 of the CrPC and Section 175 of the BNSS are relevant. It provides that any officer in charge of a police station may investigate a cognizable offence without an order of the magistrate. Thus, even where the FIR under Section 154 CrPC and Section 173 BNSS is registered at the instance of a police officer, there is no bar under Section 156 CrPC and Section 175 of the BNSS for an officer in charge of a police station to investigate the same.

Further, it is stipulated that the powers to carry out such investigation are limited to the extent of where the Court in question has jurisdiction. The trial itself cannot be vitiated in entirely merely on grounds of some illegality or defect that does not have a direct bearing on the procedure or competence relating to cognizance. The standard to be proven in order for the conviction to be set aside (specifically in regard to processes of investigation) is fairly high, the investigation itself should have brought about some miscarriage of justice to qualify for this standard. In the case of Deepak Mandal vs The State Of Bihar[3], the victim's account was held to be highly credible and convincing, which the I.O. has confirmed as well. The Patna High Court held that if the victim's testimony is credible, the prosecution's case cannot be dismissed, notwithstanding some shortcomings in the investigation.

Role and Powers in Non-Cognizable Cases

In regard to non-cognizable offenses, an order of a competent Magistrate is the necessary prerequisite for a police officer to begin carrying out an investigation. Once this permission is given, the powers of the investigating officer will mirror those of an officer in the case of a cognizable offense. However, an important distinction is that while the officer will have the permission to investigate, carrying out an arrest will require a warrant[4].

Supervision of Investigations

Sub-Divisional Police Officers shall as a rule visit the scenes of crime and supervise the investigations in all the heinous cases. They shall also take up personal investigation in complicated or important cases.

Powers of Investigating Officer while Investigating Dowry Death Cases

Dowry Death cases, unless taken over by the special cell, shall be investigated by the Deputy Superintendent of Police of the Sub-Division.

Powers of Investigating Officer while arresting Women Offenders

For the arrest of the women offenders, it is vital to employ only female police officers as investigating officers. If the offender has to be taken in custody, then the women police officer should be in charge of the station where the offender will be detained. further, any interrogation of the woman offender has to be done under the supervision of a woman investigating officer.

Powers of Investigating Officer while Investigating Rape Cases

The investigating officer needs to do thorough investigation to see whether additional evidence supports the victim's statement. As soon as the rape case is reported, a female investigating officer should accompany the victim to the medical examination and the police report should be filed. It is important for the investigating officer to keep in mind that the definition of rape does not necessarily require clinical proof of the crime. The act of mere penetration is enough to qualify as rape. The investigating officer should additionally ask the medical officer to whom the victim is referred for a medical checkup to check the victim's intimate areas and remove any hair or semen from the pubic and vaginal regions.

Duties of an Investigating Officer

Recording of the crime scene

The investigating officer should use photography, sketching, observation notes, videography, and audio tape recording as soon as he gets to the crime site. It is essential because the court system and defense attorneys require solid proof to support the conditions and circumstances that were allegedly in place at the time of the crime.

Especially, when there is a charge of sexual assault, the location of the crime should be visited, recorded on camera, photographed, and carefully investigated by the investigating officer to look for any significant incidents. If the accused is apprehended soon after the offense, he should be placed under arrest and sent for a medical examination while still in his clothes. Should there be a postponement in the arrest process, the clothes that he wore during the commission of offence, should be seized and sent for medical examination.

Collection of Evidence

The evidence that will be gathered throughout the course of the investigation needs to be pertinent to the circumstances at hand. In order to support their investigation, the investigating officer thus seeks to gather: Oral evidence; documentary evidence; expert evidence; and circumstantial evidence.

Recording the statement of witnesses

Section 161 CrPC and Section 180 of BNSS give the investigating officer the authority to question anyone (including suspects) who may be able to provide information about the case's facts and circumstances verbally. He may choose to put each of these people's statements in writing, and when he does, he must keep a separate record of each of these people.

Recording Statements of the Accused

It is important and necessary for an investigating officer to record the statement of an accused person, more so, if it contains lengthy details. Verification of all the information provided by the accused is essential for the investigation and needs to be done carefully. Daily entries regarding the facts should be made in the case diary.

Recording the Confessional Statements

When an investigating officer feels that an accused person may confess and reveal a fact, he or she should take the necessary steps to ensure that the confessional statement is recorded in person and get the witnesses' signatures.

Nature & Importance of Case Diary

Case diary is a confidential and privileged document. The Investigating Officer and his superiors shall ensure both the case diary's physical and its contents' safety.

Powers of Search

Under Section 165 of the CrPC and Section 185 of the BNSS, an officer in charge of a police station or an investigating officer may search any area within the station's boundaries if they have reasonable suspicion that something important for an investigation may be found there and cannot, in their opinion, be obtained elsewhere without undue delay. Prior to conducting a search, the police officer is required to document in writing the reasons for his suspicions and the specific object of the search.

Preparation of the Charge-sheet

Only the investigating officer may compile, submit, and present the charge sheet[4] to the court. The investigating officer should draft a report outlining the specifics of the case, going over the type of evidence, each accused person's liability or not, the likelihood of a defense and whether or not it is credible, and lastly, the course of action he suggests.

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.