01 September 2020

Trial is not vitiated if investigation is conducted by the informant/police officer who himself is the complainant

Now we consider the relevant provisions of the Cr. P. C. with respect to the investigation.

    Section 154 Cr.P.C. provides that every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction.

    Section 156 Cr.P.C. provides that any officer in charge of a police station may investigate any cognizable offence without the order of a Magistrate. It further provides that no proceeding of a police officer in any such case shall at any stage be called in question on the ground that the case was one which such officer was not empowered under this section to investigate. Therefore, as such, a duty is cast on an officer in charge of a police station to reduce the information in writing relating to commission of a cognizable offence and thereafter to investigate the same.

    Section 157 Cr.P.C. specifically provides that if, from information received or otherwise, an officer in charge of a police station has reason to suspect the commission of an offence which he is empowered under Section 156 to investigate, he shall forthwith send a report of the same to a Magistrate empowered to take cognizance of such offence upon a police report and shall proceed in person to the spot to investigate the facts and circumstances of the case and, if necessary, to take measures for the discovery and arrest of the offender.

Trial is not vitiated if investigation is conducted by the informant/police officer who himself is the complainant
    Therefore, considering Section 157 Cr.P.C., either on receiving the information or otherwise (may be from other sources like secret information, from the hospital, or telephonic message), it is an obligation cast upon such police officer, in charge of a police station, to take cognizance of the information and to reduce into writing by himself and thereafter to investigate the facts and circumstances of the case, and, if necessary, to take measures for the discovery and arrest of the offender. Take an example, if an officer in charge of a police station passes on a road and he finds a dead body and/or a person being beaten who ultimately died and there is no body to give a formal complaint in writing, in such a situation, and when the said officer in charge of a police station has reason to suspect the commission of an offence, he has to reduce the same in writing in the form of an information/complaint. In such a situation, he is not precluded from further investigating the case. He is not debarred to conduct the investigation in such a situation. It may also happen that an officer in charge of a police station is in the police station and he receives a telephonic message, may be from a hospital, and there is no body to give a formal complaint in writing, such a police officer is required to reduce the same in writing which subsequently may be converted into an FIR/complaint and thereafter he will rush to the spot and further investigate the matter. There may be so many circumstances like such. That is why, Sections 154, 156 and 157 Cr.P.C. come into play.[Para No.9]

    Under Section 173 Cr.P.C., the officer in charge of a police station after completing the investigation is required to file the final report/chargesheet before the Magistrate. Thus, under the scheme of Cr.P.C., it cannot be said that there is a bar to a police officer receiving information for commission of a cognizable offence, recording he same and then investigating it. On the contrary, Sections 154, 156 and 157 permit the officer in charge of a police station to reduce the information of commission of a cognizable offence in writing and thereafter to investigate the same.

    Officer in charge of a police station has been defined under Section 2(o) of the Cr. P.C. and it includes, when the officer in charge of the police station is absent from the station-house or unable from illness or other cause to perform his duties, the police officer present at the station-house who is next in rank to such officer and is above the rank of constable or, when the State Government so directs, any other police officer so present.[Para No.9.1]

     From the above discussion and for the reasons stated above, we conclude and answer the reference as under:
I. That the observations of this Court in the cases of Bhagwan Singh v. State of Rajasthan (1976) 1 SCC 15; Megha Singh v. State of Haryana (1996) 11 SCC 709; and State by Inspector of Police, NIB, Tamil Nadu v. Rajangam (2010) 15 SCC 369 and the acquittal of the accused by this Court on the ground that as the informant and the investigator was the same, it has vitiated the trial and the accused is entitled to acquittal are to be treated to be confined to their own facts. It cannot be said that in the aforesaid decisions, this Court laid down any general proposition of law that in each and every case where the informant is the investigator there is a bias caused to the accused and the entire prosecution case is to be disbelieved and the accused is entitled to acquittal;
II. In a case where the informant himself is the investigator, by that itself cannot be said that the investigation is vitiated on the ground of bias or the like factor. The question of bias or prejudice would depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. Therefore, merely because the informant is the investigator, by that itself the investigation would not suffer the vice of unfairness or bias and therefore on the sole ground that informant is the investigator, the accused is not entitled to acquittal. The matter has to be decided on a case to case basis. A contrary decision of this Court in the case of Mohan Lal v. State of Punjab (2018) 17 SCC 627 and any other decision taking a contrary view that the informant cannot be the investigator and in such a case the accused is entitled to acquittal are not good law and they are specifically overruled.[Pra No.12]

Supreme Court of India

Mukesh Singh
Vs.
State (Narcotic Branch Of Delhi)

Decided on 31/08/2020





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