The term “report” has been defined to mean “To give an account of, to relate, to tell, to convey or disseminate information, communicate; deliver information; make an announcement; make known; speak about, specify. It is a formal oral or written presentation of facts or a recommendation for action . The expression “police report” has been defined under the Code of Criminal Procedure as meaning a report forwarded by a Police Officer to a Magistrate under sub section (2) of Section 173 . Simply stated, final report culminates the investigation process in a formal recommendation for action. The report under Section 173 is a report on the results of the investigation made under Chapter XIV, which means an investigation made under Section 155 (2) or Section 156. The ‘Police report’ which Section 173 contemplates cannot therefore be a report of a case in respect of which no investigation under Chapter XIV has taken place or is possible . Police Report has been interpreted to mean a police report within the meaning of Section 170 .
There are three different kinds of reports to be made by police officers at three different stages of investigation. (1) Section 157 requires a preliminary report from the officer in charge of a police station to the Magistrate. (2) Section 168 requires reports from a subordinate police officer to the officer in charge of the station. These reports are known as forwarding reports. (3) Section 173 requires a final report of the police officer as soon as investigation is completed to the Magistrate. The report under Sub section (2) of Section 173 is called Completion Report also known as the Charge Sheet. Such a report is absolutely necessary. The police charge sheet corresponds to the complaint of a private individual on which criminal proceedings are initiated . When the charge sheet is sent, the preliminary stage of investigation and preparation is over. The charge sheet is followed by the Final report. As the name suggests, the Final report refers to that document which records the conclusion arrived at by the Police after the investigation process. Final report is deemed to be final as it signifies the culmination of investigation .Nevertheless Police has a statutory right to reinvestigate the matter when some new information comes to light.
This project seeks to trace the status of the Final report submitted by Police under Section 173 of the Code. The researcher has offered a detailed analysis of the power of police to reinvestigate the case when some fresh information comes to light. This project strictly analyses the implications and status of the Final report submitted by Police under Section 173 of Code of Criminal Procedure.
AN INTRODUCTION TO POLICE REPORT
The police report under Section 173 will contain the facts and conclusions drawn by police there from . Section 173, Cr.P.C. places a mandatory duty upon the Investigating Officer to place all detailed materials, both oral and documentary, before the Magistrate, so that he may consider the same and decide for himself whether it is a fit case for taking cognizance or not. However, Investigation of an offence cannot be considered to be inconclusive merely for the reason that the investigating officer, when he submitted his report in terms of sub-section (2) of S. 173 of the Code to the Magistrate, still awaited the reports of the experts or by some chance, either inadvertently or by design, failed to append to the police report such documents or the statements under S. 161 of the Code, although these were available with him when he submitted the police report to the Magistrate .
When an investigation culminates into a final report as contemplated under Section 173 then the competent court enjoins a duty within its authority sanctioned by law to scrupulously scrutinize the final report and the accompaniments by applying its judicial mind and take a decision either to accept or reject the final report .
It is to be noted here; however, that the practice of not accepting the charge sheet either on the ground that the same was not submitted on the stipulated days as fixed for particular police station or it was not accompanied by FSL Report is patently illegal . There is no question of submitting interim charge sheet .
Magistrate doesn’t have power to call upon police to submit charge sheet after final report under Section 173 (1) has been filed .At most he can ask police to carry out further investigation under Section 156 (3) if not satisfied by final report .
However, merely because the Investigating Agency expresses an opinion in that report, that it is not a fit case where cognizance should be taken by the Magistrate under Section 190, Cr.P.C. is by itself no ground for drawing the inference that, that opinion alone must be taken into consideration as final and the Magistrate must completely shut his eyes to all the rest of the details, which have been embodied in the final report, as required under Section 173(a) to (g) . Magistrate is not bound by the conclusions of complaint . On receiving report under Section 173 of the Code, which is a final report, Magistrate has full jurisdiction to differ with the conclusion of the Police and direct that accused not named in the report sent up should be put on trial. This exercise of jurisdiction must be in terms of Section 190(1) (b) .
The Magistrate has the power under Section 156(3) to direct further investigation which is clearly an independent power . Magistrate, even after accepting the final report, can take cognizance of the offence upon a complaint or a protest petition on same or similar allegations of fact . However, if there is no indication by the informant that his protest petition may be treated as complaint and the Magistrate did not also consciously proceed as in a complaint case, mere filing of the protest petition would not make it obligatory for the Magistrate to treat it as a complaint case.
THE POWER OF REINVESTIGATION – ANALYSED
On receipt of final report it is open for the Magistrate under section 173(2) read with Section 169 from the police that there is no case for trial, to adopt the following courses under clause (3) to Section 173 which are that he may agree with the report and file the proceedings. In case of disagreement with report it is appropriate for the Magistrate to order further investigation under section 156(3) if he is of the opinion that the investigation is unsatisfactory or incomplete. He may otherwise form an opinion that the facts set out in the final report constitute an offence and may take cognizance under Section 190 (1) (b) . The appropriate course has to be decided upon after consideration of the report and after application of mind by the Magistrate .
It has been pointed out that “Further investigation in the offence is legally permissible as contemplated by Section 173 (4) of the Criminal Procedure Code, the Counsel appearing for the State when asked, represents that the investigation was not yet complete and State would come to a definite conclusion as to the culpability of the appellant only on the completion of investigation. Investigation into an offence was a statutory function of the police and the superintendence thereof is vested in the State Government and the Court cannot in the absence of any compelling and justifiable reason interfere with the investigation” .
In other words there is a statutory right on the part of the Police to investigate the circumstances of an alleged cognizable crime without requiring any authority from the Judicial Authorities and it would be an unfortunate result, if it should be held possible to interfere with those statutory rights .
However, the investigation can be reopened and a supplementary charge-sheet can be submitted only on the basis of such materials which could not come to the knowledge of the Investigating Officer during investigation and not as a routine affair . A subsequent charge sheet could not be submitted without further investigation by the police and without obtaining further evidence against the petitioners . Police has a right to further investigate when fresh information comes to light .
Sub-section (8) of Section 173, Cr. P.C., it may be noted that it only lays down a deeming provision . The law expects the discharge of duties by the Investigating Officer properly resulting in a report under Section 173(2). It may only be in some exceptional case where the Investigating Officer may have to collect some further evidence or materials and submit it to the Magistrate along with his further report. Such an exceptional case will only prove the general rule that normally investigation terminates with filing of the charge-sheet in Court. In other words, the Investigating Officer believes and places reliance on the evidence and material collected by him by then .
Finality of the Report submitted by Police under section 173 of Code of Criminal procedure has been controversial ever since the Code was enacted. This project analyzed the courses available to the Magistrate after the submission of final report. It has been seen that though the final report is deemed to be final since it signifies the culmination of investigation, nevertheless Police has a statutory right to reinvestigate the matter when some new information comes to light. The Courts have leaned in favor of holding that judicial authorities should not interfere with those rights. However, the Courts have also cautioned that reinvestigation cannot be construed to be a routine affair. At the same time there are a series of judicial pronouncements to the effect that Magistrate is not bound by the final report and he can validly differ from the same. It can be concluded that the Code has tried to strike out a balance between the powers of Police on the one hand and Criminal Courts on the other in the interest of justice. This balance is a signification of “rule of law” that a healthy democracy strives for.