Section 156 Of Code Of Criminal Procedure : Powers Of A Police Officer

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
WhatsApp

Index 

  1. Introduction 
  2. What Is CrPC Section 156
  3. Scope For CrPC Section 156
  4. Authority Granted To Police In Section 156 Of CrPC
  5. Jurisdiction And Responsibilities Of The Magistrate Under Section 156 Of CrPC
  6. When Can Section 156(3) Of CrPC Be Used
  7. Distinguishing Investigations: Section 156(3) Vs. Section 202 Of CrPC
  8. Latest Judgements
  9. Conclusion 

Introduction 

Investigation in the legal realm, according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC), refers to the process where a police officer or an authorised person gathers evidence related to a crime. The police can initiate an investigation if they receive information about a serious offence, have suspicions about someone’s involvement in such an offence, or if a Judicial Magistrate directs them to investigate. This article explains the authority police officers hold in an investigation and sections in Code Of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)  that deal with investigations involving a police officer. 

What Is CrPC Section 156

Section 156 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) empowers the police to investigate cognizable offences on their own, and also allows the Magistrate to direct the police to conduct an investigation in certain cases, particularly when the police have failed to do so. Sub-section 2 discusses the authority of the police during investigations, stating that their actions cannot be challenged later on. Sub-section 3 outlines the Magistrate’s authority to order investigations. 

Scope For CrPC Section 156

The scope of Section 202 extends only to the limit of assisting the Magistrate to decide whether he had sufficient grounds to proceed further. On the other hand, Section 156 confers unrestricted power to the police to conduct an investigation without fulfilling the formalities of a First Information Report (FIR). If the police fail to investigate a cognizable offence, the Magistrate can order an investigation under Section 156(3). The Magistrate can direct the police to register an FIR and conduct a formal investigation, even if the police have not done so initially. 

Authority Granted To Police In Section 156 Of CrPC

In line with what was mentioned earlier, Section 156 grants the police full authority to investigate serious offences without constraints. They must then present their investigation report to the appropriate Magistrate as per Section 173. Additionally, the police can pursue further investigations under Section 173(8). The Magistrate’s intervention is limited unless the police exceed their lawful powers during the investigation.

Also Read  Corporate Whistleblowing: Balancing Advantages And Challenges

Jurisdiction And Responsibilities Of The Magistrate Under Section 156 Of CrPC

The power of the magistrate under Section 156 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) are:

  1. Power to Order Investigation: Under Section 156(3) of the CrPC, a magistrate can order the police to conduct an investigation into a cognizable offence. This power can be exercised by the magistrate even if no formal complaint has been made to them. The magistrate can use this power before taking cognizance of the case.
  2. Limitations on Magistrate’s Power: The magistrate’s power under Section 156(3) is limited to the pre-cognizance stage. Once the magistrate takes cognizance of the case, their powers shift to Sections 190, 200, and 204 of the CrPC. The magistrate cannot interfere with the police investigation unless it is being conducted through illegitimate means.
  3. Grounds for Exercising 156(3) Power: The magistrate can exercise the 156(3) power when the police have failed to register an FIR or conduct a proper investigation. The power is meant to be used as a “proactive reminder”or instruction to the police to use their full investigative authority.
  4. Difference from Section 202 CrPC: Section 156 deals with the pre-cognizance stage, while Section 202 applies during the post-cognizance phase. The magistrate’s powers under Section 156(3) are broader compared to Section 202 a Judicial Magistrate can order the police to investigate a case if they believe the initial investigation was inadequate. This authority is specifically given to a Judicial Magistrate who has the authority to consider the case under Section 190 of the CrPC. The Magistrate can instruct the police to investigate if they refuse to do so, as outlined in Section 157 of the Code. Section 159 grants the Magistrate the power to issue such instructions. Importantly, when the Magistrate orders an investigation under Section 156(3), it doesn’t mean they’ve officially taken legal action against the alleged crime. Also, the police must register the case regardless of the Magistrate’s directive.
Also Read  Media And Entertainment Law

When Can Section 156(3) Of CrPC Be Used 

Section 156(3) empowers a magistrate to order the police to conduct an investigation into a cognizable offence in two key scenarios: 

  1. When the police have failed to register an FIR under Section 154 CrPC.
  2. When the police have registered an FIR but have not conducted a proper investigation. The magistrate can exercise this power before taking cognizance of the case, as Section 156(3). 

Distinguishing Investigations: Section 156(3) Vs. Section 202 Of CrPC

The difference between the investigation under Section 156(3) and Section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) lies in the timing and nature of the investigation. Section 156(3) allows a magistrate to direct the police to investigate a cognizable offence before the magistrate takes cognizance of the case. This provision serves as a proactive measure to ensure an investigation is initiated promptly. On the other hand, Section 202 comes into play after the magistrate has taken cognizance of the offence. Under Section 202, the magistrate can order an investigation to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with the case. In essence, Section 156(3) focuses on initiating an investigation at an early stage, while Section 202 is about assessing the evidence post-cognizance to decide on further legal action.

Latest Judgements 

In the Ashok Gyanchand Vohra v. State of Maharashtra case, an organised crime was reported through a private complaint under specific sections of the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, 1991. The Bombay High Court addressed whether the Special Court under this Act could order an investigation under Section 156(3) of the CrPC. The Court affirmed that the Special Court is considered to have the powers of a Magistrate for the Act’s purposes, treating it as a primary court authorised to handle legal matters.

Also Read  The Gig Economy: Trends, Challenges, And Opportunities In India

In the Laxmi Mukul Gupta v. State of Maharashtra case, the petitioner requested an FIR against the respondent under Section 420 of the IPC via a Section 156(3) application. The Metropolitan Magistrate granted this request, but the Bombay High Court overturned the decision, stating that the Magistrate’s authority under Section 156(3) is limited. The Magistrate’s role is to determine if the case involves a cognizable offence that requires police investigation at the pre-cognizance stage. Additionally, individuals cannot intervene until the process is initiated at this stage.

In the Supreme Bhiwandi Wada Manor v. State of Maharashtra case, the Supreme Court reviewed a decision by the Bombay High Court that granted anticipatory bail to an accused. The High Court’s basis for granting bail was that the Magistrate had ordered the registration of an FIR under Section 156(3) of the CrPC without examining the complainant under oath as per Section 200 of the CrPC. The Supreme Court ruled that the High Court made a mistake by assuming that the Magistrate must examine the complaint under oath before directing an investigation. The Magistrate’s role under Section 156(3) is only to determine if the offence is cognizable and if the police should investigate, without delving into the merits of the case. Once the Magistrate makes this determination, their powers under Section 156(3) end. The Supreme Court reversed the High Court’s decision based on these grounds.

Conclusion 

In conclusion, Section 156 of the CrPC empowers the police to investigate cognizable offences without hindrance. This provision delineates the authority shared between the police and the Magistrate in conducting investigations. The Magistrate can instruct the police to investigate if they have failed to do so, but only in cases involving cognizable offences. However, this authority is restricted to the pre-cognizance stage, and the Magistrate cannot order an investigation after formally taking cognizance of the offence. The Magistrate’s role also includes ensuring that the police adhere to the legal procedures throughout the investigation process.

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
WhatsApp

Never miss any important news. Subscribe to our newsletter.

Leave Your Comment

Recent News

Editor's Pick

Apni_Law_Logo_Black

Get Legal Assistance Today!

Fill out the form below to book a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.

We’ll get back to you promptly to assist with your legal needs.