Criminal Law- Supreme Court on when can Magistrate Direct Further Investigation

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April 22, 2019

In the present case, the Supreme Court has expounded the law pertaining to direction of further investigation by Magistrate and held that Magistrate may
direct further investigation and require the police to make a further report. However, it is required to be noted that all the aforesaid is required to be done at the pre­-cognizance stage.

Case name: Bikash Ranjan Rout v. State through the Secretary (Home), Government of NCT of Delhi, New Delhi

The case at hand raised an intrinsic issue pertaining to criminal proceedings and investigations. The issue that fell for consideration in the case was whether once the learned Magistrate passes an order of discharge of the accused, whether thereafter is it permissible for the Magistrate to order further investigation and direct the investigating officer to submit the report?

Bench’s Verdict

The Two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in view of precedents and prevailing law on the subject made the following observations in the case:

While making reference to catena of decisions including the cases of Vinay Tyagi v. Irshad Ali @ Deepak and Bhagwant Singh v. Commissioner of Police, the Court concluded that

  1. The Magistrate has no power to direct “reinvestigation” or “fresh investigation” (de novo) in the case initiated on the basis of a police report.
  2. Magistrate has the power to direct “further investigation” after filing of a police report in terms of Section 173(6) of the Code.

The Supreme Court while elaborating on the aforesaid further noted that after the investigation is concluded and the report is forwarded by the police to the Magistrate under Section 173(2)(i) of the CrPC, the learned Magistrate may either accept the report and take cognizance of the offence and issue process, or may disagree with the report and drop the proceedings, or may direct further investigation under Section 156(3) and require the police to make a further report.

That having not satisfied with the investigation on considering the report forwarded by the police under Section 173(2)(i) of the CrPC, the Magistrate may, at that stage, direct further investigation and require the police to make a further report. However, it is required to be noted that all the aforesaid is required to be done at the pre­cognizance stage.

That once the learned Magistrate takes the cognizance and,considering the materials on record submitted along with the report forwarded by the police under Section 173(2)(i) of theCrPC, learned Magistrate in exercise of the powers under Section 227 of the CrPC discharges the accused, thereafter, it will not be open for the Magistrate to suo moto order for further investigation and direct the investigating officer to submit the report.

In view of the facts and circumstances in the instant case, the Supreme Court noted the due course adopted in the case was untenable as the investigating authority did not apply for further investigation and the Magistrate suo moto passed an order for further investigation and directed the investigating officer to further investigate and submit the report.

The entire case can be accessed here.