Article authored by Praseedha Pradeep, law student from Government Law College Ernakulam Kerala
There are three distinct stages in a Criminal Case, which are Investigation, Inquiry and Trial. These three stages are crucial and inevitable. Investigations are usually done/ carried out by a Police Officer, with the aid of its department. At the same time, Inquiry is made by a Court/Magistrate to determine a person’s guilt. In Judicial Proceedings such as Trial, there might be two outcomes; Conviction or Acquittal.
Under Section 2(h) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, Investigation covers all the procedures, including the collection of evidence by a Police officer or an authorized person appointed by the Magistrate. The person included in this investigating procedure is known as a Criminal Investigator. Section 157 of the CrPC lays down the procedure for Investigation. There are specific procedures to be followed by a Police Officer while investigating a case. There are two types of offences,
a) Cognizable Offence
b) Non-Cognizable Offence
A Non-Cognizable Offence is less severe for which a Police Officer/Criminal Investigator has to obtain a warrant from the Magistrate to proceed with the Investigation. Some of the non-cognizable offences are Defamation, Forgery, Assault etc.
Some of the guidelines to be followed
In People’s Unions for Civil Liberties v., Maharashtra stated some rules and standards while investigating.
- Whenever the police department receives any information regarding criminal activity, it needs to be reduced to writing in any form(writing or electronic).
- There need to be an involvement of the National Human Rights Commission if there is a doubt on Investigation in an encounter.
- The injured person’s statement should be recorded within the presence of an authorized person.
- Strict court supervision should be ensured regarding the submission of FIRS, GD,s and other records.
- Friends/Family Members of the victim/criminal must be informed about the situation at the earliest.
- Eligible compensations should be given to the dependents of the victim who suffered death in a police encounter.
An inquiry is a process that occurs before the Trial of a case and after the Investigation. The main objective of Inquiry is to identify the nature of a crime, whether it is criminal or not. According to Section 2(g) of the Criminal Procedure Code defines Inquiry. It is also unnecessary that an inquiry should occur judicially; it can also occur in a non-judicial manner.
Types of Inquiry
- Judicial Inquiry- It is an inquiry proceeded related to a matter of public concern.
- Non-Judicial/Administrative Inquiry- An inquiry that is not for enforcement of the law.
- Local Inquiry-Sec 148 defines Local Inquiry in which Magistrate deputes subordinate Magistrate to make a local inquiry.
- Preliminary Inquiry- Sec 157 defines Preliminary Inquiry. In case information regarding a cognizable offence is received by Police Officer, he is obliged to make a preliminary inquiry into the offence.
- Inquire into offence- Inquire into an offence base up for Trial. It does not determine the climax of a case: Acquittal or Conviction.
- Inquiry into matter other than the offence- This is a general inquiry other than concentrating on a crime.
The Trial is the last stage in a criminal case. It begins when an inquiry is completed. It determines the conclusion of a criminal case based on the judiciary’s collected facts and circumstances, which has the jurisdiction. It is a court’s decision on whether a person is proved guilty or not.
Types of trial
- Session’s Trial (a Trial before a session court) – The cases which are serious for which the punishment involves death or imprisonment for more than seven years are tried before the Sessions court.
- Warrant Trial (Trial of warrant cases by the Magistrate) – A warrant case connects itself to the point where the crimes guilty with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding two years are considered.
- Summons Trial (Trial of summons case by the Magistrate) – The person is served with a summons and called upon to appear before the court is called summons trial.
- Summary Trial – Summary Trials are those cases in which speedy justice is required; crimes of a less serious nature are tried in this. More complicated cases are tried in Warrant/ Summons Trial.