Here, the expression ‘reason to suspect the commission of an offence’ would mean the sagacity of rationally inferring the commission of a cognizable offence based on the specific articulate facts mentioned in the F.I.R. and any attending circumstances which may not amount to proof. Power of police to investigate does not flow only from lodgment of the F.I.R. The police can undertake investigation from information received.
The words ‘from information received’ refer to the information given under Section 154 of the Code, i.e., information relating to the commission of cognizable offence (F.I.R.). The words ‘or otherwise’ are wide enough to include ‘every source of information’ other than that furnished and recorded under Section 154. The investigation of a cognizable offence begins basing on the suspicion based on the F.I.R. as recorded under Section 154 or based on any other information of the police.
Although the Officer-in-Charge of police station is legally bound to register a first information report in terms of Section 154, Cr. RC. if the allegation made gives rise to an offence which can be investigated without obtaining any permission from the Magistrate concerned, the same by itself, however, does not take away the right of the competent officer to make a preliminary enquiry, in a given case in order to find out as to whether the first information sought to be lodged had any substance or not.
According to Section 157(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, after receiving the information or otherwise, where a reasonable suspicion of the commission of cognizable offence exists, an officer in charge of a police station shall forthwith send a report of the same to a Magistrate empowered to take cognizance of such offence upon a police report.
The report to the magistrate by the police officer as contemplated under Section 157(1) of the Code is known as the ‘occurred report’. Section 157 of the Code is mandatory and the sending of the ‘occurrence report’ is a step which is an essential preliminary to an investigation.
This provision is really designed to keep the magistrate informed of the investigation of such a cognizable offence so as to be able to control the investigation and if necessary to give appropriate direction under Section 159 of the Code.
As per Section 159 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, such magistrate, on receiving such report, may direct an investigation or, if he thinks fit, at once proceed, or depute any Magistrate subordinate to him to proceed, to hold a preliminary inquiry into, or otherwise to dispose of, the case in the manner, provided in the Code.
Section 158 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides that every report sent to a Magistrate under Section 157 of the Code shall, if the State Government so directs, be submitted through such superior officer of police as the State Government, by general or special order, appoints in this behalf.
Such superior officer may give such instructions to the officer in charge of the police station as he thinks fit, and shall, after recording such instructions on such report, transmit the same without delay to the Magistrate.
The station house officer shall then proceed in person, or shall depute one of his subordinate officers not being below such rank as the State Government may, by general or special order, prescribe in this behalf, to proceed, to the spot, to investigate the facts and circumstances of the case, and, if necessary, to take measure for the discovery and arrest of the offender.
As per the proviso to Section 157(1) of the Code, there are two circumstances in which it is not necessary for the officer in charge of a police station to proceed in person or depute a subordinate officer to make an investigation on the spot. They are:
(i) When information as to the commission of any such offence is given against any person by name and the case is not of a serious nature. As per Section 157(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in each of such cases, the officer-in-charge of the police station shall state in his report his reasons for not fully complying with the requirements and not proceeding to make an investigation on the spot.
If the police officer makes a wrong assessment as to the seriousness of the case, the superior police officer through whom the report is sent to the Magistrate as per Section 158 of the Code, can always give appropriate directions to the officer-in-charge of the police station to set right the course of his action.
(ii) When it appears to the officer in charge of a police station that there is no sufficient ground for entering on an investigation. As per Section 157(2) of the Code, the police officer is required to state in his report to the Magistrate his reasons for not proceeding to investigate the case.
The police officer is further required to notify immediately to the informant, if any, in the manner prescribed by the State Government, the fact that he would not investigate the case or cause it to be investigated.
This would enable the informant to approach a Magistrate or a superior police officer for redress, if he feels aggrieved by the view taken by the officer in charge of police station. The superior police officer can issue appropriate instructions to the officer in charge of police station when the report to the Magistrate reaches him to pass to the Magistrate.
In the investigation of any cognizable offence, the power of the police is uncontrolled by the Magistrate and the Magistrate can intervene and either direct investigation, or as an alternative, himself proceed or depute a Magistrate subordinate to him to proceed, to inquire into the case when the police decides not to investigate the case on insufficient grounds.
However, the Magistrate is not entitled to order investigation by a senior police officer other than an officer in charge of police station. The Magistrate is kept in the picture at all stages of the police investigation, but he is not authorized to interfere with the actual investigation or to direct the police how that investigation is to be conducted.
When the police officer reaches the spot he shall proceed to investigate the facts and circumstances of the case, and to arrest the offender. No arrest can be made because it is lawful for the police officer to do so.
No arrest should be made without a reasonable satisfaction reached after some investigation as to the genuineness and bona fides of a complaint and a reasonable belief both as to the person’s complicity and even so as to the need to effect arrest. No arrest can be made in a routine manner on a mere allegation of the commission of an offence made against a person. Denying a person his liberty is a serious matter.
The police should not cause delay in sending F.I.R. to the Magistrate. F.I.R. was recorded in the evening but a copy of the same was not sent to the Magistrate at his residence during night. However, it was sent at the earliest on next day in Court. It was held that it cannot be said that there was delay much less inordinate delay in sending a copy of report to the Magistrate. Therefore, the prosecution case cannot be thrown out on the ground of delay in sending a copy of report to the Magistrate.