If any information disclosing a cognizable offence is laid before an officer-in-charge of a police station satisfying the requirements of Section 154(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, the said police officer has no other option except to enter the substance thereof in the prescribed form, that is to say, to register a case on the basis of such information.
Though a police officer cannot investigate a non-cognizable offence, he can investigate a non-cognizable offence under the order of a Magistrate having power to try such non- cognizable case or commit the same for trial within the terms under Section 155(2) of the criminal procedure Code but subject to Section 155(3) of the Code.
Further, under the newly introduced Sub-section (4) to Section 155, where a case relates to two offences to which atleast one is cognizable, the case shall be deemed to be a cognizable case notwithstanding that the other offences are non-cognizable and, therefore, under such circumstances the police officers can investigate such offences with the same powers as he has while investigating a cognizable offence.
The core of the Sections 156, 157 and 159 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is that if a police officer has reason to suspect the commission of a cognizable offence, he must either proceed with the investigation or cause an investigation to be proceeded with by his subordinate; that in a case where the police officer sees no sufficient ground for investigation, he can dispense with the investigation altogether; that the field of investigation of any cognizable offence is exclusively within the domain of the investigation agencies over which the Courts cannot have control and have no power to stifle or impinge upon the proceedings in the investigation so long as the investigation proceeds in compliance with the provisions relating to investigation and,
that it is only in a case wherein a police officer decides not to investigate an offence, the concerned Magistrate can intervene and either direct an investigation or in the alternative, if he thinks fit, he himself can, at once proceed or depute any Magistrate sub-ordinate to him to proceed to hold a preliminary inquiry into or otherwise to dispose of the case in the manner provided in the Code.
The expression “reason to suspect the commission of an offence” used in Section 154(1) Cr. P.C. would mean the sagacity of rationally inferring the commission of a cognizable offence based on the specific articulate facts mentioned in the First Information Report as well in the Annexures, if any, enclosed and any attending circumstances which may not amount to proof.
In other words, the meaning of the expression “reason to suspect” has to be governed and dictated by the facts and circumstances of each case and at ï7 in the First Information Report does not arise.
The commencement of investigation by a police officer is subject to two conditions, firstly, the police officer should have reason to suspect the commission of a cognizable offence as required by Section 157(1) and secondly, the police officer should subjectively satisfy himself as to whether there is sufficient ground for entering on an investigation even before he starts an investigation into the facts and circumstances of the case as contemplated under clause (b) of the proviso to Section 157(1) of the Code.
The investigation of an offence is the field exclusively reserved for the police officers whose powers in that field are unfettered so long as the power to investigate into the cognizable offences is legitimately exercised in strict compliance with the provisions falling under Chapter XII of the Code and the Courts are not justified in obliterating the track of investigation when the investigating agencies are well within their legal bounds.
A noticeable feature of the scheme under Chapter XIV of the Code is that a Magistrate is kept in the picture at all stages of the police investigation but he is not authorised to interfere with the actual investigation or to direct the police how that investigation is to be conducted. But if a police officer transgresses the circumscribed limits and improperly and illegally exercises his investigatory powers in breach of any statutory provision causing serious prejudice to the personal liberty and also property of a citizen, then the Court, on being approached by the person aggrieved for the redress of any grievance has to consider the nature and extent of the breach and pass appropriate orders as may be called for without leaving the citizens to the mercy of police echelons since human dignity is a dear value of our Constitution. No one can demand absolute immunity even if he is wrong and claim unquestionable right and unlimited powers exercisable upto unfathomable cosmos.
In the exercise of the extra-ordinary power under Article 226 or the inherent powers under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the following categories of cases are given by way of illustration wherein such power could be exercised either to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice, though it may not be possible to lay down any precise, clearly defined and sufficiently channelized and inflexible guidelines myriad kinds of cases wherein such power should be exercised:
(a) where the allegations made in the First Information Report or the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused;
(b) where the allegations in the First Information Report and other materials, if any, accompanying the F.I.R. do not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police officers under Section 156(1) of the Code except under an order of a Magistrate within the purview of Section 155(2) of the Code;
(c) where the uncontroverted allegations made in the FIR or ‘complaint and the evidence collected in support of the same do not disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the accused;
(d) where the allegations in the FIR do not constitute a cognizable offence but constitute only a non-cognizable offence, no investigation is permitted by a police officer without an order of a Magistrate as contemplated under Section 155(2) of the Code;
(e) where the allegations made in the FIR or complaint are so absurd and inherently improbable on the basis of which no prudent person can ever reach a just conclusion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused;
(f) where there is an express legal bar engrafted in any of the provisions of the Code or the concerned Act (under which a criminal proceeding is instituted) to the institution and continuance of the proceedings and/or where there is a specific provision in the Code or the concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for the grievance of the aggrieved party;
(g) where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide and/or where the proceeding is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and personal grudge.