October 2, 2022

A still from the movie 'kathal'

Section 172 CrPC- Importance of Police’s investigation diary in Trial

Section 172 is a section of reliability of police investigation diary in a trial. That section reads as follows: –

172. Diary of proceedings in investigation

(1) Every police officer making an investigation under this Chapter shall day by day enter his proceedings in the investigation in a diary, setting forth the time at which the information reached him, the time at which he began and closed his investigation, the place or places visited by him, and a statement of the circumstances ascertained through his investigation.

(2) Any Criminal Court may send for the police diaries of a case under inquiry or trial in such Court, and may use such diaries, not as evidence in the case, but to aid it in such inquiry or trial.

(3) Neither the accused nor his agents shall be entitled to call for such diaries, nor shall he or they be entitled to see them merely because they are referred to by the court; but, if they are used by the police officer who made them to refresh his memory, or if the court uses them for the purpose of contradicting such police officer, the provisions of section 161 or section 145, as the case may be, of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 shall apply.”

Object of the Section

The object of section 172 in providing for the maintenance of a diary of his proceedings by the police officer making an investigation under Chapter XII has been admirably stated by Edge, C.J. in Queen-Empress v. Mannu, in the following words:

“The early stages of the investigation which follows on the commission of a crime must necessarily in the vast majority of cases be left to the police, and until the honesty, the capacity, the discretion and the judgment of the police can be thoroughly trusted, it is necessary, for the protection of the public against criminals, for the vindication of the law and for the protection of those who are charged with having committed a criminal offence that the Magistrate or Judge before whom the case is for investigation or for trial should have the means of ascertaining what was the information, true, false, or misleading which was obtained from day to day by the police officer who was investigating the case and what such police officer acted.”

Brief Analysis

The criminal court holding an inquiry or trial of a case is therefore empowered by sub-section (2) of section 172 to send for the police diary of the case and the criminal court can use such dairy, not as evidence in the case, but to aid it in such inquiry or trial.

But, by reason of sub-section (3) of section 172, merely because the case, diary is referred to by criminal court, neither the accused nor his agents are entitled to call for such diary nor are they entitled to see it. If however the case diary is used by the police officer who has made it to refresh his memory or if the criminal court uses it for the purpose of contradicting such police officer in the inquiry or trial, the provisions of section 161 or section 145, as the case may be, of the Indian Evidence Act would apply and the accused would be entitled to see the particular entry in the case diary which has been referred to so far either of these purposes and so much of the diary as in the opinion of the Court is necessary to a full understanding of the particular entry so used.

It will thus be seen that the bar against production and use of case diary enacted in section 172 is intended to operate only in an inquiry or trial, for an offence and even this bar is a limited bar, because in an inquiry or trial, the bar does not operate if the case dairy is used by the police officer for refreshing his memory or the criminal court uses it for the purpose of contradicting such police officer. This bar can obviously have no application where a case diary is sought to be produced and used in evidence in a civil proceeding or in a proceeding under Article 32 or 226 of the Constitution and particularly when the party calling for the case diary is neither an accused nor his agent in respect of the offence to which the case diary relates.

Does the section apply to proceeding under Article 32?

As decided by supreme court in Khatri v. State of Bihar (1981), the section does not apply to the proceeding under article 32. Because, writ petition which has been filed under Article 32 of the Constitution to enforce the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 32 is neither an ‘inquiry’ nor a ‘trial’ for an offence nor is the supreme Court hearing the writ petition a criminal court.