1. CRIMINAL PROCEDURAL CODE, 1973
BY ARUNDHATI BANERJEE
SECTION 156: Police officer’s power to investigate cognizable
2. BARE ACT LANGUAGE EXPLAINED
(1) Any officer in charge of a police station may, without the order of a Magistrate, investigate
any cognizable case which a Court having jurisdiction over the local area within the limits of
such station would have power to inquire into or try under the provisions of Chapter XIII.
SATVINDER KAUR vs. STATE AIR 1999
The latter part of this sub section enables the police to investigate cognizable offences committed
beyond their local jurisdiction.
3. SECTION 156 CONTINUED…
(2) No proceeding of a police officer in any such case shall at any stage be called in question
on the ground that the case was one which such officer was not empowered under this section
NO QUESTIONS CAN BE ASKED WHY DID HE INVESTIGATE THE CASE WITHOUT HIS JURISDICTION
4. SECTION 156 CONTINUED…
AREA MAGISTRATE OR JUDGE
IT INCLUDES REGISTRATION OF AN FIR
FLOW CHART FOR EASY EXPLANATION
(3) Any magistrate empowered under section 190 may order such an investigation as above
COGNIZANCE OF OFFENCE BY
5. POINTS TO REMEMBER
• This Code does not confer the power to investigate on every police officer. According to Section 156,
only an officer in charge of a police station i.e., Station House officer (S.H.O.) is empowered to
investigate under Section 156, the S.H.O. may without the order of a Magistrate initiate any
cognizable case and such proceeding shall not at any stage be called in question on the ground that
the case was one which such officer was not empowered under this Section to investigate.
• The only limitation placed is that the cognizable offence be such as has been committed within the
limits of the jurisdiction of the Court which take cognizance of the matter and try the case.
• The jurisdiction principle regarding what cognizable cases be investigated by the police officer the
jurisdiction of Police officer is considered coterminous with the competency of the area magistrate
to try that particular case.
• As soon as the FIR regarding a cognizable offence is received, the machinery for investigation should
come into motion at once. Investigation of the cognizable offence does not require any prior
permission of the Magistrate or the Court.
6. POINTS TO REMEMBER CONTINUED…
• The process of investigation may start:
(1) Where FIR is given under Section 154
(2) Where the police officer has otherwise reason to suspect the commission of a cognizable offence
[Section 154(1) and 157(1)
(3) Where a competent Magistrate orders the police to investigate:
(a) A non-cognizable case [Section 155(2)]
(b) By sending a complaint to the police under Section 156(3) without taking cognizance of the
offence on a complaint under Section 200
(c) After taking cognizance of the offence on a complaint for the purpose of deciding as to the issue of
process against the accused [Section 202(1) and 203]
• In Section 156(3) the word ‘any magistrate’ does not include Executive Magistrate.
• A magistrate can order investigation under Section 156(3) only the pre-cognizance i.e., before
taking cognizance under Section 190, 200, and 204.
7. POINTS TO REMEMBER CONTINUED…
• Where a magistrate decides to take cognizance under the provisions of Chapter XIV he is not entitled by
law to order any investigation under Section 156(3) , though in cases not falling within the proviso to
Section 202, he can order an investigation by the police which would be in the nature of an inquiry as
contemplated by Section 202.
• When the magistrate chooses to take cognizance he can adopt any of the following alternatives:
(1) He can pursue the complaint and if satisfied that there are sufficient grounds for proceeding, he can
straightaway issue process to the accused but before he does so he must comply with the
requirements of Section 200 and record the evidence of the complainant or his witnesses.
(2) The magistrate can postpone the issue of process and direct an inquiry by himself.
(3) The magistrate can postpone the issue of process and direct an inquiry by any other person or an
investigation by the police.
• Where a magistrate orders investigation by the police before taking cognizance under Section 156(3)
and receives the report thereupon, he can act on the report and discharge the accused or straightaway
issue the process against the accused or apply hi mind to complaint filed before him and take under
8. CASES RELATED TO THIS SECTION
MADHUBALA vs. SURESH KUMAR AIR 1997
Whenever a Magistrate directs an investigation on a complaint the police has to register a cognizable case
treating the same as FIR. Once such a direction is given under Section 156(3), the police is required to
investigate and on completion of it to submit a police report in accordance with Section 173(2) on which a
Magistrate may take cognizance under Section 190(1)(b).
STATE OF U.P. vs. HARI MOHAN AIR 2001
When a case is made out against all or any one of the accused persons the fact that investigation was defective
in nature cannot be made a basis for acquittal of accused.
UNION OF INDIA vs. PRAKASH P. HINDUJA AIR 2003
A trial cannot be set aside unless the illegality in the investigation have brought about a miscarriage of justice.
An illegality committed in the course of investigation does not affect the competence and jurisdiction of the
court for trial.
NARESH K. KHATRI vs. STATE OF GUJARAT AIR 2008
If it is found that the investigation has been conducted by an investigation officer who did not have any
territorial jurisdiction in the matter the same should be transferred by him to the Police Station having requisite
9. CASES CONTINUED…
SOHAN LAL vs. STATE OF PUNJAB AIR 2003
The police can investigate even without a FIR, if a police officer has reason to suspect the commission of
a cognizable offence. FIR is only a report about commission of an offence and it is not a substantive
evidence, as the police has yet to investigate the offence.
RASIKLAL DALPATRAM THAKKAR vs. STATE OF GUJARAT AIR 2010
It is not within the jurisdiction of the investigating agency to restrain itself from holding a proper and
complete investigation merely upon arriving at a conclusion that the offences had been committed
beyond its territorial jurisdiction. The power vested in the investigating agency under the Section 156
does not restrict the jurisdiction of the agency to investigate into a complaint even it did not have the
territorial jurisdiction to do so.
MADHUBALA vs. SURESH KUMAR AIR 1997
Wherever a magistrate directs an investigation on a complaint the police has to register a cognizable
case treating the same as FIR. Once such a direction is given under Section 156(3), the police is required
to investigate and on completion of it to submit a police report in accordance with Section 173(2) on
which a magistrate may take cognizance under Section 190(1)(b).
10. CASES CONTINUED…
SAKIRI VASU vs. STATE OF U.P. AIR 2008
It is was held by the Supreme Court that Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. is wide enough to include all such powers in
a magistrate which are necessary for ensuring a proper investigation and it includes the powers to order
registration of an FIR and of ordering a proper investigation if the magistrate is satisfied that a proper
investigation has not been done, or is not being done by the police (though Magistrate cannot investigate
himself). Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. though briefly worded, in very wide and it will include all such incidental
powers as are necessary for ensuring a proper investigation.
BHAGWAN SINGH vs. STATE OF RAJASTHAN AIR 1976
A police head constable lodged FIR that bribe was offered to him. He himself investigated the case. Held
that the investigation by the complainant himself was an infirmity which was bound to reflect on the
credibility of the prosecution case.
MEGHA SINGH vs. STATE OF HARYANA AIR 1995
A head constable arrested the accused, recovered a pistol and cartridges from his possession and lodged an
FIR, yet he proceeded to examine witnesses. Held that the complainant himself should not have proceeded
11. DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SECTION 156(3) AND SECTION
The power to order investigation under Section 156(3) is different from the power to order investigation
under Section 202(1). The first is exercisable at the pre-cognizance stage, the second at the post
cognizance stage (when the Magistrate is seized of the case i.e., issue of process to the accused).
12. CASES RELATED…
MOHD. YOUSUF vs. AFAQ JAHAN AIR 2006
It was held that investigation envisaged in Section 156 is different from investigation under Section
202. Section 156 falls within Chapter XII which deals with powers of Police Officers to investigate
cognizable offence. Investigation under Section 202 is contained in Chapter XV. Investigation under
Chapter XII can be commenced even without order of Magistrate but that does not mean that when a
Magistrate orders investigation under Section 156(3).