Judicial nod not needed for additional probe: Apex court

April 4th, 2009 - 12:48 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rana Ajit
New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) The Supreme Court has held that police need permission from the judiciary only for a fresh probe into a criminal case and not for any additional probe.

Various legal “provisions make it clear that further investigation is permissible, but reinvestigation is prohibited. The law does not mandate taking of prior permission from the magistrate for further investigation,” said a bench of Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice P. Sathasivam in a significant ruling delivered this week.

“Carrying out further investigation even after filing of the chargesheet is a statutory right of the police. Reinvestigation without prior permission is prohibited. But further investigation is permissible,” said the bench.

The bench gave its ruling, elaborating upon joint effects of sections 173 (2), 173 (8) and 231 of the Criminal Procedure Code, on the power of an investigative agency or the police to probe a criminal offence, while hearing the plea of Rama Chaudhary of Siwan in Bihar, facing trial in a case of kidnapping and murder committed in January 2001.

Chaudhary had moved the apex court, challenging the Bihar police’s act of filing a second chargesheet in September 2007, indicting the accused further, when the trial against him - started on the basis of the first chargesheet filed August 2003 - was already on the verge of completion.

While the police had cited 18 witnesses in the case against Chaudhary in the first chargesheet, in the second chargesheet, filed after a further probe into the case, the police sought to bring eight more witnesses to the court.

Elaborating upon the difference between the further or additional probe and fresh probe or reinvestigation, the bench said: “From a plain reading of the relevant legal provisions, the police has a right to ‘further’ investigation but not ‘fresh investigation’ or ‘reinvestigation’.”

“The meaning of ‘further’ is additional; more; or supplemental. Further investigation, therefore, is the continuation of the earlier investigation and not a fresh investigation or reinvestigation, started from scratch, wiping out the earlier investigation altogether,” said the bench.

(Rana Ajit can be contacted at rana.ajit@ians.in)

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