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Report No. 41

14.21. Section 17.- supply of copies of documents to accused.-

Section 173 requires every investigation to be completed without delay, and on completion the police officer must send to the proper Magistrate a report in a form prescribed by the State Government, mentioning the particulars of the offence and of the accused and of the witnesses, apart from certain other matters. Further, the section provides that after sending such a report and, in any case, before the inquiry or trial starts in court, the police officer must furnish the accused certain documents, such as copies of statements of witnesses to be produced at the trial, copies of documents to be relied upon by the prosecution and copies of any confession made during investigations.

There has been a lot of complaint that these copies are not furnished in time in most cases, causing much avoidable delay. Also, we were told at nearly every place we visited that these copies prepared by the police are hardly legible, and nearly every time an adjournment becomes necessary to enable defence counsel to obtain legible copies. The copies are hurriedly prepared by hand in most cases. It is possible that police officers whose statutory duty it is to prepare and hand over the copies to the accused are not adequately equipped for the purpose, and the extra work involved has not led to a proportionate increase in the staff.

It would, we think, be much simpler if the statutory duty is shifted from the police to the Magistrate taking cognizance. He would then be in a better position to ensure that the case in court is not held up for want of proper copies and also to ensure that legible copies are furnished.

14.22. Where documents are voluminous, inspection should suffice.-

It has at times been found that documents relied upon by the prosecution are too voluminous to be copied out or even their extracts prepared. This difficulty has been felt particularly by the Central Bureau of Investigation while investigating complicated cases of commercial fraud where a large number of account books have to be produced in evidence. In the earlier Report,1 the Commission recommended that in such circumstances, and subject to the orders of a competent court, the documents may be made available for inspection by the accused. We agree that this should be provided.

1. 37th Report, para. 506(b).

14.23. R.-opening of investigation.-

A report under section 173 is normally the end of the investigation. Sometimes, however, the police officer after submitting the report under section 173 comes upon evidence bearing on the guilt or innocence of the accused. We should have thought that the police officer can collect that evidence and send it to the Magistrate concerned. It appears; however,1 that courts have sometimes taken the narrow view that once a final report under section 173 has been sent, the police cannot touch the case again and cannot r.-open the investigation. This view places a hindrance in the way of the investigating agency, which can be very unfair to the prosecution and, for that matter, even to the accused. It should be made clear in section 173 that the competent polic.-officer can examine such evidence and send a report to the magistrate. Copies concerning the fresh material must of course be furnished to the accused.

1. See 37th Report, para. 499 (Review cas.-law).

14.24. Section 173 revised.-

We propose that section 173'should be revised as follows.-

"173. Report of polic.-officer on completion of investigation.- (1) Every investigation under this Chapter shall be completed without unnecessary delay.

(2) As soon as it is completed, the officer in charge of the police station shall forward to a Magistrate empowered to take cognizance of the offence on a polic.-report a report, in the form prescribed by the State Government, s ta ting

(a) the names of the parties;

(b) the nature of the information;

(c) the names of the persons who appear to be acquainted with the circumstances of the case;

(d) whether any offence appears to have been committed, and if so, by whom;

(e) whether the accused has been arrested;

(f) whether he has been released on his bond under section 169, and, if so, whether with or without sureties;

(g) whether he has been forwarded in custody under section 170.

The officer shall also communicate, in such manner as may be prescribed by the State Government, the action taken by him to the person, if any, by whom the information relating to the commission of the offence was first given.

(3) Where a superior officer of police has been appointed under section 158, the report shall, in any case in which the State Government by general or special order so directs, be submitted through that officer, and he may, pending the orders of the Magistrate, direct that officer in charge of the polic.-station to make further investigation.

(4) Whenever it appears from a report forwarded under this section that the accused has been released on his bond, the Magistrate shall make such order for the discharge of such bond or otherwise as he thinks fit.

(5) When such report is in respect of a case to which section 170 applies, the polic.-officer shall forward to the Magistrate along with the repor.-

(a) all documents or relevant extracts thereof on which the prosecution proposes to rely other than those already sent to the Magistrate during investigation; and

(b) the statements recorded under. . .section 161 of all persons whom the prosecution proposes to examine as its witnesses.

(6) If the police officer is of opinion that any part of any such statement is not relevant to the subjec.-matter of the proceedings or that its disclosure to the accused is not essential in the interests of justice and is inexpedient in the public interest, he shall indicate that part of the statement and append a note requesting the Magistrate to exclude that part from the copies to be granted to the accused and stating his reasons for making such request.

(7) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to preclude further investigation in respect of an offence after a report under su.-section (2) has been forwarded to the Magistrate. Where upon such investigation, the officer in charge of the police station obtains further evidence, oral or documentary, he shall forward to the Magistrate a further report or reports regarding such evidence in the form prescribed; and the provisions of su.-sections (2) to (5) 4611, as far as may be, apply in relation to such report or reports as they apply in relation to a report under. su.-section (2)."

14.25. Sections 174 to 176.-

Section 174 provides for an inquest by the police in certain circumstances, and section 175 empowers a polic.-officer holding an inquest to summon two or more persons for the purpose. Every person questioned at the inquest is bound to answer truly the questions put to him. In the earlier Report1 the Commission has suggested the deletion of the word "truly", as it does not occur in section 161. Since we are now proposing to insert2 that word in section 161, it need not be taken out of section 176. In certain circumstances the inquest must be held by a magistrate and these are mentioned in section 176. We agree with the recommendation in the earlier Report3 that before holding the inquest the magistrate must inform the near relatives of the deceased so that they may, if sufficiently interested, attend the hearing. The following su.-section may be added to section 176:

"(3) Where an inquiry is to be held under this section, the Magistrate shall, wherever practicable, inform such of the near relatives of the deceased whose names and addresses are known, and shall allow them to remain present at the inquiry.

Explanatio.-In this su.-section, the expression 'near relatives' means parents, children, brothers, sisters and spouse."

1. 37th Report, para. 519.

2. See para. 14.10 above.

3. 37th Report, para. 522.

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 Back

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