Whether Magistrate u/s 156(3) CrPC can directregistration of FIR when inquest proceedings are pending. An examination of provisions of Chapter XII of CrPC shows that it provides for two
types of investigation. The first begins with information in cognizable offences referred inSection 154(1) culminating in registration of FIR and ends with the filing of charge sheet/challan before the court under Section 173. The other commences with the inquest proceedings and ends with filing of inquest report by the Police Officer before District Judge or SDM or by the Magistrate himself.
To understand the scope and ambit of the above mentioned topic we will have to understand first the powers of the Magistrate under section 156(3) of Criminal Procedure Code.
In general when can a Magistrate direct the Police to lodge the FIR. Under section 154 CrPC if upon recieving an information by the informant of commission of an Cognizable offence the Police officer refuses to lodge an FIR, then the same information shall be sent to the SP in writting and if the SP also refuses to take cognizance, the informant shall go to the Magistrate, and if magistrate has enough evidence which shows prima facie that offence has been commited, he can direct the SP to lodge FIR and proceed with investigation.
POWERS OF MAGISTRATE U/S 156(3) CrPC
Section 156(3) CrPC says that any magistrate empowered under section 190 CrPC may order any police officer in-charge of the area to investigate a cognizable offence Section 156(3) is very briefly worded. The powers of Magistrate are not expressly mentioned in section 156 (3) of CrPC If that be so, a paucity will be crept in mind that whether there is an implied power in the Magistrate under Section 156(3) CrPC to order registration of a criminal offence and /or to direct the officer in charge of the concerned police station to hold a proper investigation and take all such necessary steps that may be necessary for ensuring a proper investigation including monitoring the same or not.
As the section says that any magistrate empowered under section190 CrPC, we must give a brief look to the section for general understanding. Section 190 CrPC speaks of Taking Cognizance of offence by Magistrate
upon recieving a complaint of facts;
upon a police report of such facts;
upon information recieved fromany person other than a police officer or upon his
own knowledge, that such offence has been committed.
In Sakiri Vasu vs State Of U.P. And Others, it was held that if a person has a grievance that the police station is not registering his FIR under Section 154 CrPC, then he can approach the Superintendent of Police under Section 154(3) CrPC by an application in writing. Even if that does not yield any satisfactory result in the sense that either the FIR is still not registered, or that even after registering it no proper investigation is held, it is open to the aggrieved person to file an application under Section 156 (3) CrPC before the learned Magistrate concerned. If such an application under Section 156 (3) is filed before the Magistrate, the Magistrate can direct the FIR
to be registered and also can direct a proper investigation to be made, in a case where,
according to the aggrieved person, no proper investigation was made. The Magistrate
can also under the same provision monitor the investigation to ensure a proper investigation.
The commom word used here is Taking of Cognizance.
The Code of Criminal Procedure has not specified what cognizance is. Literally, it means ‘to be aware of’ but when used in respect to a trial or a magistrate it means ‘Judicial notice of an offence’ .Actually, taking cognizance does not require any formal action by the judge or magistrate, because as long as a magistrate turns his mind to the alleged crime of an offence for the purpose of taking further actions under the Code of Criminal Procedure, such as summoning an accused on the basis of the information available for prosecution or trial, cognizance can be said to have been taken.
In simple terms, cognizance can be interpreted as looking through a narrow keyhole and evaluating whether or not an offence has been committed, and if it has been committed at all, then whether certain parts of the IPC or any other special statute are attracted or not. The underlying principle in law or aim of cognizance is to maintain a ‘judicial check’ on the police, as a judicial officer by taking cognizance examines whether or not the crimes have actually been committed. Thus, in the Code, the word cognizance is used to denote the points when the Magistrate or Judge first takes legal notice of an offence. It is an infinite term of import, which may not always be used in precisely the same context.
NOW before proceeding further we should have a look on “What is Inquest?”An inquest is an inquiry into the manner of death of a person who has died under suspicious circumstances. An inquest by the police falls under S.174 of the CrPC. The main object is to ascertain the cause of death in cases of suicide, unnatural death and death caused in commission of offence, etc.
An inquest by the magistrate falls under S.176 of the CrPC. Its main object is to determine the cause of death occurring in police custody and in the cases mentioned in S.174.
The Inquest report may or may not lead to registration of an FIR, but it would not operate as a bar to such registration on informant/complainant’s information/complaint if it otherwise prima facie disclosed a cognizable offence. Nor does it serve as a substitute for the investigative process that commences with registration of an FIR.
Earlier what was happening that Police was rarely registering FIR in such cases and
even if it registered under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (inquiring
suicide or suspicious death), and subsequently found out that no offence has been
made out, they filed a final report before an Executive Magistrate and closed the
entire case without even intimating the victim or complainant and the judicial
The Inquest report may or may not lead to registration of an FIR, but it would not
operate as a bar to such registration on informant/complainant’s
information/complaint if it otherwise prima facie disclosed a cognizable offence. Nor
does it serve as a substitute for the investigative process that commences with
registration of an FIR
Stating that such a practice is erroneous and is in violation of the provisions of the
CrPC, Justice Venkatesh in Madurai Bench of Madras High Court vs Dist. Suptd.
Of Police, gave certain instructions to the police on how to proceed in such cases.
In Manoj K Sharma vs. State of Chhatisgarh The court held that Sections 174 and
175 of the Code affords a complete Code in itself for the purpose of “inquiries” in
cases of accidental or suspicious deaths and are entirely distinct from the
“investigation” under Section 154, Section 157 of the Code.
So don’t confuse inquest with investigation even though it started after filing of FIR.
Investigation will start after conclusion of inquest.
In Radha Mohan Singh v State of Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court held that
section 174 is limited and confined to the ascertainment of the apparent cause of death.
The PO/magistrate is therefore bound by the limited scope of Section 174 and does
not have to trace the person who has caused the death or determine who assaulted the
dead person or in what manner or under what circumstances, etc. It is duty of the
PO/magistrate therefore to not mention the name of the accused in the inquest report.
In Shakila Khader v Nausher Gama, the apex court held that for the purpose of
preparing the inquest report, there need not be examination of all the witnesses as the
purpose of the inquest is only to establish the cause of death.
Hence, the purpose of the inquest report is to establish the cause of death and not do
investigation.Section 2(a) of the CrPC defines “Investigation” as including all the
proceedings under this code for the collection of evidence conducted by the police
In George Vs. State of Kerala AIR 1998 SC 1376, it has been held that the
Investigating Office is not obliged to investigate, at the stage of Inquest, or to
ascertain as to who were the assailants.
Generally it is also contended in the Court of Law that the FIR is registered after the
In Balaka Singh’s case, it was observed by this Court, that the names of four accused
out of nine were missing in the body of the Inquest Report and this omission was not
explained and, therefore, it lead to the probability that FIR must have been prepared
after the preparation of Inquest Report. That was a case where there were nine
accused persons and the names of five accused were mentioned in the Inquest Report.
The A.S.I. had no valid explanation for the same. It was also found by the Court that
FIR was registered subsequently. Therefore, the observation of this Court is to be
understood in that background. We do not think that this decision lays down that
under all circumstances, the First Information Report loses its authenticity, if it is filed
after Inquest Report.
In Joint Women’s Programme v. State of Rajasthan 1987 SC, the case was of
mysterious death of two women and the inquest proceeding was going on, the court
prima facie sensed the commision of offence and ordered to lodge FIR and proceed
with the investigation. The order was challenged and eventually came up to the SC,
which also upheld the order and held that “By way of an interim order we direct the
State of Rajasthan and the State of Haryana and the concerned Police officials to
proceed with the investigation into the unnatural deaths of Mrs. Kantha and Mrs,
But in some cases where the Magistrate donot have sufficient material before him and
the inquest report is awaited u/s 174 CrPc or 176 CrPC, the court will not order for the
lodgement of the FIR to investigate before the Inquest and Post mortrtem report.
Thus, it can be safely concluded that in order to keep the wheels of our criminal
justice system moving, filing of “FIR” is most essential. In case of non-registration
of FIR, as per previous provisions then the complainant can move under Sec 156(3)
and can approach Magistrate. It is well-settled law that 156(3) is a resort for
registration of FIR in the event the police do not entertain one’s complaint. Directly
approaching High Court for registration of the FIR either by filing a writ
petition/application under Article 226 of Constitution of India or section 482 of CrPC
would cause dismissal of the petition out rightly. Therefore, the crux of the matter is
to exhaust the remedies chronologically, categorically and cautiously in light of the
aforementioned legal scheme of provisions
The question that whether magistrate u/s 156(3) CrPC can direct registration of FIR
when inquest proceedings are pending, is merely a question to look into on the basis
of facts and circumstances of different cases. Inquest proceedings and Investigation
are two different aspects and should be confused as similar or barier to each other.So
don’t confuse inquest with investigation even though it started after filing of FIR.
Investigation will start after conclusion of inquest. The purpose of the inquest report is
to determine the probable cause of death and not investigation and on the other hand
the investigation means the collection of evidence and finding the some one to accuse
of such offence. Hence, as per the question that a magistrate u/s 156(3) CrPC can
direct the registration of FIR when inquest proceedings are pending , yes, but will he,
it depends on case to case merely on the facts and circumstances on the concerned
If Magistrate has sufficient material or cause to believe that an cognizable offence has
been committed, he may u/s 156(3) direct the registration of the FIR even when
inquest proceedings u/s 174 or 176 CrPC are pending. But if suffient material or cause
is not before the mgistrate, he cannot direct the registration of the FIR.
Sufficient material or cause also depends on facts and circumstances of the case, and
it should be as sufficient that it shows prima facie that the offince has been
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