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Chargesheets Submitted By Police Officers Must Have All Necessary Details As Per Section 173(2) CrPC: SC

Introduction: The recent judgment by the Supreme Court in Dablu Kujur vs The State of Jharkhand emphasizes the importance of comprehensive details in chargesheets submitted by police officers as per Section 173(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). This article delves into the significance of this ruling, its implications, and the directives provided by the apex court.

While ruling on a very significant legal point pertaining to the investigation done by the police officers and filing of charge sheets, the Supreme Court in a most learned, laudable, landmark, logical and latest judgment titled Dablu Kujur vs The State of Jharkhand in Criminal Appeal No. 1511 of 2024 (@Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No.2874 of 2023) and cited in Neutral Citation No.: 2024 INSC 197 that was pronounced as recently as on March 12, 2024 in the exercise of its criminal appellate jurisdiction has minced just no words to unequivocally hold that police officers submitting the police report/chargesheet to the Magistrate as per the State Police Manual shall abide by the particulars of Section 173 (2) and directed the officers in charge of every police station across the country to strictly comply with the mandatory requirements of Section 173 (2) and directed the officers in charge of every police station across the country to strictly comply with the mandatory requirements of Section 173 (2) of CrPC failing which it shall be strictly viewed by the concerned courts i.e. where the chargesheet/police report is filed. It must be noted that a Bench of Apex Court comprising of Hon’ble Ms Justice Bela M Trivedi and Hon’ble Mr Justice Pankaj Mithal clearly stated that a charge sheet is nothing but a final report of the police officer under Section 173(2) of CrPC. It must be borne in mind that the Apex Court noted that in many States like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, charge sheets are being filed bereft of details and particulars.

It must be disclosed here that the Apex Court was dealing with a bail plea that had been filed by the murder accused Dablu Kujur. It is also worth mentioning that the top court declined the relief as the trial was at the fag end. But the Bench noted that the charge sheet filed by the Jharkhand police in this case did not contain complete details and was bereft of particulars.

At the very outset, this cogent, concise, commendable and creditworthy judgment authored by Hon’ble Ms Justice Bela M Trivedi for a Bench of the Apex Court comprising of herself and Hon’ble Mr Justice Pankaj Mithal sets the ball in motion by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “Leave granted.”

To put things in perspective, the Bench envisages in para 2 that, “The appellant-accused, by way of the present appeal has challenged the impugned judgment and order dated 17.01.2023 passed by the High Court of Jharkhand at Ranchi in B.A. No.11895 of 2022, whereby the High Court has dismissed the said application seeking his release on bail in respect of the FIR being Sukhdeonagar P.S. Case No.-238/2022 dated 30.05.2022 registered for the offences under Sections 302, 120-B/34 of IPC and Section 25(1-B) A/26/27/35 of the Arms Act.”

As things stands, the Bench mentions in para 6 that, “In compliance with the said order, the affidavits are filed on behalf of the State of Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with regard to the steps taken/being taken by them for submitting the Chargesheets/Police Reports in accordance with law.”

Quite significantly, the Bench propounds in para 7 that, “The Police Report submitted by the police under Section 173(2) being very important piece of document from the view point of the prosecution, the defence and the court, we deem it necessary to elaborately deal with the various aspects involved in the said provision. For the reasons stated hereinafter, we are of the opinion that it is incumbent on the part of the Investigating Officer to strictly comply with the requirements of the said provisions, as noncompliance thereof gives rise to many legal issues in the court of law.”

Simply put, the Bench enunciates in para 8 that, “As per Section 2(r) of Cr.P.C, “Police Report” means a report forwarded by a Police Officer to a Magistrate under sub-section (2) of Section 173.”

Do note, the Bench notes in para 11 that, “Section 172 pertains to the Diary of proceedings in investigation, which requires every police officer making an investigation under Chapter XII Cr.P.C. to enter his proceedings in the investigation in a diary day by day. Sub-section (IA) of Section 172 requires that the statements of the witnesses recorded during the course of investigation under section 161 have to be inserted in the case diary; and sub-section (1B) of Section 172 requires that such diary shall be a volume and duly paginated.”

Be it noted, the Bench notes in para 12 that, “We are more concerned with Section 173(2) as we have found that the investigating officers while submitting the chargesheet/Police Report do not comply with the requirements of the said provision. Though it is true that the form of the report to be submitted under Section 173(2) has to be prescribed by the State Government and each State Government has its own Police Manual to be followed by the police officers while discharging their duty, the mandatory requirements required to be complied with by such officers in the Police Report/Chargesheet are laid down in Section 173, more particularly sub-section (2) thereof.”

It is worth noting that the Bench notes in para 13 that, “It may be noted that though there are various reports required to be submitted by the police in charge of the police station before, during and after the investigation as contemplated in Chapter XII of Cr.P.C., it is only the report forwarded by the police officer to the Magistrate under sub-section (2) of Section 173 Cr.P.C. that can form the basis for the competent court for taking cognizance thereupon. A chargesheet is nothing but a final report of the police officer under Section 173(2) of Cr.P.C. It is an opinion or intimation of the investigating officer to the concerned court that on the material collected during the course of investigation, an offence appears to have been committed by the particular person or persons, or that no offence appears to have been committed.”

Most significantly, the Bench mandates in para 17 what constitutes the cornerstone of this notable judgment stating that, “Ergo, having regard to the provisions contained in Section 173 it is hereby directed that the Report of police officer on the completion of investigation shall contain the following: –

(i) A report in the form prescribed by the State Government stating-

(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 and, if so, whether with or without sureties;

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

(h) Whether the report of medical examination of the woman has been attached where investigation relates to an offence under [sections 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB] or section 376E of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860)”

(ii) If upon the completion of investigation, there is no sufficient evidence or reasonable ground of suspicion to justify the forwarding of the accused to a Magistrate, the Police officer in charge shall clearly state in the Report about the compliance of Section 169 Cr.PC.

(iii) When the report in respect of a case to which Section 170 applies, the police officer shall forward to the Magistrate along with the report, all the documents or relevant extracts thereof on which the prosecution proposes to rely other than those already sent to the Magistrate during investigation; and the statements recorded under Section 161 of all the persons whom the prosecution proposes to examine as its witnesses.

(iv) In case of further investigation, the Police officer in charge shall forward to the Magistrate a further report or reports regarding such evidence in the form prescribed and shall also comply with the details mentioned in the above sub para (i) to (iii).”

Further, the Bench directs in para 18 that, “It is further directed that the officer in charge of the police stations in every State shall strictly comply with the afore-stated directions, and the non-compliance thereof shall be strictly viewed by the concerned courts in which the Police Reports are submitted.”

Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 19 that, “Copy of this order be sent to all the Chief Secretaries of the States/UTs as also to Registrar Generals of the High Courts for perusal and compliance. The appeal stands disposed of accordingly.”

In a nutshell, we thus see that the Apex Court has made it indubitably clear that the chargesheet submitted by police officers must have all the necessary details as per Section 173 (2) of CrPC. We also see that on July 17, 2023, the Apex Court sought affidavits from DGPs after noting similar charge sheets bereft of details and particulars are being filed in the States of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. So it is the bounden duty of the DGPs to ensure that what has been directed to by the top court is strictly complied with in totality! No denying it!

Conclusion: The Supreme Court’s ruling underscores the significance of meticulousness in chargesheets submitted by police officers. It emphasizes the need for adherence to legal provisions outlined in Section 173(2) of the CrPC. The directive serves to uphold the integrity of criminal proceedings and ensure fair administration of justice. It is imperative for law enforcement authorities to implement these directives effectively to maintain transparency and accountability in the legal process.

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April 2024