Role Of Police And Its Power To Investigate






According to the preamble of  Police Act, 1861 “the police officer is an instrument for the prevention and detection of crime. If any person is in trouble or he is having threat to his life he always remember the protector of our rights i.e police. The overall administration of the police is vested in hands of the state. Police department comes under the control of home ministry of  the state. The head of the overall police department in the state is Director-General of police and in every district it vests with District-superintendent of police. Whereas in cities or metropolitan areas it is the commissioner of police who takes charge of overall administration. Police department plays an important role in maintaining peace and order. The derive the power to investigate from Criminal Procedure Code.


Police plays a crucial role in combating crime, preserving peace, maintaining public order. They basically play a dual role while maintaining  law and order of any state. They also control illegal activities and sale of illegal articles to which many people fall prey and destroy their life. The role of the police officers in nutshell are:

  1. To prevent crimes
  2. To protect public properties
  3. To promote and preserve public order
  4. To maintain law and order.
  5. To prevent and control terrorist activities.
  6. To protect internal security
  7. To prevent commission of any cognizable offences
  8. To accurately register complaint brought by complainant
  9. To register Zero FIR and not to just deny the person to lodge the complaint just because the place where offence was committed  doesn’t comes under their jurisdiction
  10. Preserve, promote and protect human rights and interest of weaker section, backward classes.
  11. To take preventive action but a police must not exercise this power arbitrarily.
  12. To do patrolling and prohibit sale of illegal articles.
  13. VIP security and performance of various duties while visit of any VIP.



The power of investigation by police may start:

  • Where FIR is given under section 154 CrPC; or
  • Where the police officer has otherwise reason to suspect the commission of a cognizable offence [ S. 157(1) & 156(1) CrPC ] or
  • Where a competent Magistrate orders the police under Section 156(3) without taking cognizance of the offence on a complaint under section 200.
  • After taking cognizance of the offence on a complaint for the purpose of deciding as to the issue of process against the accused. [S.202(1) & S.203 CrPC]

Power to investigate in cases of non-cognizabe offences: S.155(2) CrPC

A magistrate under certain circumstances can also order a police officer in charge of a police station to investigate a cognizable or even a non- cognizable case. Where a Magistrate under section 155(2) gives an order to a police officer to investigate a non-cognizable offence, the police officer receiving such order may exercise the same powers in respect of the investigation except the power to arrest without warrant which he do in a cognizable case.

Procedure to investigate in case of a cognizable offence: S. 156 CrPC

In case of  a cognizable offences, the investigation is initiated by the giving of information under section 154 CrPC to a police officer in charge of a police station. Police officer’s power to investigate in a cognizabe offence is given under section 156 crPC. Any police officer without the order of a magistrate can investigate any cognizabe case. According to section 156(3) CrPC any magistrate empowered under section 190 Crpc can order a police officer in charge of a police station to investigate any cognizable offence. Section 190 empowers magistrate to take cognizance upon receiving any complaint or upon police report (challan) or upon information received from any person other than police officer  who is having knowledge that such offence is committed. In case of Tula Ram v kishore singh a magistrate can order investigation under section 156(3) only at the pre-cognizance stage.

Procedure for investigation: S. 157 CrPC

If a reasonable suspension of  the commission of cognizable offence exist, the Police officer shall forthwith send the copy of report to the magistrate who is empowered to take cognizance of such offence upon  a police report. Herein the basis for suspension may be FIR received under S.154 or any other information of the police.

It was held in case of state of  Maharashtra v sarangdharsingh shivdassingh chavan that “Even without any FIR if a police officer in charge of a police station has reason to suspect the commission of cognizable offence, he can proceed to investigate the offence under section 157(1).”


Power of police to require attendance of witnesss:

According to section 160 police officer may by order in writing require attendance of witnesses. Provided that no male person under the age of 50 years or above 65 years or a woman or a menatally or physically disabled shall be required to attend at any place other than the place in which such person abovementioned resides.

Examination of witnesses by police:

As per section 161 CrPC statements are taken from the person who are acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case and are reduced into writing.

By the amendment act 2013 it was stated that the statement of a woman against whom an offence under S. 354, S. 354-A, 354-B, 354-C, 354-D or section 376, 376-A, 376-B, 376-C, 376-D, 376-E or Section 509 is alleged to have been committed or attempted shall be recorded by a woman police officer.

Power to submit charge sheet after completing investigation under section 173:

Police submits charge sheet after completion of investigation. It consist of  FIR copy , statement of complainant/ informant, statement of  witness, panchas, panchnama, dying declaration, recovery of articles, etc.

Other powers of police under CrPC:

  • Medical examination of the victim of rape
  • Search by police officer
  • Police seeks police custody under section 167 when investigation is not completed within 24 hours. Police custody is given maximum up to 15 days. This is called as police custody.
  • The magistrate may authorize the detention of the accused person otherwise than in the custody of police beyond the period of 15 days, if he is satisfied that adequate grounds exist but the detention should not exceed 90 days where the investigation relates to an offence  punishable with death, life imprisonment, or 10 years imprisonment and detention should also not exceed 60 days in case of other offences.
  • On the expiry of said period of 90 days or 60 days the accused shall be released on bail if he is prepared to and does furnish bail.
  • Police can release the accused when evidence is deficient as per section 169 CrPC.
  • Police power to inquire and report on suicide is given in section 174



This led us to infer that the role of police is crucial and they must exercise their power sparingly and not arbitrarily. In case of kalpana kutty v state of Maharashtra  it was held that “ if information of cognizable offence is received by officer he should register FIR as per S. 154(1) CrPC. Police ultimately protect the rights of persons and maintain law and order in the state.





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