Unveiling the Dynamics of Investigation, Inquiry, and Trial in Criminal Proceedings
Adv Md Kasif Khan

Unveiling the Dynamics of Investigation, Inquiry, and Trial in Criminal Proceedings

Download FREE LegalStix App

Unveiling the Dynamics of Investigation, Inquiry, and Trial in Criminal Proceedings 


Criminal proceedings in India navigate through three distinct phases: investigation, inquiry, and trial. Each stage plays a crucial role in ensuring justice is served. Section 2(g) and Section 2(h) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) delineate the definitions and nuances associated with these key components of the legal process.

Investigation (Section 2(h)):

Investigation, as defined in Section 2(h), encompasses all proceedings under the Code for the collection of evidence conducted by the police officer or any person authorized by them, excluding magistrates. The primary purpose of investigation is the meticulous gathering of evidence. While typically conducted by the police, in certain circumstances, a magistrate may authorize a non-police officer to conduct an investigation.

Key aspects of investigation include:

  1. Proceeding to the spot of occurrence.
  2. Ascertainment of facts and circumstances.
  3. Discovery and arrest of suspected individuals.
  4. Collection of information related to the offense, involving the examination of persons, recording statements, searches of places, and seizure of articles or samples, including DNA and forensic samples.
  5. Forming an opinion on whether there is a case to produce the accused before the court for trial, leading to the filing of a charge sheet, or deciding to drop the case and file a final report.

Inquiry (Section 2(g):

Section 2(g) defines an inquiry as every proceeding, other than a trial, conducted by a magistrate or court under the Code. The fundamental purpose of an inquiry is to ascertain the truth or falsity of facts, paving the way for further proceedings under the Code. Importantly, inquiry and trial do not overlap, with inquiry ceasing once the trial begins.

Proceedings under various sections, such as Sections 107, 108, 109, 110, 125, 133, 144, 145, 147, 148, 202, and 340 of the Code, are considered inquiries.

Trial of Cases:

Although the term 'trial' is not explicitly defined in the Code, it can be understood as a proceeding to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. Trials conclude with either the acquittal or conviction of the accused. The overarching purpose of a trial is to establish whether the accused is guilty or not.

Key observations regarding trials include:

  1. Trial is a purely judicial proceeding.
  2. The trial concludes with either the conviction or acquittal of the accused.
  3. The Supreme Court, in the case of Harchand Singh v. State of Haryana, defined trial as a proceeding to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused.

Distinguishing Investigation, Inquiry, and Trial:

  1. A trial is a purely judicial proceeding, while both an inquiry and trial may be conducted by a court or magistrate. On the other hand investigation, always a non-judicial proceeding, is conducted by the police or other investigative agencies.
  2. Trials exclusively focus on offenses, whereas inquiries or investigations may extend beyond offenses to cover other matters.
  3. The trial culminates in the conviction or acquittal of the accused, whereas the investigation concludes with the filing of a police report, and inquiry comes to an end when trials starts.


Understanding the distinctive roles of investigation, inquiry, and trial is imperative for comprehending the intricate legal processes in criminal proceedings. Each stage contributes uniquely to the pursuit of justice, ensuring a fair and impartial resolution in accordance with the provisions laid out in the Code of Criminal Procedure.


Loading Result...

Download FREE LegalStix App

Get instant updates!

Request a callback
Register Now