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Procedures involved in investigating a case of Motor Accident

Consider a situation where a recklessly speeding car collides with a motorcycle while driving on a bridge connecting two areas falling under different police limits. The motorist falls down and suffers grave injuries. Following are the procedures involved in investigating such a case of motor accident.

Information to the police:

If the information is given by an unknown person, through telephone, the police may enter the message in the general diary and may conduct the preliminary inquiry. The FIR cannot be filled based on the cryptic telephonic message [i]

If the information has been verified and either a statement has been recorded from the sender in writing or a confirmatory written and signed complaint has been received from the informant, then FIR can be filed based on the information. [ii]

If the first informant, who gave the information through telephone is unknown, then the victim’s complaint can be treated as the information for first information report

Note: The object and purpose of giving telephonic message was not to lodge the FIR, but to request the officer in-charge of the police station to reach the place of occurrence.[iii]

If the information is given by the injured, then the police may file the FIR and take cognizance of the case.

Doubtful jurisdiction

Every police station will have a Jurisdiction chart or a police limit chart which will clearly state the boundaries of the police station.
However, when there is an ambiguity about station limits of occurrence, the police to whom it is first reported shall first register the case, and take up the investigation, the station which should retain it shall be settled subsequently. [iv]

First Information report

The filling of first information report is mandated by Sec.154 of Cr PC. The Madras Police Standing Order( herein after PSO) through order no.551 has required the registration of the first information in the FIR book i.e., Form no.73
  • In the present case, the FIR would be registered for sec. 279 of IPC, sec.336 of IPC, sec.337 of IPC
  • According to order 552 of PSO, the FIR has to be sent to he magistrate without any inordinate delay
  • According to PSO 582 Whenever a road accident causing death or bodily injury occurs, or a road accident involving damage is either reported or otherwise brought to the notice of the police.
  • The station house officer concerned shall after prompt enquiry, prepare a report in Form No. 67 in respect of accident involving motor accidents and Form no 70 in respect of accidents in which non-motor vehicles are involved.
     

Duty of investigating officer at the Scene of Crime:

As soon as a police officer reaches the scene of crime, he has to:
  1. Arrange to remove the injured, if any, to the nearest hospital. If the accident is fatal the body should be immediately sent to the nearest mortuary through casualty[v]
  2. The vehicle should not impede the flow of traffic. The relative positions of the vehicles should be marked and the vehicles must be removed to a convenient position by the side of the road and free flow of traffic allowed[vi]
  3. The motor vehicle inspector shall inspect the vehicle involved in the accident. He is empowered to do so, according to sec.136 of Motor Vehicles Act.
  4. Witness to the occurrence has to be retained till traffic investigation staff arrive and if it is not possible, the names and addresses are to be noted down by the officer present at the scene[vii]

Investigation:

Rough sketch: it is an important duty of the investigating officer to draw a rough sketch of the scene of crime to explain the scene of crime at the court of law.[viii] The sketch map would be admissible so far as it indicates all that the inspector saw himself at the spot[ix]

The photographs of the vehicle, injured portions of the vehicle, broken glasses, skid-marks and tire marks are taken from different corners.[x]

Preparing Mahazar: when any property is recovered by a police officer otherwise than on formal search of premises, a contemporaneous record of the facts relating to such recovery may be prepared by him in Form no.86 and may be attested by witness present at the time of such recovery. The record so made is admissible in evidence to corroborate the testimony of the police officer who prepared it, or may be used to refresh his memory.[xi]

Observation Mahazar: when material fact which may be of value as evidence are observed by an investigating officer at the time when such facts are observed, a record of the facts, illustrated if necessary by a rough plan, the witness may sign the record after its content have been read over and carefully explained to them[xii]

Statement of witnesses: according to section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the police officer shall examine orally any person supposed to be acquainted with the facts and circumstance of the case. The police officer may reduce into writing any statement made to him during the course of examination. For the purpose of this case, the statement of the eye witnesses, corroborative witnesses, MV inspector, photographer, medical officer, investigating officer will be taken.

The report of the motor vehicles inspector and the wound certificate given by the doctor who treated the injured will be collected

Case Diary: the record of an investigation will be made in the case diary (Form No.74) which is the diary prescribed in Section 172 of Cr.PC.[xiii].

The case diary may contain two parts:
  1. Investigation part
  2. Statement of witness recorded under section 162
The second part alone would be handed over to the Magistrate’s clerk for making out copies to be furnished to the accused[xiv]. The case diary forms should be used for applying to the magistrates for the warrants of arrest, proclamations and other orders concerned with investigation and for forwarding search list, provided that these communications refer to registered case. Otherwise the memorandum form (Form no.61) will be used.
Arrest

According to section 41 of the code, Any police officer may without an order from a magistrate and without a warrant arrest any person- who has been concerned in any cognizable offence or against whom a reasonable complaint has been made, or credible information has been received, or a reasonable suspicion exists, of his having been so concerned[xv].

If the accused is willing to give confession, he may give the confession in front of a judicial magistrate in accordance with section 164 of the Cr.PC.

When a person is arrested in case of a bailable offence, the accused has the right to bail. Therefore the accused shall be released in bail, in accordance with section 436 of the code by the police officer or court, with or with out the sureties. In case of non-bailable offence, the accused has to approach the court for bail, in accordance with section 437 of the Code. In the present case, all the three sections for which the accused has been charged are bailable offence. Therefore the accused shall have the right of bail.

Final report

The final report is the report submitted by the police upon completion of the investigation, as prescribed under section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The Final report of the investigation has to be sent to the magistrate having jurisdiction.[xvi]

According to sec.173 of the code, the final report should necessarily state the:
  1. The name of parties
  2. The nature of information
  3. The names of the person who appear to be acquainted with the circumstance of the case
  4. Whether any offence appears to have been committed and if so, by whom?
  5. Whether the accused has been arrested
  6. Whether he has been released on his bond and if so whether with or without sureties
  7. Whether he has been forwarded in custody under section 170.

Further, when such is in respect of a case to which section 170 applies, the police officer shall forward to the magistrate along with the report
  1. All documents on which the prosecution relies on
  2. The statements recorded under section 161 of all persons whom the prosecution proposes to examine has witness
In the present case, the final report would contain:
  1. Contents specified in section 173(2)
  2. The copy of FIR,
  3. Copy of complaint,
  4. Observation Mahazar,
  5. Rough sketch,
  6. Report of the MV inspector,
  7. Report of the Doctor,
  8. Statements taken under section 161 of Cr.PC
    • Statement of the injured,
    • Statement of the accused,
    • Statement of the eye witnesses
    • Statement of corroborating witnesses,
    • Statement of the MV Inspector,
    • Statement of the Medical officer,
    • Statement of the investigating officer/s.

Pre-trial procedures:

After the submission of the police report to the magistrate, the magistrate will supply a copy of the police report and other documents to the accused, in accordance with sec.207 of the Code. After a preliminary inquiry, if there is a prima facia case made out against the accused, the magistrate may frame the charges and conduct the trial.

Note: The Police Standing orders mentioned herein pertains to the state of Tamil Nadu. The procedures followed in other states of India are substantially same, though the forms and provisions may differ in accordance with the respective state enactments.

End-Notes:
  1. Savia v. State of Rajasthan 1995 Cri.LJ 2744
  2. Madras Police Standing Order. 551.
  3. Ramsinh Bavaji Jadeja v. State of Gujarat, 1994 (2) SCC 685
  4. Madras Police Standing Order. 559
  5. PSO 582
  6. PSO 582
  7. PSO 582
  8. V.Sithanan, Police investigation-powers, tactics and techniques
  9. Tori Singh v. State of U.P AIR 1962 SCC 399
  10. Ganguly, Police Diaries, Dwivedi publishing company, Allahabad, ed-212, pg.1307
  11. PSO 569
  12. PSO569(2)
  13. PSO.567
  14. PSO 568
  15. §41.CODE
  16. PSO.658

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