Once the FIR is filed by the Police under Section 154 CrPC, the investigation is conducted by the Police related to that particular case. The information related to the investigation is recorded in the Police Report, which is submitted to the Magistrate empowered to take cognizance (संज्ञान) of the offence under Section 173 CrPC.
Now we will understand the meaning of Section 161 CrPC and the evidentiary value of this Section.
Section 161 CrPC
Section 161 (Examination of witnesses by Police): Which means that Police will examine all the person which are acquainted with facts related to the case. Example: A is accused of murdering B. X, Y & Z are the neighbours. C & D are family members of B. So here police can examine everyone- A, B, C, D, X, Y & Z.
161(1)- Police Officer making the investigation should not be below the rank prescribed the state. Such officer may (not necessary to examine orally) examine orally any person supposed to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case. He may reduce such examination in writing under sub-section (3). Now, question is whether Accused person is inlcuded under this section? In Nandini Satpathy vs. P.L.Dhani AIR 1978 SC 1025, the Supreme Court held that the Section 161(1) includes an accused person also.
Also, in Ram Lal Wani vs. State (1981), the court said that if an accused wants the presence of lawyer at the time of interrogation, the police shoul allow him to engage a cousel for that purpose.
161(2)- Such person shall be bound to answer truly all the questions asked to him by such officer, other than questions the answers to which would expose him to a criminal charge. If a person refuses to answer any such question demanded of him, he is liable to be punished under section 179 IPC. Further, if a person gives the false answer then he is liable to be punished under section 193 IPC.
- Pollce Officer may reduce in writing any statement made to him during the examination. If statements are reduced in writing then Police Officer shall make a separate and true record.
- Police Officer may also be recorded by audio-video electronic means.
- Statement of woman against whom an offence under Section 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D, 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB, 376E is committed or attempted shall be recorded, by a woman police officer or any woman officer.
Evidentiary value of the statements recorded under Section 161
- General rule is that statement given by anyone can be used during trial, to corroborate (support the facts of the case) or contradict (deny the facts of the case ). Section 162 is exception to this rule. Section 162 says that it can be used for contradiction only. Which means statements recorded under section 161 can be used for contradiction purposes only. And such statements to be used only by the accused and prosecution can only use them after obtaining permission from the court. [Refer Section 162(1) Proviso CrPC]
- The statement recorded under section 161 CrPC cannot be used for any other purpose except to contradict a prosecution witness. The Statement of witness recorded during an investigation cannot be used for seeking assurance for prosecution story. The contents of statements recorded under Section 161 during an investigation cannot be taken into consideration for finding corroboration (means to support) of statements made in the court. Also, Section 161 cannot be used for contradicting (means to use it as adversely) a defence witness, or a court witness or for corroborating the statement made by prosecution witness in the Court.
- In the case of R. Shaji vs. State of Kerala (2013), the Supreme Court held that evidence given in a court under the oath has great sanctity, which is why the same is called substantive evidence. Statements under Section 161 CrPC can be used only for the purpose of contradiction and statements under Section 164 CrPC can be used for both corroboration and contradiction. However, earlier in Ram Kishan Singh vs. Harmeet Kaur [1972 SC 468], the SC said that statement under section 164 are not substantive evidence. [Section 164 talks about recording of statement of any person acquainted with facts of the case before the magistrate.]
- Therefore, the evidentiary value of statements under Section 161 CrPC are not substantive evidence and are of less value as comparing it with Section 164 CrPC. The rationale behind it is that police may be force compel the witnesses or accused to say that particular statement and which may lead to injustice.