The process for commencing an investigation depends on the type of offence. The Cr.P.C. recognizes two types of offences: 

      1. Cognizable Offences 
      2. Non-cognizable Offences

All offences under the law in Pakistan are categorized as either one of these types. Cognizable offences are generally considered more serious crimes and allow the Police to take immediate measures without requiring authorization from a Magistrate. Once information regarding a cognizable offence reaches the Police, they are bound by law to register a First Information Report (FIR) and then start the investigation. Non-cognizable offences, while also at times serious in nature, are those offences which require a Magistrate to first take cognizance of the potential commission of such an offence and then authorize the Police to investigate it. While the actual investigation of both types of offences generally follows the same procedure as outlined in the Cr.P.C. For the purposes of arrest of a suspect, a warrant from a Magistrate is required in non-cognizable offences.

Powers of Investigation

Depending upon the nature of crime under investigation and the circumstances faced by the investigation officers, they have many powers. The powers have been conferred in the Code of Criminal Procedure and supplemented by the Police Rules. The Station House Officer (SHO)/Officer Incharge of Police Station has been given the powers of ‘chief investigation officer’ under the Rules. He has all the powers of a police officer as well as of the investigation officer. The SHO has to render assistance to IOs working in the area of jurisdiction of his police station as well as other IOs coming from other police stations.

The crime scene is the location or place where the offence has occurred. Although there is no definitive legalistic definition, any location(s) associated with the crime which contain relevant evidence may also be called the crime scene. A crime scene is a location anywhere that may provide potential evidence to an investigator. It may include a person’s body, any type of building, vehicles, and places in the open air or objects found at those locations. Crime scene examination therefore refers to an examination where in addition to traditional investigative techniques, forensic or scientific techniques are also used to preserve and gather physical evidence of a crime.

Search and Seizure

During the course of an investigation, a police officer is required to search persons; buildings; vehicles etc. which can lead to the recovery or discovery of weapons; stolen property; documents; CDs; mobile phones or some other materials become strong pieces of evidence against the accused persons. Indeed, evidence that is collected during search can tie the accused to the crime. Therefore, all searches must be carried out strictly in accordance with the requirements of law, otherwise the recoveries may become doubtful, and damage the case of the prosecution. 

As a first step, whenever searches are to be made, the police officer must be mindful about the constitutional protection of privacy as enshrined in Art. 14 of the Constitution. This, however, is subject to permissibility of law which enables the police officer to enter a house for the purpose of arresting a wanted criminal or to make a searches to find something incriminating. Gazetted officers supervising investigations shall take disciplinary action against investigating officers who carry out searches under section 165Cr.P.C, without sufficient justification. Indeed, the police does not have unlimited powers to make search of a house or a person, and disturb the privacy and dignity in violation of mandate of the constitution of Pakistan.

If the Prosecutor is of the opinion that there is insufficiency of evidence, he can submit an application under Section 265-D of the Cr.P.C and under Section 4(c) and 5(b) of the KPPS Act 2005, Section 9(3) of the SPS Act 2009, Section 6(2) (d) of the Balochistan Prosecution Service (Constitution, Functions and Powers) Act 2003 and Section 10 (3) of the Punjab Criminal Prosecution Service (Constitution, Functions and Powers) Act 2006 apply for the discharge of the accused along with the challan to the competent Court. However, under the powers cannot be exercised in respect of offences punishable with death or life imprisonment.

To learn more, explore the Handbook of Criminal Investigation in Pakistan, 2021