Updated: May 20, 2020

Investigation, Inquiry and trail are three different stages of the criminal cases. The case is first investigated by the police to ascertain whether an offence has actually been committed and if so, by whom and the nature of the evidence available for the prosecution.

‘Investigation’ has been defined under sec 2(h) of the ‘Criminal procedure court 1973’for the collection of evidence conducted by a police officer or by any person (other than magistrate) who is authorized by a magistrate.

SN. SHARMA V/S BIPEN KUMAR TIWARI, It has been observed that the power of police to investigate is independent of any control by the magistrate.

‘Inquiry’ according to section 2(g) inquiry, other than a trial, conducted under the code by a Magistrate or court. During an inquiry some important proceeding that can be taken place in the inquiry .for example:

1-Taking of cognizance

2-Complaint proceeding

3-Dismissal of complaint

4-Issue of process

5-Handing over of document

6-Fixation of date for 1st hearing etc

TRIAL- Trial has three basic stages, which normally occur the same order, investigation (where evidence are to be collected), Inquiry (a judicial proceeding where judges ensure for himself before going on trial, that there are reasonable grounds to believe the person to be guilty) and trial. The term ‘Trial’ has not been defines in Criminal proceeding code, however, is commonly understood to mean- ‘A judicial proceeding where evidence is allowed to be proved or disproved, and guilty of a person is adjudged leading to an acquittal or a conviction.


1-An Investigation is made by a police officer or by some person authorized by a magistrate but is never made by a magistrate or a court.

An inquiry is a judicial proceeding made by a magistrate or a court.

2-The object of an investigation is to collect evidence for the prosecution of the case, while the object of an inquiry is to determine the truth or falsity with a view to taking further action thereon.

3-Investigation is the first stage of the case and normally precedes enquiry by a magistrate.


Both inquiry and trial are judicial proceedings, but they differ in the following respects;

1-An enquiry does not necessarily mean an inquiry for, it may as well relate to matters which are not offences,e.g, inquiry made in disputes as to immovable property with regards to possession, public nuisances or the maintenance of wives and children. A trial, on the other hand, is always of an offence.

2-An inquiry in respect of an offence never ends in conviction or acquittal or conviction of the accused.

Investigation is the first stage, Inquiry is the second stage and Trial is the final stage of a criminal proceeding.

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