Difference Between Investigation And Inquiry


Investigation and Inquiry are often confused with each other, but it is important to understand their differences, as both of them are quite different in their legal natures. This blog will discuss the concepts in detail in terms of many factors, followed by additional differences in types of investigations and inquiries, and end with case laws that hold importance.

What is Inquiry and Investigation under the CrPC section?

Any non-trial investigation carried out by a magistrate or court is referred to as an “Inquiry” under Section 2(g) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). The goal is to find the truth by deciding if the case merits a trial. It entails a thorough investigation of all pertinent incidents, people, and events connected to the accused offense. The main goal is to get information that is necessary to prove that the offense is criminal. Every investigation acts as a springboard, clarifying whether the acts qualify as criminal activity and opening the door for further trial procedures.

Section 2(h) of the CrPC defines “Investigation”. Every action taken by the Code necessary to gather evidence is included in the investigation. It is carried out by a police officer or by anybody else who has been given permission by the magistrate to act in this capacity but is not a magistrate. The competent person to conduct an investigation is the police officer or any other individual designated by a magistrate to act on their behalf. There are two methods to get the inquiry started: 1. When a police report is filed, the supervising officer is authorized to start an investigation. 2. Anybody who has been granted permission by the magistrate to look into this matter may do so after the complaint has been submitted to them.

Differences Between Investigation and Inquiry 

To understand the difference in better detail, scroll through the following table:





An inquiry is a legal process that is started to clear things up, ascertain the truth, or learn more about something. This is defined in the Code of Criminal Procedure's Section 2(g) (CrPC).

The methodical gathering of data and proof intended to initiate the circumstances surrounding the case is called an investigation. This is defined in the Code of Criminal Procedure's Section 2(h) (CrPC).


The goal is to evaluate the evidence to ascertain if the accusations are true or false.

The goal is to gather information and proof about a suspected crime.

Key Features

Important aspects of the inquiry include:


  • It is an official legal procedure that a judge or court is in charge of.
  • It takes place following the conclusion of the police's preliminary inquiry.
  • Determining the veracity of the accusations is its primary goal.
  • Witnesses testify during an investigation while under oath.
  • If there's enough proof, official charges may be brought about.

Important aspects of the investigation include:


  • It entails methodically gathering data, facts, and supporting documentation.
  • It seeks to ascertain if a crime was committed and who the relevant parties are.
  • Usually, law enforcement authorities, such as the police, are responsible for carrying it out.
  • It begins with the filing of a complaint over an alleged offense.
  • Obtaining sufficient evidence to determine whether to file charges is the primary objective.


The authority to conduct an inquiry is with a magistrate or the court.

The authority to conduct an investigation is with a police officer and any other person who has been approved by the magistrate.


When the police file a charge sheet against the accused, based on their investigation, an inquiry starts. 

When a First Information Report (FIR) or complaint about an alleged offense is submitted at the police station, an investigation is triggered. 


Inquiry is the second stage that comes after the investigation.

Investigation, on the other hand, happens at the first stage of a criminal case.

Ends In

When charges are brought against an accused, an investigation comes to a close.

A police report is filed after an investigation.

Nature of Process

An inquiry is a procedure, whether judicial or not, that is carried out under court supervision.

An administrative procedure conducted by executive authority is called an investigation

Examples Illustrating the Difference

This is a thorough examination of the ways that various investigations and queries differ in terms of their goals, approaches, and conclusions.

Criminal Investigation vs. Academic Inquiry

Criminal Investigation

Objective: The main objective is to solve a crime by ascertaining the facts about what occurred, who is at fault, and how it was carried out.

Example: This includes witness interviews, physical evidence collection, surveillance, and occasionally forensics analysis. Law enforcement organizations like the FBI and police are in charge of it.

Result: Usually, the goal of the outcome is to initiate legal action, such as an arrest or trial. In a court of law, the results are frequently utilized to establish guilt or innocence.

Academic Inquiry

Goal: The goal is to investigate hypotheses, increase knowledge, and advance academic comprehension within a field.

Example: Research techniques used include surveys, experiments, literature reviews, and theoretical analysis. In academic environments such as universities, researchers or scholars frequently conduct this kind of investigation.

Result: The information is often disseminated via papers, talks, or scholarly conferences. Rather than influencing criminal or legal consequences, the aim is frequently to influence thought or academic theory.

Corporate Investigation vs. Public Inquiry

Corporate Investigation

Goal: Usually centered on addressing internal business problems, such as claims of fraud, policy violations, or asset protection.

Example: It might involve using digital forensics, interviewing employees internally, and analyzing financial records. These investigations are often carried out by internal audit divisions or private detectives.

Result: Depending on the specifics of the discovery, the goal is to protect the company's interests. This may entail notifying regulatory agencies, implementing policy modifications, or pursuing disciplinary measures.

Public Inquiry

Goal: Public inquiries are conducted to look into situations that the general public finds troubling. They frequently involve the government or other public agencies and can focus on anything from social concerns to disaster response.

Example: Public hearings, testimony before courts or special commissioners, and in-depth public policy studies may all be a part of these investigations.

Result: Public recommendations, policy influence, and accountability are the usual goals of the findings. They may lead to modifications to laws or regulations and are meant to rebuild public confidence.

Scientific Investigation vs. Judicial Inquiry

Scientific Investigation

Goal: Uses observations and experiments to investigate scientific ideas, evaluate hypotheses, and advance scientific understanding.

Example: This includes simulations, observational studies, controlled experiments, and different types of data analysis, which are frequently subjected to peer review by the scientific community.

Result: The findings deepen our grasp of science, add to the body of knowledge in academia, and have real-world implications for the medical sector, technology, and other areas.

Judicial Inquiry

Goal: To adjudicate cases, interpret the law, and concentrate on legal issues.

Example: It entails court processes, which might encompass the collection of evidence, witness testimony, cross-examinations, and oral arguments.

Result: A judicial decision is the result, which may be a resolution in a civil case or a verdict in a criminal one. These rulings have legal weight and have the potential to establish precedent.

Every kind of inquiry or investigation is designed with its particular context and goal in mind. It employs a distinctive methodology and aims to produce results that have an impact on various facets of society, law, policy, or knowledge.

Inquiry & Investigation Case Laws

Inquiry Cases

In K.G. Appukuttan v. State of Kerala Coir Co. 1989, the Court stated that to prevent the tampering of later evidence and to keep the magistrate informed, the initial information report is important and should be documented and given to the judge promptly. Furthermore, it is assumed that the investigation is contaminated when no notification or report is submitted to the court.

In State of Rajasthan v. Teja Singh and Ors. (2001), the investigating police cited court holidays as a justification for delaying the report to the magistrate. However, the court ruled that this was insufficient justification and that the holiday could not be used as a justification for the delay, as the law requires that the FIR reach the magistrate without any obstacles or delays.

The court ruled in S.N. Sharma v. Bipin Kumar Tiwari and Ors. 1970 that it lacked the authority to halt the probe and mandate the magisterial inquiry. The High Court found that the roles of the judiciary are distinct from one another and complement one another. It must not interfere with how other sections operate.

Investigation Cases

The Supreme Court observed in CBI v. R.S. Pai, [2002] that if there was an error in not submitting all pertinent information at the time of charge sheet submission, then other documents may be supplied after the charge sheet with the court's approval.

According to the ruling of the Apex Court in Dilawar Singh v. State of Delhi, [2007], a delay in filing the FIR may be fatal to the case. A delay may allow the person filing the complaint to fabricate information. Consequently, the courts treat the delay with mistrust and scrutinize the presented evidence more carefully and thoroughly.

The veracity of the FIR was questioned in Rotash v. State of Rajasthan, [2006], as it lacked information on the total number of defendants at the time of registration. Later, another accused was mentioned, which is only permitted if there was a good cause to bring it up in the first place.

The Apex Court said in Hari Yadav v. State of Bihar, [2008], that the case diary must be kept up to date with appropriate care and caution, otherwise it might result in the accused being wrongfully acquitted.

The investigation in Motilal v. State of Rajasthan, [2009], was deemed “Faulty” as the date and time of the inquest report were listed as November 11, 1993, at 10:30, but the FIR listed the same day as November 11, 1993, at 10:50 AM. The FIR was predated, and the report was finally sent to the magistrate on November 16th, following an inexplicable five-day wait.


In short, an investigation is the first stage conducted by a police officer or someone else to gather information firsthand, and inquiry is the second stage conducted by the magistrate or the court to analyze and evaluate the evidence. There are many times such situations when words like this that might sound similar have entirely different meanings and purposes in law, and this is why reading in detail and the fine print is important.


  1. Do investigation and inquiry follow the same procedural steps?

No, the stages involved in an investigation and an inquiry are not the same. Investigations, which are mostly conducted in criminal circumstances, usually entail gathering tangible evidence, speaking with witnesses, and doing other fact-finding procedures. But to investigate more general topics, inquiries frequently entail examining records, testimony, and public hearings; they are typically conducted in administrative or public policy contexts.

  1. What is the primary distinction between investigation and inquiry?

Their context and goal serve as the main points of differentiation. Investigations are often carried out to address particular problems, frequently of a criminal nature, and need the collection of comprehensive information to establish the details of occurrences. Conversely, inquiries tend to be more expansive, to obtain data on areas of public interest, policy concerns, or administrative concerns. They are also frequently subject to more public scrutiny.

  1. What comes first; an Investigation or an Inquiry?

Investigation comes first in the process of law and then comes inquiry.

  1. What is the CrPC definition of inquiry?

As per the Indian Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), an inquiry is any investigation carried out by a magistrate or court under the Code, save for trials. It usually has to do with verifying whether specific facts are true or untrue, frequently about early evaluations conducted before a trial.

  1. What is the main purpose of an Investigation?

An investigation is generally used to solve crimes, prove culpability, or settle disputes within a specified scope, such as in business or legal contexts. Its primary goal is to gather and evaluate evidence to establish facts regarding a particular occurrence or claim.