Difference Between Inquiry And Investigation

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Inquiry And Investigation

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When most people hear the words inquiry and investigation, they immediately assume that a criminal has been committed. Investigation and Inquiry play critical roles in the work of various law organizations. These terms are commonly used in the legal field and are frequently employed in the investigation procedures that take place; yet these words have different meanings. The investigation is a deliberate and formal examination of the facts and evidence in order to ascertain the truth. Inquiry has a significant impact on the criminal case's trial. In contrast, the inquiry is a judicial procedure that seeks to determine whether the evidence presented in the case is true or false. The main difference between the two is the stage in which they are maintained and the person who manages them. In addition, they help determine the truth to prove the guilt or innocence of the accused.

Investigation vs. Inquiry

They are especially critical in logical investigations since they give scientists with data and aptitude about the subject of their exploration. An inquiry is expected in regulation, especially in criminal regulation, as well as in police work, to uncover current realities of the case. The significant qualification between an investigation and an inquiry is that the investigation is directed by a justice or court, though the inquiry is managed by a legitimately engaged individual. The court doesn't look at and gather proof, they request data. These terms are firmly related as they would appear to an amateur yet are different all the while, the table underneath will help in the separation between both these terms.

Difference Between Investigation and Inquiry in Tabular Form

Basis of distinction INVESTIGATION INQUIRY
Denotation The investigation is the executive method of gathering facts and evidence systematically and evaluating the conditions of the case. Inquiry is a legal procedure that is launched to remove uncertainty, discover the truth, or expand information about a particular case.
Defined in Section 2 (h) of CrPC Section 2 (g) of CrPC
Directed by Police Officer/any other person authorized by Magistrate. Magistrate/Court
Stages First Stage Second Stage
Objectives Collection of facts and evidence Determination of truth and falsehood of the allegations.
When does it start? When an FIR or complaint has been lodged. When the charge sheet is filed.
Ends in Filing of Police Report Framing of Charges
Nature of Process Administrative Process Judicial or Non-Judicial Process




The investigation is connected to the police or a person other than a magistrate taking action. In the context of an inquiry, it pertains to the magistrate's proceedings before trial.




How does the process start?


An investigation begins when a police officer determines that there is sufficient evidence to investigate a crime.


An investigation might all start with a shady beginning.

The main object of the investigation  

The primary goal of the investigation is to gather evidence.


An investigation seeks to determine the truth or untruth of a statement.


What is an Investigation?

Investigation is the process of systematically examining cases, files or anything. It is a systematic investigation and investigation of the factors that influenced the subject matter of the investigation to uncover the facts of the case. It is synonymous with words; to investigate, to investigate, to dig, or to dig deeper and investigate. It is derived from the Latin word “investigatus ", which means "track or investigation" past participle of “investigare ". Its first usage was in the initial 16th century.

The term "investigation" refers to a number of legal procedures conducted by individuals other than a magistrate who have been authorized by a police officer or a magistrate to act on its behalf, such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Giving information about the crime to a police officer at the proper station will almost definitely initiate an investigation. To that purpose, the officer has the right to summon anyone who is aware of the circumstances of the case. Police conduct investigations to gather evidence, examine suspects, record their statements, record witness testimony, and conduct scientific analysis.

One question that emerges is when do police investigate a case?

When the police departments get information on any sort of crime, they conduct an investigation. Even if they do not get such notifications, if they have reason to believe that someone has committed a serious crime, they will investigate that person. The designated authority investigates any offense under Section 190 upon receiving an order from any Judicial Magistrate.

The investigating agency and officer have a high level of duty and ethical integrity to ensure that the investigation is conducted without bias and in complete impartiality, not only toward the accused but also toward any offender. Whether the casualty is an individual or the state, it ought to be recalled that a judge is recorded at all levels of the police request, however they have no position to slow down the genuine investigation or to educate the police on the most proficient method to lead the examination. Whenever the police assert that there is adequate proof to show the accused's guilt and the denounced is brought before the justice for preliminary, the police report might appear as a charge sheet, police-receipt, or last report.

There is a process that follows in the investigation:-

  1. Filing the complaint, as described by the complainant

  2. Visit the scene where the offense happened.

  3. Identifying the case's facts and conditions.

  4. Identifying and apprehending the suspect

Obtaining evidence concerning the crime, which includes:

  1. Interrogation of the accused and other individuals, as well as recording of their written remarks (only if the investigating officer deems fit)

  2. Searching for and seizing locations and things deemed significant for the trial, as well as presenting them before the magistrate during the trial.

  3. Determine if the evidence gathered is adequate to bring the accused before a magistrate, and if so, take the necessary measures to file the charge sheet.

What is Inquiry?

Inquiry is a search for information, truth, knowledge about specific objects and subjects of public importance that is systematic. It is the procedure of searching and undertaking research to resolve a problem. It involves questioning and interrogation. Its purpose is not only to seek and obtain knowledge and information about anything, but also to protect people if they have any doubts about the problem. The word "Inquiry" is a derivative from the base word "Inquire", which is further derived from the old French word "enquerre ", that means "to ask". It was a derived from the Latin words "in" and “quaerere.” This term was initially used in the 15th century.

Almost every investigation is followed by an inquiry, which is nothing more than a thorough examination of the Judicial Authority, i.e. the Magistrate. The inquiry proceeds to the following level, which is examining and investigating cases that have compelling reasons to confirm the commission of the crime. An inquiry is defined as the examination of a case by a court or a magistrate of the court in order to discover the actuality of a case or other matters and to take legal action. During the trial, the magistrate must register the receipt of the evidence, which also includes, among other things, cross-examination of witnesses, reassurance, and a review of the crime scene.

According to Section 159 of the CrPC, the judge has the authority to determine the validity of the claims and to conduct a preliminary inquiry after receiving a police report on whether or not to charge the suspect if a crime has been committed. If a warranty case is started other than on the basis of a police complaint, the hearings on the charge formulation constitute an inquiry in and of itself. The term "inquiry" refers to any proceeding before a Magistrate prior to the imprisonment of a charge that does not result in a conviction. An investigation into an infraction does not always result in conviction or dismissal; at best, it may result in the case being released or committed for trial by a Magistrate or Sessions.

The subsequent are the categories of inquiry:

  1. Judicial inquiry

  2. Preliminary Inquiry

  3. Non-Judicial Inquiry

  4. Inquiry into offense

  5. Inquiry relating to a particular matter other than offense

  6. Local inquiry

Key Differences between Investigation and Inquiry in Points

  1. Inquiry refers to executive processes that entail the methodical collecting of facts and evidence as well as the determination of the case's circumstances. In contrast, an investigation is a judicial procedure undertaken to dispel doubts, prove the truth, or expand understanding about a subject.

  2. A police officer or other person authorized by a magistrate may prosecute any government agency, such as the Central Bureau of Investigation, on this basis. A magistrate or court, on the other hand, presides over the inquiry.

  3. The investigation ends when the police report is filed. On the other hand, the trial takes place before the charges are laid, i.e. when the charges are laid, the investigation ends.

  4. The inquiry is an administrative process, while the investigation is a legal process in which the oath is taken during the trial.

  5. Essentially, investigation and inquiry are two distinct phases of a criminal case, with an investigation being the initial step, in which the police officer examines the case himself or after getting a magistrate's orders. When there is enough evidence to prove the commission of the offense, the police officer presents the report to the magistrate. Then the second stage comes which, could include inquiry or trial. 

  6. There is a probe in the investigation and vice versa; the inquiry cannot be as deep as the investigation itself.

  7. An inquiry begins when a charge sheet is issued, but an investigation begins when a FIR or petition is filed.

  8. An investigation may begin in an unusual manner. An investigation begins when a cop determines unequivocally that there is a reason to examine the crime.

  9. The main purpose of an inquiry is to gather evidence. An investigation aims to determine the veracity or falsity of specific facts.

  10. The investigation is not a court of law. An investigation is a formal procedure.

  11. The investigation is the key part of the lawbreaker case. The investigation is followed by an inquiry, which is the case's second component.

  12. Oath cannot be restricted to the individual being inspected or scrutinized during the investigation. Oath can be administered to the people to be studied in an investigation.


The investigation of a criminal act serves as the case's foundation. This is the critical stage of a criminal investigation. Surprisingly, the examination is the next level of criminal procedure in which the officer investigates a single point or charge to determine the legitimacy of the case assuming there is any confusion, query, or vulnerability. "Investigation" and "inquiry" are synonyms, and despite the fact that they have slight differences, they can be used interchangeably because they address the same concept. There will be an examination within both the terms but one distinction within these terms would be the manner in which they are cared for.

The circumstances of a case are often studied; nevertheless, the investigation is finished all the more attentively and methodically by thoroughly examining the intricacies and assessing the facts discovered in the process done. The main aim of an investigation or inquiry is to determine whether or not alleged misconduct happened, and if so, to identify the perpetrators and gather evidence to assist it. The fundamental goal of the investigation is to observe reality or deceit in the charges, which is contrary to the norm. The police will begin an investigation if a FIR or grievance is filed alleging misconduct, whereas a court will begin an investigation when the police file a charge sheet. In many cases these terms would be used usually to describe the same thing but it is very important to know that investigations and inquiry are two very different terms distinct in the core functioning. The above article will clear the uncertainty which overall population has about the distinctions among investigation and inquiry.




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"Difference Between Inquiry And Investigation." Diffzy.com, 2024. Wed. 12 Jun. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-inquiry-and-investigation-124>.

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