“Investigation”, “Inquiry” and “Trial”: Three stages in a Criminal Case:
The three terms “investigation”, “inquiry” and “trial” ordinarily denote three different stages of a criminal trial. The first stage is reached when a Police Officer, either by himself or under an order of a Magistrate, investigates into a case.
If he finds that no offence has been committed, he drops the proceedings. But if he forms an opinion that an offence has been committed, he sends up the case to a Magistrate. Then commences the second stage.
The Magistrate inquires into the case. If no prima facie case is made out, he dismisses the complaint or discharges the accused. If the Magistrate is of a contrary opinion, he frames a charge, and calls upon the accused to plead to the same. These proceedings are termed “inquiry”. The third and the final stage is reached when the charge is framed. The Magistrate may then try the case himself, or commit it for trial to the Court of Session or the High Court, as the case may be.