A register case or a preliminary inquiry into an accusation of an offence triable exclusively by the Court of Session is an inquiry. A proceeding under Section 176 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is an inquiry.
The term inquiry is not confined to proceedings in which an accused is placed before a magistrate charged with an offence; for under Section 159 a magistrate may make a preliminary inquiry in order to ascertain whether an offence has been committed and, if so, whether any persons should be put upon their trial. All those proceedings before a Magistrate prior to the framing of a charge which do not result in conviction can be termed an inquiry.
The proceedings under Section 209 of the Code are covered by the term inquiry. An inquiry preparatory to commitment of a case to the Sessions under Section 209 of the Code is also an inquiry under Section 2(g).
An inquiry does not commence when a formal order of taking cognizance is passed but it commences on submission of the police report/charge-sheet and continues till an order of commitment is made under Section 209 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Investigation and inquiry differ in the following way:
(1) Investigation is related to proceedings or steps taken by the police or person other than Magistrate whereas inquiry relates to proceedings of Magistrates prior to trial.
(2) An investigation starts when a police officer forms a definite opinion that there are grounds for investigating crime while an inquiry may start with shadowy beginnings.
(3) The object of investigation is to collect evidence, whereas an inquiry aims at determining the truth or falsity of certain facts.
(4) Inquiry is not a judicial proceeding, whereas an inquiry is a judicial proceeding.
(5) Investigation is the first stage of a criminal case whereas inquiry is the second stage of a case which follows the investigation.
(6) In investigation, oath cannot be administered to the person examined or interrogated while in inquiry, oath can be administered to the persons to be examined.