A case diary is written as the investigation progresses. The case diary is prepared by the responsible police officer in course of investigation. The case diary carries relevant entries about the time of investigation, place visited by the investigation officer, people met by him, people interrogated by him, evidence collected during investigation, time and place of meeting with the witnesses, time and place of meeting with the informant and so on. The investigation officers do not have any discretion to take decision as to whether he will or will not record the events during investigation in the case diary.
It is, therefore, obligatory to record the case diary every day when investigation is taken place. The writing up of the case diary must not be held up at the end of the day. It is always wise to write up the case diary in the place where investigation is conducted. The quick and immediate writing up of case diary truly reflects the nitty-gritty of the police investigation. Sometimes the investigation officers neglect the examination of the witnesses on the first day of the visit of the place of occurrence and after consuming days together record the statements in a single day. This process is totally unauthorised and violation of section 172 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1898.
In every case the investigation officers must record the statements of the witnesses present expeditiously on the first day or the following day if the FIR discloses the names of the witnesses who are acquainted with the facts of the case. Section 157 of the Evidence Act 1872 in an unambiguous language states that the admissibility of a previous statement that should have been made before an authority legally competent to investigate the fact 'at or about the time', when the fact to which the statement relates took place. The object of this section is to admit statements made at a time when the mind of the witness is still so connected with the events as to make it probable that his description of them is accurate. But if time for reflection passes between the event and the subsequent statement, it not only can be of little value but may be actually dangerous and as such statement can be easily brought into being.
Moreover, as the case diary is a confidential document, so it may not be claimed by the accused person at any time for the purpose of assessing and scrutinising its entries. A criminal court is free to ask for the case diary at any stage of the proceedings. But, the case diary cannot be used as evidence in the trial. The entries of case diary may not be referred to the court at the instance of the accused person. The accused in such a case can seek permission to use the case diary to show contradiction in the prosecution case. The police officer, therefore, has scope to see the case diary during his examination-in-chief for the purpose of refreshing memory. If the police officer thinks that his case diary can be helpful in giving appropriate testimony, he may request the court to permit him to use case diary for refreshing memory. Sections 159-161 of the Evidence Act deal with the extent to which, and mode in which, a witness may refer to a writing in order to refresh his memory while giving evidence. Section 159 gives a witness chance to refresh his memory by reference to case diary with the permission of the Court.
A perusal of Regulation Nos. 68 and 264 of the Police Regulations of Bengal, 1943 makes it clear that the diary should contain full unabridged statement of persons examined by the police so as to give the Magistrate a satisfactory and complete source of information which would enable him to ensure complete justice.
The writer is an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Bangladesh Police.