Inquiry vs Investigation: Difference and Comparison

The word inquiry means to ask for information. And the word investigation means formal systematic research or study. Though the words mean a little similar, they have a very distinct meanings, especially in the official departments.

The police department, CBI, CID, FBI, and courts are the official departments that legally have the right to do an inquiry or investigation. And that’s where we will see the distinct differences between the two words.

Key Takeaways

  1. The inquiry seeks information and gathers facts to understand a particular situation or issue.
  2. An investigation examines and analyses evidence to determine the cause of a particular event or crime.
  3. Inquiry is generally less formal and less focused than investigation.

Inquiry vs Investigation

Inquiry means a process of asking for specific information to figure out the truth, or it is a legal process conducted by a court or the magistrate. Investigation is a systematic process of research to find evidence that points to the truth. Only authorized persons like the police can perform investigations.

Inquiry vs Investigation

An Inquiry is a proceeding conducted by the magistrate or court. It is aimed at determining the truth of the registered case. It is a judicial process to find out if the evidence submitted to the court related to the case is original or fake.


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An investigation is a series of research studies or inquiries made to gather information and evidence against the accused.

It is the procedure to gather evidence and facts which is done by police authorities or departments like CBI, CID, etc. It is not judicial, which means not related to a judgment by the court.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonInquiryInvestigation
DefinitionAn inquiry is a process of asking for information to find out the truth.An investigation is a systematic procedure of research studies to gather evidence.
AimThe aim of the inquiry is to determine the truth, to know if the allegations are true or not.The aim of the investigation is to collect facts and evidence.
Conducted byA magistrate or court conducts an inquiry.A magistrate-authorized person conducts an investigation like a police officer. 
StageAn inquiry is the second stage in a case.An investigation is the first stage in a case.
Nature of ProcessAn inquiry can be a judicial or non-judicial process.An investigation is a non-judicial process. It is an administrative process.

What is Inquiry?

An inquiry is a legal process conducted by a magistrate or court. An inquiry is never conducted by anyone else other than a magistrate or court.

The rule of inquiry is mentioned in Section 2(g) of the criminal procedure code, 1973. It states that every inquiry other than a trial has to be conducted by a Magistrate or Court.

The main objective of the inquiry is to find out the truth about the case and whether the information inquiry determines if the allegations are falsified or not.

It can be a judicial process or a non-judicial process. An inquiry is commenced when a charge sheet is filed. It is the second stage in a case. When an inquiry is made, the trial is initiated.

Indeed, Section 159 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, explains that to make an inquiry, an order is given by the magistrate or Court.

This preliminary inquiry is made in order to know whether the offence has been committed. And if that’s the case, how many people are involved, and who are they?

An inquiry helps to understand the nature of the crime. The inquiry helps to extract information from the case filed to help prove the offence.


What is Investigation?

An investigation is a systematic procedure of research study to gain evidence and facts. An authorized person of law does an investigation. The magistrate or court, such as a police officer, authorizes the person.

According to Section 2 (g) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the work of the police officer is an investigation. An investigation is the very first stage of a case which is commenced when an FIR or complaint is lodged.

An investigation is a non-judicial process, and it is an administrative procedure. The main objective of an investigation is to collect facts and evidence to determine if there is enough evidence to put the accused on trial and file a charge sheet.

An investigation involves searching, interviews, and collecting evidence, which is then used to inform criminal trials. Legally authorized people do the investigation, but there are also private investigators.

Criminal investigation is a concept that goes way back to 1700 BCE. The first mention was in the writings of the Code of Hammurabi, according to which the accuser and the accused both have the right to present the evidence from their side.


Main Differences Between Inquiry And Investigation

  1. An inquiry is conducted by a magistrate or court, while on the other hand, an investigation is conducted by a person authorized by the court, like a police officer.
  2. An inquiry can be a judicial or non-judicial process. An investigation is an administrative process, a non-judicial process.
  3. The inquiry aims to determine the truth, to know if the allegations are true or not. The aim of the investigation is to collect facts, evidence, and people from testifying.
  4. An inquiry is commenced when a charge sheet is filed, while an investigation takes place when an FIR or complaint has been lodged.
  5. An inquiry is the second stage in a case, the investigation being the first stage.
Difference Between Inquiry And Investigation
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