Thursday, 14 November 2013

Supreme Court Judgement on Police FIR registration

Date of Judgement: 12 Nov 2013

Supreme Court Judgement on Registration of FIR by Police

Supreme Court of India has given a landmark judgement which should put an end to the obstacles being faced by citizens across India to get an FIR registered with Police atleast in case of serious offences like rape, kidnap, dowry death, murder, etc. In such cases the Hon'ble Supreme Court has not only made registration of FIR mandatory but also done away with the need for Preliminary Police Enquiry if the information discloses commission of such a crime.

Personal Interpretation to the best of understanding:

1.Registration of FIR mandatory if information discloses commission of a cognizable offence. (Cognizable offence stand for those offences where a police officer may arrest without warrant.)

2.If the information received does not disclose a cognizable offence but indicates necessity for an enquiry, a preliminary enquiry may be conducted to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed is not. 

3.Action against police officers who do not register FIR

4.Preliminary enquiry may be made in some category of cases like family disputes, commercial cases, medical negligence, corruption etc. 

5.Preliminary enquiry should be made time bound & must not exceed 7 days. 

6.Registration of FIR should not be confused with arrests. The two should be treated separate. Just because FIR is registered it does not mean that the accused person can be arrested immediately. 

PS: Above are personal interpretations. Extracts from Original text of judgement, reproduced below for reference & independent interpretations. Link to full judgement also provided.

Case Number: 
Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 68 of 2008

Case Title: 
Lalita Kumari Versus Govt of UP & Ors

CJI P Sathasivam, 
J Dr. B S Chauhan, 
J. Ranjana Prakash Desai, 
J. Ranjan Gogoi, 
J. S.A. Bobde

Registration of FIR - Important Extracts from the Judgement :

(i) Registration of FIR is mandatory under Section 154 of the Code, if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation.

(ii) If the information received does not disclose a cognizable offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted
only to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not.

(iii) If the inquiry discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, the FIR must be registered. In cases where preliminary inquiry ends in closing the complaint, a copy of the entry of such closure must be supplied to the first informant forthwith and not later than one week. It must disclose reasons in brief for closing the complaint and not proceeding further.

(iv) The police officer cannot avoid his duty of registering offence if cognizable offence is disclosed. Action must be taken against erring officers who do
89 not register the FIR if information received by him discloses a cognizable offence.

(v) The scope of preliminary inquiry is not to verify the veracity or otherwise of the information received but only to ascertain whether the information reveals any cognizable offence.

(vi) As to what type and in which cases preliminary inquiry is to be conducted will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. The category of cases in which preliminary inquiry may be made are as under:
(a) Matrimonial disputes/ family disputes
(b) Commercial offences
(c) Medical negligence cases
(d) Corruption cases
(e) Cases where there is abnormal delay/laches in initiating criminal prosecution, for example, over 3 months delay in reporting the matter without satisfactorily explaining the reasons for delay.The aforesaid are only illustrations and not exhaustive of all conditions which may warrant preliminary inquiry.

(vii) While ensuring and protecting the rights of the accused and the complainant, a preliminary inquiry should be made time bound and in any case it should not exceed 7 days. The fact of such delay and the causes of it must be reflected in the General Diary entry.

(viii) Since the General Diary/Station Diary/Daily Diary is the record of all information received in a police station, we direct that all information relating to cognizable offences, whether resulting in registration of FIR or leading to an inquiry, must be mandatorily and meticulously reflected in the said Diary and the decision to conduct a preliminary inquiry must also be reflected, as mentioned above.

FIR vs Arrest - Important Extracts from the Judgement :

The registration of FIR under Section 154 of the Code 
and arrest of an accused person under Section 41 are two 
entirely different things. It is not correct to say that just 
because FIR is registered, the accused person can be 
arrested immediately. It is the imaginary fear that “merely 
because FIR has been registered, it would require arrest of
the accused and thereby leading to loss of his reputation”
and it should not be allowed by this Court to hold that 
registration of FIR is not mandatory to avoid such 
inconvenience to some persons. The remedy lies in strictly 
enforcing the safeguards available against arbitrary arrests 
made by the police and not in allowing the police to avoid 
mandatory registration of FIR when the information 
discloses commission of a cognizable offence.

Besides, the Code gives power to the police to close a matter both before and after investigation. A police officer can foreclose an FIR before an investigation under Section 157 of the Code, if it appears to him that there is no sufficient ground to investigate the same. The Section itself states that a police officer can start investigation when he has a ‘reason to suspect the commission of an offence’. Therefore, the requirements of launching an investigation under Section 157 of the Code are higher than the requirement under Section 154 of the Code. The police officer can also, in a given case, investigate the matter and then file a final report under Section 173 of the Code seeking closure of the matter. Therefore, the police is not liable to launch an investigation in every FIR which is mandatorily registered on receiving information relating to commission of a cognizable offence.

Important Links:

Full Judgement Link

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 
Various offences defined / redefined as cognizable include: Acid attacks (IPC 326A, 326B), Sexual Harassment of Women including Voyeurism & Stalking (IPC 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D),  Trafficking (IPC 370, 370A), Rape (IPC 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376E)

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