CrPC s.154 and 156(3)-Judicial guidelines

Recently a single judge of Allahabad High Court took serious note of lax attitude of police in registering FIRs and issued certain guidelines to the police officers and also to the magistrates regarding registration of FIR and investigation into the matter. The court even recommended for disciplinary action against police officers who do not register a genuine FIR. The court observed:

It is true that for an orderly society, the importance of an effective and efficient police force dedicated to the public service is of utmost importance and is the necessity of the time. It is a matter of common knowledge that the people run from pillar to post after occurrence of a serious crime for mere registration of the report but the concerned police authorities failed to realize trauma and harassment of such people and simply ignore the observance of their statutory duty despite of the same being declared mandatory and is the law of the land settled by the Apex Court. Crime detection and adjudication are two separate though inseparable wings of justice delivery system. The former is the basic obligation of the police and latter is in the hands of judiciary. Though the Code provides for an alternative remedy of approaching the Superintendent of Police and thereafter to the Magistrate concerned under Section 156 (3) but such remedy instead of providing any solace and relief to the harried lot, on the contrary is adding to their sufferance due to persistent lackluster attitude of Police compelling a common man to run from one authority to another for a simple cause of registration of an information constituting commission of a cognizable offence, so that the police may make investigation according to the procedure prescribed in the Code. "

      " The Subordinate Courts are already heavily burdened with the huge number of such cases where the people having approached the Police authorities in vain, then had approached the Magistrate concerned under Section 156 (3). Even this Court is now being burdened for the only reason that the information has not been registered by the Police under Section 154 of the Code. What normally ought to have been an exception has turned out to be a routine exercise. A very large number of applications are being filed under Section 156 (3) of the Code before the Magistrates concerned and consequential proceedings are coming frequently to this Court also. Huge time is consumed only in such matters though it could have been utilized for other matters of substance and that too only for the reason that the police has shown blatant slackness in observance of its statutory obligations. It appears that the police is conveniently omitting to remind itself that its fundamental and basic duty is to prevent occurrence of any crime and if it has already occurred, to investigate and detect the crime so as to bring the accused to justice. The first step in this regard is as soon as the information of a cognizable offence is received, it must register the same and thereafter to proceed to investigate the matter in accordance with law. "

      " This Court also take judicial notice of the fact that the tendency developed with the police authorities in refusing to register F.I.R. is not for any valid reason, as said above, but perhaps for administrative reasons namely to show to the higher authorities improvement of law and order in the area within their jurisdiction on the ground that number of F.I.R. registration has got down drastically comparing to the corresponding past or in respect to the period when some other police officers were posted thereat. It appears that the State Government and the higher authorities of the police department, while assessing the performance of a police Officer-in-Charge of a police station, take into consideration whether FIR's have reduced comparing to the predecessor in office as a major factor to judge the position of law and order. The basic data taken into account by the State Government or the higher authorities of the police department is the number of F.I.R. of cognizable offence registered in the concerned police station. Probably this has led the tendency in the concerned police authorities to refuse recording of F.I.R. and thereby creating artificially good record showing reduction in crime rate due to lesser recording of F.I.R. It totally ignores the fact that due to none registration of F.I.R. in a large number of cases, pertaining to cognizable offence, the people are compelled to approach the Magistrate by filing applications under Section 156 (3) of the Code. This demonstrates that the declaration of law by the Apex Court as well as this Court that police is under a statutory obligation to register F.I.R. has gone down on blind eyes with the police authorities as well as the Government. The situation has not shown any improvement in the method of functioning of the police authorities in such matters despite of repeated observations by the Court. "

      "  The Court cannot overlook the fact that criminal justice system in the State is already over burdened. A large number of vacancies of judicial officers in subordinate courts are lying for one or the other reason. Mere inaction on the part of police authorities in observance of their statutory duty and/or faulty system of investigation is adding further to the already over burdened justice system. This has gone to an extent that the people who are arrested in the early younger age are still awaiting for their trial etc. though have attained advanced old age. In many of the matters, large number of accused have died but the court proceedings could not have been completed and even not commenced in some of the cases. In many others the trial etc. suffers due to death of material witnesses due to prolonged time taken in the Courts. At this stage, it would be prudent to notice some of the observations/directions of the Apex Court in Lalita Kumari Vs. Government of Uttar Pradesh and others 2008 (7) SCC 164. Paras 4 and 5 the Apex Court held : 
It is a matter of experience of one of us (B.N. Agrawal,J.) while acting as Judge of the Patna High Court, Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court and Judge of this Court that inspite of law laid down by this Court, the police authorities concerned do not register FIRs unless some direction is given by the Chief Judicial Magistrate or the High Court or this Court. Further, experience shows that even after orders are passed by the Courts concerned for registration of the case, the police does not take the necessary steps and when matters are brought to the notice of the inspecting Judges of the High Court during the course of inspection of the Courts and Superintendents of Police are taken to task, then only FIRs are registered. In a large number of cases investigations do not commence even after registration of FIRs and in a case like the present one, steps are not taken for recovery of the kidnapped person or apprehending the accused person with reasonable dispatch. At times it has been found that when harsh orders are passed by the members of the judiciary in a State, the police becomes hostile to them, for instance, in Bihar when a bail petition filed by a police personnel, who was the accused was rejected by a member of the Bihar Superior Judicial service, he was assaulted in the courtroom for which contempt proceeding was initiated by the Patna High Court and the erring police officials were convicted and sentenced to suffer imprisonment.

      On the other hand, there are innumerable cases that where the complainant is a practical person, FIRs are registered immediately, copies thereof are made over to the complainant on the same day, investigation proceeds with supersonic jet speed, immediate steps are taken for apprehending the accused and recovery of the kidnapped persons and the properties which were the subject-matter of theft or dacoity. In the case before us allegations have been made that the Station House Officer of the police station concerned is pressurizing the complainant to withdraw the complaint, which, if true, is a very disturbing state of affairs. We do not know, there may be innumerable such instances. "

The court said that:

       It is high time now that this Court must endeavor to find out some ways to make the police authority adhere to their statutory duties. The time perhaps has ripened when this Court in exercise of its inherent power must look into this disease in a more serious manner and find out ways by issuing appropriate directions to the concerned authorities, which may result in compelling the police authorities either to observe their statutory duties faithfully or to face consequences.The Court issued following guidelines:

(i) When a Police Officer-in-Charge of the police station or any other police Officer, acting under the directions of the Officer-in-Charge of police station refuses to register an information disclosing a cognizable offence, the informant may either approach the Superintendent of Police under Section 154 (3) or the Magistrate concerned under section 156 (3) of the Code.

(ii) If the Informant approaches the Superintendent of Police, who finds that the refusal of registration of F.I.R. by the police Officer-in-Charge of the police station was unjust or for reasons other than valid, and where he directs for investigation, he shall initiate disciplinary proceedings against the Officer-in-Charge of the police station for such non observance of statutory obligation treating the same to be a serious misconduct justifying a major penalty and complete the proceedings within three months from the date he passes an order for investigation into the matter.

(iii) Where, the informant approaches the Magistrate concerned under Section 156 (3) of the Code and the Magistrate ultimately finds that information discloses a cognizable offence and direct the police to proceed for investigation, he shall cause a copy of the order sent to Superintendent of Police/Senior Superintendent of Police (hereinafter referred to as the S.P/S.S.P) of the concerned district and such S.P./S.S.P. shall cause a disciplinary inquiry into the matter to find out the person guilty of such dereliction of duty i.e. failure to discharge statutory obligation i.e. registration of an information disclosing cognizable offence treating the said failure as a serious misconduct justifying major penalty and shall complete the disciplinary proceedings within three months from the date of receipt of the copy of the order from the concerned Magistrate. After completing the disciplinary proceedings, the S.P./S.S.P. concerned shall inform about the action taken against the concerned police Officer-in-Charge of the police station to the Magistrate concerned within 15 days from the date of action taken by him but not later than four months from the date of receipt of the copy of the order from the Magistrate concerned.

(iv) The Magistrate concerned shall review the cases in which the copy of the orders passed under Section 156 (3) of the Code has been sent to concerned S.P./S.S.P. quarterly and when it is found that the concerned S.P./S.S.P. has also failed to comply with the above directions of this Court, he shall sent a copy of his order along with the information about non- compliance of this Court's order/direction by the concerned S.P./S.S.P. to the Director General of Police, U.P., Lucknow and the Principal Secretary (Home), U.P., Lucknow who shall look into the matter and take appropriate action as directed above against the police Officer-in-Charge of the police station concerned as well as the S.P./S.S.P. concerned for his inaction also into the matter within three months and communicate about the action within next one month to the Magistrate concerned. The Principal Secretary (Home), U.P., Lucknow and the Director General of Police, U.P. Lucknow shall also submit a report regarding number of the cases informed by the concerned Magistrate in a calender year and also the action taken, by them as directed above by the end of February of every year to the Registrar General of this Court.

(v) Besides above, non compliance of the above directions of this Court shall also be treated to be a deliberate defiance by the concerned authorities above mentioned constituting contempt of this Court and may be taken up before the Court concerned having jurisdiction in the matter, whenever it is brought to the notice of this Court.

The Registrar General of this Court is directed to send a copy of this order forthwith to the Principle Secretary (Home), U.P. Lucknow, the Director General of Police, U.P. Lucknow so that they may issue necessary instructions in respect of the compliance of the various directions contained in the judgement to the concerned S.P./S.S.P. of the concerned districts of the State of U.P. and also to the various Police Officers-in-Charge of the concerned police stations apprising them about the directions of this Court and for compliance thereof."

(see, Roop Ram v. State of UP, Criminal Revision No 2308/2009, Allahabad High Court)



Published in Criminal Law
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