KEY TAKE AWAYS
- The refusal to register, investigate or report in cognizable offenses is an offence punishable under section 166 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
- According to Clause (3) of Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a person has the option of mailing the information of crime in written form to the relevant Superintendent of Police so that it can be noted and looked into, if the officer-in-charge of a police station declines to register his report.
- The informant is urged to directly submit a private complaint before the relevant Judicial Magistrate under Section 156(3) r/w Section 190 of the Criminal Procedure Code if the remedy provided under Section 154(3) Cr.P.C. doesn't prove to be successful.
- The State Level Grievance Redressal Mechanism (SLGRM) is a redressal system to facilitate and enable citizens to seek justice from the government bodies.
- Police personnel who fail to register a FIR in cases that are cognizable may suffer from a number of consequences.
- If the non-lodging of the report has deprived the individual of his right to life and personal liberty as protected by Article 21 of our Constitution, another option available to the aggrieved person is to file a Writ Petition in the appropriate High Court to seek compensation.
The refusal to register, investigate or report in cognizable offenses is an offence punishable under section 166 of the Indian Penal Code. The act is also prosecutable under wilful neglect to discharge duties by public servant who is legally bound to do so Section 197 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The Supreme Court on 13 Aug 2018 directed states and union territories to set up special investigating teams within three months for reinvestigating over 40,000 cases involving allegations against politicians and bureaucrats. The court was hearing a plea filed by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in May this year.
After months of investigations, the country’s premier investigative body NCRB found that there were 23,938 cases under investigation against politicians and government officials including former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. The government had also received 952 complaints against politicians and bureaucrats so far.
The Supreme Court ordered that the complaints should be transferred to CBI within three months. When the matter came up for hearing again in October 2018, it ordered a CBI investigation into each case. This was done to ensure that a petition on ‘false complainants’ which existed since 2009 was quashed by the court.
The investigation by NCRB into the credibility of those accused of corruption revealed that in 12,847 cases, there was no material against the accused. There were also 4,412 cases in which investigation was found to be pending even after a year of being registered.
CASES IN WHICH AN FIR CAN BE REGISTERED
The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973's Section 154(1) makes it abundantly apparent that only crimes that qualify as felonies may result in the filing of a FIR. Cognizable offences are those for which the accused may be taken into custody by the police without a warrant. In certain cases, the police may Suo moto declare an offence to have occurred and may launch an inquiry without a court's permission. Non-cognizable offences, on the other hand, are those for which the police cannot secure a conviction without first receiving approval from the court. The Criminal Procedure Code's Schedule I makes it plain which offences are and are not cognizable.
According to Clause (3) of Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a person has the option of mailing the information of crime in written form to the relevant Superintendent of Police so that it can be noted and looked into, if the officer-in-charge of a police station declines to register his report.
If the SP is concerned about the disclosure of a cognizable offence based on the information after receiving it, he must either independently investigate the matter or order another subordinate police officer to do so in accordance with the Code. Additionally, the investigating officer would possess the same authority over the investigation as the officer in command of the police station.
The informant is urged to directly submit a private complaint before the relevant Judicial Magistrate under Section 156(3) r/w Section 190 of the Criminal Procedure Code if the remedy provided under Section 154(3) Cr.P.C. doesn't prove to be successful. In accordance with this, the said Magistrate is authorised to take the case under his or her purview upon receiving such a complaint and to order the police to conduct an investigation.
GRIEVANCE REDRESSAL CELL
The State Level Grievance Redressal Mechanism (SLGRM) is a redressal system to facilitate and enable citizens to seek justice from the government bodies. It is aimed at improving public services through an open and transparent mechanism available free of cost to the general public. The grievance mechanism would be headed by the minister in charge of the relevant portfolio.
The administrative machinery of the government is highly overburdened and has become the bottleneck of development in society. For this reason, cadre transfers (both central and state governments) have become the subject matter of intense scrutiny by the Supreme Court.
Since the Supreme Court gave its directive to states, there have been several cases where merit is denied on grounds that only one minister in a state can be transferred. In other instances, transfers have been cancelled without following due process. The Centre too has transferred bureaucrats without following due process as well.
The Supreme Court also made it mandatory for all States and Union Territories to follow their own mechanism in allocation of land (to individuals/non-government organisations etc).
CONSEQUENCES OF NON-REGISTRATION OF FIR
Due to their delay, police personnel who fail to register a FIR in cases that are cognizable may suffer from a number of consequences. The offended party may choose to take the following actions if the relevant authorities do not respond even after he has exhausted all available legislative and legal remedies.
The person who feels wronged may submit a writ petition in the appropriate High Court for the issuance of a Writ of Mandamus against the negligent police officers, and the Court will then order them to provide justification for why they failed to file the report.
If the non-lodging of the report has deprived the individual of his right to life and personal liberty as protected by Article 21 of our Constitution, another option available to the aggrieved person is to file a Writ Petition in the appropriate High Court to seek compensation.
Our nation's criminal code also addresses this abhorrent practise, which is carried very frequently these days. An employee of the government who neglects to record information is subject to penalty under Section 166A of the Indian Penal Code.
In particular, sub-section (3) of the section states that a public employee who violates this section by failing to register any information under section 154(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code in relation to an offence under section 326A, 326B, 354, 354B, 370, 370A, 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB, 376E, or 509 of the IPC will be punished with rigorous imprisonment
- Lalita Kumari vs Govt.Of U.P.& Ors on 12 November, 2013 (1 WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 68 OF 2008)
The Latika Kumari v. Govt. of UP & Ors case is the most significant precedent in cases involving the filing of a FIR.
In this ruling, the Supreme Court established eight rules that the police still have to abide by. When the police are told of the occurrence of an offence that is cognizable in nature, are they required to file a FIR? This was the crucial point that arose in the case of Latika Kumari. The Apex Court gave an affirmative response to this query and determined that the police must file a FIR as soon as they learn of the commission of a crime that is punishable by law.
The Court additionally ruled that the police are not needed to conduct any sort of preliminary investigation if it is obvious that a cognizable offence has been committed. It implies that the preliminary investigation is only valid to the extent that it establishes whether the committed offence is cognizable or not. Additionally, the Apex Court specifically listed the types of instances in which the police could conduct a preliminary investigation, including family conflicts, commercial offences, cases of medical malpractice, cases of corruption, and cases with unusually long delays. The Court further mandated that the preliminary investigation must begin within seven days of receiving the information regarding the offence.
Despite how cruel it may seem; it is rather typical for police personnel to refuse to file a FIR. Numerous factors could be at play, including the protection of the accused who are well-connected and influential, the intimidation of vulnerable victims, the careless actions of public officials, etc. Whatever the cause, the victim always suffers. When the victim's request to file a report is rejected, the anguish they have already experienced as a result of the crime is compounded.
The filing of a FIR whenever a cognizable offence is committed is technically the first stage for starting a criminal case, and as a result, the first step in getting justice. It implies that the victim of an injustice is completely denied justice when his request to file a complaint is denied. There is no question that the law has given harmed parties several remedies for the aforementioned situations, but all the chasing around to pursue these remedies simply to register the complaint can occasionally cause the justice to feel like it has been denied.
The fact that reporting an offence committed against someone is one of their most fundamental rights, and yet, that right is taken away by our protectors, makes it clear that this police action is among the most heinous practises of our legal system. It is obvious that this practise promotes lawlessness, so it must be stopped.