Following Supreme Court judgment settles the point and removes confusion about what powers does police have in terms of deciding when or when not to register an FIR when a complaint is made to police station (PS). Generally it is seen that if a woman approaches police, an FIR is registered without much trouble (subject to first procedure CAW/so called counselling and now family welfare committee provision in limbo), no matter how weak or incredulous the evidences may appear when the police actually gets to investigation state. So information in this article can be utilized by husbands who need to approach police in case of assault, threats, or other criminal complaints against wife/in-laws. That’s where knowledge of law is needed since one’s gender is not the politically-correct one.
Above judgment is the authoritative direction to police by SC on process and steps needed to be followed before registering an FIR, and also the guidelines on what is to be recorded in general diary of PS etc, whether or not if an FIR is registered, and whether or not if a preliminary inquiry is conducted.
The judgment clarifies Section 154 of CrPC the bare act of which is given below:
1. Every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction, and be read over to the informant; and every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing as aforesaid, shall be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf.
… skipped provisions on certain crimes against women etc…
2. A copy of the information as recorded under Sub-Section (1) shall be given forthwith, free of cost, to the informant.
3. Any person, aggrieved by a refusal on the part of an officer in charge of a police station to record the information referred to in Sub-Section (1) may send the substance of such information, in writing and by post, to the Superintendent of Police concerned who, if satisfied that such information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, shall either investigate the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by any police officer subordinate to him, in the manner provided by this Code, and such officer shall have all the powers of an officer in charge of the police station in relation to that offence.
Operative part of above judgment which clarifies powers and duties of police under Sec 154(1) :
110) Therefore, in view of various counter claims regarding registration or non-registration, what is necessary is only that the information given to the police must disclose the commission of a cognizable offence. In such a situation, registration of an FIR is mandatory. However, if no cognizable offence is made out in the information given, then the FIR need not be registered immediately and perhaps the police can conduct a sort of preliminary verification or inquiry for the limited purpose of ascertaining as to whether a cognizable offence has been committed. But, if the information given clearly mentions the commission of a cognizable offence, there is no other option but to register an FIR forthwith. Other considerations are not relevant at the stage of registration of FIR, such as, whether the information is falsely given, whether the information is genuine, whether the information is credible etc. These are the issues that have to be verified during the investigation of the FIR. At the stage of registration of FIR, what is to be seen is merely whether the information given ex facie discloses the commission of a cognizable offence. If, after investigation, the information given is found to be false, there is always an option to prosecute the complainant for filing a false FIR.
111) In view of the aforesaid discussion, we hold:
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 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.
112) With the above directions, we dispose of the reference made to us. List all the matters before the appropriate Bench for disposal on merits.
What above means is that for matrimony related cases, there is likelihood of a preliminary inquiry being conducted if ex-facie (on its face) a cognizable offence is not clear. Note that preliminary inquiry is a relatively limited procedure and is not the same as investigation which is done after registration of FIR.
This information on right legal process can be useful to husbands who need to approach police in case of assault, threats, or other criminal complaints against wife/in-laws. It can also be used by those facing false rape/false molestation cases in case they have evidence of extortion/threats from other side, for which complaint to police can be made for registration of FIR.