Registration of FIR i.e the First Information Report and its consequent investigation is the most debated issue as some are aggrieved for lack of registration of FIRs while others for undue registration of FIRs. Offences defined under the Indian Penal Code and other penal statutes are primarily categorized as cognizable and non- cognizable in nature in addition to them being categorized as bailable and non-bailable in nature.
Non Cognizable offences are known as NC Offences and complaints filed disclosing non cognizable offences are called as NC Complaints governed by section 155 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. FIR is registered only if a cognizable offence is disclosed or made out in the complaint and in case if no cognizable offence is disclosed than the police can conduct preliminary inquiry to find out the same.
Once cognizable offence is made out or disclosed in the complaint, the Police are duty bound to register a FIR and proceed with investigation. Complaints disclosing information relating to commission of cognizable offences are filed under section 154 (1) of CrPC and it is not mandatory to give such information in writing only as the same can be given orally also to the officer-in- charge of the Police Station who is than statutorily bound to correctly reduce the same into writing and register a FIR.
After reducing the same into writing the same has to be read over to the informant for the informant to sign on it. Informant providing orally information of a cognizable offence should always request the police officer recording the information to read the substance reduced into writing in the language which the informant understands before signing the same.
The substance reduced into writing if not in accordance with the oral narration than the informant should refuse to sign as upon signing if information in detail is subsequently provided in writing by the informant than the same would be considered as an afterthought. There is no reason to panic if no FIR is registered as there are provisions in CrPC to obtain a direction for the same. Under section 154(3) of CrPC , the complainant can approach the Superintendent of Police of the District if the Officer –in-Charge of a police station fails to register a FIR and if the Superintendent of Police also fails to either himself register a FIR and investigate it or direct any police officer subordinate to him to register a FIR and investigate than the complainant can approach the Magistrate u/s 156(3) of CrPC. Irrespective of the reply from the Officer-in-Charge and /or the Superintendent of Police, the complainant can file 156(3) proceedings before the Magistrate if no FIR is registered either by the Officer-in-Charge or the Superintendent of Police within seven days of filing of the complaint as the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Lalita Kumari’s judgement gives only seven days for the Police to conduct Preliminary Inquiry in order to find out whether cognizable offence is made out or not.
So also in order to maintain strict vigil over the investigation, directions to monitor the investigation can also be sought from the Magistrate.
By virtue of the judgement of Sakiri Vasu of the Hon’ ble Supreme Court, a Magistrate clearly enjoys unfettered powers while monitoring investigation so that the very purpose of directing investigation should not be defeated.
It is to be borne in mind that the Police need not mandatorily file a charge-sheet and can even close the case by filing final summary/ report if investigation conducted does not reveal commission of the alleged offences, however in such cases, the complainant has a right to appoint an Advocate and object the same ultimately for the Magistrate to judicially decide the issue. Inspite of an order directing the officer-in-charge of a police station to register a FIR and investigate, the officer-in-charge fails to register a FIR and investigate than the Magistrate upon being satisfied that the officer-in-charge has without reasonable cause willfully disobeyed its direction, may make a Reference to the Hon’ble High Court against the Officer-in-Charge for committing civil contempt which is punishable under section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
It is to be borne in mind that the proceedings under section 156(3) of CrPC are to be disposed off expeditiously as the very purpose of filing the complaint many a times is defeated by the efflux of time caused due to the delay in disposal of such proceedings and as such a time limit has to be fixed for disposal of such proceedings in the interest of justice.
(This article is the personal opinion of the writers based on their experiences as advocates practicing in criminal law in the State of Goa)