• Friday, November 15th, 2013

PRAVEEN-DALAL-MANAGING-PARTNER-OF-PERRY4LAW-CEO-PTLBGetting a First Information Report (FIR) registered at a Police Station is a tedious task and in many cases FIRs are not registered at all. This is a serious lapse of criminal justice system administration as if the offence is not registered it cannot be investigated and prosecuted at all.

The law of India says that if a cognizable offence has been committed and such fact of commission of the cognizable offence is brought to the notice of a Police Officer, such Police Officer has to register an FIR of the same. However, registering of FIR for even cognizable offences was not easy in the past.

The Central Ministry of Home Affairs reacted to this situation and an Advisory by Central Ministry of Home Affairs of India for Registration of FIR Irrespective of Territorial Jurisdiction and Zero FIR (PDF) was issued. Even the Parliament of India supported this cause of criminal justice and added Section 166A to the Indian Penal Code, 1860 through The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 (PDF).

Section 166A(c) of IPC provides that whoever, being a public servant, fails to record any information given to him under sub-section (1) of section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Code) and in particular in relation to cognizable offence punishable under section 354, section 354A, section 354B, section 354C, sub-section (2) of section 354D, section  376, section  376A, section 376B, section  376C, section  376D or section  376E, he/she shall be punished  with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or with both.

However, recently a Constitution Bench (PDF) of Supreme Court of India in Lalita Kumari v. Govt Of UP (2013) SC (5J) (PDF) held that police officers are bound to register FIR upon receiving information of commission of a cognizable offence in India. This means that for cognizable offences, as mentioned in the judgment, police officers would be left with no option but to register an FIR unless the case falls in one of the exceptions mentioned by the Supreme Court.

The Bench also held that the insertion of Section 166A in the IPC vide Criminal Law (Amendment)Act 2013, must be read in consonance with the provision and not contrary to it. Thus, an FIR must be registered by a Police Office for all cognizable offences mentioned under the IPC and not just the one mentioned U/S 166A.

The Bench also observed that Section 39 of the Code casts a statutory duty on every person to inform to the nearest Magistrate or Police Officer about commission of, or of the intention of any other person to commit, certain offences which includes offences covered by Sections 121 to 126, 143 to 145, 147, 148, 302, 64-A, 382, 392, 431 to 439, 449, 450, 456 to 460, etc., of the IPC.

The Bench held that for offences under Laws other than IPC, different provisions can be laid down under a Special Act to Regulate the Investigation, Inquiry, Trial etc., of those Offences. Section 4(2) of the Code protects such special provisions.

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