Apex court to examine if probe needed before FIR

September 16th, 2008 - 11:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 16 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday decided to take a closer look at the need for a preliminary probe by police before registering a first information report (FIR), as it is often used to harass the common man.Seeking closer scrutiny of the matter by an apex court bench of three or more judges, a bench of Justice B.N. Agrawal and Justice G.S. Singhvi referred the issue to Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan.

The bench in the process disfavoured the grant of any discretion to police officials to conduct a preliminary probe into an allegation against a person as it may be misused to ensure that no criminal case or FIR is lodged at all on the complaint of a hapless victim of crime.

The bench observed that in the name of testing the veracity of an allegation through a preliminary probe with no mandatory time limit, police may not register any FIR at all. “We know the ground realities and how the police functions,” it said.

The bench also sought closer scrutiny of the important question of public interest by a larger bench as the apex court has earlier delivered a conflicting verdict on the issue.

This decision came after the counsel for the union government and various states generally favoured allowing some discretion to police to examine the veracity of an allegation before registering an FIR.

The counsel contended that if police are not allowed any discretion and are bound to register it straightway, even on reckless and false allegation, the provision may be misused by unscrupulous elements.

The bench on July 14 had issued notices to the union government and all states seeking their views on some corrective measures mooted by it to deal with the lackadaisical approach of police all over the country in lodging criminal cases on the complaints of the common man.

The bench had suggested that if police fail in promptly lodging a criminal case on the complaint of the common man, he may approach the nearest judicial magistrate who can direct prompt registration of an FIR.

The bench had also suggested that if the police still fail to register the FIR without any proper reason, the magistrate would be justified in launching contempt of court proceedings against the erring police officer and sending him to jail for defying court orders.

The bench had mooted these corrective measures on registering FIRs while hearing a lawsuit by Ghaziabad-based Lalita Kumari, who had to run from pillar to post for mere registration of FIR following the abduction of her teenaged daughter early this year.

Even after registering the FIR on the orders of Ghaziabad’s superintendent of police May 11, the local police allegedly has not been searching for her daughter and is trying to make her withdraw the FIR by threatening her.

Moved by the woman’s plight, Justice Agrawal in his July 14 order had noted his “personal experience” and said despite the Supreme Court’s strict instructions, “the concerned police authorities do not register FIRs unless some direction is given by the chief judicial magistrate or the high court or this court.”

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