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Mandatory FIR in cognizable offence, misuse of power to arrest will result in action against the Police officer : Punjab and Haryana High Court

Non-registration of Criminal Case leads to dilution of Rules of Law
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The Punjab and Haryana High Court held that ‘Non-registration of criminal case leads to dilution of rules of law’, it further states that arrest cannot be made in routine manner, misuse of power to arrest will result inaction against the Police Officer. (Hitesh Bhardwaj Vs State of Punjab)

“Non-registration of criminal case leads to dilution of rules of law and lead to definite lawlessness which is detrimental to the society as a whole.”

In the case (Hitesh Bhardwaj Vs State of Punjab), petitioner Hitesh filed an application before the High Court seeking directing to register the First Information Report (FIR) in connection with the murder of his mother. In March 2020, Hitesh filed a complaint for alleged murder, accusing his brother. Based on the initial investigation, the police refused to register an FIR.

The learned counsel submitted that the police cannot conduct a full-scale investigation without registering an FIR.

that the Police cannot embark upon full scale inquiry into the complaint filed by the petitioner without registration of FIR. Resort to inquest proceedings was not a substitute for investigation pursuant to Section 154(1) Cr.P.C. Any observation made in the inquest proceedings would not operate as bar to the registration of First Information Report. Chapter XII of Cr.P.C. deals with reporting of information to Police in cognizable offence and its power of investigation. Section 154(1) Cr.P.C. deals with registration of FIR by the Police Incharge of Police Station on receipt of information in respect of cognizable offence. The provision casts a statutory duty on the Police Office to enter the substance of such information in the prescribed form i.e. FIR.

Justice Raj Mohan Singh relied on Lalita Kumari vs. Govt. of U.P and stated that the genuineness of the complaint are not the conditions for filing the FIR.

“the reliability, genuineness and credibility of the information are not conditions precedent for registration of case. The intention of the Legislature is to ensure prompt investigation of a cognizable offence in accordance with law. There is no discretion left with the Police Officer to register or not to register an FIR once information of a cognizable offence has been placed before him. “

It also stated that, information of closure of the complaint should be supplied to the complainant within one week.

The bench further stated the remedies if police donot register the FIR.

he can approach the Sr. Superintendent of Police… If such representation does not yield any satisfactory result and the FIR is not registered, then it would be open to the aggrieved person to file an application under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. before the Magistrate concerned.

The bench held that, the police is bound to conduct investigation in a cognizable offence.

the Police is bound to proceed to conduct investigation into a cognizable offence even without receiving information about commission of such an offence,… The requirement of Section 154 Cr.P.C., is only that the report must disclose the commission of a cognizable offence. Receipt of such information would be sufficient to set the Investigating Agency into action.”

It further held that, “that no information of commission of cognizable offence can be ignored.”

“Therefore, conducting the investigation into an offence after registration of FIR under Section 154 Cr.P.C. is the procedure established by law and the same is in conformity with Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Right of the accused for speedy trial would come into being only after registration of FIR and after conducting the investigation in accordance with law.”, in the order.

The bench stated that, commission of a cognizable offence is not only to bring in notice of agencies but also to the Magistrate.

The requirement of compulsory registration of an FIR is not only to ensure transparency in the criminal justice delivery system, but it also ensures judicial oversight as the Police Officer has to inform the Magistrate about lodging of FIR forthwith in terms of Section 157(1) Cr.P.C.

On the arrest, the bench held that, registration of FIR and arrest are entirely different, and further states that “arrest of the accused is not automatic” and misuse will result inaction against the Police Officer.

The arrest of the accused is not automatic on registration of an FIR. The arrest cannot be made in a routine manner on a mere allegation of commission of an offence…The arrest of person and registration of FIR are not directly linked as both have two concepts, operating under different parameters. Misuse of aforesaid concept would result in action against the Police Officer under Section 166 IPC.”

The bench then held that, mandatory FIR in cognizable offence without preliminary inquiry.

Registration of FIR is mandatory under Section 154 Cr.P.C., if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence. No preliminary inquiry is permitted in such a situation. Preliminary inquiry can be conducted in matrimonial cases, case relating to family disputes, commercial offences, medical negligence cases, corruption cases and the cases where there is abnormal delay of more than 3 months in initiating criminal prosecution or reporting the matter to the police without satisfactory explanation.”

The bench stated that, “refusal to register an FIR is not in accordance with law.” and directed to register the FIR in the case.

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