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Police must register FIR or face action, rules SC

New Delhi

12-November-2013

The Supreme Court Tuesday said that it is mandatory for the police to register an FIR if a complainant approaches it for the registration of a cognizable offence.

The apex court constitution bench comprising Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice B.S. Chauhan, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S.A. Bobde said action will be taken against the police officer who fails to register First Information Report (FIR) on the complaint of a cognizable offence.

The legislative intent is for compulsory registration of FIR in case of cognizable offence, said Chief Justice Sathasivam, speaking for the bench.

Cognizable offences are those which attract punishment of three years or more in case of conviction and where an investigating officer can arrest an accused without warrant.

However, the court added a rider that if a complainant prima facie does not disclose a cognizable offence, then the investigating officer is entitled to conduct preliminary inquiry just to ascertain whether the complaint constitutes a cognizable offence.

Such a preliminary inquiry should be time bound and not take more than one week.

The court clarified that preliminary inquiry can be conducted in certain matters only to determine if there was cognizable element in the complaint relating to matrimonial family disputes, commercial offences, cases of medical negligence, corruption cases and cases of abnormal delay in the lodging of the complaint.

The court clarified that the list is illustrative and not exhaustive.

If a police officer decides to conduct a preliminary inquiry and finds that complaint does not merit registration of FIR, then the same shall be recorded and a copy of the closure report shall be given to the first informant in seven days.

Failure to comply with said direction would entail disciplinary action against erring investigating officer.

The court's direction came on a reference by three judges' bench headed Justice Dalveer Bhandari in February 2012 in a matter relating to kidnapping of a minor girl in Uttar Pradesh.

The victim's mother moved the court challenging the refusal of local police to register an FIR on the basis of complaint by her against the kidnappers. - IANS