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January 28, 2021

HC issues directions to Police for processing FIR’s on economic offences

by CA Shivam Jaiswal in Legal Court Judgement

HC issues directions to Police for processing FIR’s on economic offences

FIR means ‘First Information Report.’ FIR is the first document prepared in criminal proceedings. FIR is a document that places on record the victim’s side of the story. FIR acts as a tool on which police authorities base and start their investigations. Hence, it is pretty clear that an FIR plays a vital role in criminal proceedings. Recently in the case of Rajendra Singh Pawar Vs State of M.P, the High Court issued directions to police officers for FIR’s filed on economic offences. Let us find out what was directed by the High Court (HC) in this article.

Petitioners had filed a petition making the following prayers:

  • To call for entire record from the office of respondents relating to steps taken and investigation conducted in relation to the written complaint submitted by the petitioners
  • To direct respondents to take appropriate action on the written complaint submitted by the petitioners and register FIR against accused Shridhar Ingle while keeping in view his previous conduct as was appreciated by the High Court.

What was submitted by the petitioners?

  • Petitioners submitted that no action was taken by the respondent on his complaint/information given regarding commission of offence by one Shridhar Engle.
  • It was submitted that Shridhar Engle is a habitual offender and he was doing forgery and cheating and, therefore, offences ought to have been registered by the respondent against him.

What was observed by the High Court (HC)?

  • Number of petitions were filed before the HC as Police did not take any decision on a complaint made by a party regarding economic offences.
  • In all such petitions, prayer was made for lodging of FIR against the accused persons or prayer was made to decide the complaint/representation preferred by the petitioners before concerned police station or by Superintendent of Police.
  • HC in matter of Dharmendra Sonkar Vs. State of M.P. (2018), Shweta Bhadauria Vs. State of M.P. (2017), Sudhir Bhaskar Rao Tambe Vs. Hemant Yash want Dnage (2016)had held that in cases, where FIR was not registered at Police Station, then complainant had an alternate remedy under Sections 154 (3), 156 (3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure or to avail alternative remedy under Sections 190 and 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or in exceptions enumerated in case of Whirphool Corporation Vs. Registrar of Trade Marks, Mumbai (1998) can file a writ petition before HC.
  • In view of the aforesaid law, HC did not deem fit to exercise jurisdiction to give direction to Police Authorities to register FIR, as petitioners had not demonstrated that their case fell in exception laid down in case of Whirphool Corporation (supra).
  • Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure fixes duty on concerned police officer to examine the complaint and form opinion whether cognizable offence is made out or not.
  • If cognizable offence was made out then he was duty bound to register FIR.
  • Otherwise, he could close the complaint if no offence was made out or enter the information as non-cognizable offence under Section 155 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Observations of HC on directions for action to be taken on receipt of complaint

Supreme Court (SC) in the matter of Lalita Kumari Vs. Govt. of U.P (2014) specifically laid down following directions for action to be taken on receipt of complaint:

  • Registration of FIR is mandatory under Section 154 of the Code, if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation.
  • If the information received does not disclose a cognizable offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted only to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not.
  • If the inquiry discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, the FIR must be registered. In cases where preliminary inquiry ends in closing the complaint, a copy of the entry of such closure must be supplied to the first informant forthwith and not later than one week. It must disclose reasons in brief for closing the complaint and not proceeding further.
  • The police officer cannot avoid his duty of registering offence if cognizable offence is disclosed. Action must be taken against erring officers who do not register the FIR if information received by him discloses a cognizable offence.
  • The scope of preliminary inquiry is not to verify the veracity or otherwise of the information received but only to ascertain whether the information reveals any cognizable offence.
  • As to what type and in which cases preliminary inquiry is to be conducted will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. The category of cases in which preliminary inquiry may be made are as under:
    1. Matrimonial disputes/ family disputes
    2. Commercial offences
    3. Medical negligence cases
    4. Corruption cases
    5. Cases where there is abnormal delay in initiating criminal prosecution
  • The aforesaid are only illustrations and not exhaustive of all conditions which may warrant preliminary inquiry.
  • While ensuring and protecting the rights of the accused and the complainant, a preliminary inquiry should be made time bound and, in any case, it should not exceed 15 days generally and in exceptional cases, by giving adequate reasons, 6 weeks’ time is provided. The fact of such delay and the causes of it must be reflected in the General Diary entry.
  • Since the General Diary/Station Diary/Daily Diary is the record of all information received in a police station, we direct that all information relating to cognizable offences, whether resulting in registration of FIR or leading to an inquiry, must be mandatorily and meticulously reflected in the said Diary and the decision to conduct a preliminary inquiry must also be reflected, as mentioned above.

Observations of HC on Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure pertaining to Information in cognizable cases.

According to the said section, every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction, and be read Over to the informant; and every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing as aforesaid, shall be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf

Observations of HC on Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure pertaining to Police officer’ s power to investigate cognizable case.

According to the said section, any officer in charge of a police station may, without the order of a Magistrate, investigate any cognizable case which a Court having jurisdiction over the local area within the limits of such station would have power to inquire into or try under the provisions of Chapter XIII.

No proceeding of a police officer in any such case shall at any stage be called in question on the ground that the case was one which such officer was not empowered under this section to investigate.

Observations of HC on Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure pertaining to Examination of complainant

A Magistrate taking cognizance of an offence on complaint shall examine upon oath the complainant and the witnesses present, if any, and the substance of such examination shall be reduced to writing and shall be signed by the complainant and the witnesses, and also by the Magistrate

Provided that, when the complaint is made in writing, the Magistrate need not examine the complainant and the witnesses-

  • if a public servant acting or- purporting to act in the discharge of his official duties or a Court has made the complaint; or
  • if the Magistrate makes over the case for inquiry or trial to another Magistrate under section 192

If the Magistrate makes over the case to another Magistrate under section 192 after examining the complainant and the witnesses, the latter Magistrate need not re- examine them.

Conclusion by HC in the present case

In instant case aforesaid directions and law were not followed by Station House Officer/Investigating Officer after receiving complaint. Complainant was not informed about result of preliminary inquiry/scrutiny done by the Investigating Officer. If such result was informed to the complainant, then he could resort to remedy available to him under the law, but the complaint filed by a person remained unattended.

To weed out the problem which is being faced by complainant/informant in respect of economic offences at the police station following directions were reiterated:

  • Whenever a complaint is filed at police station, concerned Police Officer shall examine the complaint and if required preliminary inquiry be done to ascertain whether information reveals any cognizable offence.
  • Investigating Officer shall either register First Information Report if complaint/information discloses cognizable offence or proceed under Section 155 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, if no cognizable offence is disclosed or if no offence is made out then complainant shall be informed that his compliant has been filed.
  • Police Officer shall process all complaints received within a period of 15 days. If due to some reasons, it is not possible for concerned Police Officer to process the complaint and take action on it within said time, he shall take aforesaid action within maximum period of 42 days after receiving of complaint.
  • Every complaint which is received by Investigating Officer shall be entered into General Diary, as per M.P. Police Regulation 634 maintained at the Police Station and a number on which said complaint is entered in General Diary shall be given to the complainant.
  • Superintendent of Police shall keep a check that such complaints are decided within the stipulated time mentioned above as per the directions of Apex Court. If complaints remain pending for more than 42 days then Superintendent of Police shall initiate Departmental Enquiry against delinquent Police Officer.
  • It is observed that in offences of cheating and fraud, Investigating Officer/Station House Officer is taking a long time to register an offence under Indian Penal Code or to dispose off complaint in accordance with law.
  • Principal Secretary, Home/Director General of Police shall issue directions to Superintendent of Police to sensitize all Police Officers on filed when offence of cheating is made out and when only a civil wrong is made out so that concerned Police Officer can process the complaints/applications made in case of economic offence of cheating and fraud expeditiously.

The writ petition filed by the petitioners was disposedwith direction to Station House Officer, to consider the complaint filed by the petitioners and take appropriate action as mentioned above within 15 days from the date of receipt of certified copy of the order passed today. Result of scrutiny of complaint and action should be conveyed to petitioners.

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