Lalita Kumari v. State of UP and Others

Citation: 2014 (2) SCC 1

Bench: P. Sathasivam, B.S. Chauhan, Ranjana Prakash Desai, Ranjan Gogoi, S.A. Bobde

 

Introduction

In the case of Lalita Kumari v. State of UP and Others, the three- Judge bench suggested that the registration of FIR (First Information Report) should not be mandatory. They formed this opinion in the basis that before registering the FIR the officer has to be sure that an offence was made. This is for the reason because once an FIR is made, it can then lead to severe consequence for the accused. Therefore, for the same reason a prior investigation should be conducted under section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Section 154 of CrPC should be read with Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

 

Brief Facts of the Case

  • A writ petition was filed under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution by Lalita Kumari (minor), through her father, Shri Bhola Kamat, to issue Habeas Corpus because the officer incharge of the police station who had not taken any action even after registering the FIR.
  • In the petition the petitioner stated that even after registering the FIR, the officer-in-charge had not taken any solid steps to either recover the minor girl or trace the accused.
  • On 14thJuly, 2008, the court passed an extensive order expressing its grave agony over non-registration of FIR even in the case of a cognizable offence.

 

Issues Raised

Following issue was raised in the case-

  • Whether the police officer should compulsorily register an FIR under section 154 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, relating to cognizable offence or the police officer to check the authenticity of the complaint and conduct a preliminary inquiry before registering an FOR?

 

Arguments

  • Petitioner

The advocate on behalf of the petitioner argued that after receiving an information, which revealed that a cognizable offence was committed, it is a crucial duty of officer-in-charge of the police station to register the case under section 154 of CrPC.

  • Respondent

The argument raised by the counsel of the respondent stated that the officer-in-charge of the police station is not obligated under the law to register the case only on disclosure of commission of cognizable offence. But in suitable cases he should hold preliminary inquiry to check the validity of the allegations made in the FIR report.

 

Judgment

The Supreme Court observed the following-

  • If an information discloses that a cognizable offence is committed, then it is mandatory to register the FIR under section 154 and no preliminary inquiry needs to be done in such cases.
  • If the received information does not clearly shows that cognizable offence has been committed,but rather shows the necessity to conduct an enquiry, in that case preliminary investigation must be conducted.
  • In the case when an unanimous complaint is lodged, then a preliminary investigation is to be conducted for the same. If the evidence is found that cognizable offence is committed, then the FIR is to be registered for that case.
  • If there is a chance that registered complaint can be false, then for such case preliminary investigation is to be conducted.
  • If the preliminary inquiry leads to closing of the complaint, then the copy of the entry of such closure is to be given to the first informant within one week by stating the reason for closing the complaint.
  • The police officer in any circumstances cannot avoid his duty of registering the complaint of cognizable offence. Actions must be taken against officer who fails to do so.
  • The scope of preliminary inquiry is to verify the information received on commission of cognizable offence is true or not.
  • Preliminary inquiry will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case. Preliminary inquiry can be conducted in the cases like-
  1. Corruption cases
  2. Medical Negligence
  3. Commercial Offence
  4. Matrimonial Disputes or Family Disputes
  5. Cases where there is an abnormal delay in reporting the cases.
  • Preliminary inquiry which is conducted should not exceed 7 days. If in any case there is a delay, then the reason for such delay should be mentioned in General Diary.

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