Supreme Court extends time limit for registering FIR

The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court modified its landmark Guidelines in Lalita Kumari Vs. Govt. of UP issued on November 12, 2013. In a petition moved by the Delhi Police, the Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice Sathasivam, Justice B.S.Chauhan, Justice Ranjana Desai, Justice Ranjan Gagoi and Justice S.A.Bobde extended the time limit from 7 days to 15 days generally and Six weeks in exceptional cases, for concluding the preliminary inquiry and for registering the First Information Report in criminal cases.

After hearing Additional Solicitor General Sidharth Luthra, who appeared for the Delhi Police, the Court passed the following order

“After  hearing  him  and  in  the  light  of  the  grievance  expressed in the present criminal miscellaneous  petition  filed  in the writ petition, we modify clause (vii) of paragraph  111  of  our  judgment  dated   12th  November,   2013,   in   the following manner:

                “(vii)  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 fifteen days generally and in exceptional cases, by giving  adequate reasons, six weeks time is provided.  The fact of such delay and the causes of it must be reflected in the General  Diary entry.”

                To this extent,  clause  (vii)  of  paragraph  111  of  the judgment is modified.

Before the modification Clause (vii) of Paragraph 111 of the Judgment read as follows;

  (VII) 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 7 days. The fact of such delay and the causes of it must be reflected in the General Diary entry.

With the landmark judgment in the Lalita Kumari case, the Supreme Court has held that registration of First Information Report is mandatory under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 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.

On the basis of the Judgment a Complaint was filed before the Delhi police against Justice Ganguly relating the sexual harassment allegations made by a law internThough Delhi police failed to register an FIR, no action was taken against the Delhi police.

The other Guidelines issued by the Constitution Bench in the Lalita Kumari case are as follows:

The Supreme Court issued the following Guidelines regarding the registration of FIR:

(i)      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.

ii)      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.

(iii)    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.

(iv)    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.

(v)     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.

(vi)     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:

(a) Matrimonial disputes/ family disputes

(b)Commercial offences

(c) Medical negligence cases

(d)Corruption cases

(e) Cases where there is abnormal delay/laches  in initiating criminal prosecution, for example, over 3 months delay in reporting the matter without satisfactorily explaining the reasons for delay. The aforesaid are only illustrations and not exhaustive of all conditions which may warrant preliminary inquiry.

(vii) 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.

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