India: Registration Of FIR: A Right Of The Complaint And Obligation Of Police In Case Of A Cognizable Offence

Last Updated: 4 June 2019
Article by Vijay Pal Dalmia, Partner

Article by Vijay Pal Dalmia, Advocate, Supreme Court of India and Delhi High Court, Partner & Head of Intellectual Property Laws Division, Vaish Associates Advocates, India

The term FIR nowhere finds mention in Cr.P.C. For lodging of an FIR u/s 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (hereinafter, CrPC).[1] understanding nuances of S. 154 are important.

It has been held by the Supreme Court in Lallan Chaudhary v. State of Bihar[2] that

  • the mandate of S. 154 is manifestly clear that if any information disclosing a cognizable offence is laid before an officer in charge of a police station, such police officer has no other option but to register the case on the basis of such information.
  • Genuineness or credibility of the information is not considered to be a condition precedent for registration of a case.[3]

This question was discussed in detail by the Supreme Court in the case of Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P[4], where it was held that registration of FIR is mandatory under S. 154 of CrPC if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation.

S. 154 uses the word 'shall' which in its ordinary significance is mandatory and the court shall ordinarily give that interpretation to that term unless such an interpretation leads to some absurd or inconvenient consequence or be at variance with the intent of the legislature.[5] Although S. 154(3) makes a provision to approach the higher police officer for the purpose of getting his complaint registered as an FIR in case a complaint is not registered by the officer in charge, it does not force the court to give a purposive interpretation of the impugned section considering that the wording of the section is clear and unambiguous.

The legislative intent of S. 154 has been explained in the case of Bhajanlal v. State of Haryana[6]:

The legal mandate enshrined in S. 154(1) is that every information relating to the commission of a "cognizable offence" if given orally or in writing to "an officer in charge of a police station" (within the meaning of Section 2(o) of the Code) and signed by the informant should be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe which form is commonly called as "First Information Report" and which act of entering the information in the said form is known as registration of a crime or a case.

Sec. 154 of the Cr.P.C. reads as under:

Section 154 - Information in cognizable cases

(1) 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.

..........

(2) A copy of the information as recorded under sub-section (1) shall be given forthwith, free of cost, to the informant.

(3) Any person, aggrieved by a refusal on the part of an officer in charge of a police station to record the information referred to in sub-section (1) may send the substance of such information, in writing and by post, to the Superintendent of Police concerned who, if satisfied that such information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, shall either investigate the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by any police officer subordinate to him, in the manner provided by this Code, and such officer shall have all the powers of an officer in charge of the police station in relation to that offence.

The legislative intent is clearly expressed by the wording of the section and therefore the literal rule has to be used to interpret and give effect to the wisdom of the legislators. Moreover, the courts generally don't appreciate an interpretation other than the literal interpretation especially in cases of penal clauses.

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[1] S. 65, Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

[2] Lallan Chaudhary and Ors. v. State of Bihar and Ors., AIR 2006 SC 3376.

[3] Ramesh Kumari v. State (NCT of Delhi) and Ors., AIR 2006 SC 1322.

[4] Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P. and Ors., AIR 2014 SC 187.

[5] Khub Chand and Ors. v. State of Rajasthan and Ors., AIR 1967 SC 1074.

[6] Bhajan Lal v. State of Punjab, (1971) 1 SCC 34.

© 2018, Vaish Associates Advocates,
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Advocates, 1st & 11th Floors, Mohan Dev Building 13, Tolstoy Marg New Delhi-110001 (India).

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