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3 policemen were suspended over delay in filing the First Information Report (hereinafter referred to as FIR) in the Hyderabad rape, murder case. The victim’s mother said that a lot of time was wasted by police officials on deciding the jurisdiction and also, the police officers alleged that their daughter must have eloped with someone and the case is not a rape case and because of this there was a delay in filing of the FIR. If the police officers would have had registered the FIR on time, there were chances of saving the woman.
First of all, let’s understand what is an FIR. Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (hereinafter referred to as CrPC) deals with FIR. First Information Report (FIR) is the very first information provided to the police about a cognizable offense. The principal objective of FIR from the point of view of the informant is to set the criminal law into motion and from point of view of the investigating authorities is to obtain information about the cognizable offense. After registration of the FIR only, the police officers start the investigation process.
There are a lot of times that the FIR is not registered by the police officers, due to various reasons like the offense committed is not a cognizable offense, due to political pressure, corruption, even on the grounds of credibility, and reliability, etc.
Under Section 154 of CrPC the word used is ‘information, which means that mere information of a cognizable offense is sufficient enough for registration of an FIR, in other words, the credibility or reasonableness of the information is not a ground for non-registration of an FIR. In Lalita Kumari v. Government of UP, it was observed that if the information given by the informant reveals that a cognizable offense has been committed then, the police officer is duty-bound to register the FIR. In any circumstance, the police officers cannot refuse to file an FIR under any circumstances under Section 154 of CrPC.
FIR should be lodged at the police station at the earliest because in cases of cognizable offenses it is very important to get the information at the earliest. If by any chance the information is not communicated to the police officers at the first instance then this can result in the embellishment of the pieces of evidence, people can make a concorded story and can give rise to suspicion on the worthiness of FIR.
In Dharma Rama Bhagare v. the State of Maharashtra, the honorable Supreme court held that FIR is the starting point of any proceedings but it can never be treated as a substantive piece of evidence. 
Wrong use of power:
In the State of Maharashtra vs. Sarangdharsingh, an order was given by the Collector in the District of Buldhana, that no one shall register any crime against Mr. Gokulchand Sananda, without taking permission from the required authorities. After checking the records, it was found that out of 74 cases, only in seven cases charge sheets were filed alleging illegal moneylending. Due to which many poor farmers were deprived of their rights, and because of powerlessness they were not able to do anything for themselves. Under Section 154 of CrPC it is clearly stated that no one should be deprived of their right, if a cognizable offense has been committed then an FIR must be registered, but this was not the case in the above scenario.
If the FIR is not registered on the grounds of creditableness and reasonableness then the rights of the victim will be infringed and if the FIR is registered then the rights of the accused will be infringed, this is a double-edged sword. We will go through both the points of how the rights of both the person can be saved and justice can be reached.
Evidentiary value of the FIR:
Once the information is received by the police officers of a cognizable offense, the officers have to register an FIR without checking its credibility or reasonableness. FIR is not substantive evidence of the facts that are mentioned under it but yes, it is a very important step from the viewpoint of conveying the offense. After an FIR is filled then the genuineness, reasonableness, or credibility of the information is investigated by the police officer under Section 156 of CrPC. After investigating if it is found that the cognizable offense has been committed then a report has to be sent to the Magistrate who will be empowered to take cognizance of the case. Not only this, a magistrate empowered under Section 190 of CrPC has full power to order an investigation under any such circumstances to an authorized officer. Section 154 of CrPC is a mandatory practice that has to be performed by police officers. The police officer is duty-bound to register the case on the basis that the offense committed is cognizable. After registration of the FIR, only the police officer is entitled to investigate the credibility of the information. 
Non-registration of FIR’s is a serious complaint.
Many a time, Non-registration of FIR’s is faced by poor people who cannot stand for themselves, who cannot stand for the wrong which is happening with them, or even who are unaware of their rights. In a study by the Bureau of Police Research & Development, it was found that around 24.3% of the complainants were tried to be dissuaded, around 4.1% of the complainants were tried to be treated and around 63.5% of complainants did not receive a copy of the FIR. 
In Mohindro v. the State of Punjab 2001, the victim reached the police station for filing an FIR but the police did not file the FIR on the first go. The victim reached the high court for the same that the FIR has not been registered by the authorized officers. In return, they said that the inquiry is going on. The supreme court questioned the authorized officers on how can enquiry be carried forward if the case is not only registered. First Information Report has to be registered for a case to start the further proceedings, without registering it nobody can do anything.
A recent case of delay in filing of FIR took place in Hathras, where a Dalit girl was brutally raped and murdered. The probe agency said that there was negligence from the side of the police, the police did not comply with the procedure of Section 154 of CrPC, which clearly stated that the victim’s statement has to be registered in cases relating to cognizable offenses. At this place, the victim went to the station all injured, tried to give her a statement but still, the police officers refused to record it, even after seeing her condition they neither recorded her statement nor did they send her for further medical examination.
This is a clear breach of Section 154 of CrPC. According to the procedure laid down, the police officers should have registered the FIR and then they would have investigated further upon the matter. But over here they did not even register her case which was an infringement of her rights. There’s a taboo that if a poor woman goes to the police station for filing a rape complaint, then she must be doing this for money.
Recently in Lucknow, a Dalit woman after being raped by her brother-in-law went for registering an FIR, but in return, she was told by the police officers that “you are doing it for money, that’s why you want to register a false case”. You are coming here with a fake case; women make up such cases”. The police took 117 days to register an FIR. There are many such instances where people are not aware of the laws and thus are not able to revert upon such instances. In one case a 19-year-old girl was raped by her neighbor and the SHO told her, ‘This is a matter of the community, you get both of them married. Registering a case at the police station is of no use.’
In 2019, two organizations of Lucknow, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and the Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives (AALI) released a report titled Barriers in Accessing Justice. They wrote the experience of 11 rape cases and 3 gang-rape cases which took place between 2017 and 2020 and one among them took place in 2016. It was told in the report that in none of the cases the FIR was registered at the first instance, the victim had to visit the police station several times (between 2 days to even 228 days) for registering their FIR. Not only this among 5 cases the FIR was registered after the court gave an order to the police officials. There was gender discrimination faced by the victims and even they were sexually assaulted. 
Rights that are given to victims whose FIRs are not filled:
If an FIR is not filed by the police officer, the informant (or victim) can go to the superintendent of the Police or any higher-ranking officer under Section 154(3) of CrPC. The informant may send such substance of the information to inform of writing and even by post to the Superintendent of police and if he/she is satisfied by such information then they can direct an investigation upon the case either by themselves or can ask any authorized officer to investigate upon the case.
Another method can be under Section 156(3) read with Section 190 of CrPC, that the informant is legally entitled to go to the judicial magistrate for filing the FIR, and if satisfied the Judicial Magistrate can order an investigation. Under this case, whenever a complaint is filed before the magistrate of a cognizable offense whose FIR has not been filled then the magistrate can simply order an investigation by the police under Section 156(3) and should not take cognizance of the offense. Whenever a cognizable offense takes place investigation is a very important part of the process, therefore, the magistrate instead of taking the cognizance should ask the police officers to investigate the matter deeply.
Not only in CrPC but also under the Indian Penal Code, it is said That all the sexual offenses are considered cognizable offenses and it is a mandatory provision for the police officers to file the FIRs immediately as they get the knowledge of it.
Also, Section 166A(c) of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 says that if by any chance any public servant fails to abide by the procedure given under law and fails to register FIR which is about a cognizable offense then he/she will be punished.
Now let’s look at this from the perspective of the accused. With an increasing number of crimes rates many people try to file false complaints, they try to make up false stories that are unfair, illegal, and result in grave prejudices to the right of the accused to a fair investigation. Like it happened in Preeti Gupta, where a large number of false reports were lodged under Section 498-A, Indian Penal Code. 
In this regard, the High Court has rights under Section 482(1) of CrPC, that it can quash the FIR if it thinks that the FIR registered has been registered out of false implications and with malicious intentions, there is no truthfulness behind the FIR.
Filing of FIR is a mandatory step but arresting the accused as soon as the FIR is not at all mandatory. Registration of FIR and arrest of a person are two different points.
Remedies available to the accused against a false FIR or allegation are:
- An accused has a right to apply for ‘anticipatory Bail’ under S.438. The object of Sec. 438 is that a person should not be harassed or humiliated to satisfy the grudge or personal vendetta of the complainant 
- Even a preliminary inquiry can be made which should not exceed 7 days if the information does not disclose a cognizable offense.
- Also, the high court has inherent power under Section 428 of CrPC. The high court has the power to give justice to both the parties to suit so if the high court thinks that there is no prima facie ground against the accused then it can under Section 428 of CrPC have a right to reject or quash the FIR filed against the accused in any matters of both civil or criminal and the case stops at that point itself.
- Also, the accused can approach the high court under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution to file a writ petition. After the high court is satisfied that all the proceedings that are going against the accused are of mala-fide nature and there is grave injustice going against them. The High court can pass two kinds of the writ, can either be the Writ of Prohibition or Mandamus.
Writ of Prohibition: In this, the High court will pass an order to the Subordinate Court under whom the case is going on to the vexatious proceedings immediately because it is against the rule of law.
Writ of Mandamus: In this, the High Court can pass an order asking the concerned police station or the police officer to work according to the law and there should not be any mala-fide intention behind the proceedings.
Section 182 of the Indian Penal Code says that if by any chance a person gives false information to the office knowing that the information that he/she is giving is of a false nature will be creating problems to any person, will be punished with imprisonment up to Six Months, or Fine up to One thousand rupees or both. Sections like Section 211, 167, 499 read with 500 of the Indian Penal Code also deal with provisions of false FIR’s and how to deal with such problems.
Thus, I want to conclude by saying that awareness should be spread among the people about their basic legal rights. Many people are unaware of the laws of our country not only in this area but in a lot of areas too. Law students, lawyers, judges, etc. should try spreading awareness about the laws that are prevalent in India, if not the deep laws but at least basic laws like how to file an FIR or what are the remedies available to both sides, etc. The problem is not with the law but the way it is getting executed and interested. The ones in power misuse them towards the one who is unaware of the law. We need to take steps in both directions and work in the way that best suits the citizens of the country.
 Correspondent, H., 2021. 3 policemen suspended over delay in filing FIR in Hyderabad rape, murder case. [online] Hindustan Times. Available at: <https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/3-policemen-suspended-over-delay-in-filing-fir-in-hyderabad-rape-murder-case/story-uBLKaHJR3on8y2DBR86dUI.html> [Accessed 1 June 2021].
 (1973) 1 SCC 537
 (2011) 1 SCC 577
 Law Suit (SC) 19
 16. Manoj Singh, In UP, Rape Survivors Struggle to Get Police to Register FIRs, Let Alone Investigate Them, October 4th, 2020, https://thewire.in/women/uttar-pradesh-police-rape-fir-discrimination
 Manoj Singh, In UP, Rape Survivors Struggle to Get Police to Register FIRs, Let Alone Investigate Them, October 4th, 2020, https://thewire.in/women/uttar-pradesh-police-rape-fir-discrimination
 State of Andhra Pradesh vs. Punati Ramulu And Others, AIR 1993 SC 2644
 In Lalita Kumari v. Government of UP (2008) 7 SCC 164
 Preeti Gupta vs. State of Jharkhand (2010) 7 SCC 667
 HDFC Bank Ltd. v J.J. Mannan alias J.M. John Paul A IR 2010 SC 618
 MANU/SC/0115/1992: 1992 Supp. (1) SCC 335]
Author: Kavya Shukla, OP Jindal Global University
Editor: Kanishka Vaish, Senior Editor, LexLife India