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Lalita Kumari vs Govt. of U.P. & Ors

Case NameLalita Kumari vs Govt. of U.P. & Ors
Case No.Criminal Appeal No. 1410 of 2011
CourtIn the Supreme Court of India
BenchP Sathasivam, B.S. Chauhan, Ranjana Prakash Desai, Ranjan Gogoi, S.A. Bobde
Decided onPronounced on November 12, 2013
Relevant StatuteSection 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973
CitationAIR 2012 SC 1515

Brief facts  and procedural history :

  • The writ petition was filed under Article 32 of the constitution by Lalita Kumari(Minor) through her father Shri Bhola Kamat for the issuance of a writ of Habeas Corpus as the officer – in – charge of the police station who did not take any action. The petitioner stated that even after registration of FIR no concrete steps taken to recover the minor girl or trace the accused. The court on 14.7.2008 passed a comprehensive order expressing its grave anguish on non-registration of the FIR even in the case of cognizable offence.
  • The matter was heard by two judges bench in same case in 2008 thereafter which the matter arose in 2012 by three judges bench where the apex court referred the matter to the constitutional Bench as there were extensively conflicting decisions.

Issues raised :

  • The important issue which arose for consideration in the referred matter is whether “a police officer is bound to register a First Information Report (FIR) upon receiving any information relating to commission of a cognizable offence under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal procedure,1973 or the the police officer has power to conduct a “preliminary inquiry” in order to test the veracity of the information before registering the same”.

Petitioner’s Contentions :

  • The use of word ‘Shall’ in section 154(1) indicates that there is no discretion left to the police officer except to register the FIR. In support of the proposition, reliance was placed on the following decisions, viz., B. Premanand v. Mohan Koikal, M/s Hiralal Rattanlal v. State of U.P. and Anr.
  • Section 154 (1) mentions the word ‘Information’ without prefixing the words ‘reasonable’ or ‘credible’ which indicates that genuineness or credibility of the information is not a condition precedent for registration of case.

Respondent’s Contentions :

  • State of West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh contended that the registration of FIR is mandatory u/s 154 of the CrPC , if the information discloses a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is allowed in such situations.
  • States of Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra contended that a preliminary inquiry should be conducted before the registration of FIR on the following basis :
  • The provisions of Section 154(1) must be read in the light of Articles 14, 19 and 21 which provides that no citizen shall be subjected to malicious prosecution and an innocent shall not be implicated in a criminal case.
  • Section 154(3) enables the complainant to approach the Suprintendent of Police to register the FIR if the same is refused by the officer in-charge of the police station. This indicates that the police officer is not bound to register the FIR if he has doubts about the veracity of the complaint.

Principles laid down:

  • The FIR is a pertinent document that helps in setting the criminal law in motion and obtaining information about the alleged criminal activity.
  • The scope of preliminary inquiry is not to verify the veracity or otherwise of information received but only to ascertain whether information reveals any cognizable offence.
  • The category of cases in which preliminary inquiry may be made are as under :
  • Matrimonial disputes
  • Commercial offences
  • Medical negligence cases
  • Corruption cases
  • However , there is not any exhaustive list.

Judgement :

  • 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 a 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.
  • A preliminary inquiry should be made time bound and in any case it should not exceed 7 days and reason for delay must be explained in the general diary.
  • All the information related to commission of cognizable offence must be entered in general diary.

Dissected by Suyash Tripathi

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