Can a police officer refuse to file your F.I.R ? What to do if he does?
It is a common feeling of uncertainty, fear and hesitation, we all have experienced at some point in our lives when we deal with a list of procedures we are not well-aware of. For example, the first time we checked in into an airport, or the first time we had to deal with the technicalities of banks, insurances, taxes etc. Legal procedures, however, put an extra tensity due to the fright of imposition of sanctions. But that my dear friend is for someone who doesn’t have clarity on their rights in such circumstances. This particular blog discusses the rights you may exercise against refusal on registration of your F.I.R by the police officer and elucidates all possible alternatives after such a turndown.
To begin with, the first information report (F.I.R) is the communication of information, first in point of time which sets the criminal law in motion. It is a written document prepared by the police upon receiving information about what is called a ‘cognizable offence’. Simply put, cognizable offences are those heinous and serious kinds, where the police have the authority to investigate or arrest people without any instruction or warrant from a court of law. While the list of such offences is long, common example include murder, attempt to murder, rape, theft, kidnapping, robbery, forgery, rioting, serious assault, dowry death etc. An F.I.R is registered only in cognizable offences under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1873.
Before annotating the consequential remedies for police refusing to file F.I.R, let’s understand if the police can deny filing it at all. The answer to which is assertive. A police officer can refuse to file your information if:
i. He has reasons to believe the case is of petty issue.
ii. He doesn’t have territorial jurisdiction. [Although in such cases you may ask the concerned officer to file a ‘ZERO F.I.R’ instead which can be lodged at any station irrespective of the jurisdictional issue, and can be then forwarded to the station having the jurisdiction on the matter, by the officer who records the same.]
iii. It is not a cognizable offence. [The same shall be entered as Non-Cognizable Report (NCR) under Section 155 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1873.
The main and the only requisite for registration of anF.I.R is the revelation of a cognizable offence.
Supreme Court of India has held that-
“A vague, indefinite or unauthorized piece of information cannot be regarded as first information merely because it was received first in point of time. Likewise, an unclear message over the phone simply stating that a person is lying dead on the road does not amount as First information report”.
However, any information disclosing a cognizable offence makes the police officer bound to its registration and no preliminary inquiry is needed for the same to test the credibility of such information received. (Expect for cases related to matrimonial disputes, commercial offences, medical negligence and corruption cases which must not exceed 7 days of inquiry before registering the F.I.R).
What to do if a police officer refuses to file your F.I.R?
1. If your information regarding a cognizable offence has been refused to be registered by the officer in charge, you may directly approach the Superintendent of Police under Section.154(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1873 with a written form of your information, or you may post the same to him/her. If the Superintendent of Police, observes after analyzing the written complaint to disclose a cognizable offence, he may investigate it himself or direct his sub-ordinate to do so. And such an officer investigating will have all the powers of the officer in charge who had refused you the registration of the F.I.R. The Superintendent of police may also direct the same officer to register your information and initiate the investigation, after which the officer is bound to do so.
2. When the Superintendent of Police does not register the F.I.R, or despite the F.I.R, no proper investigation is done, you are entitled to approach the Judicial Magistrate/Metropolitan Magistrate (having the jurisdiction) directly under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. After which the Magistrate can order for proper investigation, and if necessary, can also monitor such investigation.
3. Any person to whom any officer in charge of the police station refuses to file FIR for any cognizable offence within his territorial jurisdiction can file a case in State Human Right Commission of that state or National Human Right Commission, in written form that particular police officer is not doing his duty of enforcing the law which is made to be enforced
4. Likewise, a Writ Petition in the respective High Court may be filed for the issuance of Writ of Mandamus (an order from a court to an inferior government official ordering the government official to properly fulfil their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion.)against the defaulting Police officers, inter alia, to Register the FIR and directing him to record the reasons for him not lodging the FIR. Refusal to lodge an FIR on jurisdictional ground amounts to 1 year of Imprisonment for the Police officials. A separate petition may be filed in respective High Court for seeking damages/compensation, if the inaction of the Police on the complaint/non-registration of FIR, has resulted in frustration/deprivation of ―life and liberty of any person, guaranteed under Article 21 of Constitution of India.
Also, under section 166A OF the Indian Penal Code, a Public servant is punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to two years, and shall also be liable to fine, if he fails to record any information given to him under sub-section (1) of section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, in relation to a cognizable offence punishable under the following provisions:
1. Section 326A (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by use of acid, etc)
2. Section 326B (attempted acid attacks),
3. Section 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty),
4. Section 354B (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe),
5. Section 370 (buying or disposing of any person as a slave),
6. Section 370A (exploitation of a trafficked person),
7. Section 376 (Rape),
8. Section 376A (intercourse by a man with his wife during separation).
9. Section 376B (intercourse by public servant with woman in his custody),
10. Section 376C (intercourse by the superintendent of jail, remand home, etc.),
11. Section 376D (intercourse by any member of the management or staff of a hospital with any woman in that hospital),
12. Section 376E (punishment for repeat rape offenders),
13. Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.)
Filling an FIR is one of the legal rights that we have got from the criminal system of our country. And absolutely no one has the right to violate it or refuse it. So next time any police officer refuses to file your FIR on unreasonable grounds, feel free to exercise the alternate remedies keeping the helplessness in the back seat. And consider getting an FIR lodged as your legal right, especially in cognizable cases.
DISCLAIMER: This blog is an academic endeavour to increase awareness on legal procedure and the rights associated with the. The opinions expressed by the contributors are for informational purposes only and is made in their personal capacity. Nothing herein shall be deemed constitute legal advice. The reader is cautioned to seek legal advice from trained professionals for their queries.