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Millennium Post

Good precedent, must be followed

The Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday, making it mandatory for the police to file First Information Report (FIR) whenever a complaint is filed at a police station, is a commendable and much-needed jurisdiction. So far, it was up to the police to take a call whether or not to formally accept a complaint and turn it into an FIR, even though the Criminal Civil Procedure code says that the cops must register it upon receipt of complaint. Evidently, the apex court has taken cognisance of the fact that more often than not, the first hurdle after there has been a breach of law or act of criminality is the very process of registering complaint with the police. Such an institutional problem had remained unaddressed and unmitigated for too long already, with the police resorting to their whims and fancies on whether or not to register the complaints. This has been particularly true in the rural set ups, where the police behave like feudal lords out to get the hapless villagers. Moreover, women all over the country, irrespective of whether they come from rural or urban places, face an uphill task while lodging a formal complaint with the police, particularly in cases of sexual violence or assault. Not only has the police been uncooperative, it has even been thoroughly uncivil and downright aggressive, often resorting to harassment of complainants. Now, with the latest SC order, all that will hopefully change for the better.

In fact, the Tuesday’s judgement is based on a case filed by the father of a six-year-old who was kidnapped in Uttar Pradesh in 2008 and the police had demanded bribe to even register the case, completely dismissing the enormity of the crime. Such inordinate delays in registering FIRs not only affect the quality of penal and legal procedures but actively encourage a climate of corruption and systemic fraudulence.  Given the recent spate of police brutalities reported in various media outlets, with cops setting a man on fire for failing to pay a bribe installment, a strict overhaul and assessment of the police service is more than due. With the police now forced to register the complaints upon arrival, irrespective of their merit or preliminary enquiry, the number of registered cases will definitely witness a major spike.
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