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In landmark judgement, SC makes FIR registration mandatory

The apex court added that action must be taken against officials who fail to register the case, warning that non-registration of FIR in cognisable offences violates rights of victims and leads to definite lawlessness in society.

A five-judge constitution bench comprising chief justice P Sathasivam, justices B S Chauhan, Ranjana Prakash Desai, Ranjan Gogoi and S A Bobde said, ‘We hold registration of FIR is mandatory and no preliminary enquiry is permissible in cognisable offences.’ The bench added, ‘Police officials cannot avoid registering the FIR and action must be taken against them if no FIR is registered’, said the bench.

Although the criminal civil procedure code (CrPC) says that police must register FIR on receipt of complaint, generally it is the police which decides whether to formally register the complaint or not. Expressing concern over the non-registration of FIR, the bench said that number of FIRs not registered is approximately equivalent to the number of FIRs actually registered.

The constitution bench delivered the verdict after a three-judge bench referred the case to the higher bench on the ground that there were conflicting judgments on the issue. The matter relates to a kidnapping of a minor girl in Uttar Pradesh and police refusing to register the FIR. The victim’s mother moved the court challenging the refusal of local police to register an FIR on the basis of complaint by her against the kidnappers. ‘Burking of crime leads to dilution of the rule of law in the short run; and also has a very negative impact on the rule of law in the long run since people stop having respect for rule of law. Thus, non-registration of such a large number of FIRs leads to a definite lawlessness in the society,’ said the court.

The court also clarified that before registering FIRs for cases involving matrimonial, property disputes or corruption charges, the police can conduct a preliminary enquiry. However, it should be completed within seven days and it has to be declared that whether the case would be closed or FIR would be registered.
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