The FIR is a pertinent document in the criminal law procedure of our country and its main object from the point of view of the informant is to set the criminal law in motion and from the point of view of the investigating authorities is to obtain information about the alleged criminal activity so as to be able to take suitable steps to trace and to bring to book the guilty.
Historical experience has thrown up cases from both the sides where the grievance of the victim/informant of non-registration of valid FIRs as well as that of the accused of being unnecessarily harassed and investigated upon false charges have been found to be correct.
Non-Registration of FIR
An example of the first category of cases is found in State of Maharashtra vs. Sarangdharsingh Shivdassingh Chavan & Anr. (2011) 1 SCC 577 wherein a writ petition was filed challenging the order of the Collector in the District of Buldhana directing not to register any crime against Mr. Gokulchand Sananda, without obtaining clearance from the District Anti- Money Lending Committee and the District Government Pleader.
From the record, it was revealed that out of 74 cases, only in seven cases, charge sheets were filed alleging illegal moneylending. The Court found that upon instructions given by the Chief Minister to the District Collector, there was no registration of FIR of the poor farmers. In these circumstances, this Court held the said instructions to be ultra vires and quashed the same.
It was argued that cases like above exhibit the mandatory character of Section 154, and if it is held otherwise, it shall lead to grave injustice.
In Aleque Padamsee and Others vs. Union of India and Others (2007) 6 SCC 171, while dealing with the issue whether it is within the powers of courts to issue a writ directing the police to register a First Information Report in a case where it was alleged that the accused had made speeches likely to disturb communal harmony, the Court held that the police officials ought to register the FIR whenever facts brought to their notice show that a cognizable offence has been made out.
In case the police officials fail to do so, the modalities to be adopted are as set out in Section 190 read with Section 200 of the Code. As such, the Code itself provides several checks for refusal on the part of the police authorities under Section 154 of the Code.
Registration of FIR
However, on the other hand, there are a number of cases which exhibit that there are instances where the power of the police to register an FIR and initiate an investigation thereto are misused where a cognizable offence is not made out from the contents of the complaint.
A significant case in this context is the case of Preeti Gupta vs. State of Jharkhand (2010) 7 SCC 667 wherein the Court has expressed its anxiety over misuse of Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 with respect to which a large number of frivolous reports were lodged. The Court expressed its desire that the legislature must take into consideration the informed public opinion and the pragmatic realities to make necessary changes in law.
243rd Report of the Law Commission of India
The above said judgment resulted in the 243rd Report of the Law Commission of India submitted on 30th August, 2012. The Law Commission, in its Report, concluded that though the offence under Section 498-A could be made compoundable, however, the extent of misuse was not established by empirical data, and, thus, could not be a ground to denude the provision of its efficacy. The Law Commission also observed that the law on the question whether the registration of FIR could be postponed for a reasonable time is in a state of uncertainty and can be crystallized only upon this Court putting at rest the present controversy.