Saturday, 19 April 2014

Highlights of SC Judgment of Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P

Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1

 Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 
 Ss. 154, 155, 156 and 157 - FIR in cognizable case - Registration of - Whether is mandatory or police officer has option,
discretion or latitude of conducting preliminary inquiry before registering FIR - Mandatory registration of FIR on receipt of
information disclosing a cognizable offence as the general rule - Situations/cases in which preliminary inquiry is
permissible - Scope of, and safeguards to be followed in cases where such preliminary inquiry (time-bound) is
permissible - Held, the registration of FIR is mandatory under S. 154, if the information discloses commission of a
cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation - This is the general rule and must be
strictly complied with - However, where information received does not disclose a cognizable offence a preliminary inquiry
may be conducted to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not - Also, matrimonial disputes/family
disputes, commercial offences, medical negligence cases, corruption cases, or cases where there is abnormal
delay/laches in initiating criminal prosecution are illustrations and not exhaustive of all cases which may warrant
preliminary inquiry - Emphasised however, that scope of preliminary inquiry even when permissible in such limited
classes of cases, is not to verify the veracity or otherwise of the information received but only to ascertain whether the
information reveals any cognizable offence - Proper stage for such verification of the veracity of the information received
is after registration of FIR, and not before registration of FIR - A preliminary inquiry should be time-bound and in any case
it should not exceed 7 days - The fact of such delay and the causes of it must be reflected in the General Diary entry - If
preliminary inquiry ends in closing the complaint, a copy of entry of such closure must be supplied to first informant
forthwith disclosing reasons therefor - If inquiry discloses commission of a cognizable offence, FIR must be registered -
All information relating to cognizable offences, whether resulting in registration of FIR or leading to an inquiry, must be
mandatorily and meticulously reflected in the said Diary and the decision to conduct a preliminary inquiry must also be


 S. 154 - FIR - Nature and requirements of - There must be information and it must disclose a cognizable offence, 

 Ss. 154, 155 and 172 - FIR - Promptness in filing FIR - Compulsory registration of earliest information as FIR - Twofold
objective - Criminal process is set in motion and is well documented from very start preventing embellishments later -
Ensures transparency in the criminal justice delivery system and functioning of police, providing for an efficient means to
check powers of police as also for judicial oversight of the same, 

 Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 
 Ss. 154(1) and 157(1) - FIR - Generally - Kinds of FIR - Two kinds of FIRs: duly signed FIR under S. 154(1) is by the
informant to police officer and second kind of FIR is one registered by police itself on any information received other than
by way of an informant - Registration of both kinds of FIR, obligatory - Inherent advantages of registration of FIRs,
outlined - Non-registration of FIR, consequences - Burking of crime and negative impact on the rule of law, discussed, 

 Ss. 154, 156 and 157 - FIR - Powers, Role and Duty of Police in respect of FIR - Police officer cannot avoid his duty of
registering a FIR if cognizable offence is disclosed - Action to be taken against erring officers who do not register FIR on
receipt of such information, 
 S. 154 - FIR - Generally - Object - Main object from informant's point of view is to set criminal law in motion; and from
point of view of investigating authorities to obtain information about alleged criminal activity to be able to take suitable
steps to trace and to bring to book the guilty,
 S. 154 - FIR - Compulsory registration of FIR - Historical background of the provision and corresponding provisions
existing in previous enactments of the Criminal Procedure Code, examined - Legislative intent in both old and the new
Code is for compulsory registration of FIR in a case of cognizable offence without conducting any preliminary inquiry, 

 Ch. XII (Ss. 154 to 176) - Procedure to be followed during investigation - Object - To set the criminal law in motion and
to provide for all procedural safeguards so as to ensure that the investigation is fair, is not mala fide and there is no
scope of tampering with the evidence collected during the investigation, 
 Penal Code, 1860 
 S. 166-A [ins. vide Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013] and S. 154 CrPC - Punishment of non-registration of FIR for
cognizable offences specified under S. 166-A IPC held, does not imply that registration of FIR is not compulsory for
offences other than those specified in S. 166-A IPC and police has discretion to hold a preliminary inquiry if there is
doubt about correctness of the information given - S. 166-A IPC is to be read in consonance with S. 154(1) CrPC and not
contrary to it - Object of S. 166-A IPC and intention of the legislature in putting forth this amendment was to tighten the
already existing provisions to provide enhanced safeguards to women - It is expressly to punish police officers for their
failure to register FIRs in cases of crimes against women, 

 S. 154 - Duty of police officer to register FIR on information disclosing a cognizable offence - Word shall occurring in S.
154(1) - Nature of - Literal construction - Held, for cognizable offences a duty has been cast upon the police to
mandatorily register a FIR - Shall given its ordinary meaning of being mandatory in character - Regard to context in and
object with which word is used and consequences following infringement of the direction to register FIRs, ascertained -
Mandate of S. 154(1), held, does not confer any discretion on officer in charge of the police station for embarking upon a
preliminary inquiry prior to registration of FIR, 
 Ss. 39 and 154(1) - Shall occurring in both provisions - Relevance - It would be incongruous to suggest that though it is
the duty of every citizen to inform about commission of an offence under S. 39, but it is not obligatory for the officer in
charge of a police station to register the report under S. 154 - The word shall occurring in S. 39 has to be given the same
meaning as the word shall occurring in S. 154(1), (2014) 2 SCC 1

 Ss. 154 and 172 - FIR - Recording of, in FIR book and General Diary - Distinction between - FIR to be registered first in
FIR book - In addition, gist of FIR may also be mentioned simultaneously in General Diary as mandated in respective
Police Act or Rules of State concerned - In case of inconsistency between provisions of S. 154 CrPC and S. 44 of the
Police Act, 1861, with regard to whether FIR is to be registered in FIR book or General Diary, provisions of S. 154 shall
prevail and S. 44 of Police Act, 1861 shall be void to the extent of the repugnancy, as Police Act, 1861 being an existing
law must give way to CrPC, 1973, a law enacted by India's Sovereign Parliament - Hence, contention that information will
first be recorded in the General Diary and only after preliminary inquiry, if required, shall the information be registered as
FIR, rejected, 
 S. 154 - FIR - General Diary - Held, all information relating to cognizable offences, whether resulting in registration of
FIR or leading to an inquiry, must be mandatorily and meticulously reflected in the General Diary and the decision to
conduct a preliminary inquiry must also be reflected therein
 Ss. 154 and 41 [before and after its amendment vide Act 5 of 2009] - FIR - Form and language of FIR - Information
relating to commission of a cognizable offence - Mandatory duty of police under S. 154 to register FIR upon receipt of -
Expression information in S. 154 is not qualified by prefix reasonable or credible - Distinguished from use of such
expressions in Ss. 41(1)(a) and (g) [as they stood before Act 5 of 2009] and Ss. 41(1)(b), (ba) and (g) [as they stand after
Act 5 of 2009 w.e.f. 1-1-2010] - Held, reasonableness or credibility of the information is not a condition precedent for the
registration of a case under S. 154
 S. 154 - FIR - Duty of police to file FIR on receipt of information disclosing cognizable offence - Mandatory nature of -
Maxim expressio unius est exclusio alterius - Information provided about commission of a cognizable offence must be
registered as an FIR and every cognizable offence must be investigated promptly in accordance with law - Held, there is
no discretion or option left with the police to register or not to register an FIR when information is given about the
commission of a cognizable offence, 
 Constitution of India 

 Art. 21 - Procedure established by law - Registration of FIR before investigation - Right of the accused under Art. 21 is
protected if the FIR is registered first and then the investigation is conducted in accordance with the provisions of law, 

 S. 154 and Ss. 2(g), 159, 202 & 340 - Inquiry and preliminary inquiry under Ss. 2(g), 159, 202 & 340 - Distinguished
from such acts envisaged under S. 154 - Held, inquiry in Ss. 2(g), 159, 202 and 340 is relatable to a judicial act, and not
to the steps taken by the police which are either investigation after the stage of S. 154 or termed as preliminary inquiry
prior to the registration of FIR, even though no entry in the General Diary/Station Diary/Daily Diary has been made, 

 Ss. 154, 4(2) and 5 - FIR in cognizable case - Preliminary inquiry before lodging FIR - Rules in CBI Crime Manual -
Applicability of, to S. 154 CrPC - Contention as to, rejected - Held, CBI Crime Manual cannot be relied upon to import the
concept of holding of preliminary inquiry into the scheme of CrPC - CBI Crime Manual is not a statute and has not been
enacted by the legislature and is a set of administrative orders issued for internal guidance of CBI officers - It cannot
supersede CrPC - Powers of CBI under Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 cannot be equated with the powers
of the regular State Police under CrPC,
 Ss. 154, 41, 151, 157, 173 and 438 - Mandatory registration of FIR before conducting preliminary inquiry -
Apprehension of misuse by indiscriminate arrest in violation of rights of accused under Art. 21 of Constitution, held, is
misplaced - Sufficient safeguards exist against misuse, abuse and arbitrary exercise of power - Held, arrest of a person
and registration of FIR are not directly and/or irreversibly linked and they are entirely different concepts operating under
entirely different parameters - There are several safeguards available against arrest - Besides, CrPC gives power to the
police officer to close a matter both before and after investigation if it appears to him that there are insufficient ground(s)
to investigate the same - Sufficient safeguards are provided in CrPC which duly protect the liberty of an individual in case
of registration of false FIR, 
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