Even as police stations have been directed to treat all cases of crimes against women on priority, which has reflected in the rise of FIRs filed last week, a section of the police and lawyers fear people could misuse the enhanced scrutiny to register false cases.
To counter this, experts have urged the police to exercise caution while registering complaints. On December 27, a 17-year-old girl from Trombay, who is hearing and speech impaired, alleged that she had been gang raped. The police filed an FIR and initiated a probe into the case, but later found the allegations to be false.
“We have been registering FIRs in all cases when a woman approaches us, even if we suspect that the person against whom the complaint is registered may be innocent. In the current scenario, we may invite public anger even if there is a genuine delay in filing an FIR,” said a senior inspector from a south Mumbai police station.
Former police commissioner MN Singh said it was a positive sign that police were registering more complaints. “As per the law, a policeman is duty bound to first register an FIR in cognisable offences, and then investigate the matter. How would he know whether a complaint is fake or genuine without investigating?
He added: “The bigger problem is that of burking – not registering FIRs even in cognisable offences. Even if the police later learn that an FIR they registered is false, they can close the case by filing a summary report.” Singh also said that action could be taken against the complainant if a false complaint was registered with the wrong intention.
IPS officer-turned-lawyer YP Singh said that even if registering FIRs is a must, police could do some ground work before making arrests.
“There are certain cases, such as the Delhi rape, where the accused must be arrested immediately. However, cases where police have cause for suspicion and there is no fear of the accused going in hiding, the police should investigate the matter before making arrests,” he said.
Advocating a balanced approach, lawyer Nitin Pradhan said: “One has to be careful while demanding stringent laws, as the police could end up misusing these sections. One must take a balanced view and not get carried away.”