With transparency comes responsibility. The Chandigarh police are learning it the hard way - the department's new venture of uploading first information reports (FIR) on its website reveals that proper procedure for lodging FIRs is not being followed.
Of the 300-odd FIR copies uploaded on the website - chandigarhpolice.gov.in -- since June 1, at least 50 do not carry mandatory signatures of the informer or complainant. This essentially implies that the content, not verified formally, could be changed later even without the knowledge of the complainant or litigant. In many cases, the police have simply mentioned "seen by the complainant".
Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) 1973 stipulates that FIR be signed (or thump imprinted) by the complainant as well as the writer on the last page. Plus, a copy is to be given to the complainant free of cost and the FIR must carry date and time of its dispatch to court.
City-based Right to Information (RTI) activist RK Garg told HT that he had earlier got 50 FIRs from the Sector-26 police station and the south division, and a perusal revealed that none was signed by the complainant. The date and time of dispatch to court were also not mentioned, he claimed. He cited his own case: "I had filed a complaint in the Sector-11 police station under the IT Act, but got a copy only after two months, that too without my signatures being taken. But, the FIR said the contents were duly read by me, the complainant."
Similarly, Sector-40 resident Arun Sharma said, "I had filed a complaint about a mobile phone theft but I was never asked to sign the FIR. They just asked me to sign a register."
The actual FIR pertaining to the murder of Chandigarh police inspector Sucha Singh does not have his signatures either, though it had been filed on the basis of his statement hours before he died.
15 FIRs a day
Since starting the service on June 1, the Chandigarh police have uploaded around 300 FIRs on the official website, chandigarhpolice.gov.in, in the first 20 days. A perusal shows that about 15 FIRs are registered every day. The Sector-17 police station tops the list with 44 FIRs since June 1, followed by Sector 34 with 41. The Manimajra police station has recorded 39 FIRs. As these areas are essentially commercial hubs, so most cases relate to financial disputes and cheating.
Otherwise, petty crime and accidents form the majority. One FIR has been registered for theft of Rs 200 from a residential area!
In the UT east division, the Sector-31 police station has about 18 FIRs, while the Industrial Area station has around 15 cases. In Sector 26, at least 20 cases were registered. In the central division, Sector 3 saw 15 FIRs, and Sector 11 saw 24. In the south, at least 33 cases were registered in Sector 39, and 19 in Sector 36.
The decision to float the FIRs on the website is significant as it will make the justice delivery system all the more efficient. As per the law a copy of the FIR has to be provided to the accused and complainant, but formalities often make it difficult and hence the accused are unable to defend themselves or even get bail.