Can anyone lodge a criminal complaint against himself? If the statement of an accused cannot be treated as a first information report (FIR), then what would be the fate of the investigation, prosecution and subsequent conviction based on such “non-existent” FIR?
The Bombay high court is expected to answer these questions while deciding an appeal filed by Karad resident, Pramod Baban Sonawale, 26, who was convicted and sentenced to life term for killing one of his relatives.
According to the prosecution, soon after midnight on December 31, 1999, Sonawale killed his uncle Vinod. The 28-year-old victim was asleep in a temple in Wing locality of Karad town when Pramod came with a boulder and crushed his head.
Pramod, who was unemployed at the time, was angry with his uncle for repeatedly humiliating and abusing him in public and therefore decided to kill him, the prosecution alleged.
Pramod then went to a friend’s residence, changed clothes and then surrendered before Ananda Sawant, station house officer at Karad city police station. Sawant recorded his statement only to realise that the spot of offence fell in jurisdiction of the Karad taluka police station.
Pramod was then handed over to Karad taluka police station where assistant sub-inspector Ashok Phadatare registered an FIR based on the statement given by Pramod to Sawant.
Last week, while hearing Pramod’s appeal, a division bench of justice BH Marlapalle and justice UD Salvi expressed prima facie view that an FIR could not be registered on the basis of a statement given by an accused. “There is no FIR in this case,” the court observed.
The bench then asked public prosecutor SJ Dedhia if the police could undertake investigation without registering an FIR. The prosecutor candidly admitted that they couldn’t.
The court has appointed Murtaza Nazmi for defending the convict.
Legally, an FIR sets the criminal justice system in motion. The police can undertake investigation only after registering an FIR. The investigation culminates in filing the charge sheet against the person/s against whom evidence is gathered.