Fed up with the increasing number of petitions filed by helpless citizens complaining about non-registration of first information reports (FIRs) on the basis of their complaints, the Bombay high court had taken the state director general of police to task in February. The division bench of justices VM Kanade and PD Kode had directed the DGP to issue a circular to all unit chiefs to register FIRs immediately on receipt of complaints disclosing cognisable offences.
Accordingly, on February 17, the office of the DGP issued a circular directing all police stations across Maharashtra not to turn down any complainant, if the complaint discloses commission of a cognisable offence. The circular also warned of strict action against erring police personnel for refusing to register an FIR in accordance with the law.
“If the complaint reveals a cognisable offence, then it is the duty of the police officer to register an FIR and then take the matter to its logical conclusion,” the division bench had observed, noting that section 154 of the criminal procedure code requires every station house officer to register an FIR whenever he receives a complaint disclosing a cognisable offence.
The issue of police routinely refusing to register FIRs had cropped up during course of hearing on a petition filed by Worli resident Anusuya Patil. On December 9 last year, the 68-year-old woman was beaten up by a small-time builder Sandesh Govalkar and his associates in the presence of assistant police inspector Vijay More attached to the Dadar police station. The police station had refused to register an FIR on the basis of the woman’s complaint and turned her away after merely recording a non-cognisable case.
Apart from disputing the presence of the police officer at the spot, the Dadar police had tried to justify their inaction stating the complaint involved a civil dispute about some rooms in Worli.
The judges had discarded the excuses stating even the statement of the woman taken pursuant to the non-cognisable case disclosed cognisable offence, and therefore the Dadar police ought to have registered an FIR on the basis of her complaint.
“The averments made in the petition and the documents attached thereto reveal a shocking state of affairs,” the judges had said. “Instead of recording an FIR on the basis of allegations made by a 68-year-old destitute lady, the police have acted as mute spectators and prima facie it is very clear to us that they have colluded with the developer.”
Apart from proviso to section 154 of the CrPC, four years ago, a full bench of the high court has held in Sandeep Rammilan Shukla’s case that the police officer is duty bound to register an FIR whenever a complaint disclosing commission of a cognisable offence is made to him.