Contrary to the directions of the apex court to register FIR immediately in every cognisable offence, the NRI police stations in the state set up to deal with complaints pertaining to NRIs failed to dispose of 1,304 complaints in 2013.
The state government had set up NRI police stations in nine districts of Punjab, including five in the Doaba region, where 3,572 complaints were received in 2013, out of which only 271 FIRs have been registered in the previous year.
The government had claimed that a separate wing had been created for quick disposal of NRIs' complaints but the facts speak otherwise. The NRI wing authorities claimed that around 2,268 complaints were disposed of and 1,304 are still pending for investigation.
The apex court, in the Lalita Kumari Vs Uttar Pradesh case had directed the police to register first-information report (FIR) in every cognisable offence. After this order, even the union ministry of home affairs had issued an advisory to the states and Union Territories, mentioning that failure on the part of police officers to register an FIR on receipt of information about a cognisable offence will invite prosecution. The officer can be prosecuted under Section 166A of the Indian Penal Code or can invite departmental action or both.
Most cases involving NRIs were pertaining to property and matrimonial disputes. Three NRIs police station, which were set up a couple of months back at Jalandhar Rural, Gurdaspur and SAS Nagar, have registered not a single case so far and all complaints are waiting for the completion of inquiry.
In 2013, 27 FIRs were registered at Jalandhar, while in Hoshiarpur and Moga, 30 and 28 FIRs were registered, respectively. Kapurthala and Nawanshahr districts registered 18 cases each. There were 21 FIRs lodged in Ludhiana city and eight in Ludhiana rural, while Amritsar district's NRI police station registered only 11 FIRs, NRI police wing at SAS Nagar revealed.
Speaking on the issue IG, NRI affairs, Gurpreet Deo said FIRs are lodged where there are clear-cut cases of fraud and cheating. "In matrimonial disputes and other cases, investigation is conducted first before registering cases. During investigation, many cases are solved through compromise and there remains no need to file an FIR," she said.
She added that around 60% complaints are related to property dispute while nearly 40% pertain to matrimonial discord.
"Sometimes NRIs approach us with cases that are already in the courts and we have to tell the parties that the NRI police station cannot deal with the cases that are already sub-judice," she added.
NRIs on the other side said they are not much impressed by these police stations as it takes months for them to conduct an inquiry before registering a case.
"We visit here for a limited period only. But the system is so complex here that sometimes it becomes a big harassment to all of us. The government should take up such matters on priority. We have raised these issues at several platforms, but to no avail," said Jasdeep Singh, a US-based NRI.