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Living in the past: Police in Punjab still use British-era vocabulary in FIRs

Words such as ‘hasab jabta’ and ‘ishtihar-e-shor-e-goga’ are used to file complaints and reports. Surprisingly, most of the police officials don’t even know the exact meaning of such words, but it is something that has been passed on by their predecessors for decades.

punjab Updated: Jun 06, 2018 14:46 IST
Tarsem Singh Deogan
Tarsem Singh Deogan
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
Living in the past,Punjab police,British-era vocabulary
A munshi at a police station, on the condition of anonymity, said he had been serving the department for the past 16 years and such words were used by him randomly.(HT File/Representative image )

Even as the police claim to be adept at handling modern tech tools, here is something that they have been relying upon ever since the British left India.

The vocabulary used in the British era to register the first information reports (FIRs) and other law-related procedures is still in vogue here.

Words such as ‘hasab jabta’ and ‘ishtihar-e-shor-e-goga’ are used to file complaints and reports. Surprisingly, most of the police officials don’t even know the exact meaning of such words, but it is something that has been passed on by their predecessors for decades.

Archaic words
  • Hasab Jabta: According to the law
  • Ishtihar-e-shor-e-goga: Report of missing person
  • Baraye Dayeri: To lodge a case
  • Mosool: Received
  • Majmoon: Matter
  • Jael: Under written
  • Man: Me
  • Bajariya Daak: By post
  • Indraj: Entry
  • Ba jurm: Offence

The use of Arabic and Urdu words is also prevalent in other forms such as recording statements and filing of chargesheets in courts. The dated words, however, find no place in common parlance and hence, are not known to most of the people. These words have been taught to police officials during their training as the part of a fixed format.

Vipan Kumar, whose motorcycle was stolen from the civil surgeon’s office, said he had lodged a complaint with police earlier this year and was surprised to find the use of Arabic language in the FIR copy received by him.

“I had to take the insurance claim and that required a copy of the FIR to be attached along with other documents. I was rendered clueless and confused on reading the FIR as I had never seen such words being used, even in my school and college. I again went to the police station to ask what they had written,” Kumar said.

“Even the police officials failed to explain the meaning of those words, but they said the FIRs used to be filed in a specific format and they cannot change it,” he added.

A munshi at a police station, on the condition of anonymity, said he had been serving the department for the past 16 years and such words were used by him randomly. He said he learnt these words from his predecessors and knew the meanings of most of them, but not all.

On being asked as to why he did not use alternative words in Punjabi and Hindi, the munshi said that department had a set format for lodging an FIR and same words had to be used across the state.

A station house officer (SHO) said most of the officers did not know the exact meaning of few words. “They hazard a guess about the meaning by reading the sentence,” he added.

A senior advocate, IPS Sabharwal, said the police officials use typical words which they had been using since the British era. “Some of the words are so unconventional that even lawyers struggle to understand them,” he added.

He said while the senior officers were bringing in reforms in the police department, they should also change such words to cater to the larger interests of public.

Blurb In FIRs and other procedural filings, cops use words derived from Urdu, Arabic, which they claim have been passed on by their predecessors

First Published: Jun 06, 2018 14:41 IST