The Five  judge constitutional bench of SC on 12th Nov 13 in Lalita Kumari v State of UP and ors (WP (CRIMINAL) NO. 68 OF 2008) decided upon the issue: whether a police officer is bound to register a First Information Report (FIR) upon receiving any information relating to commission of a cognizable offence under section 154 of  the  Code  of Criminal Procedure, 1973 or the police officer has the power to conduct a “preliminary inquiry” in order to test  the  veracity of such information before registering the same?”

Through Para 111, SC has concluded and given the following directions:

111)  In view of the aforesaid discussion, we hold:

i) Registration of FIR is mandatory under Section 154 of the Code, if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation.

ii) If the information received does not disclose a cognizable  offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry, a  preliminary  inquiry may be conducted only to ascertain whether  cognizable  offence  is disclosed or not.

iii)  If the inquiry discloses the commission of a  cognizable  offence, the FIR must be registered. In cases where preliminary inquiry ends in closing the complaint, a copy of the entry of such closure  must be supplied to the first informant forthwith and not later than one week.  It must disclose reasons in brief for closing the  complaint and not proceeding further.

iv) The police officer cannot avoid his duty of registering offence  if cognizable offence is  disclosed.  Action  must  be  taken  against erring officers who do not register the FIR if information received by him discloses a cognizable offence.

v) The scope of preliminary inquiry is not to verify the  veracity  or otherwise of the information received but only to ascertain whether the information reveals any cognizable offence.

vi) As to what type and in which cases preliminary  inquiry  is  to  be conducted will depend on the facts and circumstances of each  case.

The category of cases in which preliminary inquiry may be made  are as under:

a) Matrimonial disputes/ family disputes
b) Commercial offences
c) Medical negligence cases
d) Corruption cases
e)  Cases  where  there  is  abnormal  delay/laches  in  initiating criminal prosecution,  for  example,  over  3  months  delay  in reporting  the  matter  without  satisfactorily  explaining  the reasons for delay.

The aforesaid are only illustrations  and  not  exhaustive  of  all conditions which may warrant preliminary inquiry.

vii) While ensuring and protecting the rights of  the  accused  and  the complainant, a preliminary inquiry should be made time bound and in any case it should not exceed 7 days.  The fact of such  delay  and the causes of it must be reflected in the General Diary entry.

viii) Since the General Diary/Station Diary/Daily Diary is the record  of all information received in a police station, we  direct  that  all information relating to cognizable offences, whether  resulting  in registration of FIR or leading to an inquiry, must  be  mandatorily and meticulously reflected in the said Diary and the  decision  to conduct a preliminary inquiry must also be reflected, as mentioned above.


P.Sathasivam, CJI.

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