Section 154 of The Code of Criminal Procedure Code
It deals with registration of First Information Report (though the Section does not use the word ‘First Information Report or FIR). Section 154(1) says every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction, and be read Over to the informant; and every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing as aforesaid, shall be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf.
What are condition precedents for registering FIR?
The only condition precedent for registering an FIR is that the information should disclose a cognizable offence. The requirement of Section 154 of the Code is only that the report must disclose the commission of a cognizable offence and that is
sufficient to set the investigating machinery into action. In Section 154(1) of the Code, the Legislature in its collective wisdom has carefully and cautiously used the expression ‘information’ without qualifying the same as in Section 41(1)(a) or (g) of the Code wherein the expressions, ‘reasonable complaint’ and ‘credible information’ are used. Evidently, the non-qualification of the word ‘information’ in Section 154(1) unlike in Section 41(1)(a) and (g) of the Code may be for the reason that the Police Officer should not refuse to record an information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence and to register a case thereon on the ground that he is not satisfied with the reasonableness or credibility of the information. In other words, ‘reasonableness’ or ‘credibility’ of the said information is not a condition precedent for registration of a case.[Lalita Kumari] In Tapan Kumar Singh Supreme Court held that it is well settled that a first information report is not an encyclopedia, which must disclose all facts and details relating to the offence reported. An informant may lodge a report about the commission of an offence though he may not know the name of the victim or his assailant. He may not even know how the occurrence took place. A first informant need not necessarily be an eyewitness so as to be able to disclose in great detail all aspects of the offence committed. What is of significance is that the information given must disclose the commission of a cognizable offence and the information so lodged must provide a basis
for the Police Officer to suspect the commission of a cognizable offence.
At this stage it is enough if the Police Officer on the basis of the information given suspects the commission of a cognizable offence, and not that he must be convinced or satisfied that a cognizable offence has been committed. If he has reasons to suspect, on the basis of information received, that a cognizable offence may have been committed, he is bound to record the information and conduct an investigation. At this stage it is also not necessary for him to satisfy himself about the truthfulness of the information
Is Section 154(1) mandatory?
The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Lalita Kumari Case held that Registration of FIR is mandatory under Section 154 of the Code. There is no reason that there should be any discretion or option left with the police to register or not to register an FIR when information is given about the commission of a cognizable offence. Every cognizable offence must be investigated promptly in accordance with law and all information provided under Section 154 of the Code about the commission of a cognizable offence must be registered as an FIR so as to initiate an offence.
The legislative intent is therefore quite clear, i.e., to ensure that every cognizable offence is promptly investigated in accordance with law. This being the legal position, there is no reason that there should be any discretion or option left with the police to register or not to register an FIR when information is given about the commission of a cognizable offence. Every cognizable offence must be investigated promptly in accordance with law and all information provided under
Section 154 of the Code about the commission of a cognizable offence must be registered as an FIR so as to initiate an offence.
Procedure when Police refused to register FIR though the information
revealed a Cognizable Offence.
Any person aggrieved by a refusal on the part of an officer in charge
of a police station to record the information referred to in subsection (1) may send the substance of such information, in writing and by post, to the Superintendent of Police concerned who, if satisfied that such information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, shall either investigate the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by any police officer subordinate to him, in the manner provided by this Code, and such officer shall have all the powers of an officer in charge of the police station in relation to that offence.[Section 153(3)]
Explaining Section 153(3) the Constitution Bench in Lalita Kumari said;
In case, an officer in charge of a police station refuses to exercise the jurisdiction vested in him and to register a case on the information of a cognizable offence reported and thereby violates the statutory duty cast upon him, the person aggrieved by such refusal can send the substance of the information in writing and by post to the Superintendent of Police concerned who if satisfied that the information forwarded to him discloses a cognizable offence, should either investigate the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by any Police Officer subordinate to him in the manner provided by sub-section (3) of Section 154 of the Code.
The insertion of sub-section (3) of Section 154, by way of an amendment, reveals the intention of the Legislature to ensure that no information of commission of a cognizable offence must be ignored or not acted upon which would result in unjustified protection of the alleged offender/accused.
What is the remedy available when the attempt under Section 154(3)
After exhausting the steps mentioned in Section 154(1) and Section 154(3) the aggrieved person can file a complaint before the Magistrate for a direction under Section 156(3) to police to register FIR.
Section 156(3) says any Magistrate empowered under section 190 may order an investigation.