Author Renuka Mishra


The author in this article has first explained Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Followed by that the author has explained the purpose behind its enactment and how it is being misused with the help of various authorities & leading to excessive police powers. Lastly, the author has provided solutions to the above-mentioned gaps in the provision.


Introduction

Chapter 12 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (the ‘CrPC’ or the ‘Code’) lays down the power of the police to carry out investigations. Sec. 154 of the same deals with the information that is provided to the police in cognizable cases. The section has been divided into three parts. Firstly, it stipulates the procedure to be followed while recording FIRs and other necessary formalities which include reducing it to writing and reading it over to the informant before signing. Secondly, it stipulates that it is essential to provide the informant with a copy of the FIR without charging any costs. Thirdly, it discusses the procedure in cases where the police officer refuses to record an FIR. It states that the informant can approach the Superintendent of the Police through a written application sent by post who may look into the matter. The author shall be critically analyzing the merits of this provision in its present form.

the police, prosecution etc. are supposed to be the pillars upon which the entire edifice of the Criminal Justice system is based. The failure on the part of the Police can severely hamper the Criminal Justice System. There have been numerous instances which report apathetic attitude towards the victims, reluctance to record FIR, faulty investigations etc. They also delve into the practice of manipulating evidence, delaying investigations for their profits and misusing their power for the same. These malpractices have an extremely detrimental impact on individuals and cause grave injustice.

Purpose of Section 154

Section 154(3) of CrPC, 1973 attempts to provide a remedy for the non-recording of an FIR by a police officer. As per this section, any person whose FIR has been refused to be recorded by a police officer can approach the Superintendent of the Police by a written application through post and get his case investigated. For the application to be addressed by the Superintendent of the Police, he has to be satisfied that the information being provided, discloses the commission of a cognizable case. Moreover, the application has to be sent mandatorily in writing through post.

Drawbacks of the Procedure – Police Powers

The above-mentioned recourse suffers through many drawbacks when analyzed through the perspective of practical application. The remedy provided by the Code is to approach the Superintendent; however the same is rendered futile as the two officers are a part of the same department. Moreover, sending applications by post is a time- consuming process which will also lead to the deterioration of evidence and making the objective of FIR pointless. The low literacy rate in India can also act as an impediment to this process as a large part of the population might not even be capable of writing an application. The cumbersome process leads to people becoming reluctant to file an  FIR in cases of public interest due to the unnecessary technicalities involved.

The power in the hands of the police often gets misused, owing to corruption and malpractices. This leads to a failure in getting genuine FIRs registered against wealthy influential citizens in the first place, and they get off scot-free. The provision also does not take into consideration instances where the information recorded by the officer is not proper. The section also fails to provide as to what amounts to satisfactory information as required in this section.

The Malimath Committee also took note that there are widespread instances of police not invoking appropriate sections of law, entertaining only written complaints and twisting facts to convert a cognizable case into a non-cognizable case or vice-versa and also criticized these tendencies of police functioning in its report. The National Police Commission in its 4th report lamented that the police evade registering cases for taking up investigation where specific complaints are lodged at the police stations. It referred to a study conducted by the Indian Institute of Public Opinion, New Delhi, the- “Image of the police in India”- -which observed that over 50% of the respondents mention non-registration of complaints as a common practice in police stations.

Numerous judgements by the Supreme Court and the High Courts also report such malpractices by police officers. In the case of State of Gujarat v Kishanbhai, the Apex Court noted that despite the police being aware of the murder and having the accused in their detention, they did not file a complaint till the next day, unnecessarily delaying the proceedings and giving the time for the manipulation of evidence. In the case of Ram Padarth Singh v State of Bihar, the police didn’t record an FIR despite repeated attempts of the victim’s father, until the locals started to protest. The Court, while dealing with the case of Manmohan Singh v. The State (G.N.C.T. of Delhi), recorded the manner of misuse of power by Investigating Officers while carrying out their duties and their reluctance in recording FIRs.

The provisions governing the registration of FIRs are similar in other South Asian and Southeast Countries like Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan where it can be registered in cognizable cases. In Singapore, the FIR can be registered when the police receive information about any criminal offence.

Taking into consideration a large amount of misuse of power by Police and the amount of detrimental impact it has on the public at large; it requires strict actions to be taken to cure the problem. It is highly recommended that any refusal on part of the Police Officer to lodge an FIR should be made a punishable offence and stricter sanctions should be imposed on officers failing to perform their duties, in terms of recording FIRs, conducting investigations, departmental inquiries etc. It is also suggested that the provision should be strictly interpreted and “shall” should be considered as “must” for all reasons, thereby mandating the Police Officers to take down the report given by an informant. There should also be regular checks by Senior Police Officials to ensure the effective functioning of the police stations. Instead of the Superintendent of Police, an independent judicial officer shall be appointed to check on these police officers and their failure to record FIRs. Moreover, the provision of sending the written application by post should be changed in terms of various other means which the present-day technology can support and prove to be of ease to people.

Concluding Remarks

The Investigative powers and duties of Police suffer from a number of corrupt and unfair practices. Police refrain from working in the sole interest of the Public. There needs to be strict sanctions imposed in order to curb these practices and ensure that all steps involved in the process- right from the recording of an FIR to carrying out the investigation, are done in a diligent manner. There have been numerous studies by authentic sources which report the flaws in the investigation conducted by the Police due to various reasons.

There is an ardent need to evolve a mechanism to keep stringent checks on the investigation conducted by the police. The procedure of recording FIRs also requires improvisation to ensure better reporting and investigation of cases. Higher sanctions and penalties on failure to fulfil the duties by the police also need to be evolved. A balance should be struck between the powers of the police and effective working of the complaint and investigation system.


About the Author: Renuka is a 2018-23 Batch student at Symbiosis Law School, Pune.


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