Daily Archives: July 21, 2012

IS it compulsory on the police officer to file an FIR on receipt of info of a cognizable offence





Lalita Kumari   …Petitioner
Government of U.P. & Others …Respondents


Samshudheen …Appellant
State, Represented by Dy. Superintendent of Police
Tamil Nadu …Respondent


Baldev Singh Cheema …Petitioner
State of Punjab & Others …Respondents


Surjit Singh & Another …Petitioner
State of Punjab & Others …Respondents


Daljit Singh Grewal …Petitioner
Ramesh Inder Singh …Respondent


Dalveer Bhandari, J.

1. We propose  to  deal  with the abovementioned writ petition, the criminal appeals and the contempt petition by this judgment.  The question of law involved in these cases  is  identical,  therefore,  all  these  cases  are  being dealt  with  by a common judgment.   In order  to  avoid repetition,  only  the  facts  of  the  writ  petition  of  Lalita Kumari’s case are recapitulated.

2. The petition has been filed before this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India in the nature of habeas  corpus  to  produce  Lalita  Kumari,  the  minor daughter of Bhola Kamat.

3. On 5.5.2008, Lalita Kumari, aged about six years, went out of her house at 9 p.m. When she did not return for half an hour and Bhola Kamat was not successful in tracing her, he filed a missing report at the police station Loni, Ghaziabad, U.P.

4. On 11.5.2008, respondent no.5 met  Bhola Kamat and informed him that his daughter has been kidnapped and kept under unlawful confinement by the respondent nos.6  to  13.   The  respondent-police  did  not  take  any action on his complaint.  Aggrieved by the inaction of the local  police,  Bhola  Kamat  made  a  representation  on 3.6.2008  to  the  Senior  Superintendent  of  Police, Ghaziabad.  On the directions of the Superintendent of Police,  Ghaziabad,  the  police  station  Loni,  Ghaziabad registered  a  First  Information  Report  (F.I.R.)  No.484 dated 6.6.2008 under Sections 363/366/506/120B IPC against the private respondents. http://wp.me/p7s7-EM

5. Even after registration of the FIR against the private respondents, the police did not take any action to trace Lalita  Kumari.  According  to  the  allegation  of  Bhola Kamat,  he  was  asked  to  pay  money  for  initiating investigation  and  to  arrest  the  accused  persons. Ultimately, the petitioner filed this petition under Article 32 of the Constitution before this Court.

6. This Court  on 14.7.2008 passed a comprehensive order expressing its grave anguish on non-registration of the FIR even in a case of cognizable offence.  The Court also issued notices to all Chief Secretaries of the States and Administrators of the Union Territories.  In response to  the  directions  of  the  Court,  various  States  and the Union Territories have filed comprehensive affidavits.  http://wp.me/p7s7-EM

7. The  short,  but  extremely  important  issue  which arises in this petition is whether under Section 154 of the Code  of  Criminal  Procedure  Code,  a  police  officer  is bound to  register  an FIR when a cognizable  offence is made out or he has some latitude of  conducting some kind of preliminary enquiry before registering the FIR.

8. Mr.  S.B.  Upadhyay,  learned  senior  advocate appearing  for  the  petitioner  has  tried  to  explain  the scheme  of  Section  154 Cr.P.C.  with  the  help  of  other provisions  of  the  Act.  According  to  him,  whenever information regarding cognizable offence is brought to the notice of the SHO, he has no option but to register the First Information Report.

9. This  Court  also  issued  notice  to  the  learned Attorney  General  for  India  to  assist  the  Court  in  this matter of general public importance.  Mr. Harish P Raval, the learned Additional Solicitor General appeared before the  Court  and made  comprehensive  submissions.   He also filed written submissions which were settled by him and re-settled by the learned  Attorney General for India.

10. Learned Additional Solicitor General submitted that the issue which has been referred to this Court has been decided by a three-Judge Bench of this Court in the case of Aleque Padamsee and Others v. Union of India and Others (2007) 6 SCC 171.

In this case, this Court while referring to the judgment in the case of Ramesh Kumari v. State (NCT of Delhi) and Others (2006) 2 SCC 677 in paragraph 2 of the judgment has observed as under:-

“Whenever cognizable offence is disclosed the police officials  are bound to register the  same  and  in  case  it  is  not  done, directions  to  register  the  same  can  be given.” http://wp.me/p7s7-EM

11. The State of Gujarat, the respondent in the above case,  on  the  facts  thereof,  contended  that  on  a  bare reading of a complaint lodged, it appears that no offence was  made  and  that  whenever  a  complaint  is  lodged, automatically and in a routine manner an FIR is not to be registered.

This Court after  considering Chapter  XII and  more  particularly  Sections  154  and  156  held (paragraphs 6 and 7) that

“whenever any information is received by the police about the alleged commission of offence  which  is  a  cognizable  one,  there  is  a  duty  to register  the  FIR.”

There  could  be no dispute  on that score as observed by this Court.  The issue referred to in the reference has already been answered by the Bench of three Judges.  The judgment in  Aleque Padamsee and Others (supra) is not referred in the reference order.  It is therefore prayed that the present reference be answered accordingly. http://wp.me/p7s7-EM

12. It  was submitted on behalf  of  the Union of  India that  Section  154  (1)  provides  that  every  information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence if given orally, to an officer incharge of a police station shall be reduced in writing by him or under his directions.  The provision is mandatory.  The use of the word “shall” by the legislation  is  indicative  of  the statutory  intent.   In case such information is given in writing or is reduced in writing on being given orally, it is required to be signed by the persons giving it.  It is further provided that the substance  of commission of a cognizable offence as given in writing or reduced to writing “shall” be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf.  Sub-section (2) provides that a copy of such information as recorded in sub-section (1) shall be given forthwith free of cost to the informant.

13. In light of the provisions contained in Section 154 (1)  and the law laid  by this  Court on the subject,  the following submissions were placed by the Union of India for consideration of this Court.

a) The  statutory  intention  is  manifest  on  a  bare reading  of  provisions  of  Section  154(1)  to  the effect  that when an officer  incharge  of  a police station  to  whom  information  relating  to commission  of  cognizable  offence  has  been disclosed, he has no discretion save and except to reduce the said information in writing by him or under his direction.

b) Section 154(1) does not have ambiguity and is in clear terms.

c) The use of expression “shall” clearly manifest the mandatory statutory intention. http://wp.me/p7s7-EM

d) In construing a statutory provision, the first and the  foremost  rule  of  construction  is  the  literal construction.   It  is  submitted that  all  that  the Court has to see at the very outset is what does that  provision  say.   If  the  provision  is unambiguous  and  if  from  that  provision,  the legislative intent is clear, the Court need not call into it the other rules on construction of statutes. [Para 22 of  Hiralal Rattanlal etc.etc. v.  State of U.P. and Another etc.etc. 1973(1) SCC 216]. This  judgment is  referred to  and followed  in  a recent decision of this Court in  B. Premanand and Others v. Mohan Koikal and Others (2011) 4 SCC 266 paras 8 and 9.  It is submitted that the  language  employed  in  Section  154  is  the determinative  factor  of  the  legislative  intent. There is neither any defect nor any omission in words  used  by  the  legislature.   The  legislative intent is clear.  The language of Section 154(1), therefore, admits of no other construction.

e) The use of expression “shall” is indicative of the intention  of  the  legislature  which  has  used  a language of compulsive force.  There is  nothing indicative  of  the  contrary  in  the  context indicating a permissive interpretation of Section 154.  It is submitted that the said Section ought to be construed as preemptory.   The words are precise  and  unambiguous  (Govindlal Chhaganlal  Patel v.  Agricultural  Produce Market Committee, Godhra and Others 1975 (2) SCC 482).  It is submitted that it is settled law that  judgments  of  the  courts  are  not  to  be construed  as  statutes  [para  11  of  three-Judge Bench decision of this court in the case of  M/s Amar Nath  Om Prakash  and others  etc.  v. State of Punjab and Others (1985) 1 SCC 345]. The abovesaid decision is followed by a judgment of  this  Court in the case  of  Hameed Joharan (dead)  and others  v.  Abdul Salam (dead)  by Lrs. and Others (2001) 7 SCC 573.

f) The provision of  Section 154(1)  read in light  of statutory scheme do not admit of conferring any discretion on the officer in charge of  the police station  of  embarking  upon  an  preliminary enquiry  prior  to  registration  of  an  FIR.  A preliminary enquiry is  a term which is  alien to the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which talks of (i) investigation (ii) inquiry and (iii) trial.  These terms  are  definite  connotations  having  been defined under Section 2 of the Act.

g) The concept of preliminary enquiry as contained in  Chapter  IX of  the  CBI  (Crime)  Manual, first published  in  1991  and  thereafter  updated  on 15.7.2005 cannot be  relied upon to  import the concept of holding of preliminary enquiry in the scheme of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

h) The  interpretation  of  Section  154  cannot  be depended upon a Manual regulating the conduct of officers of an organization, i.e., CBI.

i) A reference to para 9.1. of the said Manual would show that  preliminary  enquiry  is  contemplated only when a complaint is received or information is  available  which  may  after  verification  as enjoined  in  the  said  Manual  indicates  serious misconduct on the part of the public servant but is not adequate to justify registration of a regular case  under  provisions  of  Section  154  Cr.P.C. Such preliminary inquiry as referred to in para 9.1 of  the CBI Manual as also to be registered after  obtaining  approval  of  the  competent authority.  It  is submitted that these provisions cannot be imported into the statutory scheme of Section 154 so as to provide any discretion to a police officer in the matter of registration of an FIR.

j) The  purpose  of  registration  of  an  FIR  are manifold –that is to say

i) To  reduce  the  substance  of  information disclosing  commission  of  a  cognizable offence, if given orally, into writing

ii) if  given in writing to have it  signed by the complainant

iii) to maintain record of receipt of information as  regards  commission  of  cognizable offences

iv) to  initiate  investigation  on  receipt  of information  as  regards  commission  of cognizable offence

v) to inform Magistrate forthwith of the factum of the information received.

14. Reference  has  also  been  made  to  the  celebrated judgment of the Privy Council in the case of Emperor v. Khwaza Nazim Ahmad AIR 1945 PC 18 in which it is held that for the receipt  and recording of an information, report  is  not  a  condition  precedent  to  the  setting  in motion of a criminal investigation.  It is further held, that no  doubt,  in  the  great  majority  of  cases  criminal prosecution are undertaken as a result of the information received  and  recorded  in  this  way.   (As  provided  in Sections 154 to 156 of the earlier Code).   It  is  further held  that  there  is  no  reason  why  the  police,  if  in possession through their own knowledge or by means of credible  though  informal  intelligence   which  genuinely leads them to  the  belief  that  a cognizable  offence  has been  committed,  should  not  of  their  own  motion undertake an investigation into the truth of the matters alleged.  It is further held that Section 157 of the Code when directing that a police officer, who has a reason to suspect  from information or otherwise,  that an offence which he is empowered to investigate under Section 156 has been committed, he shall proceed to investigate the facts and circumstances of the case.  It is further held in the said judgment that, in truth the provisions as to an information report (commonly called a First Information Report)  are enacted for  other  reasons.  Its object  is  to obtain  early  information  of  alleged criminal activity,  to record the circumstances before there is time for them to be forgotten or embellished, and it has to be remembered that  the  report  can  be  put  in  evidence  when  the informant is  examined,  if  it  is  desired to  do so.   It  is further  held  in  the  said  judgment  that  there  is  a statutory  right  on part  of  the  police  to  investigate  the circumstances  of  an  alleged  cognizable  crime  without requiring any authority from the judicial authorities. 15. On behalf of the Union of India reference was made to the judgment of this Court delivered in The State of Uttar Pradesh v.  Bhagwant Kishore Joshi AIR 1964 SC 221 wherein it has been held vide para 8 that Section 154 of  the Code  prescribed the mode  of  recording the information  received  orally  or  in  writing  by  an  officer incharge of a police station in respect of commission of a cognizable offence.  Section 156 thereof authorizes such an officer to investigate any cognizable offence prescribed therein.  Though, ordinarily investigation is undertaken on information received by a police officer, the receipt of information is not a condition precedent for investigation. 16. It  is  further  held  that Section  157 prescribes the procedure in the matter of such an investigation which can be initiated either on information or otherwise.  It is also held that it is clear from the said provision that an officer in charge of a police station can start investigation either  on information or otherwise.   The judges in the said judgment referred to a decision of this Court in the case of H.N. Rishbud and Inder Singh v. The State of Delhi 1955 SCR (1) 1150 at pp.1157-58 that the graphic description  of  the  stages  is  only  a  restatement  of  the principle  that  a  vague  information  or  an irresponsible rumour would not by itself constitute information within the meaning of Section 154 of the Code or the basis of an investigation under Section 157 thereof.   The said case was in respect of an offence alleged under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947.  The said case was under the old Code  which  did  not  define  the  term  ‘investigation’ (paragraph  18  of  the  concurring  judgment  of  Justice Mudholkar at  page  226).   It  is  also  observed that  the main object  of   investigation  mean to  bring  home  the offence to the offender.  The essential part of the duty of an investigating officer in this connection is, apart from arresting the offender, to collect all material necessary for establishing the accusation “against” the offender. 17.

The  following  observations  in  the  concurring judgment  of  Bhagwant  Kishore  Joshi (supra)  were found in paragraph 18 :

| “In the absence of any prohibition in the Code,
| express or implied, I am of opinion that it is
| open to a Police Officer to make preliminary
| enquiries  before  registering an  offence  and
| making  a  full  scale investigation  into  it.
| No doubt, s.  5A of the  Prevention  of
| Corruption  Act  was enacted for  preventing
| harassment  to  a Government servant and with
| this object in  view  investigation,  except with
| the previous  permission  of  a Magistrate,  is
| not  permitted to  be made by an officer below
| the  rank  of  a  Deputy Superintendent of
| Police. Where however, a Police Officer makes
| some preliminary enquiries,  does not  arrest  or
| even question  an  accused  or question  any
| witnesses  but  merely  makes  a few discreet
| enquiries  or  looks  at  some documents without
| making any notes,  it is difficult  to visualise
| how any possible harassment  or  even
| embarrassment would result therefrom to the
| suspect or the accused person.”

18. In case of H.N. Rishbud (supra), in the case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, it is observed as under:-

| “Investigation   usually   starts   on
| information relating to the commission of an
| offence given to an officer in charge of a
| police  station  and  recorded  under section
| 154  of  the  Code.   If  from information so
| received or  otherwise, the officer in charge of
| the police station has reason  to suspect the
| commission  of an offence,  he  or some  other
| subordinate officer deputed by him, has to
| proceed  to the  spot  to  investigate  the
| facts  and circumstances  of  the  case  and   if
| necessary to take  measures for  the discovery
| and arrest of  the offender.”

It is further held :-

| “Thus  investigation   primarily consists in  the
| ascertainment  of  the  facts  and circumstances
| of    the   case.  By definition,   it   includes
|  “all  the proceedings   under  the  Code  for
| the collection  of   evidence  conducted  by  a
| police officer”.

It is further held in the said judgment that :

| “Thus,  under   the  Code  investigation consists
| generally  of  the  following steps:(1)
| Proceeding  to  the  spot,  (2) Ascertainment  of
| the   facts  and circumstances of the case, (3)
| Discovery and  arrest  of the suspected offender,
| (4) Collection  of  evidence   relating  to   the
| commission  of  the  offence  which  may consist
| of  (a) the  examination of various persons
| (including the  accused) and  the reduction of
| their statements into writing, if  the officer
| thinks  fit,  (b)  the search  of  places  of
| seizure   of  things considered necessary for the
| investigation and to  be produced at the trial,
| and (5) Formation of  the opinion as to  whether
| on the material collected there is a case to
| place the accused before a Magistrate for  trial
| and if  so  taking  the  necessary steps  for
| the  same  by  the  filing  of   a charge-sheet
| under section 173.”

19. http://wp.me/p7s7-EM It was further submitted that this Court in the case of Damodar v. State of Rajasthan reported in 2004(12) SCC 336 referred to the observations of the judgment of this Court rendered in case of Ramsinh Bavaji Jadeja v. State of Gujarat 1994 (2) SCC 685 and observed that the  question  as  to  at  what  stage  the  investigation commence  has to  be considered and examined on the facts  of  each  case  especially  when  the  information  of alleged cognizable offence has been given on telephone. The  said  case  deals  with  information  received  on telephone by an unknown person.  In paragraph 10 it is observed  thus  “in  order  to  constitute  the  FIR,  the information  must reveal  commission  of  act  which is  a cognizable offence.”

20. It is further observed in paragraph 11 in the case of Damodar (supra) that in the context of the facts of the said  case,  that  any  telephonic  information  about commission of a cognizable offence, if any, irrespective of the  nature  and details  of  such  information  cannot  be treated as an FIR.  It is further held that if the telephonic message  is  cryptic  in  nature  and  the  officer  incharge proceeds to the place of occurrence on the basis of that information to find out the details  of the nature of the offence,  if  any,  then  it  cannot  be  said  that  the information  which  had  been  received  by  him  on telephone shall be deemed to be an FIR.

21. It  is  also observed that the object and purpose of giving such telephonic message is not to lodge an FIR, but  to  make  the  officer  incharge  of  the  police  station reach the place of occurrence.  It is further held that if the information given on telephone is not cryptic and on the basis of that information the officer incharge is prima facie satisfied about commission of a cognizable offence and he proceeds from the police station after recording such information, to investigate such offence, then any statement  made  by  any  person  in  respect  of  the  said offence including the participants shall be deemed to be statement made by a person to the police officer in the course  of  investigation  covered  by  Section  162  of  the Code.

22. This Court  in the case of  Binay Kumar Singh v. The State  of  Bihar 1997(1)  SCC  283  observed  as under:-

| “…..It  is  evidently  a cryptic  information and
| is hardly sufficient for discerning the
| commission  of  any  cognizable  offence
| therefrom. Under Section 154 of the Code the
| information must unmistakably relate to the
| commission of a cognizable offence and it shall
| be reduced to writing (if given orally) and shall
| be signed by its maker. The  next  requirement
| is  that  the substance thereof  shall  be
| entered in  a book kept in  the  police  station
| in  such form  as  the  State  Government  has
| prescribed.  First information report (FIR) has
| to  be  prepared  and  it  shall  be forwarded
| to  the  magistrate  who  is empowered  to  take
| cognizance  of  such offence upon such report.
| The officer in charge of a police station is not
| obliged to prepare FIR on any nebulous
| information received  from somebody  who  does
| not disclose  any authentic  knowledge  about
| commission of the cognizable offence. It is open
| to  the  officer-in-charge  to  collect more
| information  containing  details about the
| occurrence, if available, so that he  can
| consider  whether  a  cognizable offence  has
| been  committed  warranting investigation thereto.”

23. It is submitted that in the said judgment what fell for  consideration  of  the  Court  was the  conviction  and sentence  in  respect  of  the  offence  under  Sections 302/149 of the IPC in respect  of a murder which took place in a Bihar village wherein lives of 13 people were lost and 17 other were badly injured along with burning alive of large number of mute cattle and many dwelling houses.  It  is  also submitted that the interpretation of Section  154  was  not  directly  in  issue  in  the  said judgment.

24. Reliance is placed on a decision of this Court in the case  of  Madhu Bala v.  Suresh  Kumar  and  Others reported as 1997 (8) SCC 476 in the context of Sections 156(3)  173(2),  154  and  190(1)  (a)  and  (b)  and  more particularly  upon the  following  paragraphs  of  the  said judgment.  The same read as under:-

| “Coming first to the relevant provisions of the
| Code, Section 2(d) defines “complaint” to mean
| any allegation made orally or in writing to a
| Magistrate, with a view to his taking action
| under the Code, that some person, whether known
| or unknown has committed  an  offence,  but  does
| not include a police report.
| Under Section 2(c) “cognizable offence” means an
| offence for which,  and  “cognizable  case”
| means  a case  in  which  a  police  officer  may
| in accordance  with  the  First  Schedule  (of
| the Code) or under any other law for the time
| being  in  force,  arrest  without  a warrant.
| Under  Section  2(r)  “police report”  means  a
| report  forwarded  by  a police officer to a
| Magistrate under subsection (2)  of  Section  173
| of  the  Code. http://wp.me/p7s7-EM

| Chapter  XII  of  the  Code  comprising Sections
| 154  to  176  relates  to information to the
| police and their powers to investigate. Section
| 154 provides, inter alia, that the officer in
| charge of a police station  shall  reduce  into
| writing  every information relating to the
| commission of a cognizable  offence given to  him
| orally and  every  such  information  if  given
| in writing  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. Section  156 of  the
| Code with which we are primarily concerned in
| these appeals reads as under:

| | “(1) Any officer in charge of a police station
| | may,  without  the  order  of  a  Magistrate,
| | investigate  any  cognizable  case  which  a
| | court having jurisdiction over the local area
| | within the limits of such station would have
| | power  to  inquire  into  or  try  under  the
| | provisions of Chapter XIII.
| |
| | (2) No proceeding of a police officer in any
| | such case  shall  at  any stage  be  called in
| | question on the ground that the case was one
| | which such officer was not empowered under this
| | section to investigate.
| |
| | (3)  Any  Magistrate  empowered  under Section
| | 190  may  order  such  an investigation as above
| | mentioned.” On  completion  of  investigation
| | undertaken under  Section  156(1)  the  officer
| | in charge of the  police  station  is  required
| | under  Section 173(2) to forward to a Magistrate
| | empowered to take  cognizance  of  the  offence
| | on  a  police report, a report in the form
| | prescribed by the State  Government  containing
| | all  the particulars mentioned therein. Chapter
| | XIV of the Code lays down the conditions
| | requisite for initiation  of  proceedings  by
| | the  Magistrate.
| |
| | Under sub-section (1) of Section 190 appearing
| | in  that  Chapter  any  Magistrate  of  the
| | First Class and any Magistrate of the Second
| | Class specially  empowered  may  take  cognizance
| | of any offence (a) upon receiving a “complaint”
| | of facts which constitutes such offence; (b) upon
| | a  “police  report”  of  such  facts;  or  (c)
| | upon information  received  from  any  person
| | other than  a  police  officer,  or  upon  his
| | own knowledge  that  such  offence  has  been
| | committed.  Chapter  XV  prescribes  the
| | procedure the Magistrate has to initially follow
| | if  it  takes  cognizance  of  an  offence  on  a
| | complaint under Section 190(1)(a).

25. Learned counsel for the Union of India relied on the following passage from Madhu Bala (supra) :-

| “From  a  combined  reading  of  the  above
| provisions it  is abundantly clear that when a
| written  complaint  disclosing  a  cognizable
| offence is  made before a Magistrate,  he  may
| take cognizance upon the same under Section
| 190(1)(a)  of  the  Code  and proceed  with  the
| same  in  accordance  with  the  provisions  of
| Chapter XV. The other option available to the
| Magistrate  in  such  a  case  is  to  send  the
| complaint  to  the  appropriate  police  station
| under  Section  156(3)  for  investigation.  Once
| such a direction is given under sub-section (3)
| of  Section  156  the  police  is  required  to
| investigate  into  that  complaint  under
| subsection
|  (1)  thereof  and  on  completion  of
| investigation  to  submit  a  “police  report”
| in accordance  with  Section  173(2)  on  which
| a Magistrate may take cognizance under Section
| 190(1)(b)  — but not under  190(1)(a).  Since a
| complaint filed before a Magistrate cannot be a
| “police  report”  in  view  of  the  definition
| of “complaint”  referred  to  earlier  and since
| the investigation  of  a  “cognizable  case”  by
| the police under Section 156(1) has to culminate
| in a “police report” the “complaint” — as soon as
| an order  under  Section  156(3)  is  passed
| thereon — transforms itself to a report given in
| writing within the meaning of Section 154 of the
| Code,  which  is  known  as  the  first
| information  report  (FIR).  As  under  Section
| 156(1),  the  police  can  only  investigate  a
| cognizable “case”, it has to formally register a
| case on that report.”

26. Mr. Raval also relied on the following passage from Madhu Bala’ s case:-

| “From  the  foregoing  discussion  it  is
| evident that  whenever  a  Magistrate  directs
| an investigation on a “complaint” the police has
| to register  a cognizable  case  on that
| complaint treating the same as the FIR and comply
| with the  requirements  of  the  above  Rules.
| It, therefore, passes our comprehension as to how
| the direction of a Magistrate asking the police
| to  “register  a  case”  makes  an  order  of
| investigation  under  Section  156(3)  legally
| unsustainable.  Indeed,  even  if  a  Magistrate
| does  not pass  a direction  to  register  a
| case, still in view of the provisions of Section
| 156(1) of  the  Code  which  empowers  the
| police  to investigate  into  a  cognizable
| “case”  and  the Rules  framed  under  the
| Indian  Police  Act, 1861 it  (the police)  is
| duty-bound to formally register  a case and then
| investigate  into  the same. The provisions of
| the Code, therefore, do not  in  any  way  stand
| in  the  way  of  a Magistrate to direct the
| police to register a case at the police station
| and then investigate into the same.  In  our
| opinion when an order  for investigation under
| Section 156(3) of the Code is to be made the
| proper direction to the police would  be  “to
| register  a  case  at  the  police station
| treating  the  complaint  as  the  first
| information  report  and  investigate  into  the
| same”.

27. This  Court  in  the  case  of  Hallu  and  others v. State  of  Madhya Pradesh 1974 (4)  SCC 300  in  the context  of  Section  154 of  the  Code held (para  7)  that Section 154 of the Code does not require that the Report must be given by a person who has personal knowledge of the incident reported.  It is further held that the said Section  speaks  of  an  information  relating  to  the commission  of  a cognizable  offence  given  to  an officer incharge of a police station.

28. Mr. Raval placed reliance on para 8 of the judgment of this Court in the case of  Rajinder Singh Katoch v. Chandigarh Administration and others 2007 (10) SCC 69, wherein this Court observed as under:-

| “8.Although  the  officer  in  charge  of  a
| police station is legally bound to register a
| first  information  report  in  terms  of Section
| 154  of  the  Code  of  Criminal Procedure,  if
| the  allegations  made  by them give rise to an
| offence which can be investigated  without
| obtaining  any permission  from  the  Magistrate
| concerned,  the  same  by  itself,  however, does
| not  take  away  the  right  of  the competent
| officer to make a preliminary enquiry, in a given
| case, in order to find out  as  to  whether  the
| first  information sought to be lodged had any
| substance or not.  In  this  case,  the
| authorities  had made  investigations  into  the
| matter.  In fact, the Superintendent of Police
| himself has, pursuant to the directions issued by
| the  High  Court,  investigated  into  the matter
| and visited  the  spot  in  order  to find out
| the truth in the complaint of the petitioner
| from  the  neighbours.  It  was found  that  the
| complaint  made  by  the appellant  was  false
| and  the  same  had been filed with an ulterior
| motive to take illegal possession of the first
| floor of the house.”

29. While  referring  to  the  decision  of  this  Court  in Ramesh Kumari (supra) in para 11 of the judgment in Rajinder Singh’s case, it is observed as under:-

| “11. We are not oblivious to the decision of this
| Court in Ramesh Kumari v. State (NCT of Delhi)
| wherein such a statutory duty has been found in
| the police officer. But,  as  indicated
| hereinbefore,  in  an appropriate case, the
| police officers also have  a  duty  to  make  a
| preliminary enquiry so as to find out as to
| whether allegations  made  had any  substance  or
| not.”

30. It is further submitted that the above observations run concurrently to the settled principles of law and more particularly the three judge Bench decision of this Court in Aleque Padamsee and Others (supra).

31. In  the  context  of  the  statutory  provisions,  the learned counsel for the Union of India drew the attention of this Court to the decision of this Court in the case of Superintendent of  Police, CBI and Others v.  Tapan Kumar Singh AIR 2003 SC 4140, paragraph 20 at page 4145 as under:-

| “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 eye witness  so  as
| to  be  able  to  disclose  in great  details
| 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.  It  is
| only after  a complete investigation  that  he
| may  be  able  to report on the truthfulness or
| otherwise of the  information.   Similarly,  even
| if  the information  does  not  furnish  all  the
| details, he must find out those details in the
| course of investigation and collect all the
| necessary evidence.  The information given
| disclosing  the  commission  of  a cognizable
| offence only sets in motion the investigative
| machinery,  with  a  view to collect  all
| necessary  evidence,  and thereafter  to  take
| action  in  accordance with law.  The true test
| is whether  the information furnished provides a
| reason to suspect the commission of an offence,
| which  the  concerned  police  officer  is
| empowered  under  Section  156  of  the Code to
| investigate.  If it does, he has no option but to
| record the information and proceed  to
| investigate  the  case  either himself  or
| depute  any  other  competent officer to conduct
| the investigation. The question as to whether the
| report is true, whether it discloses full details
| regarding the  manner  of  occurrence,  whether
| the accused is named, and whether there is
| sufficient  evidence  to  support  the
| allegations are all matters which are alien to
| the  consideration  of  the  question whether
| the  report  discloses  the commission of a
| cognizable offence.  Even if  the  information
| does  not  give  full details  regarding  these
| matters,  the investigating officer is not
| absolved of his duty to investigate the case and
| discover the true facts, if he can.”

32. This Court  in its  decision in the case of  Ramesh Kumari (supra) has observed as under in paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 :-

| “3. Mr Vikas Singh, the learned Additional
| Solicitor General, at the outset, invites our
| attention to the counter-affidavit filed by the
| respondent  and submits  that  pursuant  to the
| aforesaid observation of the High Court the
| complaint/representation  has  been subsequently
| examined  by the  respondent and  found  that  no
| genuine  case  was established.  We  are  not
| convinced by this submission  because  the  sole
| grievance  of the  appellant  is  that  no  case
| has  been registered  in  terms  of  the
| mandatory provisions of Section 154(1) of the
| Criminal Procedure Code.  Genuineness or
| otherwise of  the  information  can only  be
| considered after  registration of  the case.
| Genuineness or  credibility  of  the  information
| is  not  a condition  precedent  for
| registration  of  a case. We are also clearly of
| the view that the High Court erred in law in
| dismissing the petition  solely  on  the  ground
| that  the contempt  petition  was  pending  and
| the appellant  had  an  alternative  remedy.  The
| ground of alternative remedy nor pending of the
| contempt  petition  would  be  no substitute in
| law not to register a case when a citizen makes a
| complaint of a cognizable offence against a
| police officer. http://wp.me/p7s7-EM
| 4. That a police officer mandatorily registers a
| case  on  a  complaint  of  a  cognizable offence
| by the citizen under Section 154 of the Code is
| no more res integra. The point of law has been
| set  at rest  by this  Court  in State  of
| Haryana v.  Bhajan  Lal. This Court after
| examining the whole gamut and intricacies  of
| the  mandatory  nature  of Section 154 of the
| Code has arrived at the finding in paras 31 and
| 32 of the judgment as under: (SCC pp. 354-55)

31. At the stage of registration of a crime or a  case  on  the  basis  of  the  information disclosing  a  cognizable  offence  in compliance  with  the  mandate  of  Section 154(1)  of  the  Code,  the  police  officer concerned cannot embark upon an enquiry as to whether the information, laid by the informant  is  reliable  and  genuine  or otherwise and refuse to register a case on the  ground  that  the  information  is  not reliable or credible. On the other hand, the officer  in  charge  of  a  police  station  is statutorily  obliged  to  register  a  case  and then to proceed with the investigation if he has reason to suspect the commission of an offence  which  he  is  empowered  under Section  156  of  the  Code  to  investigate, subject to the proviso to Section 157. (As we have  proposed  to  make  a  detailed discussion  about  the  power  of  a  police officer  in  the  field  of  investigation  of  a cognizable  offence  within  the  ambit  of Sections  156 and 157 of  the  Code  in  the ensuing  part  of  this  judgment,  we  do not propose  to  deal  with  those  sections  in extenso in the present context.) 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.

32. Be it noted that 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. A comparison of the present Section 154 with those of the earlier Codes will indicate that the legislature had purposely thought it  fit  to employ only the word  ‘information’  without  qualifying  the said  word.  Section  139  of  the  Code  of Criminal Procedure of 1861 (Act 25 of 1861) passed by  the  Legislative  Council  of  India read  that  ‘every  complaint  or  information’ preferred to an officer in charge of a police station  should  be  reduced  into  writing which provision was subsequently modified by Section 112 of the Code of 1872 (Act 10 of  1872)  which  thereafter  read that  ‘every complaint’ preferred to an officer in charge of  a  police  station  shall  be  reduced  in writing.  The  word  ‘complaint’  which occurred in previous two Codes of 1861 and 1872 was deleted and in that place the word ‘information’ was used in the Codes of 1882 and  1898  which  word  is  now  used  in Sections  154,  155,  157 and 190(c)  of  the present Code of  1973 (Act  2 of  1974).  An overall  reading  of  all  the  Codes  makes  it clear that the condition which is  sine qua non for recording a first information report is  that  there  must be  an information and that information must disclose a cognizable offence.”

33. Finally,  this  Court in  Ramesh Kumari (supra) in para 33 said :-

| “33. It is, therefore, manifestly clear that if
| any information disclosing a cognizable offence
| is laid before an officer in charge of  a  police
| station  satisfying  the requirements  of
| Section  154(1)  of  the Code, the said police
| officer has no other option  except  to  enter
| the  substance thereof in the prescribed form,
| that is to say,  to  register  a  case  on  the
| basis  of such information.”

34. The views expressed by this Court in paras 31, 32 and 33 as quoted above leave no manner of doubt that the provision  of Section  154 of  the Code is  mandatory and the officer concerned is  duty-bound to register the case  on  the  basis  of  such  an  information  disclosing cognizable offence.

35. In the case of  Ramesh Kumari (supra), this Court has held that the views expressed by this Court in the case of  State of Haryana and Others v.  Bhajan Lal and Others  1992 Suppl. (1) SCC 335  leave no matter of doubt that the provisions of Section 154 of the Code is mandatory and the officer  concerned is  duty bound to register  the  case  on  the  basis  of  such  information disclosing a cognizable offence.

36. Mr. Raval while concluding his arguments reiterated that  Section  154 of  the  Code  it  is  mandatory  for  the officer concerned to register the case on the basis of such information including cognizable  offence.   According to Union of India, the police officer has no discretion in the matter and this is according to the legislative intention behind  enacting  Section  154  of  the  Code  of  Criminal Procedure.

37. Mr.  Ratnakar  Das,  learned  senior  advocate appearing for  the State of  U.P.  adopted the arguments addressed by Mr. Raval on behalf of the Union of India and submitted that the word ‘shall’ appearing in Section 154 mandates the police to enter the information about commission  of  a cognizable  offence  in  a book in  such form commonly known as “First Information Report’.  At that stage, the police cannot go into the question about the  truth  or  otherwise  of  the  information and make a roving enquiry.

38. It  was also  submitted by  Mr.  Das that  the  word ‘information’ is not qualified by credible information.  It has  to  be  recorded  with  utmost  dispatch  and  if  its recording  is  dependent  upon  any  type  of  preliminary enquiry,  then  there  would  be  a  great  temptation  to incorporate the details and circumstances advantageous to the prosecution which may be lacking in the earlier information.  Similarly, if the police is given the power to hold a preliminary inquiry before registration of an FIR it may benefit the wrongdoer because by afflux of time, the evidence would be obliterated or destroyed and thereby justice would be denied to the victim of crime.

39. Mr.  Das gave an example that in a bride burning case,  when  a  person  makes  a  complaint  that  the husband and the in-laws of  his daughter  have doused her with kerosene and set her ablaze and arrangements were being made to cremate the dead body, in that case, if the police instead of taking immediate steps to register an FIR proceeds to the spot to seize the dead body and the burnt clothes etc. on the plea that he is required to make  preliminary  enquiry  to  ascertain  the  truth,  then during the interregnum, no evidence would be available to bring the offenders to book.  It needs to mention that power  is  conferred upon the  police  under  the  Code to make seizure in course of investigation and not during the enquiry.  So, the police being in connivance with the accused may permit them to cremate the dead body in order to cause disappearance of the evidence.

40. It is further submitted by Mr. Das that now-a-days custodial violence is on the rise.   Horror of  Bhagalpur blinding case and the Maya Tyagi case in Uttar Pradesh are still in the minds of the people.  It is complained that the police do not take action against their own brethren who  commit  crimes.   Most  of  the  times  the  Court intervenes and it  is only then that the person wronged gets justice.  In such cases if the police is given handle to hold  a preliminary enquiry the offender will get a scope to fabricate evidence and ultimately the police will deny registration of an FIR on the ground that the preliminary enquiry  does  not reveal  any such offence  having been committed at all.

41. It was submitted on behalf of the Union of India and the State of U.P.  that in the Code the Legislature never intended to incorporate any provision for conducting any ‘preliminary  enquiry’  before  registering  an FIR  when a report  regarding  commission  of  a cognizable  offence  is made.   The  specific  question  on this  issue  was never raised or agitated earlier before this Court at any point of time  whether as a general rule the police should hold a preliminary enquiry before registering an FIR and take further steps in the investigation.  Only in two cases in respect of the offence under Prevention of Corruption Act which was to be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) this Court taking note of the peculiar facts  and  circumstances  of  those  cases,  made  an observation  that  where  public  servant  is  charged with acts  of  dishonesty amounting to  serious  misdemeanor, registering an FIR should be preceded by some suitable preliminary enquiry.  In another case in which dispute regarding  property  between the  brothers  was involved, this  Court in  the  peculiar  facts  of  that  case made  an observation that though the officer in charge of a police station  is  legally bound to  register  a First  Information Report  in  terms  of  Section  154  of  the  Code,  if  the allegations  give  rise  to  an  offence  which  can  be investigated  without  obtaining  permission  from  the Magistrate,  the same however,  does not take away the right  of  the  competent  officer  to  make  a  preliminary enquiry in a given case in order to find whether the FIR sought to be lodged has any substance or not.

42. According to him, the grievance of the appellant in the  said  case  was  that  his  report  which  revealed commission of a cognizable case was not treated as an FIR by the concerned police.  It was not the issue nor was any argument advanced as to whether registering of an FIR as provided under Section 154 of the Code should be preceded by some sort of preliminary enquiry or not.  In such view of  the  matter,  the observation of  this Court that  it  does  not take away the  right  of  the  competent officer to make a preliminary enquiry in a given case is nothing but a passing observation. http://wp.me/p7s7-EM

43. According to  Mr.  Das, the  provision  of  law about registration  of  an  FIR  is  very  clear  and  whenever information relating to cognizable offence is received by the police, in that event the police had no option but to register the FIR.

44. Mr.  Shekhar  Naphade,  learned  Senior  counsel appearing for the State of Maharashtra on the other hand has taken a different view as taken by the Union of India and  submitted  that  before  registering  an  FIR  under Section  154  Cr.P.C.  it  is  open  to  the  SHO to  hold  a preliminary enquiry to ascertain whether there is prime facie case of commission of cognizable offence or not.

45. Mr.  Naphade  has  comprehensively  explained  the statutory  scheme of  Section  154 Cr.P.C..  According  to him, Sections 41, 57 154(3) 156(1) and 156(3), 157, 167, 190 and 202 are an integral part of the statutory scheme relating  to  investigation  of  crimes.  These  provisions clearly contemplate  that  the  police  officer  can exercise powers  under  the  aforesaid  provisions  provided  he  is prima-facie satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accused is guilty of commission of the cognizable offence.

46. Section 154 of  Cr.P.C. forms a part  of  a chain of statutory  provisions  relating  to  investigation,  and therefore, it  must follow that the provisions of Sections 41, 157, 167 etc. have a bearing on the interpretation of Section  154  of  Cr.P.C.   The  said  judgments  have interpreted Section 154 of  Cr.P.C. purely  on the literal interpretation  test  and  while  doing  so,  the  other important tests of statutory interpretation, like a statute must be read as a whole and no provision of a statute should be considered and interpreted de-hors the other provisions, the rule of purposive construction etc. are lost sight of.  He referred to the following cases –  Tarachand and Another v.  State of Haryana 1971 (2) SCC 579, Sandeep Rammilan Shukla v.  State of Maharashtra and Others  2009 (1) Mh.L.J. 97,  Sakiri Vasu v.  State of Uttar Pradesh and Others 2008 (2)  SCC 409, Nasar Ali v.  State of Uttar Pradesh 1957 SCR 657, Union of India  and Another  v.  W.N.  Chadha  1993 (Suppl.)  4 SCC 260, State of West Bengal v. S.N. Basak 1963 (2) SCR 52.

47. Mr.Naphade  submitted  that  in  the  case  of allegations relating to medical negligence on the part of doctors,  this  Court  has  clearly  held  that  no  medical professional should be prosecuted merely on the basis of the allegations in the complaint.  There should be an in-depth enquiry into the allegations relating to negligence and  this  necessarily  postulates  a  preliminary  enquiry before  registering  an  FIR  or  before  entering  on investigation.  He reported to  State of M.P. v.  Santosh Kumar – 2006 (6) SCC 1 and Dr. Suresh Gupta v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi and Another 2004(6) SCC 422. 48. He also submitted that the same principle can also be made applicable to the people of different categories.

The  literal  interpretation  of  Section  would  mean  the registration  of  an  FIR  to  a  mechanical  act.  The registration of an FIR results into serious consequences for the person named as accused therein.  It immediately results in loss of reputation, impairment of his liberty, mental anguish, stigma, etc.  It is reasonable to assume that the legislature could not have contemplated that a mere mechanical act on the part of SHO should give rise to such consequences.

49. He submitted that the registration of an FIR under Section 154 of Cr.P.C. is an administrative act of a police officer.   In the case of  Rai Sahib Ram Jawaya Kapur and Others  v.  State of Punjab 1955 (2) SCR 225, this Court has explained what is administrative function and has said that ordinarily the executive power connotes the residue  of  Government  functions  that  remain  after legislative/judicial  functions  are  taken  away.   Every administrative act must be based on application of mind, scrutiny and verification of the facts.  No administrative act  can  ever  be  a  mechanical  one.   This  is  the requirement of rule of law.  Reference was made to paras 12 and 13 of  State (Anti-Corruption Branch), Govt. of NCT of  Delhi  and Another v.  Dr.  R.C.  Anand and Another 2004 (4) SCC 615.

50. According  to  Mr.  Naphade,  these  judgments  have not considered the impact of Article 21 on Section 154 of Cr.P.C.  After  and  beginning  with  Maneka  Gandhi  v. Union of  India and Another 1978 (1)  SCC 248,  this Court has applied Article 21 to several provisions relating to  criminal  law.  This  Court  has  also  said  that  the expression  “law”  contained  in  Article  21  necessarily postulates  law  which  is  reasonable  and  not  merely  a statutory provision irrespective of its  reasonableness or otherwise.  In the light of Article 21, provisions of Section 154 of Cr.P.C.  must be read down to mean that before registering an FIR, the Station House Officer must have a prima-facie  satisfaction  that  there  is  commission  of cognizable  offence  as  registration  of  an  FIR  leads  to serious consequences for the person named as accused and  for  this  purpose,  the  requirement  of  preliminary enquiry can be spelt out in Section 154 and can be said to  be  implicit  within  the  provisions  of  Section  154  of Cr.P.C. Reliance was placed on Maneka Gandhi (supra) and  S.M.D.  Kiran  Pasha v.  Government  of  Andhra Pradesh and Others  1990 (1) SCC 328.

51. The fact that Sections 154 (3), 156(3), 190, 202 etc. clearly  provide  for  remedies  to  a  person  aggrieved  by refusal on the part of the SHO to register an FIR, clearly show  that  the  statute  contemplates  that  in  certain circumstances the SHO can decline to register an FIR. 52. To require SHO to register an FIR irrespective of his opinion  that  the  allegations  are  absurd  or  highly improbable,  motivated  etc.  would  cause  a  serious prejudice  to  the  person  named  as  accused  in  the complaint and this would violate his rights under Article 21.  This  Court  has  recognized  the  concept  of  pre-violation  protection  implicit  in  Article  21.   The  said judgments  while  relying  upon the  literal  interpretation test  have  not  considered  the  rule  of  statutory interpretation  that  in  certain  situations  the  expression “shall”  does  not  convey  mandatory  character  of  the provisions.  For example, proviso to Section 202 (2) has been  held  using  the  expression  “shall”  not  to  be mandatory but directory.  After all, Section 154 of Cr.P.C. is  a  part  of  the  procedural  law  and  in  respect  of procedural  law,  the  expression  “shall”  may  not always necessarily  convey that the provision is mandatory.  Mr. Naphade placed reliance on the following cases –   P.T. Rajan v.  T.P.M.  Sahir and Others 2003(8)  SCC 498, Shivjee Singh v.  Nagendra Tiwary and Others  2010 (7) SCC 578 and Sarbananda Sonowal (II) etc. v. Union of India   2007 (1) SCC 174.  The said judgments have also not considered the rule of purposive interpretation and also that the statute must be considered as a whole and no provision can be interpreted in isolation.

53. The non-registration  of  an FIR does not result  in crime going unnoticed or unpunished. The registration of an FIR is only for the purpose of making the information about the cognizable offence available to the police and to the judicial  authorities at earliest possible opportunity. The delay in lodging an FIR does not necessarily result in acquittal  of  the  accused.   The  delay  can  always  be explained.

54. Mr.  Naphade  also  submitted that  this  Court  has also held that registration of an FIR is  not a condition precedent for initiating investigation into the commission of  a  cognizable  offence.   Section  154  Cr.P.C.  clearly imposed  a  duty  on  the  police  officer.  When  an information is received, the officer in charge of the police station is  expected to reach the place of occurrence as early  as possible.   It  is  not necessary for  him to  take steps only on the basis of an FIR.  It is the duty of the State  to  protect  the  life  of  an  injured  as  also  an endeavour on the part of the responsible police officer to reach the  place of  occurrence in his implicit  duty and responsibility.   This  has  been  held  in  the  case  of Animireddy Venkata Ramana and Others v.  Public Prosecutor, High Court of Andhra Pradesh 2008 (5) SCC 368.

55. Mr.  Naphade further submitted that ordinarily the SHO should record an FIR upon receiving a complaint disclosing the ingredients of a cognizable offence, but in certain  situations  he  should  have  the  discretion  of holding  a  preliminary  enquiry  and  thereafter  if  he  is satisfied, register an FIR.

56. The provisions contained in Section 154 Cr.P.C. of 1973 were also there in the 1898 Cr.P.C. and even the earlier one of 1877.  The interpretation that was placed by  the  High  Courts  and  the  Privy  Council  on  these provisions  prior  to  Maneka  Gandhi (supra)  rested principally on the words used in the Section de-hors the other provisions of the Act and also de-hors the impact of Article  21  of  the  Constitution  on  the  criminal jurisprudence.  In other words, the courts have followed the test of literal interpretation without considering the impact of Article 21.

57. It is a trite proposition that a person who is named in an FIR as an accused,  suffers social  stigma.  If  an innocent person is falsely implicated, he not only suffers from loss of reputation but also mental tension and his personal  liberty  is  seriously  impaired.   After  Maneka Gandhi’s  case,  the  proposition  that  the  law  which deprives  a  person  of  his  personal  liberty  must  be reasonable,  both  from  the  stand  point  of  substantive aspect  as  well  as  procedural  aspect  is  now  firmly established in our constitutional law.  This warrants a fresh look at Section 154 of Cr.P.C.  Section 154 Cr.P.C. must be read in conformity with the mandate of Article 21. If it is so interpreted, the only conclusion is that if a Police  Officer  has  doubts  about  the  veracity  of  the complaint,  he  can  hold  preliminary  enquiry  before deciding to record or not to record an FIR.

58. It  is  the  mandate  of  Article  21 which  requires  a Police  Officer  to  protect  a  citizen  from  baseless allegations.   This,  however,  does not mean that before registering an FIR the police officer must fully investigate the  case.  A  delicate  balance  has  to  be  maintained between the  interest  of  the  society  and protecting  the liberty of an individual.  Therefore,  what should be the precise  parameters of  a preliminary enquiry  cannot be laid down in abstract.  The matter must be left open to the discretion of the police officer.

59. A  proposition  that  the  moment  the  complaint discloses ingredients a cognizable offence is lodged,  the police officer must register an FIR without any scrutiny whatsoever, is an extreme proposition and is contrary to the mandate of Article 21.  Similarly, the extreme point of view is that the police officer must investigate the case substantially  before  registering  an  FIR  is  also  an argument of the other extreme.  Both must be rejected and a middle path must be chosen.

60. Mr.Naphade  mentioned  about  Maneka  Gandhi’s case and observed that the attempt of the Court should be to  expand the reach and ambit of  the  fundamental rights,  rather  than  to  attenuate  their  meaning  and contents  by  a  process  of  judicial  construction.   The immediate  impact  of  registration  of  an  FIR  on  an innocent  person  is  loss  of  reputation,  impairment  of personal  liberty  resulting  in  mental  anguish  and, therefore, the act of the police officer in registering an FIR must be informed by reason and it can be so only when there is a prima facie case against the named accused.

61. According to Mr. Naphade, the provisions of Article 14  which  are  an  anti-thesis  of  arbitrariness  and  the provisions of Articles 19 and 21 which offer even a pre-violation protection require the police officer to see that an innocent person is not exposed to baseless allegations and,  therefore,  in  appropriate  cases  he  can  hold preliminary  enquiry.   In  Maneka Gandhi’s  case this Court has specifically  laid down that in  R.C. Cooper’s case it has been held that all fundamental rights must be read together and that Articles 14, 19 and 21 overlap in  their  content  and  scope  and  that  the  expression ‘personal liberty’ is of the widest amplitude and covers a variety of rights which go to constitute personal liberty of a citizen.  (Reliance was particularly placed on paras 5,6 and 7 on pages 278-284).

62. Mr.  Naphade  further  argued  that  this  Court  has held  that in order to give concrete shape to a right under Article 21, this Court can issue necessary directions in the matter.  If directions as regards arrest can be given, there is no reason why guidelines cannot be framed by this Court as regards registration or non-registration of an FIR under Section 154 Cr.P.C.

63. Mr. Naphade also submitted that the importance of the  need of  the  police  officer’s  discretion  of  holding  a preliminary inquiry is well illustrated by the judgment of this  Court  in  the  case  of  Uma  Shankar  Sitani v. Commissioner of Police, Delhi and Ors. 1996 (11) SCC 714.   In  that  case  the  complaint  was  lodged  by  one Sarvjeet Chauhan against one Uma Shankar relating to alleged cognizable  offence.  Uma Shankar was arrested and upon investigation it was found that the complainant was a fictitious person.  Somebody else had filed the false complaint.   The  residential  address  of  the  fictitious complainant  was also  fictitious.   In  the  whole process Uma Shankar went through serious mental turmoil as not only the allegation was found to be false, but he was arrested by the police  and had to  undergo humiliation and loss of reputation.  Such incidents can happen and must have happened in scores of cases as filing of false cases due to personal, political, business rivalry, break-down of matrimonial relationship etc. are rampant.

64. Mr. Naphade submitted that Section 498-A of I.P.C. which was meant to be a measure of protection, turned out to be an instrument of oppression.  Judicial notice of this has been taken by this Court in the case of  Preeti Gupta  and  Another v.  State  of  Jharkhand  and Another (2010) 7 SCC 667.  In the said case, this Court has  referred  to  rapid  increase  in  filing  of  complaints which  are  not  bona  fide  and  are  filed  with  oblique motives.  Such false complaints lead to insurmountable harassment, agony and pain to the accused.  This Court has observed that the allegations of the complainant in such cases  should  be  scrutinized  with  great  care  and circumspection. Is it, therefore, not advisable that before registering an FIR, a preliminary inquiry at least to verify the  identity  of  the  complainant  and  his  residential address should be carried out.  This case illustrates how on a false complaint, a person’s right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution can be put to serious jeopardy.

65. This Court in its judgment in Francis C. Mullin v. Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi 1981 (1) SCC 608 [paras 4 and 5) has held that Article 21 requires that no one shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty except  by  procedure  established  by  law  and  this procedure  must  be  reasonable,  fair  and  just.   If  the procedure is not reasonable, fair and just, the Court will immediately spring into action and run to the rescue of the  citizen.   From this  it  can  be  easily  deduced  that where the police officer has a reasonable doubt about the veracity of the complaint and the motives that prompt the complainant  to  make  the  complaint,  he  can  hold  a preliminary inquiry.  Holding of preliminary inquiry is the mandate of Article 21 in such cases. If the police officer mechanically  registers  the  complaint  involving  serious allegations,  even though he has doubts in  the  matter, Article  21  would  be  violated.   Therefore,  Section  154 must  be  read  in  the  light  of  Article  21  and  so  read preliminary inquiry is implicit in Section 154.  In paras 7 and 8 of  the  said  judgment,  this  Court  has made  an unequivocal  declaration  of  the  law that  any act  which damages or injures or interferes with use of any limb or faculty  of  a  person,  either  permanently  or  even temporarily, would be within the ambit of Article 21.

66. Not only this, every act which offends against and imperils human dignity, would constitute deprivation pro tanto of  this  right  to  live  and it  would  have  to  be  in accordance with the reasonable, just and fair procedure established  by  law  which  stands  the  test  of  other fundamental rights.  A baseless allegation is a violation of human  dignity  and  despite  the  police  officer  having doubts about the allegation, he being required to register an FIR, would be a clear infringement of Article 21.

67. Mr.  Naphade  further  submitted  that  it  is  settled principle of law that no single provision of a statute can be read and interpreted in isolation.  The statute must be read as a whole.  In the present case, the provisions of Sections 41,57, 156, 157, 159, 167, 190, 200 and 202 of Cr.P.C.  must  be  read  together.  These  provisions constitute the statutory scheme relating to investigation of offences and, therefore, no single provision can be read in  isolation.   Both,  Sections  41  and  154  deal  with cognizable offence.   Section 41 empowers the police to arrest any person without warrant from the Magistrate if such person is  concerned in  any cognizable  offence or against whom a reasonable complaint has been made or credible  information  has  been  received  or  reasonable suspicion exits of such person having been so concerned with the cognizable offence.  Section 41 also specifically refers to a cognizable complaint about commission of a cognizable offence.

68. The scheme of the Act is that after the police officer records  an FIR under  Section  154  Cr.P.C.,  he  has  to proceed  to  investigate  under  Section  156  Cr.P.C.  and while investigating the police officer has power to arrest. What is required to be noted is that for the purpose of arresting  the  accused,  the  police  officer  must  have  a reasonable ground to believe that the accused is involved in the commission of a cognizable offence.  If Sections 41 and  154  are  so  read  together,  it  is  clear  that  before registering an FIR under  Section  154 the police officer must form an opinion that there is  a prima facie  case against the accused.  If he does not form such an opinion and still proceeds to record an FIR, he would be guilty of an arbitrary  action.   Every  public  authority  exercising any powers under any statute is under an obligation to exercise  that  power  in  a  reasonable  manner.   This principle is well settled and it  forms an integral part of the legal system in this country.

69. Mr.  Naphade  submitted  that  the  provisions  of Section 154(3) enable any complainant whose complaint is not registered as an FIR by the SHO to approach the higher  police  officer  for  the  purpose  of  getting  his complaint  registered as an FIR  and in  such case,  the higher police officer has all  the powers of recording an FIR and directing  investigation  into  the  matter.   Apart from this power under Section 36 any police officer senior in rank to an officer in charge of the police station can exercise the same powers as may be exercised by such officer  in  charge  of  the  police  station.   Provisions  of Section 154 (3) and Section 36 are  clear indication that in an appropriate case a police officer can either decline to  register  the  FIR  or  defer  its  registration.   The provisions of Section 154(3) and Section 36 is a sufficient safeguard against an arbitrary refusal on the part of a police  officer  to  register  the FIR.   The very fact  that a provision has been made in the statute for approaching the  higher  police  officer,  is  an indication  of  legislative intent  that  in  appropriate  cases,  a  police  officer  may decline to register an FIR and/or defer its registration.

70. In addition to the remedy available to the aggrieved person of approaching higher police officer,  he can also move  the  concerned  Magistrate  either  under  Section 156(3) for making a complaint under Section 190.   If  a complaint  is  lodged,  the  Magistrate  can  examine  the complainant and issue process against the accused and try  the  case  himself  and  in  case  triable  by  Sessions Court, then he will commit the case to Sessions under Section 209.

71. The Magistrate can also on receipt of a complaint, hold an enquiry or direct  the police to investigate.   In addition to the above, the Magistrate also has a power to direct  investigation  under  Section  159 Cr.P.C.   In  the case of  Mona Panwar v.  High Court of Judicature of Allahabad (2011) 3 SCC 496 in paras 17 and 18 on page 503 this Court has, inter alia, held that if the complaint relating  to  a cognizable  officer  is  not registered by the police,  then the complainant can go the Magistrate and then the Magistrate has the option of either passing an order under Section 156(3) or proceeding under Section 200/202 of the Code.

72. It was also submitted by Mr. Naphade that an order under Section 156(3) of the Code is  in the nature of a preemptory  reminder  or  intimation  to  the  police  to exercise its plenary power of investigation under Section 156(1).   Such  an  investigation  embraces  the  entire continuous process which begins with the collection of evidence  under  Section  156  and  ends  with  the  vital report  either  under  Section  169  or  submission  of  a charge-sheet  under  Section  173  of  the  Code.   A Magistrate  can  under  Section  190  of  the  Code  before taking cognizance, direct  investigation by the police by order under Section 156(3) of the Code.

73. Mr. Naphade also submitted that the very fact that the Legislature has provided adequate remedies against refusal  to  register  an  FIR  and  hold  investigation  in cognizable offences is indicative of legislative intent that the police officer is not bound to record an FIR merely because  the  ingredients  of  cognizable  offences  are disclosed  in  the  complaint  if  he  has  doubt  about  the veracity of the complaint.

74. In further support of the proposition that a police officer is not bound to register an FIR on mere disclosure of  existence  of  ingredients  of  cognizable  offence,  it  is submitted that the statute does not contemplate that for the  purpose  of  investigation,  recording  of  an FIR is  a condition precedent.  Section 156 empowers the police to do so.  Similarly,  Section 157 clearly lays down that if from  information  received  or  otherwise  an  officer  in charge  of  the police  station  has reason to  suspect  the commission  of  an offence,  he  can  investigate  into  the same.  In Section 157(1) the expression “from information received” obviously refers to complaint under Section 154 Cr.P.C.  registered as  an FIR.  The  word  “otherwise”  in Section 157 Cr.P.C. clearly indicates that recording of an FIR  is  not  a  condition  precedent  to  initiation  of investigation. The very fact that the police have a power of investigation independent of registration of an FIR is a clear pointer to the legislative intent that a police officer is not bound to register an FIR in each and every case.

75. Mr.  Naphade relied on the case of  Apren Joseph alias  current  Kunjukunju  and Others   v.  State  of Kerala 1973 (3) SCC 114 wherein in para 11 this Court has  held  that  recording  of  an  FIR is  not  a  condition precedent for setting in motion criminal investigation.  In doing  so,  this  Court  has  approved  the  observation  of Privy  Council  made  in  the  case  of  Khwaja  Nazim Ahmad (supra).

76. Mere recording of an FIR under Section 154 Cr.P.C. is  of  no  consequence  unless  the  alleged  offence  is investigated into.  For the purpose of investigation after registration  of  the  FIR,  the  police  officer  must  have reason  to  suspect  commission  of  an offence.   Despite registration of the FIR, the police officer may not have a reasonable ground to suspect that an offence has been committed and in that situation he may decline to carry out investigation and may come to the conclusion that there  is  no  sufficient  ground  for  carrying  out investigation.   If  under  the  proviso  (b)  to  Section  157 Cr.P.C.  the  police  officer  has  such  discretion  of  not investigating, then it stands to reason that registration of an FIR should not result into an empty formality.

77. The registration of an FIR should be effective and it can  be  effective  only  if  further  investigation  is  to  be carried out and further investigation can be carried out only if the police officer has reasonable ground to suspect that the offence is committed.  If, therefore,  there is no reasonable  ground  to  suspect  the  commission  of cognizable offence,  the police officer will not investigate and if  that is a situation, then on the same footing he may decline to register the FIR.  This is clearly implicit in the provisions of Section 154(1).  It is, submitted that if the  provisions  of  Section  154  are  read  with  Sections 41,57,156,157,159,167,190,200  and  202  Cr.P.C.,  the only  possible  conclusion  is  that  a police  officer  is  not bound to register each and every case.

78. Mr.  Naphade  placed  reliance  on  State  of Maharashtra  and  Others v.  Sarangdharsingh Shivdassingh Chavan and Another (2011) 1 SCC 577 wherein  in  paragraphs  29  and  30,  this  Court  has observed as follows:-

| “29. The legal position is well settled that on
| information  being  lodged  with  the police  and
| if  the  said  information discloses the
| commission of a cognizable offence,  the police
| shall record the same in  accordance  with  the
| provisions contained  under  Section  154  of
| the Criminal  Procedure  Code.  The  police
| officer’s power to investigate in case of a
| cognizable  offence  without  order  of  the
| Magistrate is statutorily recognised under
| Section 156 of the Code. Thus the police officer
| in charge of a police station, on the basis  of
| information  received  or otherwise,  can  start
| investigation  if  he has reasons to suspect the
| commission of any cognizable offence.
| 30. This is subject to provisos (a) and (b) to
| Section  157 of  the  Code which leave discretion
| with the police officer in charge of  police
| station  to  consider  if  the information is not
| of a serious nature, he may  depute  a
| subordinate  officer  to investigate and if it
| appears to the officerin-charge that  there  does
| not  exist sufficient  ground,  he  shall  not
| investigate. This legal framework is a very vital
| component of the rule of law in order to  ensure
| prompt  investigation  in cognizable cases and to
| maintain law and order.”

79. He  submitted  that  if  the  police  officer  is  of  the opinion that the complaint is not credible and yet he is required to register the FIR, then he would be justified in not investigating the case.  In such a case the FIR would become a useless lumber and a dead letter.  The police officer  would  then  submit  a  closure  report  to  the Magistrate. The Magistrate then would issue notice to the complainant and hear him.  If  the Magistrate is  of the opinion that there is a case, then he may direct police to investigate.

80. Mr. Napahde submitted that the aforesaid analysis of various provisions of Criminal Procedure Code clearly bring out that the statutory provisions clearly maintain a balance between the rights of a complainant and of the Society to have a wrongdoer being brought to book and the rights of the accused against baseless allegations.

81. The provisions have also to be read in the light of the  principle  of  malicious  prosecution  and  the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21.   Every  citizen  has  a  right  not  to  be  subjected  to malicious prosecution and every police officer has an in-built duty under Section 154 to ensure that an innocent person is  not falsely implicated in a criminal  case.   If despite the fact that the police officer is not prima facie satisfied as regards commission of a cognizable offence, and  proceeds  to  register  an  FIR  and  carry  out investigation and thereby putting the liberty of a citizen in  jeopardy,  he would expose  himself  to  the  charge  of malicious  prosecution  and  against  the  charge  of malicious prosecution the doctrine of sovereign immunity will not protect him.  There is no law protecting a police officer who takes part in the malicious prosecution.

82. Mr.  Naphade also submitted that the word “shall” used in the statute does not always mean absence of any discretion in the matter.

83. The  word  “shall”  does  not  necessarily  lead  to provision being imperative or mandatory.

84. The use of word “shall” raises a presumption that the  particular  provision  is  imperative.   But,  this presumption  may be  rebutted  by  other  considerations such as, object  and scope of  the enactment and other consequences flowing from such construction.  There are numerous cases where the word “shall”  has, therefore, been construed as merely directory.

85. In the case of Sainik Motors, Jodhpur and Others v. State of Rajasthan AIR 1961 SC 1480, Hidayatullah, J. has held that the word “shall” is ordinarily mandatory, but it  is  sometimes not so interpreted if  the context of intention otherwise demands.

86. Further,  Subba  Rao,  J.  in  the  case  of  State  of Uttar Pradesh and Others  v. Babu Ram Upadhya AIR 1961 SC 751,  has observed that when the statute uses the  word  “shall”  prima  facie  it  is  mandatory,  but  the Court may ascertain the real intention of the legislature carefully attending to the whole scope of the statute.

87. In the case of  State of  Madhya Pradesh v.  M/s Azad Bharat Finance Co.  and Another AIR 1967 SC 276  it  has  been  held  that  the  word  “shall”  does  not always  mean  that  the  provision  is  obligatory  or mandatory.  It  depends upon the context in which the word “shall” occur and the other circumstances.

88. In the case of  Shivjee Singh (supra)  it  has been held that the use of word “shall” in proviso to Section 202 (2)  of  Cr.P.C.  prima  facie  is  indicative  of  mandatory character of the provision contained therein.  But, a close and critical analysis thereof  along with other provisions show that the same is not mandatory.  Further,  it  has been observed that by its very nomenclature, Cr.P.C. is a compendium of law relating to criminal procedure.  The provisions  contained  therein  are  required  to  be interpreted keeping in  view the  well  recognized rule  of construction that procedural prescriptions are meant for doing  substantial  justice.   If  violation  of  procedural provisions does not result in denial of a fair hearing or causes prejudice to the party, the same has to be treated as directly notwithstanding the use of the word “shall”.

89. In P.T. Rajan (supra), this Court has discussed the principles  as  to  whether  a  statute  is  mandatory  or directory.  The Court has observed that a statute as is well known must be read in the text and context thereof. Whether a statute is directory or mandatory would not be dependent on the use of the word “shall” or “may”.  Such a question must be posed and answered having regard to the purpose and object it seeks to achieve.  It has further been  held  that  a  provision  in  a  statute  which  is procedural in nature although employs the word “shall” may not be held to be mandatory if thereby no prejudice is caused.  The analysis of various provisions of Cr.P.C. clearly shows that no prejudice is caused if police officer does not register an FIR.  The complainant has effective remedies under Sections 154(3), 156, 190 Cr.P.C. etc.

90. Mr. Naphade, the learned senior counsel submitted that it is impossible to put the provisions of Section 154 Cr.P.C. in any straight jacket formula.  However,  some guidelines can be framed as regards registration or non-registration  of  an  FIR.  According  to  him,  some  such guidelines are as follows:-

| 1. Normally in the ordinary course a police
| officer should record an FIR, if the complaint
| discloses a cognizable offence. However, in
| exceptional cases where  the  police  officer
| has  reason  to  suspect that  the  complaint  is
| motivated  on account  of personal  or  political
| rivalry,  he  may  defer recording of  the FIR,
| and take a decision  after preliminary enquiry.
| 2. In  case  of  complaints  which  are  a
| result  of vendetta  like  complaints  under
| Section  498A Cr.P.C. (IPC), the police officer
| should be slow in recording an FIR and he should
| record an FIR only if he finds a prima facie case.
| 3. The police officer may also defer recording
| of an FIR if  he  feels  that  the  complainant
| is  acting under a mistaken belief.
| 4. The police  officer  may also  defer
| registering  an FIR  if  he  finds  that  the
| facts  stated  in  the complaint are complex and
| complicated, as would be in  respect  of  some
| offences having financial contents like criminal
| breach of  trust,  cheating etc.

91.  The  aforesaid  are  only  illustrations  and  not exhaustive  of  all  conditions  which  may  warrant deferment of an FIR. http://wp.me/p7s7-EM

92. The second aspect of the matter is what test should the police officer take in case he is of the opinion that registration of an FIR should be deferred. He suggested the following measures :-

| 1. The police officer must record the complaint
| in the Station/General Diary.  This will ensure
| that there is no scope for manipulation and if
| subsequently he decides  to  register  an  FIR,
| the  entry  in Station/General Diary should be
| considered as the FIR.
| 2. He  should  immediately  report  the  matter
| to  the superior police officer and convey him
| his reasons or  apprehensions  and  take  his
| permission  for deferring  the  registration.   A
| brief  note  of  this should be recorded in the
| station diary.
| 3. The police officer should disclose to the
| complainant that he is deferring registration of
| the FIR and call upon  him  to  comply  with
| such  requisitions  the police officer feels
| necessary to satisfy himself about the  prima
| facie  credibility  of  the  complaint.   The
| police officer should record this in the station
| diary. All this is necessary to avoid any charge
| as regard to the delay in recording the FIR.  It
| is a settled law that  a  mere  delay  in
| registering  an  FIR  is  not harmful if there
| are adequate reasons to explain the delay in
| filing an FIR.

93. According  to  him,  in  the  light  of  the  above discussion  in  respect  of  the  impact  of  Article  21  on statutory provisions, it must be held that Section 154 of Cr.P.C. must be interpreted in the light of Article 21.  The requirement of Article 21 is that the procedure should be just and fair.  If, therefore, the police officer himself has doubts in the matter, it is imperative that he should have the  discretion  of  holding  a  preliminary  inquiry  in  the matter.  If he is debarred from holding such a preliminary inquiry, the procedure would then suffer from the vice of arbitrariness and unreasonableness.

94. Learned  counsel appearing  for  the  State  of  Tamil Nadu adopted the arguments submitted by Mr. Naphade, the  learned  senior  counsel  for  Maharashtra  and submitted that ordinarily a police officer has to register an FIR when a cognizable  offence is  made out, but in exceptional  cases  he  must  have  some  discretion  or latitude of conducting some kind of preliminary inquiry before recording of the FIR.

95. Learned  counsel  for  the  parties  have  drawn  our attention  to  two  sets  of  cases  decided  by  this  Court expressing totally divergent judicial opinions.  We deem it appropriate to  briefly  summarise them in the following paragraphs.

96. This Court in the case of  Bhajan Lal and Others (supra),  Ramesh  Kumari (supra),  Parkash  Singh Badal and Another v.  State  of  Punjab  and Others (2007)  1  SCC  1  and  Aleque  Padamsee  and  Others (supra) held that if  a complaint alleging commission of cognizable offence is received in the Police Station, then the S.H.O. has no option but to register an F.I.R. under Section 154 Cr.P.C..

97. On the other  hand, this Court in following cases, namely, Rajinder Singh Katoch  (supra), P. Sirajuddin etc. v.  State  of  Madras  etc.  1970  (1)  SCC  595, Bhagwant Kishore  Joshi (supra),  Sevi  and Another etc. v. State of Tamil Nadu and Another 1981 (Suppl.) SCC 43 have taken contrary view and held that before registering  the  FIR  under  Section  154 of  Cr.P.C.,  it  is open  to  the  SHO  to  hold  a  preliminary  enquiry  to ascertain  whether  there  is  a  prima  facie  case  of commission of cognizable offence or not.

98. We deem it appropriate to give a brief  ratio of these cases.

99. In  Bhajan  Lal  (supra), this  Court  observed  as under:-

| “It  is,  therefore,  manifestly  clear  that  if
| any  information  disclosing  a  cognizable
| offence is laid before an officer in charge of  a
| police  station  satisfying  the requirements  of
| Section  154(1)  of  the Code, the said police
| officer has no other option  except  to  enter
| the  substance thereof in the prescribed form,
| that is to say,  to  register  a  case  on  the
| basis  of such information.”

100. In  Ramesh  Kumari  (supra),  this  Court observed that the provision of Section 154 of the Code is mandatory and the  officer  concerned is  duty-bound to register  the  case  on the  basis  of  such an information disclosing cognizable offence.

101. In  Parkash Singh Badal  (supra), this Court observed as under:-

| “It  is,  therefore,  manifestly  clear  that  if
| any  information  disclosing  a  cognizable
| offence is laid before an officer in charge of  a
| police  station  satisfying  the requirements  of
| Section  154(1)  of  the Code, the said police
| officer has no other option  except  to  enter
| the  substance thereof in the prescribed form,
| that is to say,  to  register  a  case  on  the
| basis  of such information.”

102. In Aleque  Padamsee  (supra), this  Court observed as under :-

| “The correct position in law, therefore, is that
| the police officials ought to register the FIR
| whenever facts brought to  their notice  show
| that  cognizable  offence has been made out.”

103. There is another set of cases where this Court has taken contrary view.

104. In Rajinder Singh Katoch (supra), this Court observed as under:-

| “We are not oblivious to the decision of this
| Court in  Ramesh Kumari v.  State (NCT of Delhi)
| wherein such a statutory duty has been found in
| the police officer. But,  as  indicated
| hereinbefore,  in  an appropriate case, the
| police officers also have  a  duty  to  make  a
| preliminary enquiry so as to find out as to
| whether allegations  made  had any  substance  or
| not.”

105. In  Bhagwant  Kishore  Joshi  (supra), Mudholkar, J. in his concurring judgment has observed as under:-

| “I  am of  opinion  that  it  is  open  to   a
| Police  Officer  to  make  preliminary enquiries
| before  registering  an  offence and making a
| full scale investigation into it.” http://wp.me/p7s7-EM

106. In P.  Sirajuddin  etc. (supra),  this  Court quoted the observations of the High Court as under:-

| “(a) “substantial information and evidence had
| been  gathered  before  the  so-called first
| information report was registered”.”

107. In  Sevi  and  Another  (supra),  this  Court observed as under:-

| “If  he  was  not  satisfied  with  the
| information  given  by  PW  10  that  any
| cognizable  offence  had  been  committed he was
| quite right in making an entry in the general
| diary and proceeding to  the village  to  verify
| the  information  without registering any FIR.”

108. It is quite evident from the ratio laid down in the aforementioned cases that different Benches of this Court have taken divergent views in different cases.  In this case also after this Court’s notice, the Union of India, the States and the Union Territories have also taken or expressed  divergent  views  about  the  interpretation  of Section 154 Cr.P.C.    http://wp.me/p7s7-EM

109. We have carefully analysed various judgments delivered by this Court in the last several  decades.  We clearly discern divergent judicial  opinions of this Court on the main issue whether under Section 154 Cr.P.C., a police  officer  is  bound  to  register  an  FIR  when  a cognizable offence is made out or he (police officer)  has an option, discretion or latitude of conducting some kind of preliminary enquiry before registering the FIR. http://wp.me/p7s7-EM

110. Learned  counsel  appearing  for  the  Union  of India  and  different  States  have  expressed  totally divergent views even before this Court.   This Court also carved  out  a  special  category  in  the  case  of  medical doctors in the aforementioned cases of Santosh Kumar (supra) and Dr. Suresh Gupta (supra) where preliminary enquiry had been postulated before registering an FIR.

111.  Some counsel  also  submitted  that  the  CBI Manual also envisages some kind of preliminary enquiry before registering the FIR.  The issue which has arisen for consideration  in  these  cases  is  of  great  public importance.

112. In  view of  the  divergent  opinions  in  a  large number  of  cases decided by this Court, it  has become extremely important to have a clear enunciation of law and adjudication by a larger Bench of this Court for the benefit  of  all  concerned –  the  courts,  the  investigating agencies and the citizens.

113. Consequently,  we  request  Hon’ble  the  Chief Justice to refer these matters to a Constitution Bench of at  least  five  Judges  of  this  Court  for  an authoritative judgment.

New Delhi;

February 27, 2012

..……………………………J. (Dalveer Bhandari)

..…………………………..J. (T.S. Thakur)

..……………………………J. (Dipak Misra)


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IF complaint contains allegations of 498A – a cognizable offence, apart from offence U.S. 494 the court can take cognizance thereof even ON police complaint


Above  provisions,  lead  us  to  conclude  that  if  a complaint contains allegations about commission of offence under Section 498A of the IPC which is a cognizable offence, apart  from allegations  about  the  commission  of  offence under Section 494 of the IPC, the court can take cognizance thereof even on a police report.  





[ARISING OUT OF SLP (CRL.) NO. 2445 OF 2010]




1. Leave granted.

2. The challenge in this appeal is to the order passed by a learned  Single  Judge  of  the  High  Court  of  Gujarat  partly allowing the petition filed by the respondents under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short, “the Code”).  The prayer  made by  respondents  1 to 9 was  to quash  the  complaint  filed  by  the  appellant  against  them under Sections 498A,  494, 506(2) read with Section 114 of the Indian Penal Code (for short, “IPC”) and under Sections 3 and 7 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

3. The appellant is the original complainant.  Respondents 1 to 9 are original accused 1 to 9 respectively.  Respondent 2  is  the  husband  of  the  appellant,  respondents  8  is  the second wife of respondent 2 and respondents 1, 3 to 7 and 9 are family members of respondent 2 or respondent 8.

4. Gist of the facts stated in the complaint is as under:

The  appellant  got  married  to  respondent  2  on 7.12.2000.  She lived with respondent 2 in the joint family till 18.1.2006. During this period the appellant gave birth to two children. On 30.7.2007 the appellant was forced to leave the matrimonial home due to the cruelty meted out to her in the matrimonial home. During the subsistence of the appellant’s marriage  with  respondent  2  in  2008,  respondent  2  got married  to  respondent  8.   Sometime  in  2009,  when  the appellant  came  to  know  about  the  second  marriage  of respondent 2, she lodged a complaint against respondent 1 to  9 for  alleged commission of  offences punishable under Sections 498A, 494, 506(2) read with Section 114 of the IPC and under  Sections 3 and 7 of  the Dowry Prohibition Act. Nadiad Rural  Police Station,  District Kheda registered it  as CR No. 24 of 2009.

5. Thereafter,  respondents  1 to 9 moved an application before  the  Gujarat  High  Court  under  Section  482  of  the Code,  contending,  inter  alia,  that  cognizance  of  offence under  Section  494  of  the  IPC can  be  taken  only  on  the complaint made by an aggrieved person and inasmuch as in this case the complaint is not made by the aggrieved person, the police could not have taken cognizance of offence under Section 494 of the IPC.

6. Before  the  High  Court,  a  statement  was  made  that respondents 1 to 9 were not  pressing prayer  made in the petition for quashing of offences under Section 498A, 506(2) read with Section 114 of the IPC as against respondents 1 to 5.  It was, however, made clear that prayer for quashing of offence  under  Section 494 of  the IPC was  being pressed against all the accused i.e. respondents 1 to 9.

7. The  High  Court  accepted  the  contention  raised  by respondents  1 to 9 and relying on its  earlier  judgment  in Babubhai  Madhavlal  Patel  and  Anr.  vs.  State  of Gujarat  the  High  Court  quashed  the  complaint  qua respondents 6 to 9 against whom only allegation of bigamy was made.  So far as respondents 1 to 5 are concerned the High Court ordered deletion of offence under section 494 of the  IPC  from  the  complaint  and  directed  that  the investigation of  the other  offences should proceed.   Being aggrieved by the said judgment, the appellant has filed this appeal.

8. We  have  heard  learned  counsel  appearing  for  the appellant and learned counsel  appearing for respondents 1 to 9.   At the outset, we must note that the appellant-wife has  lodged  the  instant  complaint  inter  alia  alleging commission of  offence under Section 494 of  the IPC.   The complaint  is  at  investigation  stage.   The  police  can, therefore, legally investigate it.  However, it is necessary to refer to certain provisions of the Code and IPC because the High Court  in our  opinion has wrongly relied on its earlier judgment in Babubhai Patel which relates to cognizance of offences falling in Chapter XX of the Code by a Court.  

9. We shall now quote the relevant sections of the IPC and the Code. Section 494 of the IPC falls in Chapter XX of the IPC.   Chapter XX pertains to offences relating to marriage. So far as it is relevant, Section 494 reads as under:

| “494.  Marrying again during lifetime of husband
| or wife.- Whoever, having a husband or wife
| living,  marries  in  any  case  in  which  such
| marriage  is  void  by  reason  of  its  taking
| place during the life of  such husband or wife,
| shall  be punished with imprisonment of either
| description for a term which may extend to seven
| years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Section  190  of  the  Code  states  when  cognizance  of offences can be taken by a Magistrate. It reads as under:

| “190.  Cognizance  of  offences  by Magistrates-
| (1) Subject to the provisions of this Chapter,
| any Magistrate of the first class, specially
| empowered in this behalf under sub- section (2),
| may take cognizance of any offence
| (a) Upon  receiving  a  complaint  of  facts
| which constitute such offence;
| (b) Upon police report of such facts;
| (c) Upon information received from any person
| other than a police officer,  or upon his own
| knowledge,  that  such  offence  has  been
| committed.
| (2)  The  Chief  Judicial  Magistrate  may
| empower any  Magistrate  of  the  second  class
| to  take cognizance under sub-section (1) of such
| offences as  are within his  competence to
| inquire into  or try.”

Section  198  of  the  Code  pertains  to  prosecution  for offences  against  marriage.   Sub-Section  1  thereof  is relevant.  It reads as under:  

| “198. Prosecution  for  offences  against
| marriage.- (1) No court shall take cognizance of
| an offence punishable under Chapter XX of the
| Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) except upon a
| complaint made by some person aggrieved by the
| offence.”

Section 198 (1)(c) of the Code reads as under :

| “198(1)(c).  Where the person aggrieved by an
| offence  punishable  under  (section  494  or
| Section 495) of the Indian Penal Code (45 of
| 1860) is the wife, complaint may be made on her
| behalf by  her  father,  mother,  brother,
| sister,  son  or daughter or by her father’s or
| mother’s brother or sister,  (with the leave of
| the Court) by any other person  related  to  her
| by  blood,  marriage  or adoption).”

The  above  provisions  indicate  that  whereas  Section 190(1) empowers the Magistrate to take cognizance of any offence,  upon receiving complaint of facts which constitute such  offence;  upon  police  report  of  such  facts;  upon information received from any person other  than a police officer  or  upon his knowledge that  such offence has been committed,  Section  198  which  relates  to  prosecution  of offences against marriage brings in the concept of complaint by an aggrieved person and Section 198(1)(c) explains how far the scope of term ‘aggrieved person’ can be extended in the context of offence under Section 494 of the IPC.

We must  now turn to Section 198-A of  the Code.   It reads thus:

| “198-A. Prosecution  of  offences  under Section
| 498A of the Indian Penal Code. – No Court shall
| take  cognizance  of  an  offence  punishable
| under Section 498A of the Indian Penal  Code (45
| of  1860)  except  upon  a  police  report  of
| facts which constitute such offence or upon a
| complaint made by the person aggrieved by the
| offence or by her  father,  mother,  brother,
| sister  or  by her father’s or mother’s brother
| or sister or, with the leave of the Court, by any
| other person related to her by blood, marriage or
| adoption.”

11. A conjoint  reading of  the  above  provisions  makes  it clear that a complaint under Section 494 of the IPC must be made by the aggrieved person.  Section 498A does not fall in Chapter XX of the IPC.  It falls in Chapter XXA.  Section 198A which we have quoted hereinabove, permits a court to take cognizance of offence punishable under Section 498A upon a police report of  facts which constitute offence.   It must be borne in mind that all these provisions relate to cognizance of the offence by the court.

Complaint  is defined under  Section 2(d)  of  the Code.

The definition reads as under:

| “2(d). “Complaint” means any allegation made
| orally  or  in  writing to  a Magistrate, with a
| view to his taking action under this Code, that
| some person,  whether known or unknown,  has
| committed  an  offence,  but does not include a
| police report.

| Explanation  –  A  report  made  by  a  police
| officer  in  a  case  which  discloses,  after
| investigation, the commission of a non-cognizable
| offence shall  be deemed to be a complaint;  and
| the police officer  by whom such report  is made
| shall be deemed to be the complainant.”

Explanation to Section 2(d) makes it clear that a report made  by  a  police  officer  after  investigation  of  a  non-cognizable offence is to be treated as a complaint and the officer by whom such a report is made is to be deemed to be the complainant.  

13. Above  provisions,  lead  us  to  conclude  that  if  a complaint contains allegations about commission of offence under Section 498A of the IPC which is a cognizable offence, apart  from allegations  about  the  commission  of  offence under Section 494 of the IPC, the court can take cognizance thereof even on a police report.  

14. Reliance  placed  by  the  High  Court  on  its  earlier judgment in Babubhai Patel is misplaced.  In that case, the High  Court  was  dealing  with  all  offences  falling  under Chapter XX of the IPC.   Initially, the accused were charged under Section 417 read with Section 114 of the IPC.   That charge was given a go-by and a fresh charge in respect of Sections 493 to 496 of the IPC was framed.  These, offences fall in Chapter XX of the IPC.  Therefore, the High Court held that cognizance thereof can be taken by the Magistrate only on the basis of complaint filed under Section 190(1)(a) of the Code by an aggrieved person.   That  judgment  cannot  be applied  to  the  present  case.   Facts  of  that  case  were different  and  there  the  High  Court  was  dealing  with cognizance of the offences falling under Chapter XX by the Magistrate.   Upshot  of  the  above  discussion  is  that,  no fetters  can  be  put  on  the  police  preventing  them from investigating  the  complaint  which  alleges  offence  under Section 498A of the IPC and also offence under Section 494 of the IPC.  In the circumstances, the appeal must succeed.

The impugned order is set aside.  

Obviously, therefore, the direction to delete Section 494 of the IPC is set aside.  The police shall investigate the complaint in accordance with law.

15. The appeal is disposed of in the aforestated terms.


MARCH 23, 2012.



the mother who murdered three of her own children !! still husband has to keep fighting upto Supreme court to get his divorce

Synopsis : Wife acts very cruelly, does not even provide food for children or husband, takes away Rs 105,000 from husaband (in 1999), files false dowry case against him and also kills three children (three out of four, all from the same marriage !!) for which she is convicted.

Even at the trial court where she is convicted u/s 302 IPC she threatens her husband with death.

The police disbelieve her false 498a case and give a report that the case is false !

Still husband has to go to Supreme court to get his freedom !!

Long live Indian abla Naris !!!


Supreme Court of India

Smt. Mayadevi vs Jagdish Prasad on 21 February, 2007

Author: . A Pasayat

Bench: . A Pasayat, D Bhandari


Appeal (civil) 877 of 2007


Smt. Mayadevi


Jagdish Prasad

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 21/02/2007





(Arising out of SLP (C) NO. 3686 OF 2006)


Leave granted.

Challenge in this appeal is to the judgment rendered by a learned Single Judge of the Rajasthan High Court at Jodhpur dismissing the appeal filed by the appellant under Section 28 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (in short the ‘Act’).

Background facts in a nutshell are as follows:

Respondent filed an application for divorce on the ground of cruelty alleging that because of the acts of cruelty on several occasions perpetuated by the appellant, the respondent- husband was under apprehension that it would not be desirable and safe to stay with the appellant and to continue their marital relationships.

It was, inter-alia, stated in the divorce petition as follows:

Parties got married according to the Hindu rites on 17.4.1993. The appellant’s father was an employee in the Railway department and the appellant used to make demands for money frequently and used to quarrel when money was not paid. She did not even provide food to her husband or the children and used to threaten the husband to falsely implicate him in a case of dowry demand and to kill the children and to put the blame on the respondent-husband and his family members. On 23.10.1999 she took Rs.1,05,000/- from the respondent and acknowledged the receipt of the money in the diary of the respondent-husband. She used to borrow money from time to time at the behest of her parents. From the wedlock four children were borne namely, Neha, Anu, Khemraj and Vishnu Sagar. The appellant used to keep the children tied by ropes and she attempted to throw them down from the rooftop and used to physically torture them. She was temperamentally very cruel and used to behave cruelly with the children also. She always used to threaten that she will destroy the whole family of the respondent and that there would be no successor left in the family. On 5.4.2002 at about 12.00 noon she left her parental home alongwith three children namely, Neha, Anu and Khemraj on the pretext that she was going to her parental house which was located in the same village. Since she did not return till evening as was told to the respondent-husband, he started searching for her. During course of search the garments and slippers of the children and the appellant were found lying near the well of Ramialji. Police was informed and on search dead bodies of the three children were recovered from the well and appellant was also taken out of the well. A criminal case was instituted and she was convicted for an offence under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short the ‘IPC’). She was pregnant at that time and subsequently delivered a child. She filed an application for bail. While on bail, she filed a false case alleging dowry demand against the respondent-husband and his family members. Final report was given by police and it was observed that a false case had been lodged.

The appellant filed her response to the petition for divorce and contended that no amount was borrowed by her father or any of her family members. The respondent-husband used to threaten her for dowry and she had never perpetuated any cruelty so far as the children and the husband are concerned. She did not know as to how the children fell into the well. She was herself unconscious and recovered after about four days. The husband, in fact, turned her out of matrimonial home on 5.4.2002 alongwith their three children. Unfortunately, she and the three children fell into the well. The appeal is pending against her conviction. The trial Court found that the allegation of cruelty was established. Several instances were noted. One of them related to her behaviour on the date of judgment in the criminal case. After the judgment of conviction was pronounced, she threatened to kill the husband and prosecute him. It was also noted by the trial Court that the allegation made by her alleging for dowry demand was dis-believed and the police gave final report stating that the case was falsely lodged. The trial Court granted the decree of divorce which was, as noted above, confirmed by the High Court in appeal by dismissing appellant appeal.

Learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the foundation of decree for divorce is the alleged conviction for which the appeal is pending and, therefore, the High Court should not have disposed of the matter. In any event, it is submitted that it was the husband and his family members who were torturing her and being threatened by the husband she had not made any grievance with the police. Unfortunately, when she made the allegation, the police did not properly investigate the matter and gave a final report exonerating the husband.

Learned counsel for the respondent on the other hand submitted that the instances highlighted by the trial Court and analysed in great detail by the High Court clearly made out a case for dowry and no interference is called for in this appeal.

The expression “cruelty” has not been defined in the Act. Cruelty can be physical or mental. Cruelty which is a ground for dissolution of marriage may be defined as wilful and unjustifiable conduct of such character as to cause danger to life, limb or health, bodily or mental, or as to give rise to a reasonable apprehension of such a danger. The question of mental cruelty has to be considered in the light of the norms of marital ties of the particular society to which the parties belong, their social values, status, environment in which they live. Cruelty, as noted above, includes mental cruelty, which falls within the purview of a matrimonial wrong. Cruelty need not be physical. If from the conduct of his spouse same is established and/or an inference can be legitimately drawn that the treatment of the spouse is such that it causes an apprehension in the mind of the other spouse, about his or her mental welfare then this conduct amounts to cruelty. In delicate human relationship like matrimony, one has to see the probabilities of the case. The concept, a proof beyond the shadow of doubt, is to be applied to criminal trials and not to civil matters and certainly not to matters of such delicate personal relationship as those of husband and wife. Therefore, one has to see what are the probabilities in a case and legal cruelty has to be found out, not merely as a matter of fact, but as the effect on the mind of the complainant spouse because of the acts or omissions of the other. Cruelty may be physical or corporeal or may be mental. In physical cruelty, there can be tangible and direct evidence, but in the case of mental cruelty there may not at the same time be direct evidence. In cases where there is no direct evidence, Courts are required to probe into the mental process and mental effect of incidents that are brought out in evidence. It is in this view that one has to consider the evidence in matrimonial disputes.

The expression ‘cruelty’ has been used in relation to human conduct or human behaviour. It is the conduct in relation to or in respect of matrimonial duties and obligations. Cruelty is a course or conduct of one, which is adversely affecting the other. The cruelty may be mental or physical, intentional or unintentional. If it is physical, the Court will have no problem in determining it. It is a question of fact and degree. If it is mental, the problem presents difficulties. First, the enquiry must begin as to the nature of cruel treatment, second the impact of such treatment in the mind of the spouse, whether it caused reasonable apprehension that it would be harmful or injurious to live with the other. Ultimately, it is a matter of inference to be drawn by taking into account the nature of the conduct and its effect on the complaining spouse. However, there may be a case where the conduct complained of itself is bad enough and per se unlawful or illegal. Then the impact or injurious effect on the other spouse need not be enquired into or considered. In such cases, the cruelty will be established if the conduct itself is proved or admitted (See Shobha Rani v. Madhukar Reddi, AIR 1988 SC 121 and A. Jayachandra v. Aneel Kaur 2005 (2) SCC 22 ).

To constitute cruelty, the conduct complained of should be “grave and weighty” so as to come to the conclusion that the petitioner spouse cannot be reasonably expected to live with the other spouse. It must be something more serious than “ordinary wear and tear of married life”. The conduct, taking into consideration the circumstances and background has to be examined to reach the conclusion whether the conduct complained of amounts to cruelty in the matrimonial law. Conduct has to be considered, as noted above, in the background of several factors such as social status of parties, their education, physical and mental conditions, customs and traditions. It is difficult to lay down a precise definition or to give exhaustive description of the circumstances, which would constitute cruelty. It must be of the type as to satisfy the conscience of the Court that the relationship between the parties had deteriorated to such an extent due to the conduct of the other spouse that it would be impossible for them to live together without mental agony, torture or distress, to entitle the complaining spouse to secure divorce. Physical violence is not absolutely essential to constitute cruelty and a consistent course of conduct inflicting immeasurable mental agony and torture may well constitute cruelty within the meaning of Section 10 of the Act. Mental cruelty may consist of verbal abuses and insults by using filthy and abusive language leading to constant disturbance of mental peace of the other party.

The Court dealing with the petition for divorce on the ground of cruelty has to bear in mind that the problems before it are those of human beings and the psychological changes in a spouse’s conduct have to be borne in mind before disposing of the petition for divorce. However insignificant or trifling, such conduct may cause pain in the mind of another. But before the conduct can be called cruelty, it must touch a certain pitch of severity. It is for the Court to weigh the gravity. It has to be seen whether the conduct was such that no reasonable person would tolerate it. It has to be considered whether the complainant should be called upon to endure as a part of normal human life. Every matrimonial conduct, which may cause annoyance to the other, may not amount to cruelty. Mere trivial irritations, quarrels between spouses, which happen in day-to-day married life, may also not amount to cruelty. Cruelty in matrimonial life may be of unfounded variety, which can be subtle or brutal. It may be words, gestures or by mere silence, violent or non-violent.

The foundation of a sound marriage is tolerance, adjustment and respecting one another. Tolerance to each other’s fault to a certain bearable extent has to be inherent in every marriage. Petty quibbles, trifling differences should not be exaggerated and magnified to destroy what is said to have been made in heaven. All quarrels must be weighed from that point of view in determining what constitutes cruelty in each particular case and as noted above, always keeping in view the physical and mental conditions of the parties, their character and social status. A too technical and hyper-sensitive approach would be counter-productive to the institution of marriage. The Courts do not have to deal with ideal husbands and ideal wives. It has to deal with particular man and woman before it. The ideal couple or a mere ideal one will probably have no occasion to go to Matrimonial Court. (See Dastane v. Dastane, AIR 1975 SC 1534).

The instances of cruelty highlighted by the trial Court and also by the High Court clearly prove that the husband was subjected to mental and physical cruelty. It is not a fact as submitted by learned counsel for the appellant that the conviction in the criminal case was the foundation for the decree. On the contrary, the trial Court clearly mentioned that the aspect was not taken note of as the appeal was pending.

In view of what has been stated above, the inevitable result is dismissal of the appeal which we direct. There will be no order as to costs.


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