Supreme Court makes it mandatory to file FIR in all cognizable offences

In a landmark verdict, which could have far reaching consequences, the Supreme Court today made it mandatory for the police to register First Information Report (FIR) in all cognizable offences.

Delivering the order, a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that action would be taken against police officers for failure to register an FIR on the complaint of a cognizable offence.

Speaking for the bench, Chief Justice Sathasivam said that the legislative intent was for compulsory registration of FIR in case of cognizable offence.

Cognizable offences are those attracting punishment of three years or more in case of conviction and where an accused could be arrested without warrant by a police officer investigating the case.

It had been up to the police so far to decide whether to formally accept a complaint though, according to the Criminal Civil Procedure code, police must register FIR on receipt of a complaint.

The judges, however, cautioned that arrests could not be made till facts had been verified and there was some evidence against the accused.

The judgment is based on a case filed by the father of a six-year-old who was kidnapped in UP in 2008 and the police at the local station had allegedly demanded a bribe for registering a case.

The court also added that the police would be required to conduct a preliminary enquiry before registering FIRs for cases involving matrimonial or property disputes or corruption charges.

The enquiry would need to be completed in seven days, the judges said, following which police had to declare whether the case was closed or if an FIR would follow.