Case Summary: Lalita Kumari vs. State of UP & Ors.


• Case name:
Lalita Kumari vs. Govt. of U.P. & Ors.
• Citation:
2014 2 SCC 1
• Court:
Supreme Court of India
• Bench:
P. Sathasivam, B.S. Chauhan, Ranjana Prakash Desai, Ranjan Gogoi, S.A. Bobde
• Parties:
Petitioner: Lalita Kumari
Respondents: Govt. of U.P. and Others

• Brief facts:
The petitioner, a minor girl was kidnapped by local goons. Her father, Bhola Kamat went to police station to lodge an FIR which police refused. The father further went to the superintendent of police and under his direction a FIR was registered. But even then, investigation was not started and the police did not take any measure to nab the accused or recover the minor girl either.
Hence, a writ petition was filed under article 32 before the Supreme Court.

• Issue: The main issue was whether a police officer is bound to register a First Information Report (FIR) upon receiving any information relating to commission of a cognizable offence under Section 154 of the CrPC or the police officer has the power to conduct a “preliminary inquiry” in order to test the veracity of such information before registering the same.

• Argument of the petitioner: The counsel on behalf of the petitioner contended that upon receiving an information disclosing commission of a cognizable offence, it is imperative on part of the officer-in-charge of the police station to register a case under section 154 of CrPC.

• Argument of the respondent: The contention raised by the counsel of the defendant was that the officer-in charge of the police station is not obliged under law to register a case on disclosure of commission of a cognizable offence, rather in suitable cases, to hold a preliminary inquiry to check the veracity of the allegations made in the report.

• Judgement:
The Supreme Court observed that-
1. Registration of FIR is mandatory under section 154, if information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is to be done in such case.
2. If information received does not disclose a cognizable offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted only to ascertain whether there was a commission of a cognizable offence or not.
3. If an unanimous complaint is lodged, it must first be put in the list of preliminary inquiry, if there is well found substance regarding commission of cognizable offence, then FIR is to be registered.
4. If there is a chance that a certain complaint could be false, preliminary inquiry is to be conducted.
5. If preliminary inquiry discloses commission of a cognizable offence, the FIR must be registered. In cases where preliminary inquiry ends in closing the complaint, the copy of the entry of such closure must be supplied to the first informant within a week disclosing the reason behind closing the case.
6. The police officer cannot avoid his duty of registering offence if cognizable offence is disclosed. Action must be taken against erring officers.
7. Scope of preliminary inquiry is not to verify veracity or otherwise of the information received but only to ascertain whether information received discloses commission of cognizable offence or not.
8. As to what type and in which cases preliminary inquiry is to be conducted will depend on facts and circumstances of each case. Preliminary inquiry must be done in cases like-
a. matrimonial disputes or family disputes
b. commercial offences
c. medical negligence
d. corruption cases
e. cases where there is an abnormal delay or laches in reporting the matter.
9. While ensuring and protecting rights of accused and complainant, a preliminary inquiry must not exceed 7 days. In case of further delay, the reason behind the delay must be noted down in the General Diary.
10. Since general diary or station diary or daily diary is the record of all information received in a police station, it is directed that all information relating to cognizable offences, whether resulting in registration of FIR or leading to an inquiry must be meticulously noted in such diary. If preliminary inquiry is done, the reason behind doing so is to be noted.

• Further development: Answering this question of law, matter was referred before the appropriate bench for disposal based on merit.

• Importance of the case: Registration of FIR in case of cognizable offence was made mandatory.

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