“Anyone can file a first information report (FIR). When you file FIR, it is your right to get a copy. If they refuse to take down your FIR, you can go the superiors or a magistrate. The court can direct police to register your FIR and investigate,” says Vilas Tupe, former Assistant Commissioner of Police. He was speaking at the fourth session under the “Police & You” series.
Moneylife Foundation with Police Reforms Watch & Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and with support from Saraswat Bank have launched the 12-week program (every Wednesday) that aims to spread knowledge about protecting yourself, your rights, the Indian Penal Code (IPC), cybercrime and economic offences. Today was the fourth such session.
Mr Tupe, a highly regarded police officer, and recipient of President’s police medal twice, with long years of experience in the crime branch and anti-corruption bureau, says, “Registration of FIR is mandatory for police. But remember, once an FIR is registered, only the court has the authority to quash it and not police. Also understand, police cannot force you to give a statement and you have a right to remain silent. Police also cannot handcuff the accused unless they have obtained necessary permission from a magistrate”.
The event was held in the well-appointed auditorium of Saraswat Bank headquarters, Eknath Thakur Bhavan.
The fourth session of the 12-week series on “The Police & You: What happens at a Police station? What is a First Information Report-FIR? What do you need to know about these?” was conducted by Mr Tupe and Dolphy Dsouza, Convener of Police Reforms Watch.
Earlier, Mr Dsouza explained the concept of virtual police station tool as developed by CHRI. He said, “It is not just a training tool for the police but also an empowerment tool for the public, who can learn about responsibilities of police and different rights the public can claim in a police station, be they a witness, accused, female victim, male victim, or juvenile.”
In the virtual police station, clicking on various icons of the members of police and public, or objects such as registers and phones, prompts a video and text box to open that explains these key procedures, and seminal resources such as case law and legislation are provided for even deeper learning.
“The training video in 10 different languages provides a 360 degree view of a police station,” Mr Dsouza said, adding, “Once something is clicked, detailed information is provided using videos, pictures and text boxes, with accurate legal and criminal sections provided for training. Critically, a ‘learn more’ button which serves as a resource archive, providing case laws, legislation, guidelines and other seminal materials for the particular process they are exploring is also provided so that trainers and public have every option to learn as much as possible on vital service related topics.”
Mr Tupe then explained the process of filing an FIR and rights of common public. He explained, with examples, several steps involved in a police case and investigation. “Investigation, which is an extensive process of collection of evidences of a crime generally, begins with the recording of the FIR that in fact sets not only the criminal law but also investigation in motion,” he said.
“By investigation we mean, criminal investigation, a statutory process through which the proof of an offence is established in a criminal Court,” Mr Tupe said, adding, “It is the police officer, who has the prerogative right to investigate a crime, which is cognizable in nature. Section 156 of Criminal Procedure Code statutorily empowers police to investigate into cognizable offences without any sanction or order from the Magistrate. They are not under the control of the Courts or any judicial authority during the course of investigation. No Magistrate however high has powers either to interfere with or suspend the police investigation into a cognizable offence. Powers of the police are absolute in this respect.”
Mr Tupe said, “Arrest of the accused person/s is major step in the investigation and that too as early as possible. Police then interrogate the person for his involvement and commission of offence and record his statement in the language spoken to by him. In comes the next stage of recording statements of other witnesses and after collecting medical certificate or post-mortem certificate, to file the charge sheet against the accused under appropriate section of Indian Penal Code and other enactments after eliciting legal opinion of the prosecutors concerned. The charge sheet should be in simple language and explicit. It should be filed as early as possible and there should not be long time lag between the lodging of FIR and the filing of charge sheet.”
Talking about powers of an investigation officer, Mr Tupe, said, “A police officer in the course of investigation is authorised to arrest the accused residing outside limits of his police station or to conduct a search outside the limits of his police station under section 166(3) Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC ) or to summon persons residing outside his limits. An officer in-charge of a police station, under section 156 CrPC and any officer of higher rank under section 36 CrPC is authorised to investigation.”
According to the former ACP of Mumbai Police, police may have the option to refuse to investigate under the following circumstances.
• If the information is found to be a hoax
• If the offence complained is trivial in nature eg.
• Domestic quarrel between father and son etc., theft of a flower, or newspaper.
• If the dispute is of civil nature etc
Mr Tupe said, “If the police comes to the conclusion that a complaint given to them about a cognizable offence is false, they have a right to stop proceedings and to register a under section 211 pc against the complainant.”
“Each and every step of investigation should not only be true, genuine but also appear to be so and above normal criticism that may be levelled by the defence. There should not be any loose ends left untied in the investigation. A fair true and impartial investigation will certainly bring about the desired result of the success of prosecution,” Mr Tupe concluded.