8 May 2023 7:05 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court on Tuesday held that the registration of a First Information Report (FIR) under Section 57 of the Kerala Police Act (hereinafter, 'K.P. Act') is only for the purposes of locating a missing person, and the same cannot be treated as an FIR under Section 154 Cr.P.C. Explaining the intent of Section 57 of the K.P. Act, the Single Judge Bench of Justice...
The Kerala High Court on Tuesday held that the registration of a First Information Report (FIR) under Section 57 of the Kerala Police Act (hereinafter, 'K.P. Act') is only for the purposes of locating a missing person, and the same cannot be treated as an FIR under Section 154 Cr.P.C.
Explaining the intent of Section 57 of the K.P. Act, the Single Judge Bench of Justice K. Babu observed that,
"when a Station House Officer receives information reasonably sufficient to suspect that any person is missing and there are circumstances to believe that such person is in danger or not under the lawful protection of guardianship or such person may be subjected to danger or absconding to prevent someone from implementing a lawful right declared by any court, the information shall be entered in a register in a manner similar to the procedure prescribed for a cognizable offence. The Station House Officer shall then take immediate action to locate the missing person".
Stating that the essential responsibility of the SHO after registering the FIR under Section 57 of the K.P. Act is to locate the missing person, the Court added,
"The officer concerned is only expected to conduct an inquiry during his action to locate the missing person. Section 57 doesn’t contemplate any investigation as provided in the Code".
As per the facts of the case, the 14 year old victim girl, who had been residing with her mother and step father was found missing and the latter reported the missing of child before the Police. The stepfather claimed that when he came back from his place of work and enquired about the victim, his wife told him that the minor girl had fallen in love with a youth and went with him to meet his parents. Based on the said information, the Police registered FIR under Section 57 of the K.P. Act. An inquiry was conducted under the said provision and on finding the child at her residence, she was taken to the Women’s Cell at Pathanamthitta and brought to the Counselling Centre, where it was alleged that the petitioner had sexually assaulted her.
The Police thus registered an FIR alleging offences under Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and Sections 7, 8, 9(l) & 10 of the POCSO Act. After completion of investigation, the final report alleging offences punishable under Sections 376, 376(2)(n), 450, 376, 376(3), 366-A r/w Section 34 of the IPC, Section 4(2) r/w Section 3(a), Section 5(l) r/w Section 6, Section 8 r/w Section 7, Section 9(l) r/w Section 10, Section 11(iv) & (vi) r/w Section 12, Section 16 r/w Section 17 of the POCSO Act,2012 and Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act was submitted.
It is the case of the petitioner that after the registration of the first FIR based on the information given by the stepfather of the victim, there could not have been a second FIR. It was contended that a second FIR in respect of an offence or different offences committed in the course of the same transaction is impermissible and violative of Article 21 of the Constitution.
On the other hand, it was argued by the Public Prosecutor Bindu O.V. that registration of FIR under Section 57 of the K.P.Act was only to locate the missing person, and the same could not be treated as an FIR under Section 154 Cr.P.C.
It is in this context that the Court arrived at the finding that the responsibility of the SHO under Section 57 of the K.P. Act is only to locate the missing person, and that the provision does not contemplate any investigation as provided in the Code.
The Court declared that the contention raised by the petitioner that the Investigating Officer was not entitled to register a subsequent FIR after the registration of the FIR under Section 57 of the K.P. Act would not stand for the following reasons that it enumerated:
i. Registration of FIR under Section 57 of the K.P. Act is only for the purpose of locating the missing person;
ii. The information received in the given case did not reveal any cognizable offence; and
iii. During the inquiry under Section 57 of K.P. Act, the S.H.O. received information regarding cognizable offences based on the statement given by the victim herself, leading to the registration of the second FIR.
"The Station House Officer was perfectly right in not treating FIR No.722/2021, registered under Section 57 of the K.P.Act, as an FIR under Section 154 Cr.P.C. and the further registration of FIR No.775/2021 based on the statement given by the victim. The scheme of the Code and Section 57 of the K.P.Act suggest the course adopted by the Investigating Officer," the Court observed while holding that there was no second FIR within the meaning of Section 154 Cr.P.C. relating to the said case.
The writ petition was thus dismissed.
The petitioner was represented by Advocates Manu Ramachandran, M. Kiranlal, R. Rajesh, Sameer M. Nair, Geethu Krishnan, and Sailakshmi Menon.
Case Title: Muhammed Shiraz @Shiraz v. State of Kerala & Ors.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Ker) 214
Click Here To Read/Download The Judgment