The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently issued directions to the Police authorities in the State, to make sure that the complaints/ first information reports filed in respect of economic offences are disposed of properly.
A Single Bench of Justice Vishal Dhagat observed that a Number of petitions are filed before High Court as Police does not take any decision on a complaint made by a party regarding economic offences.
It has therefore ordered as follows:
"Whenever a complaint is filed at police station, concerned Police Officer shall examine the complaint and if required preliminary inquiry be done to ascertain whether information reveals any cognizable offence.
Investigating Officer shall either register First Information Report if complaint/information discloses cognizable offence or proceed under Section 155 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, if no cognizable offence is disclosed or if no offence is made out then complainant shall be informed that his compliant has been filed. Police Officer shall process all complaints received within a period of 15 days. If due to some reasons, it is not possible for concerned Police Officer to process the complaint and take action on it within said time, he shall take aforesaid action within maximum period of 42 days after receiving of complaint.
Every complaint which is received by Investigating Officer shall be entered into General Diary, as per M.P. Police Regulation 634 maintained at the Police Station and a number on which said complaint is entered in General Diary shall be given to the complainant. Superintendent of Police shall keep a check that such complaints are decided within the stipulated time mentioned above as per the directions of Apex Court. If complaints remain pending for more than 42 days then Superintendent of Police shall initiate Departmental Enquiry against delinquent Police Officer.
It is observed that in offences of cheating and fraud, Investigating Officer/Station House Officer is taking a long time to register an offence under Indian Penal Code or to dispose off complaint in accordance with law. Principal Secretary, Home/Director General of Police shall issue directions to Superintendent of Police to sensitize all Police Officers on filed when offence of cheating is made out and when only a civil wrong is made out so that concerned Police Officer can process the complaints/applications made in case of economic offence of cheating and fraud expeditiously."
Reliance was placed on Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of UP & Ors., (2014) 2 SCC 1.
The Court was presiding over a Writ Petition filed by one Rajendra Singh Pawar, alleging that no action has been taken by the Police authorities on his complaint regarding commission of offence by one Shridhar Engle, said to be a habitual offender involved in forgery and cheating.
While disposing of the petition with the abovementioned directions, the Court reminded the concerned officers that Section 154 of CrPC fixes duty on them to examine the complaint and form opinion whether cognizable offence is made out or not.
"If cognizable offence is made out then he is duty bound to register First Information Report. Otherwise, he can close the complaint if no offence is made out or enter the information as non cognizable offence under Section 155 of the Code of Criminal Procedure," the Bench reiterated.
It emphasized that if the 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 cognizable offence is disclosed or not.
Further, it added that a Complainant should be informed about result of preliminary inquiry/scrutiny done by the Investigating Officer.
"If such result is informed to the complainant, then he can resort to remedy available to him under the law, but the complaint filed by a person remains unattended," the Court said.
Inter alia, the Court observed that in case FIR is not registered at Police Station, then complainant has an alternate remedy under Sections 154 (3), 156 (3) of CrPC or to avail alternative remedy under Sections 190 and 200 of the Code for filing of a complaint before the Magistrate.
It stated that it is only when the impugned action or inaction is vitiated by violation of principles of natural justice, or is bereft of jurisdiction or violates any statutory provision or causes breach of fundamental rights, it is only then that an informant can invoke the writ jurisdiction of the superior Court. Reliance was placed on Whirphool Corporation v. Registrar of Trade Marks, Mumbai & Ors., (1998) 8 SCC 1.
In this backdrop, the Court did not deem fit to exercise jurisdiction to give direction to Police Authorities to register FIR in this case.
However, it directed the concerned SHO to consider the complaint filed by the Petitioners and take appropriate action as mentioned above within a period of 15 days.
Case Title: Rajendra Singh Pawar & Ors. v. State of MP & Ors.