31 May 2022 10:00 AM GMT
In a significant development, the Tripura High Court has recently ordered the Secretary, Home Department of the State to hold high level meeting with top police officials and to issue an advisory for strict compliance with guidelines rendered in Lalita Kumari v. Government of Uttar Pradesh. It further mandated all the Officers-in-Charge of police stations to provide free copy of FIR ,...
In a significant development, the Tripura High Court has recently ordered the Secretary, Home Department of the State to hold high level meeting with top police officials and to issue an advisory for strict compliance with guidelines rendered in Lalita Kumari v. Government of Uttar Pradesh. It further mandated all the Officers-in-Charge of police stations to provide free copy of FIR , to the informant, upon registration.
A Single Bench of Justice S. Talapatra expressed grief over the poor state of compliance with the aforesaid guidelines by the police authorities and remarked,
"In a series of cases since 2015, this court has been observing, keeping high hopes that the superior authorities of the police would heed and take a correctional course but unfortunately this has not happened so far."
The petitioner filed one complaint to the Officer in-charge of the Madhupur Police Station which was later on registered under Sections 326/379/435/506/34 IPC on 06.03.2022. The complainant claimed to have filed the complaint on the very day when the offence took place i.e. on 01.03.2022. He, by filing this writ petition, has urged for directing the respondents to treat the complaint filed by the petitioner as the First Information Report ('FIR') for purpose of investigation and prosecuting the offenders.
Despite the complaint was filed by the petitioner to the Officer-in-charge of the Madhupur Police Station disclosing cognizable offences, no specific case was registered before 06.03.2022. According to the petitioner, the police failed to discharge their duties and to book the accused person on the teeth of time. At the time of filing the writ petition, the petitioner did not have any knowledge that a specific case has been registered after 5/6 days. The petitioner's wife, during the period of his treatment, went to the police station to pursue for registration of a specific case. But she was discouraged.
The ancillary allegations as made against the police are that notwithstanding the filing of the complaint, no receipt was given by the police in violation of the direction of the apex court in Lalita Kumari v. Government of Uttar Pradesh & Ors., (2014) 2 SCC 1.
In Lalita Kumari (supra) it was held as under:
"(2) A copy of the information as recorded under sub-section (1) shall be given forthwith, free of cost, to the informant.
(3) Any person aggrieved by a refusal on the part of an officer in charge of a police station to record the information referred to in sub-section (1) may send the substance of such information, in writing and by post, to the Superintendent of Police concerned who, if satisfied that such information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, shall either investigate the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by any police officer subordinate to him, in the manner provided by this Code, and such officer shall have all the powers of an officer in charge of the police station in relation to that offence."
Mr. P. Saha, counsel appearing for the respondents, denied the allegations made by the petitioner and stated that on 02.03.2022 no complaint was received. On 06.03.2022, the said complaint was filed and without delay it was registered.
The Court noted that by an order dated 15.03.2022, the officer in-charge of Madhupur Police Station was directed to file a personal affidavit in this regard. In the reply filed by the respondents no. 1 to 4, no reason was furnished at all why the FIR was registered after five days. Rather, they only endorsed the action taken by the Investigating Officer. Though the respondent no. 5 filed the reply, he placed a narration to show how he had conducted the investigation. He contended that there had been no delay in registering the FIR. The day when the complaint was received, FIR was registered and investigation was taken up.
But the Court acknowledged that there are 'traces' to believe that the complaint was received on 02.03.2022, if not 01.03.2022. While expressing its serious dismay at the inaction of higher authorities, it observed,
"This kind of practice by an officer-in-charge of the police station indicates his serious dereliction in discharging the duties or his acting on influence from the outside. In both the cases, the fair investigation becomes the casualty. It is really unfortunate that the other respondents such as the respondent No.3, the Superintendent of Police, Sepahijala District and the respondent No.2, the Director General of Police, Government of Tripura, despite having the constructive knowledge how a police officer (the respondents No.4 & 5) conducted himself, did not take any action for ensuring fair investigation. However, the respondent No.3 asked for the officer-in-charge."
By avoiding to file the specific reply, it held, they have given nourishment to the aberrant police officer. "The reply should have revealed to the court what action they had taken as the superiors, when the matter came to their knowledge. It speaks volumes of the organization which the citizens hold as their protector", it added.
The Bench further pointed out that from the communication made by the Officer in-charge of Madhupur Police Station on 09.03.2022, it appeared that he received the dispatch from the Superintendent of Police, Sepahijala District in respect of the complaint under reference on 02.03.2020, though the said police officer while reporting to the Superintendent of Police has denied of receiving any such complaint on 02.03.2020. It was apparent from the said dispatch number that the substance of the complaint was made known to the Superintendent of Police. On direction of the Superintendent of Police, the concerned Officer in-charge of the Madhupur Police Station has reported to the Superintendent of Police (DIB) that he did not receive any complaint on 02.03.2022.
Accordingly, to avoid such incidents in the future, the Court directed,
"In the face of these records, the Secretary, Home Department, Government of Tripura is directed to hold a high level meeting, preferably with all the Superintendents of Police of the Districts, Inspector General (Law and Order) and the Director General of Police, Government of Tripura to formulate the advisory in terms of the directions contained in para 120.1, 120.2, 120.3, 120.4, 120.5, 120.6. 120.7 and 120.8 of Lalita Kumari (supra). Such advisory shall be sent to all police stations for observing the same in letter and spirit. The officers-in charge of the police station shall be directed to supply a copy of the FIR, free of cost and forthwith."
The Secretary, Home Department, Government of Tripura, was further directed to issue such advisory within a period of six weeks.
Case Title: Sri Subhash Pal v. The State of Tripura & Ors.
Case No.: WP(C) No. 249 of 2022
Order Dated: 24 May 2022
Coram: Justice S. Talapatra
Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr. P Roy Barman, Sr. Adv.; Mr. K Nath, Adv.; Mr. S Bhattacharjee, Adv
Counsel for the Respondents: Mr. D Bhattacharjee, GA; Mr. P Saha, Adv
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Tri) 11
Click Here To Read/Download Order