The Chhattisgarh High Court recently cautioned police personnel against showing laxity in cases where allegations are leveled against members of the police service, asserting that they are the ones who need to maintain public confidence in the system.
"...the police have the duty to ensure that the confidence in the policing system is maintained and there should be no laxity at all in cases where the allegations are against a person who is in the police service. The mere registration of an FIR and further action thereon in accordance with law would not by themselves breach any right or privilege of the person against whom accusation is made," the Bench comprising Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Sharad Kumar Gupta observed.
The Court was hearing a Petition filed by one Ms. Babita, who had alleged that a police constable abetted her daughter's suicide. She had now demanded that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) be constituted to inquire into the death. The Station House Office (SHO) had challenged the plea, contending that an FIR and investigation were uncalled for.
A Single Judge had earlier rejected her plea, holding that Ms. Babita had an alternate efficacious remedy of recourse to Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C). This order had now been challenged.
The Division Bench, however, noted that the officials had not taken recourse to Section 174 of the Cr.P.C, which directs the police to report the suicide to the nearest Executive Magistrate, who is then required to conduct an inquest.
It then observed, "Holding of an inquiry to determine the cause of death as has been done by the Police in the instant case cannot be even treated as inquest by an Executive Magistrate. That by itself is not even an inquiry. If information is received regarding the commission of a cognizable offence, it is the bounden duty of the jurisdictional Police to register FIR and commence investigation as is enjoined by the laws."
The Court further reiterated that it is the duty of the police to register an FIR if the allegations disclose commission of a cognizable offence, noting, "While ensuring that due process is followed, the police had to register FIR on the facts and circumstances of the case in hand and proceed accordingly. It would also be for the police to follow the requisite procedure of investigation."
It, therefore, allowed the Appeal and directed the SHO to register an FIR on Ms. Babita's complaint and conduct an investigation.