Staff Reporter

“Magistrates should maintain a register for private complaints”

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has spelt out a new procedure to alleviate public grievance against policemen refusing to register First Information Reports (FIRs), despite lodging specific complaints relating to the commission of cognizable offences.

Disposing of a petition, Justice G. Rajasuria said Magistrates should maintain a register to record details of private complaints forwarded by them to police stations for registration of FIRs, and prevail upon the officials until a case was registered.

Existing procedure

Describing the existing procedure, he said under Section 154 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, an officer in-charge of a police station was bound to register an FIR on such complaints. In case of refusal, Section 154 (3) stated that the complaint could be sent by post to the Superintendent of Police, who should investigate the matter himself or direct an officer to do so.

Further, Section 156 (3) gave an option to file the complaint (popularly known as ‘private complaint’) before the Magistrate concerned, who should forward it to the police station for registering an FIR. Alternatively, the Magistrate could also record the statement of the complainant and directly take cognizance of the offences.

Fresh procedure

“However, I would like to highlight a fresh procedure, which may not be a new one in strict sense. But, to the legal field in this part of the country, it may be new to a few and caviar to the general,” Mr. Justice Rajasuria observed.

According to him, a complainant could file an application before a Magistrate, under Section 156 (3), highlighting the justification for forwarding the complaint to the police and the importance of conducting a detailed investigation. The complainant should also explain the futility of pursuing the remedy through a private complaint.

On receiving such an application, the Magistrate should apply his mind as to whether any cognizable offence had been committed, besides assessing the need for a detailed investigation. Once the Magistrate came to the conclusion that it was a fit case for investigation, he/she was duty bound to direct the police to register the case.

Despatch entry

“Thereupon, the police without any demur of hesitation, by way of implicitly obeying the direction of the Magistrate under Section 15 (3) Cr.PC., should register the FIR in the prescribed format,” the Judge said. Further, the Magistrate should make a despatch entry in a separate register.

The police, after registering the FIR, should send a copy of it to the Magistrate, failing which the latter could summon the officer concerned and enforce compliance of the direction.