Complications In Lodging FIRs And Their Remedies
The rule of law, which is a very well-known concept of the modern judicial system, is still a dreadful dream in Pakistan. After 70 years of independence, one can barely think of having such a society where the rule of law prevails. The phrases ‘rule of the jungle’ and ‘survival of the fittest’ are still relevant in our case. It is because of the absence of rule of law that incompetency and inefficiency are glaringly visible in the working of each and every state department. One of such departments is the police department that not only transgresses its powers but also deliberately avoids complying with its legal obligations.
Amongst other things, one of the mandatory duties of police is to register a First Information Report (FIR) as per Section 154 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in cognizable offences and under Section 155 of non-cognizable offences. The distinction between cognizable and non-cognizable is that in the former case, police are empowered to investigate the case without permission of a court and to arrest the accused without a warrant; in the latter case, police cannot investigate the matter without court orders. Categories of such offences are provided in the Second Schedule of CrPC. Section 154 read as:
“Information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence if given orally to an officer-in-charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction and then read over to the informant and every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing as aforesaid, shall be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the Provincial Government may prescribe in this behalf’.”
According to the provisions of the said section, the police is duty-bound to register an FIR and has no discretion at all in determining whether or not to register the case, but every day we see an open violation of this clause. The honorable Supreme Court in PLD 2007 SC 539 held, “When the information about the cognizable offence is given, the police are bound to register first information report without any amount of delay.” It is a misconceived notion that police first have to determine the truthfulness of the allegation before registering an FIR. It is the duty of courts, and not the business of the police, to determine the truthfulness of the case. A remedy available for non-compliance of police with the provisions of Section 154 of CrPC is an application that can be made to the Justice of Peace under Section 22-A of CrPC for lodging of FIR and what you do get at the end of the day is a direction to the police to register the case, which should have been done in the first place.
One concern raised against this is that registering of FIRs without verification would open floodgates for false FIRs, but that cannot be a justification for not complying with the mandatory provisions of Section 154 CrPC, as the safeguard against the lodging of false FIRs does not lie in refusing to register FIRs but to take legal action against the misleader under Section 182 PPC which prescribes a punishment of six months or fine or both for such kind of offence. Another remedy available against frivolous litigation is the power of the trial court under Section 249-A and 265-K to acquit any person at any stage of the proceeding if the court has reasons to believe that the accused is innocent. The High Court under Section 561-A of CrPC has inherent powers to save and protect the interest of the accused. The inherent powers can be invoked in three cases:
- to give effect to any order passed under the Code of Criminal Procedure;
- to prevent abuse of the process of any court; and
- to secure the ends of justice.
The High Court in exercising its extraordinary constitutional jurisdiction under Article 199 of the Constitution of Pakistan has wide powers to quash the FIR as well as the proceedings emanating therefrom pending in the court. On the following grounds a criminal case can be quashed by the High Court exercising its constitutional jurisdiction:
- When the case has no evidence.
- When the very registration of the case proved to be mala fide.
- When the case is of purely civil nature.
- When there is serious jurisdiction defect; and
- When there is the unexceptional delay in the disposal of the case causing deplorable mental, physical and financial torture to the person proceeded against (1995 MLD 615).
It is the fundamental duty of the state to protect and defend the interests of its citizens. In a civilized society individuals always respect the system because of its influential role in their socio-political lives. If the state fails to protect the same, chaos and violence become the order of the day. To ensure the rights to life and liberty of citizenry our state must establish a strong system of justice where no one can harm the other just because of weaknesses in the criminal justice system.
The push factor behind this article is a crime report of 2016 in which IG Punjab received 10,253 complaints about non-registration of FIRs and 1283 complaints about false cases.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any other organization with which he might be associated.