The Arrest of the Accused is not Automatic on Registration of an FIR: Punjab and Haryana High Court

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has cautioned that even registration of FIR is mandatory when a complaint is made disclosing the commission of a cognizable offence; the Court said that “the arrest of the accused is not automatic on registration of an FIR.

Issue in the Case

The plea was filed by Hitesh Bhardwaj under Section 482 of CrPC, seeking appropriate directions to the concerned Police station to register an FIR in pursuance of the criminal complaint filed by him in respect his mother’s alleged murder by his brother. The petitioner submitted that the Police had refused to register an FIR after conducting a preliminary inquiry whereas; the Police cannot embark upon a full-scale inquiry into the complaint without registration of FIR.

The Court made the following observation

  • The arrest cannot be made in a routine manner on a mere allegation of commission of an offence. It would be prudent for a Police Officer not to arrest a person without a reasonable satisfaction after some investigation as to the genuineness and bona fide of a complaint and reasonable belief in the context of the complicity of the accused. The arrest of person and registration of FIR is not directly linked as both have two concepts, operating under different parameters.
  • The Court also cautioned that misuse of the aforesaid concept of arrest, laid down in the landmark judgment in Lalita Kumari v. Government of Uttar Pradeshwould result in action against the errant Police Officer under Section 166 of IPC.
  • The Court Observed that the arrest of the accused is not automatic on registration of an FIR, the registration of FIR is mandatory under Section 154 Cr.P.C. if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence. No preliminary inquiry is permitted in such a situation. Preliminary inquiry can be conducted in matrimonial cases, a case relating to family disputes, commercial offences, medical negligence cases, corruption cases and the cases where there is the abnormal delay of more than 3 months in initiating criminal prosecution or reporting the matter to the police without a satisfactory explanation.
  • There is no discretion left with the Police Officer to register or not to register an FIR once information of a cognizable offence has been placed before him. Non-registration of the criminal case leads to dilution of rules of law and lead to definite lawlessness which is detrimental to the society as a whole. Thus, a direction was passed to register the Petitioner’s complaint as an FIR.
  • The Court further explained that if no case is made out after investigation, it would be prerogative of the Police to file cancellation of the FIR. It noted that, in such eventuality, the complainant would be having a right to file a protest petition on receipt of notice from the Court. Thereafter the Court may accept the cancellation report or proceed with the case as a criminal case on receipt of preliminary evidence or may pass any other order in accordance with law including further investigation.

Case Name: Hitesh Bhardwaj v. State of Punjab & Ors.

Case no.: CRM-M No.26794 of 2020 (O&M)


Also Read: Officers Designated Under Section 53 NDPS Act can Exercise all Investigative Powers Under CrPC: SC

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