Lalita Kumari I

There had been “divergent judicial opinions” on the issue whether a police officer is bound to register a First Information Report upon receiving any information relating to a commission of a cognizable offence. While some opinions granted the police officer the latitude of conducting a preliminary inquiry to test the veracity of the information received, some others were unwilling to award the police officer such discretion.

A Five Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in Lalita Kumari, (2014) 2 SCC 1 conclusively held “no preliminary inquiry is permissible” and the registration of an FIR is mandatory under Section 154 of the CrPC, if the information so received disclosed commission of a cognizable offence.

In some cases though, it was considered, it may be fair and equitable to conduct a preliminary inquiry – especially in cases such as matrimonial/family disputes, commercial offences, medical negligence cases, corruption cases and cases where there is an abnormal delay in initiating criminal prosecution. The SC added that the “aforesaid are only illustrations and not exhaustive of all conditions which may warrant preliminary inquiry”.

To speak of the mandatory nature of the language employed in Section 154 and yet keep the field open for “conditions that may warrant a preliminary inquiry” is absurd.

By rejecting Mr. Bhushan’s petition seeking registration of an FIR against Justice C.K. Prasad for gross corruption, the SC has once again sought to bury corruption by one of its own members under the carpet, forgetting that however much one may seek to conceal it, the bulge will show.

By refusing to apply Lalita, Misra J. denied himself a shot at constructive verbosity. Otherwise, he is not the one to shy away from an embellished speech. The truth remains that Mr. A.K. Prasad has been practicing at the Supreme Court unabashedly. And all this while Mr. C.K. Prasad was a SC judge. I am sure that Mr. Bhushan will find an alternative way to open that ‘dangerous door