Requesting the court to extend this time limit to three months, police have sought modification of the court’s November 2013 ruling that ordered for concluding all such inquiries in a week’s time.
Additional Solicitor-General Sidharth Luthra, appearing for the Delhi Police, requested a Bench led by Chief Justice P Sathasivam to hear the plea for extension of time after setting up a Constitution Bench, which had earlier delivered the verdict.
“The time of seven days not only puts severe stress on the available resources of the Police department but may also lead to reaching erroneous conclusions, which might also result in misuse of the criminal justice system,” the petition stated.
Police said it is not possible to conclude inquiries in seven days into five kinds of offences — white-collar crimes, matrimonial disputes, medical negligence, corruption cases and cases in which there is a delay in reporting the matter.
The petition stated that in economic offences, not only voluminous records and high stakes were involved, instances were replete where civil disputes were sought to be coloured as criminal cases.
Similarly, in medical negligence cases, expert opinion was called for after setting up a medical board and further examination of viscera reports, etc, is not possible to be concluded within seven days.
The Delhi Police, while informing the court that it had successfully resolved more than 48 per cent of marital disputes through reconciliation in 2012, pointed out that when such cases are reported, efforts should be made to amicably resolve the matter without invoking criminal law.
In corruption cases and where there were delays in reporting the alleged offences, comprehensive inquiries, including verification of the complainant’s version, plea of alibi by accused, etc, are needed, police said. This is not possible within a week, police said.
Citing these impediments, the Delhi Police has requested three months’ time to conclude preliminary inquiries and register FIRs in appropriate cases.
By its November 2013 verdict, the apex court had ruled that police were obligated under the law to straightaway register FIRs when information disclosed commission of cognisable or serious offences and that it could not delay the FIR on the ground of conducting preliminary inquiry first.
A Constitution Bench had to decide this issue after more than five two-judge benches of the apex court had reached opposite and irreconcilable conclusions as to whether a police officer was bound under Section 154 of the CrPC to register an FIR when a cognisable offence was made out or he has the discretion to conduct a preliminary inquiry first.
Delivering the authoritative pronouncement on this particular point, the five-judge Constitution Bench held that the legislative intent under Section 154 was clear that every cognisable offence is promptly investigated and, hence, there is no reason to leave any discretion with police to register or not to register an FIR in such instances.
Police say it is not possible to conclude inquiries in seven days into five kinds of offences
White-collar crimes, where high stakes and voluminous records are involved
Medical negligence cases, which require expert opinion and examination of medical reports
Matrimonial disputes, where, police believe, efforts at reconciliation should be given a shot first
Corruption cases and cases where there is a delay in reporting the matter. These, police say, require comprehensive inquiries