The state government Tuesday informed the Bombay High Court that a police officer is “duty bound” to register an FIR and conduct investigation on receiving information about a cognisable offence such as rape. The state government’s submission was made during the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking that the police be directed to refrain from registering an FIR in cases where a woman alleges rape on grounds such as false promise of marriage. The petition also sought framing of guidelines to be followed by the police in complaints of rape following false promises made in a relationship.
The state further submitted in the affidavit that while the amended rape laws in the country make it clear that if an adult woman engages voluntarily in a physical relationship even in such cases where she has been promised marriage, the same will not constitute the offence of rape. However, when such allegations are made and a complaint or FIR registered, it remains for the police to inquire into whether such consent was voluntary or not.
“Whether the consent was voluntary or it was obtained by falsely inducing the woman to believe that the accused would marry her, and the consent is vitiated, is essentially a question of fact,” states the affidavit, adding that it cannot frame such guidelines according to the Code of Criminal Procedure.
“In the light of the law as it stands today and various judicial pronouncements, the investigation officer, in all but manifestly false cases, proceeds to register an FIR,” added the affidavit.
“A fine balance needs to be found between the rights of the complainant and the need to protect a manifestly innocent person from the travails of an investigation and trial…… In view of the legal position, it is clear that when any information regarding the commission of a cognisable offence is received, the concerned police officer is duty bound to register an FIR and conduct an investigation. If, at a later date, it is concluded that no offence has been committed or that the allegations are not true, then such officer is under an obligation to disclose the same to the court,” the affidavit reads.
The state, however, also said that if the High Court still feels the need for any guidelines to the police, it could issue the same or direct that they be framed by the authorities.