Ready a personal affidavit first if you want a court to order an investigation into your complaint. The Supreme Court has made it compulsory for a complainant to submit an affidavit, vouching for the veracity of the allegations, when registration of an FIR is sought from a magisterial court.
Aimed at discouraging unscrupulous complainants from abusing the legal process, the court Tuesday ordered that a magistrate shall examine the affidavit along with the prima facie truthfulness of the complaint before ordering an investigation against the other party.
“A stage has come in this country where Section 156(3) CrPC applications are to be supported by an affidavit duly sworn by the applicant, who seeks the invocation of the jurisdiction of the magistrate. This affidavit can make the applicant more responsible,” held a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra.
The court said this direction had to be made so that the person making the application “should be conscious” and also to bind him or her with the statements.
“It is because once an affidavit is found to be false, he will be liable for prosecution in accordance with law. This will deter him from casually invoking the authority of the Magistrate under Section 156(3),” said the bench.
The court underscored rampant misuse of Section 156(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) whereby a person files a complaint before a magistrate, invoking the latter’s power to order an FIR and a consequent investigation by the police against those named in the complaint.
It stated that the affidavit was henceforth necessitated because many people were resorting to Section 156 (3) to take undue advantage in a criminal court and to settle personal scores whereas the legal provision was meant to enable “a principled and really grieved citizen with clean hands” to invoke the said power.
“Such kind of applications are being filed in a routine manner without taking any responsibility whatsoever only to harass certain persons. That apart, it becomes more disturbing and alarming when one tries to pick up people who are passing orders under a statutory provision or by invoking writ jurisdiction,” it added.
The bench further said that apart from examining the affidavit, a magistrate would be advised to verify the veracity of the allegations. It said that this judgment would be sent to chief justices of all the high courts to ensure the magistrates are made aware of the new condition of affidavit.
The order came as the bench quashed an FIR lodged in 2011 against the then vice-president of the Punjab National Bank Housing Finance Limited (PNBHFL) and others. The complaint was filed by a man who defaulted in repayment of a home loan in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. A magistrate had on receiving a complaint by the defaulter ordered an FIR under provisions relating to cheating and forgery.