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  • Harish Shetty

Case Analysis: Lalita Kumari vs Govt. Of U.P.& Ors on 12 November, 2013

Harish Shetty,

NA Global Law School


This case is one of the landmark judgments that deals with Section 154 of CrPC. Prior to this case there was no consistency in dealing with FIR registration of complaints related to cognizable offence. Different states had different approaches and through this case the honourable Supreme Court through 5 judge bench provided guidelines regarding FIR registration.


  • Writ petition was filed under Article 32 by Lalita Kumari, who was minor, through her father Shri Bola Kamat for issuance of writ of Habeas Corpus against the respondents.

  • The grievance is that the Officer in charge of the concerned police station did not take action on the written report submitted by the petitioner and FIR was registered only when the Superintendent of Police was moved. No further necessary actions were taken after FIR registration.

  • In view of the divergent opinions in a large number of cases the High Court referred the matter to the Constitutional bench of at least 5 members.

Issues: (Case Law 1)

Following issues were considered:

  • Whether “a police officer is bound to register a First Information Report (FIR) upon receiving any information relating to commission of a cognizable offence under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973? (in short ‘the Code’)

  • Whether the police officer has the power to conduct a “preliminary inquiry” in order to test the veracity of such information before registering the same?”


Following are some of the important arguments/submission:

  • The petitioner submitted that upon receipt of information, which discloses a cognizable offence, by police officer in-charge of a police station, he must register a case under Section 154 of CrPC upon. He mentioned below 3 case laws in support of his argument.

  1. State of Haryana vs. Bhajan Lal 1992 Supp. (1) SCC 335

  2. Ramesh Kumari vs. State (NCT of Delhi) (2006) 2 SCC 677

  3. Parkash Singh Badal vs. State of Punjab (2007) 1 SCC 1

  • Also, counsel for petitioner submitted that Section 154(1) is mandatory as the use of the word ‘shall’ is indicative of the statutory intent of the legislature. Also, that it merely mentions ‘information’ without prefixing the words ‘reasonable’ or ‘credible’. He also contended that there is no discretion left to the police officer except to register an FIR.

  • Counsel for State of Maharashtra submitted that submitted that an officer in-charge of a police station is not obliged under law, upon receipt of information disclosing commission of a cognizable offence, to register a case rather the discretion lies with him, in appropriate cases, to hold some sort of preliminary inquiry in relation to the veracity or otherwise of the accusations made in the report. He referred to following case laws to support his argument. (Case Law 1)

  1. P. Sirajuddin vs. State of Madras (1970) 1 SCC 595

  2. Sevi vs. State of Tamil Nadu 1981 Supp SCC 43,4 Page 5

  3. Shashikant vs. Central Bureau of Investigation (2007) 1 SCC 630

  4. Rajinder Singh Katoch vs. Chandigarh Administration (2007) 10 SCC 69.

  • Counsel appearing for the State of Chhattisgarh, elaborated on various judgments which held that an investigating officer, on receiving information of commission of a cognizable offence under Section 154 of the Code, has power to conduct preliminary inquiry before registration of FIR. Also submitted that throughout the country, in matrimonial, commercial, medical negligence and corruption related offences, there exist provisions for conducting an inquiry or preliminary inquiry by the police, without/before registering an FIR under Section 154 of the Code. He concluded by pleading that preliminary inquiry before registration of an FIR should be held permissible. Further, he emphasised that the power to carry out an inquiry or preliminary inquiry by the police, which precedes the registration of FIR will eliminate the misuse of the process. (Case Law 1)

  • Senior counsel appearing on behalf of the State of Maharashtra submitted ordinarily the Station House Officer should record an FIR upon receiving a complaint disclosing the ingredients of a cognizable offence, but in certain situations, in case of doubt about the correctness or credibility of the information, he should have the discretion of holding a preliminary inquiry and thereafter, if he is satisfied that there is a prima facie case for investigation, register the FIR.

  • He further added Registration of FIR without any scrutiny whatsoever is an extreme proposition and is contrary to the mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, similarly, the other extreme point of view is that the police officer must investigate the case substantially before registering an FIR. (Case Law 1)


The 5-bench judgement highlighted the following points for registration of FIR in cognizable offences:

  • If the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence, then registration of FIR is Mandatory u/s 154.

  • If there is no clear information then preliminary inquiry allowed only to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not.

  • If inquiry ends in closing of the complaint, reasons should be note down and copy of it need to send to first informant within a week.

  • Action must be taken against erring officers who do not register the FIR if information received by him discloses a cognizable offence.

  • The category of cases where Preliminary inquiry may be made -

  1. Matrimonial dispute / family disputes

  2. Commercial offences

  3. Medical negligence cases

  4. Corruption cases

  5. Cases where there is abnormal delay/laches in initiating criminal prosecution

  • While ensuring and protecting the rights of complainant and accused, preliminary inquiry should be done within 7 days.

  • All information received related to cognizable offences, whether resulting in registration of FIR or leading to an inquiry must be clearly reflected in General Diary/ Station Diary/Daily Dairy (which is the record of all information received in a police station).

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