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Delay In Filing Of First Information Report And Its Impact On The Trial: Analysis Of Judicial Decisions

Rapid lodging of information of commission of cognizable offence at the foremost available opportunity is believed to be true version without any addition, exaggeration and concoction. The probabilities of missing links outside influence after thought and additions are eliminated, where the memory is garden-fresh and information is given without any loss of time. "In past there was many difficulties in registering a case, as distance of Police Station and Place of occurrence, transport and transmission mediums, but some of these factors have been ended by the lapse of time.[1]"

An unnecessary delay in lodging a First Information Report is always looked with a certain amount of suspicion and should as far as possible be avoided.
Delay in lodging FIR can be of three types:[2]
  1. Delay in lodging First Information Report by informant;
  2. Delay in recording First Information Report by the officer-in-charge of the police station;
  3. Delay in dispatching the First Information Report to the Magistrate.

"First Information Report in a criminal case is an tremendously vital and important piece of evidence for the reason of corroborating the oral evidence adduced at the trial.[3] The significance of the report can hardly be overestimated from the stand point of accused." The current article will aim to discuss the topic of delay of filing of FIR and its effects, this will be done majorly through existing literature on the issue, along with landmark Apex Court judgements.

Research Methodology
Statement of Problem:
"FIR has its own probative value and when an FIR is refused to be recorded by the police in charge or if registration is deferred it can lead to miscarriage of justice where the accused has opportunity to tamper evidence or escape. The connection of political or high net worth individuals to delay or stop registering an FIR is an impairment in effective administration of law and order."

Objectives:
To review and analyze the law with respect to lodging of First Information Reports, the evidentiary value of FIR, the judicial decisions on delay and refusal to lodge FIR and to suggest measures to improve the application of Section 154 of CrPC and any changes required in law and its administration to resolve the problem at its root.

Hypothesis:
The issue whether delay in lodging of FIR "(First Information Report)/ Complaint leads to acquittal of the accused or not has been time and again been confronted by the Judiciary with the settled position of law being that inordinate and unexplained delay in lodging FIR or complaint may throttle the case of prosecution."

Research Questions:
  1. What is the remedy in law to check on failure to register FIR or delaying of recording the FIR?
  2. What is the remedy available to the victim to get FIR registered when Police derelicts in its duty?
  3. What is the impact of the delay on the case at hand?
Research Methodology:
The work basically fulfils doctrinal research criteria as the possibility to have an empirical study over the topic is very feeble. But the approach is analytical in nature.

Review of Literature
  • Sohoni's Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 (12th ed.) Vol. II
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (1st ed. 2010) Vol. I by S.P. Sengupta
  • Durga Das Basu's Criminal Procedure Code,1973 (5th ed. 2014) Vol. I

First Information Report, its delay and effects
Objective of Recording FIR
"The FIR logged sets the criminal law in motion and from the point of view of investigating bodies is to obtain info about the alleged criminal activity so as to be able to take appropriate steps for finding and bringing to book the guilty party.[4] The purpose of insisting upon quick lodging of the report to the police in respect of commission of an offence is to gain early information regarding the situations in which the crime was committed. Delay results in aggrandizement and the report gets bereft of the benefit of spontaneity. There is also risk of introduction of a tinted version, exaggerated account or fictitious story as a result of deliberation and consultation."[5]

Delay in FIR
The delay in registering FIR can be of three types.[6] First is delay caused by the informant in getting the FIR registered with the Police and secondly the delay on part of the police in getting the FIR registered and thirdly delay in dispatching the FIR to the magistrate.

Delay in Lodging FIR by Informant
There is no length of time which is set either by the legislature or the judiciary for giving information of a crime to the police. However, it has been observed that FIR has to be filed within reasonable period. The issue of reasonable time being a matter is for determination of judge in each case. Mere delay in filing the FIR with the police is therefore, not essentially, as a matter of law, lethal to prosecution.

The result of delay in doing so in the light of the believability of the justification forthcoming for such delay, accordingly must fall for consideration on all the facts and conditions of a given case.[7] Even a lengthy delay in lodging FIR in murder can be excused if witnesses have no object of implicating the accused and have given acceptable justification for delay. In the case of State of Rajasthan v. Om Prakash[8] the Supreme Court noted that there was delay of nearly twenty six hours in lodging the FIR. But this did not distress the prosecution's case as the case related to rape of a minor and in such case the name and status of the family and career and life of the victim was involved.

Although FIR is not fundamental an evidence, it cannot be refuted that it has probative worth. If there is unexplained interval in lodging FIR, it can be deadly to the prosecution case. Although gap in filing FIR does not result in quashing the FIR but nonetheless it gives rise to suspicion which puts the court on guard to look for the likely motive. Delay in giving first information can be overlooked if there is reasonable explanation.[9]

Delay by Police in Recording FIR by Police in Charge
At the stage of recording of a crime or the case, on the basis of information revealing a cognizable offence in compliance of the command of Section 154 of CrPc the involved police officer cannot embark upon an inquiry as to whether information laid by the informer is reliable or real and to refuse listing of a case on that ground. It is thus noticeably clear that if the information disclosing cognizable offence is laid before a police officer in charge of a police station fulfilling the requirements of Section 154(1) of CrPC the said policeman has no other option except to enter the material thereof in prescribed form that is to record a case on basis of such material.[10]

In the litigation of State of AP v. Punati Ramulu,[11] the Supreme Court noted that "investigating officer has purposely failed to record the FIR on receipt of information of a cognizable offence of the nature, as in this case, and had prepared the FIR after reaching the spot after due deliberations, consultations and discussions, the conclusion becomes inescapable that the investigation is tainted and it would therefore, be unsafe to rely upon such a tainted investigation, as one would not know where the police officer would have stooped to fabricate evidence and create false clues."

The advocate for state contended that there has been an enquiry. The Apex court questioned that how can there be an enquiry without recording a criminal case. The Apex court directed that a case has to be listed on the basis of the report of the complainant and then the matter has to be accordingly investigated

The inaction of the police in non-registering an FIR was condemned by the Supreme Court in the case of Lalitha Kumari v. State of UP.[12] "It showed frustration by observing that in spite of law laid down by the court the police authorities concerned do not register FIRs unless some direction is given by the Chief Judicial Magistrate of High Court of Supreme Court. In a large number of cases, investigation do not commence even after registration of FIRs. The Court retreated that directions should be issued to the police to register FIR promptly and to give a copy of the complainants. If the police do not comply with these instructions or initiate investigation, magistrate could initiate contempt proceedings."

We have seen in the latest Unnao rape case how the victim's family went pillar to post for four months to get the FIR registered against the accused.

"The victim was raped in June 2017 and she filed a complaint the very following day but an FIR was not recorded. She then sent a complaint to SP in Rai Bareli and then to Allahabad HC which instructed the police to register a complaint and it was lastly registered in April 2018.[13] Instead of protection to a physical and emotional victim there was only nuisance all the way. The court in this case transmitted the case to CBI and this shows the incompetence and negligence of police as well as the political impact on system of police administration."

In many cases where police officer decline to register an FIR the issue does not reach the court and criminal goes scot free. Refusal to register an FIR is a failure of duty of the officer.

Delay by Police in Forwarding FIR To Magistrate
After lodging of FIR, the involved Police Officer is required under the Law to direct a copy of the FIR to the Area Magistrate.[14] Delay in forwarding the print of the FIR to the Illaqa Magistrate, that condition alone would not defeat the other credible evidence on record. It would only show how in such a grave offence, the Investigating Agency was not cautious and rapid as it ought to be.[15]

While it is true that Section 157 of CrPC makes it obligatory on the officer in charge of the police station to send a report of the information received to a Magistrate forthwith,[16] but that does not mean and imply to denounce and discard an otherwise positive and trustworthy evidence on record. Technicality ought not to outweigh the course of justice if the court is otherwise convinced and has come to a conclusion as regards the truthfulness of the prosecution case, mere delay, which can otherwise be ascribed to be reasonable, would not by itself demolish the prosecution case.[17]

Punishment for Non Registration of FIR
"Section 221 of IPC provides for penalty for a public servant purposely neglecting to apprehend or keep in detention any person charged with or liable to be detained for an offence or aids such person to escape. But this section does not explicitly mention that the public servant is bookable in case of denial to register FIR. Thus it is suggested that there is explicit mention about penalty for non-registration of FIR in a prima facie case of cognizable offence."

E- FIR
E-FIR has been initiated in some states in India like TN, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, New Delhi, MP, Haryana, Odisha, Bengaluru, Patna and Kolkata.[18] The service for online FIR should be made necessary in all the States across the country and for this a separate provision has to be inserted in CrPC. The basic and standard information that is needed in FIR if recorded at the first instance will help investigation and procedure in court. Online FIR will also keep a tab on the administrator of law and necessitate them to do their duty meticulously.

Effect of delayed FIR on the trial
The effects of delayed FIR may be evaluated from a separate angle which is largely concerned with the types and nature of the crime. In rape cases delay is not deemed fatal because due to societal condition prevalent in the Nation, there may be delay in lodging FIR of such an offence to the police.[19]

"All the crimes except rape may be clustered into 2 groups to decide largely whether delay in lodging FIR in a specific case is serious or not. 1st category is of those wrongdoings where the commission of the offence is not essentially in dispute or even if it is doubtful the commission of offence could be established categorically with the help of evidences. For eg. Homicidal death is barely disputed and if it is pleaded that death is not homicidal but suicidal then the type of death could be founded with the help of medical evidences. In this type crimes, issue of manipulation regarding the commission of the offence arises seldom.

Therefore, delay in lodging FIR in such type cases is not believed to be much critical. 2nd category consists of crimes such as theft, attempt to murder etc. where the fact of commission needs adequate corroboration. The crimes which falls under second category requires speedy FIR and unreasonable delay would signify against the prosecution case since in such type of offences there are probabilities of manipulation regarding the commission and the people involved in the crime."[20] Delay in lodging FIR in such kind of crimes is considered to be fatal.

Reasonable explanations of delay in FIR
  1. Fear of accused persons. - Psychological cause of delay.[21
  2. Fear of damage of family honor in rape cases. - Psychological cause of delay.[22]
  3. Delay due to shock of murder. - Psychological cause of delay. [23]
  4. Delay in FIR due to infliction of grievous injuries, to the injured person. - Physical cause of delay.[24]
  5. Options of motive to falsely implicate the accused.[25]
  6. When Husband himself burns his wife.[26]
  7. When facts mentioned in the FIR cannot be changed by mere delay. - Circumstantial cause of delay.[27]
  8. Long distance of police from the place of occurrence. - Geographical cause of delay.[28]
  9. Because of night and the Police station is situated at very far distance. -Seasonal cause of delay.[29]
  10. Rough Road. - Geographical cause of delay.[30]
  11. Bad weather. - Seasonal cause of delay.[31]
  12. Non-availability of transport. -Geographical cause of delay.[32]
  13. When facts of occurrence are admitted by both the parties.- Circumstantial cause of delay.[33]
  14. When the informants did not know the FIR was necessary to lodge.[34]
  15. Rainy Season.-Seasonal cause of delay."[35]

Analysis of Judicial Pronouncements
CASE I- Ramdas and Others V. State of Maharashtra[36]
Facts of the case:
  • The victim, is a member of the scheduled caste committee. She had come to her father's house to work in his fields.
  • On the date of the occurrence, after working in the fields, she had returned to her home and taken her dinner. She was taken to a field and raped by three men.
  • After the occurrence she returned home at about midnight and then went to sleep. Her uncle living in the adjacent house did not come to her rescue as he had been threatened by appellant Ramdas before she was dragged outside the house. Since it was midnight, she did not report the matter to anyone. Her uncle and aunt already knew about the incident
  • The next day, the victim along with her sister went to the police station to file a complaint, the information given by her was neither recorded nor any action taken.
  • After some days, she complained about this to her father, thereafter she went to police station Beed in the night at about 10.00 p.m. along with her parents and lodged the report about the incident.
  • All the three accused were booked Section 376 read with Section 34 IPC and Section 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Issues at hand:
  1. Are the accused liable to be booked under Section 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989?
  2. Was the case against the appellants is a false case and they were implicated only to take revenge?
  3. Is delay in lodging the first information report is necessarily fatal to the case of the prosecution?

Arguments advanced:
Appellant (Accused):
  • The accused had been falsely implicated on account of enmity and bad blood between the father of the prosecutrix and the appellants.
  • In her cross-examination the prosecutrix admitted that adjoining the field of her father is the field of appellants Ramdas and Ashok but it was not correct to suggest that there used to be frequent quarrels between his father and the aforesaid appellants.
  • Uncle of the prosecutrix living in the adjacent house in the village had a somewhat different version to narrate regarding the fact that preceded the incident
  • Medical Officer who examined the prosecutrix on the 18th January, 1996 gave her opinion on the basis of clinical findings that there was no evidence of rape.
  • The mere fact that the victim happened to be a girl belonging to a scheduled caste does not attract the provisions of the Act.
  • The conduct of the witnesses in keeping quiet and not reporting the matter immediately, atleast to the villagers, is most unnatural.
  • There was considerable delay in lodging the first information report for which no explanation has been furnished by the prosecution.
  • Though a report was lodged at the police station regarding a non-cognizable offence, that report was not produced before the court

Respondents:
  • The prosecutrix had gone to the police station on the very next day but no case was recorded on the basis of the information given to the police.
  • Victim had approached the Superintendent of Police within 2-3 days of the incident, which was factually incorrect since the report was lodged on January 18, 1996, that was only a slight discrepancy which did not in any way detract from her statement that she had immediately gone to the concerned police station but the police refused to take down her report.
  • PSI Laxman Borade admitted in his cross-examination that the victim had come to the police station to lodge a report and that a non-cognizable offence had been registered on the basis of her statement.
  • There is a delay in lodging the first information report but that is of no consequence in cases of this nature and, therefore, that fact should be kept out of consideration.
  • Mere delay in lodging the first information report is not necessarily fatal to the case of the prosecution.

Decision of the court:
In the instant case there were two eye witnesses who have been examined to prove the case of the prosecution.

The court has rejected outright the evidence of Uncle of the victim. The prosecutrix does not appear to us to be a witness of sterling quality on whose sole testimony a conviction can be sustained. She has tried to conceal facts from the court which were relevant by not deposing about the earlier first information report lodged by her, which is proved to have been recorded at the police station.

She has deviated from the case narrated in the first information report solely with a view to avoid the burden of explaining for the earlier report made by her relating to a non-cognizable offence. Her evidence on the question of delay in lodging the report is unsatisfactory and if her deposition is taken as it is, the inordinate delay in lodging the report remains unexplained.

Considered in the light of an earlier report made by her in relation to a non-cognizable offence, the second report lodged by her after a few days' raises suspicion as to its truthfulness. Having carefully scrutinized the evidence on record, the court not satisfied that the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. There was strong suspicion that the case put forward by the prosecution may not be true. In any event the appellants are entitled to the benefit of doubt.

Accordingly, the appeals were allowed and set aside the conviction and sentence be discarded

Ratio of the case:
  1. Mere delay in lodging the first information report is not necessarily fatal to the case of the prosecution but the fact that the report was lodged belatedly is a relevant fact of which the court must take notice.
  2. delay has to be considered in the background of the facts and circumstances in each case and is a matter of appreciation of evidence by the court of fact.

Analysis of the judgement:
The Hon'ble Court in this case had certain important observations to be made. "It held that the delay in lodging the report has been sufficiently explained. There may be direct and indirect evidences to explain the delay. The researcher is agreeable with the court on these points. The court has laid certain situations in which the delay can be seemed to be justified and these are borrowed from different landmark judgements and compiled by the Hon'ble court in this case
  • Cases where much time is consumed in taking the injured to the hospital for medical aid.[37]
  • Cases where on account of fear and threats, witnesses may avoid going to the police station immediately.
  • The time of occurrence, the distance to the police station, mode of conveyance available, are all factors which have a bearing on the question of delay in lodging of the report.
  • Cases where the victim and the members of his or her family belong to such a strata of society that they may not even be aware of their right to report the matter to the police and seek legal action, nor was any such advice available to them.[38]
  • Case of sexual offences there is another consideration which may weigh in the mind of the court i.e. the initial hesitation of the victim to report the matter to the police which may affect her family life and family's reputation.[39]
Thus the court held that the background of each case needs to be scrutinized and No strait jacket formula can be evolved in such matters.

CASE II- Thulia V. State of Tamil Nadu[40]
Facts:
  • Thulia Kali was convicted by sessions judge salem U/S. 302 IPC for causing death of Madhandi and U/S 379 I.P.C for committing theft of ornaments of deceased.
  • The accused was sentenced to death for committing offence U/S. 302 and no separate sentence was awarded for offence U/S. 379 I.P.C.
  • The High Court of madras affirmed the conviction and sentence of the accused.
  • The accused preferred an appeal against H.C.'s conviction to the S.C. by special leave.

Issues:
  1. What is the significance of FIR in a criminal trial?
  2. What is the evidentiary worth of an FIR?
  3. Is it critical to explain regarding the delay in filing FIR?

Arguments advanced:
Appellant (Accused):
  • The deceased purchased land from elder brother of accused. The land of the accused adjoined the land of the deceased. The accused wanted the deceased to sell the land to him which the deceased declined. Instead the deceased constructed a fence around her land, which obstructed the passage to accused's land.
  • On the day of incident, the deceased left her house along with her daughter- in- law Kopia (PW), for grazing cattle shortly thereafter her step- son Velanjiaraju (PW1) also reached there and started cutting plants near the place of grazing cattle. It was reported that the accused came to that place and asked the deceased whether she would give him right of passage or not. Upon negative reply of the deceased the accused took out Knife and gave a number of blows to the deceased in spite of her entreaties to accused not to stab her and that she would give him what he wanted.
  • Kopia raised alarm, met Velanjiaraju, who want towards the accused who threatened them with Knife. They, there upon went to the village and informed deceased's husband and other villagers who went to the place of occurrence and found dead body of the deceased with injuries on different parts of the body.
  • Both of her ears were found to have been chopped off and jewels removed.

Respondent:
  • Velanjiaraju went to house of village munsif to inform about the occurrence, but he was away from her house to another village and returned at 10:30 p.m and was told by velam. about the occurrence
  • The village munsif did not record the statement of Mr. Velan. At that time and told him to go to the spot where dead body was lying on the following morning.
  • Accordingly, the village munsif went to the spot next day morning at 8:30 a.m and had a look at the deceased's body and recorded the statement was then sent by him to police station situated at distance of two miles.
  • Finally, the FIR basis of the recorded statement of Mr. Velan was prepared at the police station at 11.45 a.m.

Decision of the court:
In light of the circumstances of commission of offence considerable doubt is raised with respect to veracity of evidence of Mr. Velan and Kopia which points out an infirmity in that evidence rendering it unsafe to base the conviction of the accused- appellant upon it.

"In relation to alleged recovery of knife and ornaments, the court analyzed the statement of witness that the accused handed over the ornaments to the witness while he came to his house on evening of March 12, 1970 and passed the night at that house. The witness also stated that the accused left the knife in the bed while he left on the following day.

In light of the above statement the court noted he person with whom the ornaments were entrusted by the accused was not examined by the prosecution which was essential for it. The court ruled that failure to examine the said witness would lead court to draw an inference against prosecution."

"Relating to veracity of statements of the witnesses about leaving the knife in the bed and washing it before so leaving the court noted thathe same is brushed aside the report of the chemical examiner to the effect of Knife's being not stained with blood as well as presence of ample opportunity to throw away the knife in some lonely place before coming to the house of the witness."

Looking to all the circumstances the court held that it was not possible to sustain the conviction of the accused on the evidence adduced.

Thus, Appeal accepted, Conviction of accused- appellant set aside and accused- appellant acquitted.

Ratio of the case:
  • It is an extremely vital piece of evidence for corroborating oral evidence adduced at trial.
  • The importance of FIR can hardly be overestimated from standpoint of accused.
  • The object upon insisting upon print lodging of FIR is to obtain early information regarding circumstances of commission of offence names of actual culprits & the parts played by them as well as names of eye witnesses present at the scene.
  • Delay in lodging FIR quite often results in embellishment which is a creature of afterthought.
  • On account of delay, the report loses advantage of spontaneity and danger creeps in of the introduction of colored version, exaggerated account or concocted story as a result of deliberation and consultation.
  • It is therefore, essential that the delay in lodging the FIR should be satisfactorily explained.

Analysis of the judgement:
"Here, the court held that the delay in lodging the first information report quite often results in embellishment as a result of afterthought. On account of delay, the report not only gets bereft of the advantage of spontaneity, but also danger creeps in of the introduction of colored version, exaggerated account or concocted story as a result of deliberation and consultation.

In Ram Jag and Others v. The State of U.P.16 the position was explained that whether the delay is so long as to throw a cloud of suspicion on the seeds of the prosecution case must depend upon a variety of factors which would vary from case to case. Even a long delay can be condoned if the witnesses have no motive for implicating the accused and /or when plausible explanation is offered for the same.

On the other hand, prompt filling of the report is not an unmistakable guarantee of the truthfulness or authenticity of the version of the prosecution. The researcher agrees with the Hon'ble Court on this part of the judgement. In various earlier cases, many courts have given synonymous judgments on this issue. The main line of thought being that all the cases are different in their sense and thus it would be difficult to state in black and white on what is an unreasonable delay. In some cases, a 2-hour delay might be seen as unreasonable while in some a 2-day delay may be considered as legitimate."

CASE III- Murari Thakur and Another V. State of Bihar[41]
Facts of the case:
  • The accused and the deceased are residents of the same village.
  • On the night of the incident, the deceased had a quarrel with three accused and deceased had called out one of the accused.
  • After this, the deceased's mother intervened and brought her son back to the house.
  • Later in the night, mother of the deceased heard cries of his child.
  • There she saw all the three accused hitting the deceased with 'phali' on the temporal region of the body.
  • On seeing the witnesses, the accused ran away from the spot.
  • On completion of the investigation, challan against the accused was presented in the Court. On finding a prima facie case against the accused, they were charge sheeted.
  • Three accused persons faced trial for alleged commission of offence punishable under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short the 'IPC') for causing homicidal death of Jagbir (hereinafter referred to as the 'deceased'). They were convicted by Additional Sessions Judge (First), Bhiwani, Haryana and each was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of Rs. 2,000/- with default stipulation.

Issues at hand:
  1. Whether the Binder (accused) be treated as a juvenile and therefore entitled to the protection given under the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children Act, 2000?
  2. What is the effect of unjustified delay in filing FIR coupled with fabricated evidence?

Arguments advanced:
Appellant (Accused):
  • The evidence of PWs 10, 11 and 14 cannot be accepted
  • PW 10 had failed to identify all the accused persons and had failed to identify one co-accused, Raja.
  • There was unexplained delay in lodging the FIR and in dispatch of the copy of the report to the Illaqua Magistrate.

Respondents:
  • Disclosure statement made by accused Bijender alias Binder, he got recovered phalli, the weapon of offence and the clothes from the different places.
  • Though there was some confusion in identification by PW 10, the High Court rightly noticed during examination-in-chief she has correctly identified the accused persons. But at the time of cross-examination, she only identified one accused.
  • The evidence of PW 11 as noted above, is cogent and consistent and the version given by this witness fits with medical evidence.
  • If Binder is allowed to be mixed with juveniles the apprehension that he was likely to spoil the juveniles more in comparison with his own reformation.
  • It has been stated that the late delivery was due to flood in the area and this has been specifically noted by the Judicial Magistrate.

Decision of the court:
"The Court held that at the time of the commission of offence, accused Bijender was 16 years of age, and at the time of High Court's judgment was 29 years of age. It was held that if he is allowed to be mixed with juveniles the apprehension that he was likely to spoil the juveniles more in comparison with his own reformation. Therefore, he was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for ten years."

The Hon'ble Court rightly accepted the stand of the prosecution that the delay was attributable to the flood and there was no dispute raised at any stage that there was in fact no flood in the areas in question. Thus, the court dismissed the appeal on the ground of lack of merit.

Ratio of the case:
"There is no hard and fast rule that delay in filing FIR in each and every case is fatal and on account of such delay in prosecution version should be discarded. The factum of delay requires the court to scrutinize the evidence adduced with greater degree of care and caution."

Analysis of the judgement:
"The material issue dealt by the court in this particular case is regarding the delay in lodging of FIR. The Court stated that delay in lodging FIR by itself would not be sufficient to discard the prosecution version unless it is unexplained and such delay coupled with the likelihood of concoction of evidence. There is no hard and fast rule that delay in filing FIR in each and every case is fatal and on account of such delay in prosecution version should be discarded. The factum of delay requires the court to scrutinize the evidence adduced with greater degree of care and caution. To reach this, the learned judge has placed reliance of a plethora of landmark SC judgements."

In this particular case, "the delay of filing FIR was attributed to a flood that was there in the area near the police station. There was a 20 km difference between the police station and the place of incident and an 18 km difference between the court and the police station. Also, as mentioned before, there was a flood happening in nearby areas, thus the police personnel took time in transferring the FIR to the magistrate". Here, both the essentials, i.e. explained reasonable delay and un fabricated evidence. Thus, the court has given the decision in the favor of the respondents.

CASE IV- Munna (Pooran Yadav) V. State of Madhya Pradesh[42]

Facts of the case:
  • On 01.02.1997 to the effect that in the morning, three accused persons came to his house when his son Chhota was sleeping.
  • The appellant then entered the house and took away Chhota to a nearby place Chamrola.
  • The two acquitted accused caught hold of Chhota by his hands, the appellant Munna fired at Chhota due to which he fell down and died on the spot.
  • On that basis the investigation started and after the completion of the investigation, all the accused were tried and convicted, all the accused filed appeals before the High Court which resulted in the conviction of the appellant being confirmed.
  • Thus this appeal was filed.

Issues at hand:
  1. What is the value of sole witness in a criminal trial?
  2. What was the reason of death of the deceased, physical assault or shock?
  3. What is the timing of the injury?

Arguments advanced:
Appellant(Accused):
  • The High Court was not justified in relying upon the evidence of sole eye witness Gariba (P.W. 4) on account of his interest.
  • Chhota himself was a dreaded criminal and, therefore, a number of persons in and around the village were his enemies. It was argued that it may be that Chhota was found dead outside his house and not knowing as to who had killed Chhota, his father had falsely implicated the three accused persons who had no reason, at least visible reason to commit murder of Chhota.
  • First Information Report in this case was obviously incorrect as the timings of the First Information Report could not match with the oral testimony of Gariba.
  • The incident taken place at about 7 O'clock in the morning and the police station at Jujharnagar being six kilometers away, the First Information Report could not have been lodged at 8.05 O'clock as in fact much time was spent in contacting the other person who, admittedly, attended the Police station along with P.W. 4- Gariba.
  • the doctor had opined that the death had been caused by shock, and since the said shock had not been caused by the appellant, the offence could not be the one under Section 302 IPC but would be a minor offence.
  • Thus, he whole prosecution story itself becomes suspect.

Respondents:
  • There was no reason for Gariba (P.W. 4) to falsely implicate the accused.
  • It was quite possible for Gariba to reach the police station at about 8 O'clock in the morning and to lodge the First Information Report.
  • The medical evidence as well as the post mortem report itself showed that the death had taken place at the time as indicated in post mortem report and thus supports the evidence of the doctor.
Decision of the court:
In the case, the evidence of Gariba, the sole witness was accepted as it was corroborated by other witness also. Thus, the argument of the appellant regarding the the value of a sole witness is rejected.

Giving overall consideration to this aspect, The Court was of the opinion that the First Information Report was a genuine document and was correctly recorded at the time when it was given and there is nothing unusual in the timings of First Information Report. Hence, the argument was rejected.

"Lastly, almost by way of a desperate argument was on the nature of the offence. It was the contention of the appellant that the doctor had opined that the death had been caused by shock, and since the said shock had not been caused by the appellant, the offence could not be the one under Section 302 IPC but would be a minor offence. The argument was rejected as the doctor has very clearly opined that the shock was the result of the firing by the appellant. In that view, the argument is rejected."

Ratio of the case:
The Court can and may convict relying on the testimony of a single witness provided he is wholly reliable and that there was no legal impediment in convicting a person on the sole testimony of a single witness.

Analysis of the judgement:
"The essential and most disputed question in this case was about the timing of the injury and filing of the FIR. Much was tried to be suggested about the time of F.I.R. The witness has specifically stated that the time was the day-break time, sun was about to rise. Considering that the witness was not a literate witness and did not know how to read the watch, the mention of 7 O'clock as the time of incident in the First Information Report appears to be the handiwork of the person who recorded the First Information Report.

Much importance cannot be given to such insignificant factors. Much was tried to be suggested from the evidence of Gariba (P.W. 4) that immediately after the incident, he went to the neighbors, like Ambika Prasad (P.W.1) and Sunderlal Vishwakarma (P.W.3) and substantial time was spent and, therefore, he could not have reached along with all those people to Jujharnagar police station at about 8 O'clock which was six kilometers away. In the Courts our considered opinion, such criticism had no merits. Nothing has come in the evidence as to how these persons reached the police station. There is no cross examination to any of these witnesses regarding the time taken from the village to the police station."

Thus the First Information Report could not be rejected on that flimsy ground alone.[43] "Again the distance between the village and the police station which is given in First Information Report is 5 six kilometers approximately. Thus, such a distance which would not be covered within an hour or so. Therefore, the argument was rejected on that ground. There is a bit of the problem lying here, the reason being that the witness in the case was not aware about the timings and thus the police officer on his own judgement had put the timing of the incident at 7:00 am." Hence, the researcher personally thinks that due to the mistake of the police, the accused should not suffer and hence the benefit of doubt should be given to the accused.[44]

Conclusion and Suggestions
Suggestions
Even though law is made for registering of an FIR, a common man (aam aadmi) is unacquainted of the nitty grit ties of recording an FIR when he is a sufferer or a observer to a cognizable crime. The legal education should be provided to the common people via medium of television, internet and newspaper.

Every informant should be given protection for the purpose that he can help the Criminal Justice delivery system fearlessly. Persons who are related directly or indirectly to the information feel comfortable that when required they will receive adequate help from the Police related to their protection and relevant help if required.

The perpetrators from the police force accountable for indulging in unlawful acts/ delay/ non registration of a case should be given appropriate punishment. There is no doubt, that such valuable judicial intervention would appropriately deter the erring policeman.

The police should have proper training in dealing with the victim and the families, special moral education lessons should be imparted to the police people on regular intervals. A rational assurance must be given by the department relating to law and order that a proper investigation will be conducted by them.

Conclusion
The legal maxim "Justice delayed is Justice denied" is appropriate suitable in case of delay in recording FIR. The FIR being the initial step to set the law in motion, there should not be any unnecessary delay in the process which will deny the justice to the sufferer. Every step in the process of law is critical as in criminal cases it may either save life or upset life. The administrator of justice should use their authority in the interest of public and not lose their trust.

Lodging of FIR is imperative to set the criminal law in motion however that is not the case always, the investigation is not dependent upon the FIR. If the condition requires even the officer-in-charge of police can himself record the FIR and commence the investigation. It is not uncertain that a prompt FIR is essential to strengthen the prosecution case and to record the facts at the time when they were fresh.

Nevertheless, situations of each case are dissimilar and there are variety of reasons which causes delay in lodging FIR to the police. Those facts should also be considered by the court while deciding the fatality of the delay. When there is delay in lodging FIR there is possibility of aggrandizement and concoction of evidences, it is the duty of the prosecution to propound an justification of delay.

Yet it is not required that firm proof of the fact stated as clarification is not to be given if there is likelihood of the truthfulness of the fact. Further, delay in lodging FIR is irrelevant when the prosecution has proved the guilt of the suspect beyond reasonable doubt. But if the prosecution is unable to prove the culpability of the accused then a delayed FIR will add to the decision against the prosecution case. In nutshell it can be understood that keeping in mind the importance of FIR as a document it is not desirable to give ample weightage to the fact that it was delayed.

Bibliography
Books:
  • Durga Das Basu, Criminal Procedure Code 1973........... 7
  • R P Kathuria, Supreme Court on Criminal Law........... 8
  • S.P. Sen Gupta, Criminal Procedure Code........... 4
Cases
  • Amrik Singh v. State of Punjab........... 4
  • Apren Joseph v. State of Kerala........... 27
  • Fekan Bind v. State of Bihar........... 13
  • Haji Lal Deen v. State........... 11
  • Hasib v State of Bihar........... 7
  • Kunju v. State of T.N........... 27
  • Lalai v. State of U.P........... 12
  • Manager Yadav v. State, 1984........... 13
  • Munshi Prasad & Ors. v. State of Bihar........... 10
  • Neelam Kumar Sood v. State............ 12
  • Patai v. State of UP........... 4
  • Shiv Ram & Anr. v. State of U.P........... 10
  • State of Haryana v Bhajan Lal........... 8
  • State of Punjab v. Jagbir Singh........... 11
  • State of Rajasthan v. Gur Bachan Singh........... 13
  • Thulia Kali v.State of Tamil Nadu........... 7
  • U.P. v. Sughar Singh........... 12
Online Sources:
  • http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-3219-delay-in-first-information-report-a-critical-analysis.html
  • https://www.researchgate.net/publication/255967482_First_Information_Report_and_Delay_in_Registration_of_a_Case_A_Study_of_Judicial_Trends
  • https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2015351
  • http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/1126/FIR.html
End-Notes:
  1. S.P. Sen Gupta, Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (1st ed. 2010) Vol. I
  2. Amrik Singh v. State of Punjab, 1983 Cri. L.J. 1405.
  3. Patai v. State of UP (2010) 4 SCC 429: (2010) 2 SCC (Cri) 854.
  4. Hasib v State of Bihar, AIR 1972 SC 283
  5. Thulia Kali v.State of Tamil Nadu, AIR 1975 SC 501
  6. Durga Das Basu, Criminal Procedure Code 1973, (5th ed. 2014) Vol. I
  7. Ibid
  8. 2002 LawSuit(SC) 575
  9. R P Kathuria, Supreme Court on Criminal Law (1950-2013), (8th ed. 2014) Vol. IV.
  10. State of Haryana v Bhajan Lal 1990 LawSuit (SC) 701
  11. 1993 Lawsuit (SC) 156
  12. AIR 2012 SC 1515
  13. In re an unfortunate incident in Unnao of Rape and Murder Published in Various newspaper vs State of UP, 2018 LawSuit (All) 3126
  14. Section 157 of CrPC
  15. Shiv Ram & Anr. v. State of U.P., AIR 1998 SC 49
  16. Satpal v. State, (1995) SCC (Cri) 1039
  17. Munshi Prasad & Ors. v. State of Bihar, AIR 2001 SC 3031
  18. https://www.indiatoday.in/information/story/file-a-complaint-in-police-station-online-here-is-a-step-by-step-guide-and-a-list-of-states-1463063-2019-02-23
  19. Sudhansu Sekhar v. State, (2002) 10 SCC 743
  20. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (1st ed. 2010) Vol. I by S.P. Sengupta
  21. Haji Lal Deen v. State, 1977 Cri. L.J. 538; Karam Singh v. Charan Singh. 1984 Cri. L.T. 37.
  22. Harpal Singh v. State of H.P., 1981 Cri. L.J. 1: A.I.R. 1981 S.C. 361: 1981 S.C.C.(Cri.) 208; Anwar Hussain v. State of Rajasthan , 1987(1) Crimes 103(para-6); State of Rajasthan v. Dhania, 1986 Cri. L.J. 956.
  23. State of Punjab v. Jagbir Singh, 1973 S.C.C. (Cri.) 886; Sone Lal v. State of U.P., 1978 Cri. L.J. 1122 : A.I.R. 1978 S.C. 1142.
  24. Bankey Lal v. State of U.P., 1971 Cri. L.J. 1540 (para 13): 1971 S.C.C. (Cri.) 253: A.I.R. 1971 S.C. 2233.
  25. Ram Jag v. State of U.P., A.I.R. 1974 S.C. 606: 1974 S.C.C. (Cri.) 370; Saktu v. State of M.P., A.I.R. 1973 S.C. 760 : 1973 S.C.C. (Cri.) 307
  26. Bharat v. State, 1983 All. Dand Nirnaya, 323(324).
  27. Neelam Kumar Sood v. State, 1983(2). Crimes 493; Ratna Ram v. State of Haryana, 1982 Cri. LJ. N.O.C. 8; Jai Prakash v. State, 1982 Cri. LT. 190:1981 Cri. L.J. 1340
  28. Nabbi v. State of Rajasthan, 1982 Cri. L.R. (Raj.) 135.
  29. Lalai v. State of U.P., A.I.R. 1974 S.C. 2118: 1978 Cri. L.J. 1393: Duli Chand v. State of Rajasthan, 1986 Cri. LR. (Raj.) 615.
  30. Lalai v. State of U.P., (Supra); State of U.P. v. Sughar Singh. A.I.R. 1978 S.C. 191 : 1978 Cri. LJ. 141: 1978 S.C.C. (Cri.) 83.
  31. Babu Krishna Kamble v. State of M.P., A.I.R. 1980 S.C. 1269 : 1980 Cri. LJ. 928 (S.C.); State of U.P. v. Sughar Singh, A.I.R. 1978 S.C. 191 : 1978 Cri. L.J. 141 : 1978 S.C.C. (Cri.) 83
  32. Ibid
  33. State of Rajasthan v. Gur Bachan Singh, 1982 Raj. Cri. C. 338 (D.B.).
  34. Manager Yadav v. State, 1984 (2) Crimes 747; 1984 All. L.J. 1146
  35. Fekan Bind v. State of Bihar, 1988(1) Crimes 740
  36. AIR 2007 Supreme Court 155 para 23.
  37. Pandurang and others vs. State of Hyderabad) AIR 1956 SC 216
  38. Narender Kumar vs. State (NCT of Delhi), (2012) 7 Supreme Court Cases 171
  39. Krishan Kumar Malik vs. State of Haryana (2011) 7 Supreme Court Cases 130
  40. (AIR) 1973 SC 501.
  41. AIR 2007 Supreme Court 1129
  42. AIR 2009 Supreme Court 1344
  43. Apren Joseph v. State of Kerala, (1973) 3 SCC 114.
  44. Kunju v. State of T.N., (2008) 2 SCC 151 : (2008) 1 SCC (Cri) 331 at page 155

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