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Section 156(3) CrPC | Magistrate directing verification of allegations before ordering registration of FIR is justified in some cases | J&K High Court

What courses are open to a Magistrate when a complaint is filed in terms of Section 156(3) CrPC?

It’s a matter of procedure that when a complaint is filed in terms of Section 156(3) CrPC, a magistrate is empowered to direct registration of FIR and investigation by the police and there are circumstances where a magistrate has to conduct a preliminary inquiry for verifying the allegations regarding the commission of a cognizable offence. The instant case is all about the latter part, where a magistrate instead of directing the police to register and investigate the case, passed the impugned order whereby police were directed to verify the matter and if cognizable offences are made out, to proceed in terms of section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The instant petition was filed by an Advocate, Mr. Deepak Mahajan in which the petitioner challenged the impugned order mainly on the ground that the learned Magistrate has delegated the power vested under Section 156(3) of Cr. P. C to the SHO concerned. He further contended that there was no occasion for the learned Magistrate to get the matter verified when the application of the petitioner on the face of it disclosed commission of cognizable offences against the accused.

According to the learned counsel, the impugned direction of the learned Magistrate is in violation of various judgments of the Supreme Court to which he has made reference in the petition.

The Hon’ble Single Bench presided over by Justice Sanjay Dhar, after considering the facts of the case and provisions given under Sections 156(3) and 190 CrPC, observed that a Magistrate who has jurisdiction to entertain a complaint under Section 190 of Cr. P. C for taking cognizance of an offence, is empowered to issue direction to the officer-in-charge of a Police Station to register and investigate a case if the information laid before him discloses commission of cognizable offences. The discretion lies with the Magistrate whether to proceed under Section 156(3) of Cr. P. C or to adopt a course in terms of Chapter XIV of the Code of Criminal Procedure by taking cognizance of offences and proceeding in accordance with the provisions contained in the said Chapter.

The Court while referring to the judgment of the Supreme Court in a case titled Priyanka Srivastava & Anr. vs State of UP & Ors (AIR 2015 SC 1758) observed that there may be cases in which it may not be appropriate for the Magistrate to directly order registration of FIR keeping in view the facts and circumstances of such cases. The Court has clearly stated that there may be appropriate cases where the Magistrate would be well advised to verify the truth and veracity of the allegations.

The Court while upholding the law laid down by the Supreme Court in aforesaid judgment observed that the registration of an FIR against a person has serious consequences, as such, it cannot be done in a routine manner. Once an FIR is registered, the accused faces the possibility of arrest and all forms of harassment and indignation, which are associated with a criminal prosecution.

If a Magistrate in the cases, nature whereof has been illustrated by the Supreme Court in aforenoted judgment, directly orders registration of FIR without verifying the veracity of the allegations and without getting satisfied as to whether or not any cognizable offence is made out, the affected parties will be un-necessarily put to harassment.

It is because of these consequences in mind that the Supreme Court in Priyanka Srivastava’s case clearly laid down that in appropriate cases the Magistrates before ordering registration of FIR should look for certain safeguards like filing of an affidavit by the petitioner and verifying the veracity of the allegations.

The Court while dismissing the petition held that the impugned order passed by the learned Magistrate is, therefore, well-reasoned and based on sound principles of law. The same does not call for any interference from the Court.

Read the Judgment
Taro Devi versus UT of J&K and Anr.
CRM(M) No.330/2020