Uploading FIRs, a progressive step

Uploading FIRs, a progressive step

The Supreme Court’s directive to police departments to upload the first information reports (FIRs) within 24 hours of their registration will help make the force accountable and its functioning more transparent. It is a step forward from the court’s 2013 order making the registration of FIRs mandatory in the case of serious offences like murder and rape. It is also an extension of the right to information of citizens because an FIR, being a public document, has no reason to be hidden away from the people. Making it public soon after registration is good, and necessary, for
many reasons. In the first place, the complainant can be certain that his complaint is on record. It helps the accused because he knows there is a complaint against him and what it is about. The accused has the right to know the charge against him and needs time to prepare his defence. Since it is often difficult to get copies of
the FIR and sometimes bribes have to be paid for it, it helps both sides to have it made public in short time by the police. The information helps the public too.

There is a problem about implementation of the order. In spite of the court order for mandatory registration of FIRs, the police are still unwilling to do it, especially in the case of ordinary crimes. There are many considerations like caste, community, class and personal relations that influence the police in decisions about registration of FIRs. Political influence is an important factor. Corruption is another, and sometimes bribes have to be paid to get FIRs registered. The police also refuse to register FIRs because the complaints have to be investigated after that. Therefore, the full benefit of the latest order will be realised only if all FIRs are registered. The new directive will also put pressure on the police to speedily investigate cases and file charge sheets, because the date of the FIR is known. This should make the police answerable for the delays.

The court has told the police to comply with the order by November 15. There is some relaxation in the deadlines for states where internet connectivity is poor. But in course of time, they will also have to abide by the order. There are some exceptions to the rule. FIRs relating to terror, insurgency, sexual offences and those involving the right to privacy will not be uploaded but the decision about this will have to be taken by a senior officer. In spite of the exceptions, the order is expected to improve transparency in the police. Transpa-rency will aid efficiency and strengthen good practices.

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