Assuming a robust IT infrastructure can be put in place, will a facility to file FIRs online be a viable solution to this problem?
61% of you said that if introduced the online FIR could help improve the accountability of police against 27% of you who felt that it would increase the burden on police thereby decreasing their efficiency. The other 12% of you believe that online FIRs will have no effect on the accountability of police.India Institute
This article is the analysis of the results of the Saturday Poll posted on India Institute’s Facebook page on 2 November, 2013 which asked the above question. In Nirbhaya’s case the police was apparently fighting over jurisdiction. In the case of a 5 year old who was raped, the police tried to bribe the parents to not file a case. Almost on a daily basis, we read about police unwilling to register a case. A valid justification for reluctance to file a case immediately is that a preliminary enquiry by the police to ascertain facts to the case would ensure what is being registered is not a false case motivated by personal enmity. Another reason is that an increased number of cases make for unimpressive statistics for the concerned police station.
The general perception however is that police officers are dishonest and that they misuse their discretion to file a case to demand bribe or to engage in other corrupt practices. 61% of you said that if introduced the online FIR could help improve the accountability of police against 27% of you who felt that it would increase the burden on police thereby decreasing their efficiency. The other 12% of you believe that online FIRs will have no effect on the accountability of police.
Whether or not the police should immediately file an FIR if a complainant asks for one is a long pending unresolved question of law. Some experts are of the strong opinion that frivolous and motivated FIRs will increase in number and misuse the law enforcement system for personal gains while causing prejudice to people wrongly named as accused. There are others who equally strongly feel that excessive discretion of the police at the stage of registering an FIR has led to misuse of the provision for personal gain of the police officials and criminal nexus between the police and the powerful. And that such discretion has on several occasions been reason for criminals going unpunished.
Even different benches of the Supreme Court have taken divergent views on the matter of whether a police officer is duty bound to register an FIR when a person makes a complaint before making any preliminary enquiries. In the Lalita Kumari case, the court wanted the question settled once and for all and recommended that the Chief Justice refer the matter to a constitutional bench of 5 judges. Sadly, that constitutional bench has not been constituted yet.
So the confusion reigns!