A of judges H.K. and A.R. Lakshmanan, giving this ruling Tuesday, made it clear that "genuineness or otherwise of the information can only be considered after registration of the case. Genuineness or credibility of the information is not a condition precedent for registration of a case." Quoting an earlier decision, the bench said it is mandatory for a to register a case on a complaint of a cognisable offence and that the police could not pre-judge the issue.
"At the stage of registration of a crime or a case on the basis of information disclosing an offence, a police officer cannot embark upon an enquiry whether the information is reliable or not", the bench said, adding the police would have no other option except to register the complaint. Ramesh Kumari filed a complaint before the police in September 1997 and the grievance was that no formal report was registered. The high court dismissed the petition challenging non-registration of formal complaint on the ground that he had filed a contempt petition. Against this order, he moved the apex court.
Disapproving the high court order, the bench said: "The high court erred in in dismissing the petition solely on the ground that the contempt petition was pending and the appellant had an alternative remedy. The ground of alternative remedy nor pending of the contempt petition would be no substitute in law not to register a case when a citizen makes a complaint of a cognisable offence against the police officer."
The bench noted that in this case since the complaint was against a police officer, interests of justice would be better served by ordering a probe into the complaint by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The bench directed the CBI to register a case and conduct the probe and complete it in three months. It also asked the high court to dispose of the contempt petition expeditiously.