Police told to register FIRs for serious cases and not direct victims to e-portal
Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant has ordered all police stations to file first information reports (FIRs) for serious crimes with no exceptions. This comes in the wake of a rise in the number of incidents of police personnel directing victims of theft, robbery, and attention diversion to the e-portal where they can file complaints online. However, the e-portal was launched for petty cases such as loss of documents, ID cards, etc.
In a memo issued on November 24, Mr. Pant said that under no circumstances should police personnel advise complainants to register serious cases online. Cases which are cognisable in nature should be treated with utmost seriousness… A proper FIR should be registered and regular investigation should be taken up, stated the memo.
According to senior police officials, the number of cases on the e-portal is rising with an average of 50,000 new cases registered in a year. “Though the portal was launched to reduce the burden on personnel and make it unnecessary for people to visit the station for minor complaints, it is being grossly misused,” a senior police official said.
No proper follow-up
He acknowledged that the portal can be faulty with no proper follow-up. “Its function has been reduced to getting a receipt or an acknowledgement for online complaints. In such a situation, we cannot have victims of serious crimes being directed to the portal,” the official added.
A retired police official said it was common practice among the police to discourage people from insisting on an FIR. “This is to reduce the number of cases registered and the workload at their police station,” he said.Another police officer said this would affect review procedures. “While on the one hand we are forced to register FIRs for every complaint, the same officers will pull us up for accountability at review meetings. We will be questioned on the number of FIRs registered, along with progress, detection, and recovery rates,” said the police officer.
The police on ground are not too happy with the memo, citing staff shortage and routine work as deterrents. “Station house officers are not only responsible for the law and order situation in their respective jurisdictions, but also office administration and other work assigned to them on a regular basis,” the officer added.
Others expressed concern over how this will affect their performance reviews. “A police personnel’s performance is based on detection and maximum recovery along with the conviction rates. If we don’t get a conviction on a theft case, for instance, it will be a mark against us. The review committee formed to study acquitted cases sends a report to senior officers against the investigating officer seeking action. Many times, the magistrate will write a letter to senior police officers against the investigating officer for not filing a chargesheet on time and also for lapses in the investigation,” said the police officer, adding that it is to escape this that police are directing complainants to the e-portal.