Any person or complainant may go to a police station and ask to lodge an FIR reporting an offence that he believes to have been committed. He is required to state the facts to the best of his knowledge to the duty officer.
It is important to know that all offences can be broadly divided into two categories: Cognizable Offences and Non Cognizable Offences. The former are offences where the police are bound to register a case and proceed with investigation. Once registered, the case is the sole responsibility of the police and they are required to see the case through to its natural conclusion. Non Cognizable offences are those in which the police need not register a criminal complaint. The complaint is required to seek relief in a civil court of law.
Once the duty officer is certain that the offence alleged to have been committed lies in the category of cognizable offences, he shall direct the complainant to put his statement in writing. In the presence of the complainant, the duty officer shall complete all the columns in the FIR register with the information given by the complainant. He shall then read out all the contents of the FIR registered to the complainant. Once the complainant is certain that all the details have been correctly written, he should sign the FIR.
It is important to know that an FIR will not be considered a valid document unless it has been stamped by the Duty Officer with the stamp of the police station along with his signature and a serial number allotted to the report.
It is important for the complainant to demand a carbon copy of the FIR as lodged by him so that no alterations are possible later.
Once the formalities have been completed, the duty officer assigns the case to an officer, not below the rank of a sub inspector, who then is known as the IO (Investigating Officer). Meanwhile, depending on the urgency of the matter, police personnel are deployed to the scene of the crime to assess the situation and render any assistance if required.
After the complaint has been lodged, the complainant is free to leave and he cannot in any circumstance be subjected to restraint or inconvenience.
The complainant shall merely report the facts as known by him. He is not required to prove his allegations in any manner at the police station. The FIR is a statement by the complainant of an alleged offence. It is the job of the police to ascertain facts, verify details and substantiate the charges or otherwise.
Depending on the urgency of the matter, the IO begins his investigation through local enquiry, collection of evidence, verification of facts etc. On completion of his investigation, he shall submit a report along with his recommendations. If required, a charge sheet is filed, an arrest is made and the accused is presented in court within 24 hours of his arrest.
From here, legal procedures take over and what follows depends on the discretion of the court. In short, the prosecution is expected to prove their case against the accused with all evidence and proof. Should the evidence be adequate, the accused may be sentenced to whatever punishment reccommended for the offence in that Act. Although all this sounds very simple, this whole exercise often takes up to a year or even more.
This is what the law describes to be the normal course of action in a registered complaint. What actually happens is a different story altogether
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