Preliminary inquiry before FIR?

In India, there is no law which gives the police power to conduct preliminary inquiry but there are certain judgements which have stated that in the case of matrimonial disharmony, police can prefer preliminary inquiry before filing FIR.

But let’s first start first definition of “inquiry”

Section 2(1)(g) of CrPC

” Inquiry” means every inquiry, other than a trial, conducted under this Code by a Magistrate or Court.

Now, whether investigation and inquiry the same?

Manubhai Ratilal Patel vs State of Gujarat:-

Investigation by police is neither inquiry nor trial

Section 157(1) in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973:-

Procedure for investigation preliminary inquiry.

(1) If, from information received or otherwise, an officer in charge of a police station has reason to suspect the commission of an offence which he is empowered under section 156 to investigate, he shall forthwith send a report of the same to a Magistrate empowered to take cognizance of such offence upon a police report and shall proceed in person, or shall depute one of his subordinate officers not being below such rank as the State Government may, by general or special order, prescribe in this behalf, to proceed, to the spot, to investigate the facts and circumstances of the case, and, if necessary, to take measures for the discovery and arrest of the offender; Provided that-

(a) when information as to the commission of any such offence is given against any person by name and the case is not of a serious nature, the officer in charge of a police station need not proceed in person or depute a subordinate officer to make an investigation on the spot;

(b) if it appears to the officer in charge of a police station that there is no sufficient ground for entering on an investigation, he shall not investigate the case.

Police have the authority to not investigate after filing the FIR if the matter is trivial but will have to send the report to the magistrate. Further, on receiving such report, Magistrate may direct an investigation, or, if he thinks fit, at once proceed, or depute any Magistrate according to Section 159 of CrPC.

State of Telengana vs Managipet Reddy

A preliminary enquiry may be conducted pertaining to matrimonial disputes, commercial offences, medical negligence cases, corruption cases etc. The judgement of the court and Lalita Kumari does not state that proceedings cannot be initiated against an accused without conducting a preliminary enquiry. There is no set format or manner in which a preliminary enquiry is to be conducted the objective of the same is only to ensure that a criminal investigation process was not initiated on a frivolous and untenable complaints.

Preeti gupta vs State of Jharkhand

It is a matter of common experience that most of these complaints under Section 498a IPC are filed in the heat of the moment over trivial issues without proper deliberation. A large number of such complaints which are not even bona fide and are filled with oblique motive at the same time Rapid increase in the number of judgement cases of dowry harassment are also a matter of serious concern and it is imperative for the legislature to take into consideration the informed public opinion and the pragmatic realities into consideration and make necessary changes in the relevant provisions of law.

273rd Law commission of India report

Misuse of Section 498-A in many cases has been judicially noticed by the apex court as well as various High Courts. This has also been taken note of by Parliamentary Committee on Petitions (Rajya Sabha). However, misuse (the extent of which is not established by any empirical study) by itself is not a ground to abolish S,498-A. The law on the question whether registration of FIR could be postponed for a reasonable time is in a state of uncertainty. Some High Courts have been directing that FIR shall not be registered under S, 498A (except in cases of visible violence, and the like) till the preliminary investigation is done and reconciliation process is completed. The issue has been referred to a larger Bench of Supreme Court recently. In this regard, the police have to follow the law laid down by the jurisdictional High Court until the Supreme Court decides the matter.

Lalita Kumari vs State of UP

If the inquiry discloses the commission of cognizable offence, FIR must be filed. Scope of preliminary enquiry is not to verify the veracity of or otherwise of the information received but only to a certain whether the information reveals any cognizable offence. A preliminary enquiry should be made time bound and, in any case, it should not exceed 7 days.

Therefore, police can conduct a preliminary inquiry before filing the FIR in matrimonial disharmony cases which relate to Section 498a of IPC as misuse of Section 498-A in many cases has been judicially noticed by the apex court as well as various High Courts. If the inquiry discloses the commission of cognizable offence, FIR must be filed.