Film actress Shamsun Nahar Smrity, popularly known as Pori Moni, called a press conference and alleged that a businessman assaulted and threatened to murder her at Uttara Boat Club. She also stated that she went to the police station, requested support and the police refused to accept the complaint.
After arranging the press conference and expressing her worries, police took her matter into consideration. She successfully filed the case. Not long after holding the press conference, the accused was arrested.
Let's have a look at another recent incident. A religious orator has been missing for a few days. His wife said she failed to file a complaint in any police station. She also stated, no police station was taking responsibility, one police station was showing another.
Both the incidents have one thing in common, police did not accept the first information report.
Now it may seem that as a common citizen you have nothing to do when the police refuse to accept your case. To some, holding a press conference may seem an effective measure in this regard.
This might not be an option for everyone. You have not one, but many alternatives in such situations. And remember, getting such services is your right, it is not a charity.
When police cannot refuse you
If you want to file a case at the police station after a cognisable offence has been committed, the police cannot refuse to record the case. This is the general provision of law as stated in section 244 (a) of the Police Regulation of Bengal, 1943.
Also, section 154 of the CrPC 1898 affirms that even if you go to the police station and complain verbally, police will create a written document of your complaint and enter it into a record book.
A cognisable offence covers crimes of serious nature like murder, rape, rioting, dacoity, etc. - -crimes where an arrest can be made without any warrant.
However, when the police decline to accept your complaint there is no reason to feel helpless. Our legal system provides adequate options that you can apply in such situations.
Reach a senior officer of police
If the concerned officer in charge refuses to register your FIR about the incident of a cognisable offence within his jurisdiction, the informant can approach a senior officer of police including circle ASP or the Superintendent of Police or the Commissioner of the police with a written complaint.
If, after analysing the complaint, it is found that the complaint discloses a cognisable offence, the officer may investigate the case himself or give directions to his subordinate to register the FIR and initiate an investigation in the matter.
Complaint to the magistrate
The complaint has the opportunity to be filed directly in the court of the concerned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or Chief Judicial Magistrate in the form of a complaint register case.
In many districts, judicial magistrates are given the power to hear cases and the jurisdiction is divided into different areas. In the area where the crime took place, you have to go to the court under the jurisdiction of that area. Complaints must be filed in writing through a lawyer.
In this case, the statement of the complainant has to be recorded under oath under Section 200 of the CrPC. On the basis of the statement, the court may issue a summons or warrant by accepting the complaint. Sometimes the case can be sent to the police station for preliminary investigation.
Also, depending on the type of case, the magistrate can sometimes direct the concerned police station to record your report.
Women and child abuse suppression tribunal
In case you want to complain under the Prevention of Cruelty against Women and Children Act 2000 and the police are not accepting your report, you can record your complaint to the Women and Child Abuse Suppression Tribunal as a complaint register case.
However, if a complaint is filed in this manner, an affidavit must affirm that the police station has not accepted the case and you have taken refuge under the tribunal.
The tribunal will then take testimony under oath of the plaintiffs in the case, but will not take cognisance of the case directly. The case will be sent to a court under it for preliminary investigation. The tribunal will take cognisance of the case and issue a warrant after receiving the preliminary report from the judge. The trial will start later.
Move to High Court with a writ petition
Another measure you can take by is filing a writ petition. If the police do not want to accept your case, you can file a writ petition in the High Court and seek redressal.
In the writ petition, you or your family can seek permission to file a case at the police station and ask for an order to arrest the accused. The police are bound to abide by the judgment of the High Court.
Human Rights Commission
If the police do not want to file a case, the National Human Rights Commission is another means of seeking redressal. A written complaint with full details of the incident in the form of an application has to be filed with the National Human Rights Commission.
If the complaint is within the jurisdiction of the Commission, the Commission will investigate the matter. If the matter falls outside of the jurisdiction of the Commission, they will send a written reply within seven days to the complainant with legal advice.
Victim Support Centre of police
If the police do not want to prosecute cases of violence against women other than rape, complaints can be lodged with the police's Women Victim Support Centre.
The reality is that in most of the cases in our country, helpless and poor citizens cannot reach the court due to ignorance, poverty and various obstacles if they do not get legal recourse in the police station.
It is essential to raise awareness to ensure the people's right to a fair trial. Citizens of this country will be benefited if the government's legal aid programme is expanded on a large scale.
Saiful Bari is a student at the Department of Law and Human Rights, The University of Asia Pacific.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.