Madras High Court issues instructions to prevent closure of FIRs for want of charge sheets

The Madras High Court Monday directed the police chiefs of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to instruct higher rank officials to check the FIR index every month and guide their subordinates in investigating and filing final reports as laid down in a 1984 government order.

Justice M V Muralidharan gave the order in the backdrop of information furnished in the court earlier that 2.14 lakh FIRs had been closed by trial courts between 2009 and 2014 due to failure of police to file the final reports within the statutory time limit.

The director generals of police (DGP) should instruct the concerned assistant and deputy commissioners to keep a tab on the status of FIRs every month. They should also guide their subordinates properly in investigation of cases and filing of final report after getting the approval from the public prosecutors and assistant public prosecutors as per the June 5, 1984 government order, he said in his detailed order.

The judge also directed the magistrates in Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry to summon the investigating officers and issue directions for filing the charge sheet immediately, before the statutory time limit lapses.

If police fail to file the charge sheets even then, the magistrates should inform the superior police authorities in writing about the inaction of the investigating officers, he added.

Muralidharan directed all the district judges and the chief judicial magistrates to issue suitable directions to the magistrates under their jurisdictions to maintain record of receipt of charge sheets with the time and date.

The magistrates must apply their judicial mind independently before passing orders under section 468 of Criminal Penal Code, which bars taking cognisance of a case after lapse of the period of limitation, and also file periodic report to district judges and the chief judicial magistrates on such orders.

After police furnished information about closure of FIRs, Muralidharan had sought a report on the action taken by the senior officials.

Subsequently, the DGP’s office had submitted that disciplinary proceedings had been initiated against at least 7,324 police personnel for failing to file final reports within the statutory time limit, which resulted in closure of the FIRs by trial courts.

The closure of such a large number of FIRs came to the court’s notice during the hearing of a civil appeal moved by a Tirupur-based company against a compensation of Rs 3.94 lakh awarded to an employee who had died in an accident while at work.

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