What to do when police refuses to register an FIR or begin investigation in a case

Overview: There are times when the police authorities refuse to register a first information report under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. In such cases, a person who wishes to register his complaint can take depend on the courts intervention through a provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 under which a magistrate may direct the concerned police authority to take cognizance of the issue.


There are various instances pertaining to matrimonial dispute/family disputes, commercial offences, medical negligence cases, corruption cases etc where there is delay in initiating criminal prosecution.


Purpose: To offer the common man an alternate way to get his grievance heard by way of a complaint in cases where the police have refused to give consideration to the issue by registration of an FIR.


Areas of Application of Law: Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.


Process: Below is the step by step process to proceed in cases where the police refuse to register an FIR:


  1. If you approach the police and they refuses to register an FIR, as the next step the person can approach the superintendent of police of the district and request him to direct an investigation.
  2. If the police fail to take any action, the person can file an application to the magistrate under Section 156(3) of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
  3. Engage a lawyer who will understand your situation and reasons for the need to file an FIR or seek investigation into a particular matter.
  4. The applicant should ensure that he has read and understood the application prepared by the lawyer before he files it and thereafter make sure that all affidavits and Vakalatnama (giving the lawyer the rights to represent you in court) are duly signed by him.
  5. On the first day of hearing, if the court is satisfied of merits in the case, a notice will be issued to the police authorities and date for the next hearing will be given. Court will also ask the police to file a status report disclosing if there has been an FIR filed by them in the matter or not before the next date of hearing.
  6. Upon receiving the status report, if it is disclosed that no FIR has been filed, then the court will record the statement of complainant and witnesses on oath.
  7. After this, if the court thinks that there is merit in the case and FIR should have been registered, it may direct the police to register an FIR in the case or begin a detailed investigation, if it so thinks fit.
  8. The investigation should begin as soon as a copy of the court order is received by the police station.
  9. Although Section 156(3) is briefly worded, various judgments through the years have held that it is wide enough to include all such powers in a Magistrate which are necessary for ensuring a proper investigation, and includes the power to order registration of an FIR ordering a proper investigation if he is satisfied that a proper investigation has not been done, or is not being done by the police.

Documents required to be submitted in the court: Affidavit spelling out necessity for invoking police intervention in the case, other documents to substantiate grounds of complaint- (For ex: medical records in case of medical negligence case where police refuse to conduct investigation.)   


Punishment/Expected Relief: Registration of FIR or an investigation into the case through court.


Landmark Judgments:

1. The power in the Magistrate to order further investigation is an independent power, and does not affect the power of the investigating officer to further investigate the case even after submission of his report- State Of Bihar And Anr vs J.A.C. Saldanha And Ors (https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1727525/)


2. Even if a Magistrate does not say in so many words while directing investigating under Section 156(3) that an FIR should be registered, it is the duty of the officer in charge of the police station to register the FIR regarding the cognizable offence disclosed by the complaint- Dilawar vs State of Delhi  (https://indiankanoon.org/doc/919369/)


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