LAHORE: The procedure governing the registration of an FIR is replete with a myriad of flaws that have the potential to compromise the prosecution and impede effective investigation, policemen say.
A number of IOs The Express Tribune talked to said most FIRs were not registered in line with Section 154 of the Pakistan Criminal Code of Procedure. The officials said superfluous details were often given in complaints that impeded effective investigation of cases. IO Riaz said any discrepancy between an FIR and subsequent investigation tended to enfeeble the prosecution’s case. Acknowledging the problem, IO Ghulam Abbas said an FIR ideally ought to be as precise as possible to prevent complications from arising.
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Advocate Afzal Bashir told The Express Tribune that a suspect was the favourite child of the court. He said details given in most FIRs tended to be “unrealistic” as they were humanly impossible to describe. The Iqbal Town SP said officials did not write the FIRs themselves. He said they were provided the facts by complainants. Suggesting a way to remedy the problem, the SP said the law should be amended to allow police to conduct an initial inquiry to authenticate the facts about an offence. Rapping the recommendation, Advocate Bashir said this would make the situation grimmer. He said the consequent delay would lead to loss of evidence. This, the lawyer said, would benefit criminals.
Investigations SSP Rana Ayyaz Salim told The Express Tribune that the problem was rooted in the dominant practice of framing the innocent in fake cases to settle scores. He said this had the domino effect of promoting corruption and enfeebling genuine cases. Salim said the debate regarding registering FIRs in line with Section 154 was a philosophical one. Salim said allowing police to register FIRs following investigation like other law enforcement agencies including the National Accountability Department (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) would remedy the problem.
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Assailing Salim’s recommendation, Advocate Usman Cheema said there was no point in trying to reinvent the wheel. He said allowing the police the right to conduct preliminary investigation would exacerbate the problem. Cheema said this was rather due to police’s incompetence.
Recommending a way to remedy the problem, he said deterrence was the essence of criminal law. Cheema said the penalty for registering a false FIR should be the same as that of the offence alleged in the complaint. He said this would deter people from trying to frame the innocent and manipulate evidence.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2015.