What to do If Police Refuse to Register an FIR?

FIR or a First Information Report is a report of information that first in point of time reaches the police. It is a written document that the police prepare after receiving the information about the cognizable offence. In general terms it is the complaint of a cognizable offence lodged with the police by the victim or by someone on his/her behalf. This report is a very important document because it sets the process of Criminal justice in motion and it is only after the registration of the FIR the Police starts investigating the case.

An FIR can be done in either oral or written form by anyone[1], which is then recorded by the police officer in the written form. The procedure for filing an FIR has been laid down in Section 154[2] of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973, and in Lalita Kumari Case the Constitutional Bench held that under Section 154 the registration of FIR is a mandatory action which needs to be taken and laid down various other guidelines that need to be followed while registering FIR. The Supreme Court held in Suresh Chandra Jain v. State of Madhya Pradesh[3] that it is the duty of the Office-in-charge of the police station to register the FIR.

But what does one do if the police refuse to register an FIR, for this it is important to understand if a police officer can refuse to register an FIR? The answer is both yes and no. If the Police Officer believes the case is based on a petty issue and also if they don’t have the territorial jurisdiction, they can refuse to file the complaint. In general, crimes are segregated into “cognizable”, for which FIRs are lodged, and “non-cognizable”, for which a complaint is submitted to the magistrate who in return directs the police for action. The supreme court of india held that- merely because it was received first in point a vague, indefinite or unauthorised piece of information cannot be regarded enough.”

In case a police officer refuses to register the FIR there are several remedies available to the aggrieved party to regain the services promised to him:

1. Complain to the Superintendent of the Police

The aggrieved can write a complaint of his case and send it to the Senior Officer of the police, or the Commissioner of police, or the Superintendent of police. The aggrieved may send the copy of this complaint to the Chief Justice of the High Court of that state.

After analyzing the complaint if the above-mentioned posts believe the offence to be a cognizable offence, the may- investigate themself, or give directions to register the FIR and investigate the matter.

2. Complain to a Judicial Magistrate

The aggrieved may send a written complaint to the Judicial Metropolitan Magistrate of the concerned jurisdiction, and the magistrate may decide whether to take cognizance or not after analyzing the letter.

From sub-section (3) of section 156[4] read with section 190[5] of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, an application may be sent to the Judicial Magistrate or Metropolitan Magistrate telling that police to register an FIR, investigate the case, and file the report before him.

3. File a Writ Petition

The aggrieved may file a writ petition for a mandamus against the defaulting police officer, or to give reason why the police officer should not be suspended from his position and the reason why the FIR was not registered. The aggrieved may also ask for damages or compensation under article 21[6] for the deprivation of life and liberty.

4. Complain to Human Rights

The aggrieved can also file a case in written form in the State human right commission of that state, or the National Human Right Commission against the police officer for denying the rights of the victim.

Filing an FIR is a beneficiary provided to the public at large and no one has the right to violate the right guaranteed by the law.


[1] Superintendent Of Police, C.B.I. … vs Tapan Kr. Singh,

[2]  Information in cognizable cases.

(1) Every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction, and be read Over to the informant; and every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing as aforesaid, shall be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf.

(2) A copy of the information as recorded under sub- section (1) shall be given forthwith, free of cost, to the informant.

(3) Any person aggrieved by a refusal on the part of an officer in charge of a police station to record the information referred to in subsection (1) may send the substance of such information, in writing and by post, to the Superintendent of Police concerned who, if satisfied that such information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, shall either investigate the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by any police officer subordinate to him, in the manner provided by this Code, and such officer shall have all the powers of an officer in charge of the police station in relation to that offence.

[3] Appeal (crl.) 43 of  2001

[4] Any Magistrate empowered under section 190 may order such an investigation as above- mentioned.

[5] Cognizance of offences by Magistrates.

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Chapter, any Magistrate of the first class, and any Magistrate of the second class specially empowered in this behalf under sub- section (2), may take cognizance of any offence-

(a) upon receiving a complaint of facts which constitute such offence;

(b) upon a police report of such facts;

(c) upon information received from any person other than a police officer, or upon his own knowledge, that such offence has been committed.

(2) The Chief Judicial Magistrate may empower any Magistrate of the second class to take cognizance under sub- section (1) of such offences as are within his competence to inquire into or try.

[6] Protection of life and personal liberty No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law

This article is authored by Pankhuri Pankaj, student of BA LLB at Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies (GGSIPU affiliated).

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