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Implications of the introduction of the provision of Preliminary inquiry in Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS)| Analysis of Section 173 BNSS and Lalita Kumari guidelines regarding FIR

Updated: Jun 2

Introduction:


Section 173 of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 has made changes to the provision for conducting a preliminary inquiry by the officer in charge of the police station.

This article will be focusing on the implications of the preliminary inquiry provisions.


Preliminary Inquiry Provisions:


1. Preliminary Inquiry for Serious Offenses:


- Nature of Offenses: Section 173(3) BNSS empowers the officer in charge of the police station to conduct a preliminary inquiry for offenses punishable for three years or more but less than seven years.


- Permission Requirement: The provision mandates obtaining prior permission from an officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police to initiate the preliminary inquiry.


2. Two Possible Courses of Action:


- Preliminary Enquiry:


The officer can conduct a preliminary inquiry within a period of fourteen days to ascertain whether there exists a prima facie case for proceeding further.


- Direct Investigation:


If there is a prima facie case, the officer may proceed with a full-fledged investigation.


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Implications of Preliminary Inquiry Provisions:


1. Balancing Swift Action and Due Diligence:


- The provision strikes a balance between expeditious action and due diligence. By allowing for a preliminary inquiry, law enforcement can assess the seriousness of the allegations before committing to a full-scale investigation.


2. Prima Facie Evaluation:


- The requirement to establish a prima facie case ensures that the preliminary inquiry is not a mere formality. It adds a layer of scrutiny, promoting a more thorough examination of the available evidence.


3. Reducing Unnecessary Harassment:


- Conducting a preliminary inquiry helps prevent unwarranted harassment or arrest in cases where the evidence may be insufficient or the allegations lack merit. This safeguards individuals from unnecessary legal consequences.


4. Judicious Resource Allocation:


- The provision enables law enforcement to allocate resources judiciously. Resources can be focused on cases with a prima facie basis, preventing unnecessary burdens on the legal system.


5. Supervisory Oversight:


- Requiring permission from a higher-ranking officer introduces an element of supervisory oversight. This ensures that decisions to conduct a preliminary inquiry are made with a heightened level of scrutiny.


6. Addressing Complaints:


- Section 173(4) BNSS allows individuals to address grievances if an officer refuses to record information. This provision provides an avenue for ensuring that legitimate complaints are not dismissed arbitrarily.


Does Section 173 BNSS incorporate the Hon'ble Supreme Court's guidelines in the case of Lalita Kumari vs Govt.Of U.P.& Ors?

Let's examine.


1. Preliminary Inquiry:


Lalita Kumari acknowledged certain exceptional circumstances for conducting a preliminary inquiry before FIR registration. These circumstances were Matrimonial disputes/ family disputes, Commercial offences, Medical negligence cases, Corruption cases and Cases with an abnormal delay in initiating criminal prosecution, for example, over 3 months delay in reporting the matter without satisfactorily explaining the delay.


Section 173(3) of BNSS permits conducting preliminary inquiry in a broder number of instances, that is in offenses punishable for three years or more but less than seven years.


2. Supervisory Oversight:


Lalita Kumari introduced the concept of supervisory oversight in case of a refusal to register an FIR. Section 173(4) of BNSS enables individuals aggrieved by the refusal to report the information to the Superintendent of Police, who can either investigate the case himself or direct an investigation by a subordinate police officer. However, a similar provision was also there under section 154 CRPC


3. Documentation and Videography:


Section 173(1) of BNSS provides for the documentation of information received during investigation, and while it doesn't explicitly mention videography, it emphasizes maintaining records. This aligns with the need for a transparent and documented process highlighted in Lalita Kumari.



Conclusion:


It can be observed that, the provisions in Section 173 BNSS aims to strike a balance between the imperative nature of FIR registration and the need for discretion in certain circumstances, as recognized in Lalita Kumari. Key lies in the actual implementation of the provision and ensuring that the provision is not misued.


Implications of the introduction of the provision of Preliminary inquiry in Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS)| Analysis of Section 173 BNSS and Lalita Kumari guidelines regarding FIR

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