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The panel also recommended allowing registration of e-complaints for all non-cognisable offences as per section 155 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, as is being currently done in all the States/UTs.
Law Commission has recommended enabling registration of e-FIR, saying it would tackle the long-persisting issue of delay, allowing citizens to report crimes in real-time.
In its 282nd report submitted to Union Law and Justice Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, the Commission led by former Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi said registration of e-FIR should be enabled in a phased manner, beginning with offences bearing a punishment of up to three years imprisonment.
"In tune with India's progressive Digital India mission and National e-Governance Plan, the Commission recommends that in cases where the accused is not known, registration of e-FIR should be allowed for all cognisable offences as per section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973," it said in its recommendations.
In cases, where the accused is known, as a preliminary step, registration of e-FIRs may be allowed for all cognisable offences wherein the punishment prescribed under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and other laws for the time being in force, is up to three years, it recommended.
"Such a limited roll-out of the e-FIR scheme in the initial phase would ensure that for the time being, there is no disruption relating to the procedure adopted for reporting and investigation of serious offences," it said.
Highlighting the importance of the verification of the complainant or informant by using e-authentication techniques, the panel said a minimum punishment of imprisonment and fine should be inflicted for false registration of e-complaints or e-FIR, by amending the provision under Section 182 of the Indian Penal Code.
The Commission examined the matter on a reference received from the Ministry of Home Affairs,
The government of India in June 2018, requested it to study the feasibility of amending Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) in order to enable online registration of FIRs.
In its report on "Amendment in Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for Enabling Online Registration of FIR", the Commission said, "Due to the march of technology, means of communication have progressed in leaps and bounds. In such a landscape, clinging on to an archaic system of registering FIRs does not augur well for criminal reforms."
It also noted eight States namely Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand have implemented registration of e-FIR for specified offences under the CCTNS Project of the NCRB.
However, the registration of the online complaint facility is available in all the States/UT on their State Citizen Portal developed under the CCTNS Project for specified crimes, it added.
"Grievances arising out of abuse of office and corruption for non registration of FIR have been highlighted by most of the Commissions and Committees and various suggestions have been made by them from time to time so that all FIRs are registered by the police and public grievances are addressed adequately. However, the problem of non-registration of FIR even in cognizable cases is experienced by the public even today and is one of the main causes for delay in disposal of cases involving commission of heinous crimes," it said.
The Commission felt that the process of registration of FIR may be made simple by allowing multiple modes of providing information.
"Most of the States in India have provided online portals to citizens enabling them to lodge complaints. The complaints are all enquired into and final reports are prepared. The same or similar system can be used to register e-FIR. The Government of India has already provided CCTNS facilities to all the States. Adequate hardware and software have already been provided in most locations," it noted.
"The use of these facilities to promote free registration of e FIR will give legitimacy to the criminal justice process and increase the faith of the common man in law. Unless the citizens are allowed unhindered and equal access to the criminal justice system, for which registration of FIR is the first step, there can be no equality before law, or equal protection of law, as envisioned in Article 14 of the Constitution of India," it said.
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