Delay in forwarding the FIR to magistrate court is not fatal in a case in which investigation has commenced promptly on its basis. This legal principle was reiterated by the Supreme Court on 25 November 2016 in the case of Anjan Das Gupta Vs. State Of West Bengal & Ors. [Criminal Appeal No. 298 OF 2006]. The case was decided by a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Ashok Bhushan.
In this case, the appeal had been filed against the judgment dated 16.02.2006 of Calcutta High Court, by which judgment, the High Court reversed the order of acquittal granted by Additional Sessions Judge. The High Court convicted the appellant Anjan Dasgupta and one Biswanath Paul under Section 302,34 of IPC by awarding life sentence and a fine of Rs. 2000.00.
In the said appeal, one circumstance, which had been heavily relied by trial court and reiterated before the Supreme Court by counsel for the appellant was dispatch of the FIR to the Magistrate with delay.
The Supreme Court held that the present is the case, where recording of the FIR on 16th June, 2000 itself has been proved, accepted by the trial court also, thus mere dispatch of the FIR on 22nd June, 2000 from the police station to the Magistrates’ Court has no bearing on the basis of which any adverse presumption can be drawn.
It was held that the I.O. after receipt of the information of an offence by R.T. message had arrived at the scene on 17.40 hours on 16th June, 2000, which clearly proves the prompt commencement of the investigation. FIR was dispatched on 22nd June, 2000 which has also been accepted by trial court. When no questions were put to I.O. in his cross-examination regarding the delay in dispatch, at the time of hearing, the accused cannot make capital of the said delay in forwarding the FIR.
The Supreme Court referred to its earlier decision in the case of Rabindra Mahto and Another v. State of Jharkhand 2006 (10) SCC 432, in which it had held that in every case from the mere delay in sending the FIR to the Magistrate, the Court would not conclude that the FIR has been recorded much later in time than shown. It is only extraordinary and unexplained delay, which may raise doubts regarding the authenticity of the FIR.
The Supreme Court also referred to its earlier decision in Pala Singh v. State of Punjab, 1972 (2) SCC 640, wherein it had been held that delay in forwarding the FIR to court is not fatal in a case in which investigation has commenced promptly on its basis.
In these circumstances, the Supreme Court held that the FIR was genuine FIR and trial court committed an error in drawing adverse inference against the prosecution and refusing to attach value to the FIR.
The conclusion of the Sessions Judge that the FIR was manipulated was thus found to be erroneous. It was held that the FIR had been proved by the evidence.
Read full order of the court: