Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Law Commission recommends registration of E-FIR in certain cases

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The Law Commission of India has recommended permitting the registration of electronic first information reports (e-FIR) for all cognisable offences where the accused was not known.

The Commission further recommended registration of E-FIR in all cognisable offences with a maximum punishment of three years where the identity of the accused was known.

The Commission recommended suitable amendments not only to the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, but also to the Indian Evidence Act, 1872; the Information Technology Act, 2000; the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and other legislation to support e-FIR registration.

Headed by retired Karnataka High Court judge Ritu Raj Awasthi, the Commission made the recommendations in its 282th report on ‘Amendment in Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for Enabling Online Registration of FIR’.

It said in tune with India’s progressive Digital India mission and National e-Governance Plan, the Commission has recommended that in cases where the accused was 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 further recommendef that where the accused was 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 was up to three years.

It said such a limited rollout of the e-FIR scheme in the initial phase would ensure that for the time being, there was no disruption relating to the procedure adopted for reporting and investigation of serious offences.

The Commission, while mentioning the Arnesh Kumar guidelines on reasonable investigations before arrests in cases punishable with imprisonment up to seven years, said that limiting the applicability of e-FIR registration to less severe offences, with punishments up to three years, could safeguard against wrongful arrests and police abuse

It further highlighted the principle of presumption of innocence, saying it occupied a central position in criminal law.

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