Feb 23, 2022

What can you do against Police Inaction?

The Karnataka High Court has directed the station house officer of a Kalaburagi police station to clean the road in front of his police station for one week, after the officer failed to take note of a complaint by a mother whose son was allegedly abducted. 


In this context, let us look at the remedies for a complainant/victim to deal with the police in case of deliberate inaction, unreasonable delay, failure to collect evidence, shielding of offenders etc.


Filing a First Information Report (FIR)

If a police officer refuses to file the FIR, then the complainant can: 

  • Write down the complaint and send it to the Superintendent of Police. If the Superintendent feels there is merit in the case, they can appoint a police officer to start an investigation.
  • Take the help of a lawyer while going to the police station. Lawyers can advocate on behalf of a person and reduce the possibility of harassment from police officers.
  • Go to another police station nearby to file the FIR. An FIR can be filed at any police station and it is compulsory for the police to record information given by a complainant. It does not matter in which area the crime happened. A person can file the FIR at the nearest police station or at a police station located in a different area. The police will record the information and then transfer it to the police station nearest to the crime scene. This is known as Zero FIR. 
  • Request someone else to file the FIR and give this person details of the offence.
  • Approach the District/Judicial Magistrate directly to file a ‘private complaint’. 
  • Approach other complaint forums, like the National/State Human Rights Commission.


Police investigation

In India, the law on criminal procedure is regulated by the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Section 173(1) of the Code says that every police investigation should be completed without unnecessary delay. Further, the investigation has to be fair, prompt, transparent and judicious to both the victim and the person accused of a crime. An investigation which is ineffective, unfair, unclear, irresponsible, or delayed, is against the fundamental rule of law under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950.


In Sakiri Vasu v. State of UP, the Supreme Court said that if a Magistrate thinks proper investigation is not being done by the officer-in-charge of a police station, the Magistrate can certainly direct the officer to make a proper investigation and can also monitor the investigation. 

So, the complainant/victim of a crime can apply to the concerned Magistrate for monitoring the police investigation, and the Magistrate can then issue appropriate directions for speedy completion of the investigation.


The complainant/victim may alternatively file a petition in the High Court for transferring the investigation to an independent agency like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The complainant/victim can also file a complaint against the Investigating Officer for deliberately disobeying any law which regulates the manner of conducting an investigation. Under Section 166A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the officer can be punished with imprisonment for six months to two years, along with a fine.