The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court that the police was “duty-bound” to register FIRs in cases of cognisable offences.
It was responding to a PIL seeking guidelines for police in handling complaints of rape in love affairs turned sour.
At the same time, the government also said that while the amended rape laws make it clear that if an adult woman engages voluntarily in a physical relationship even where she has been promised marriage, the same will not constitute the offence of rape.
The public interest litigation (PIL) had also sought that the police are directed to refrain from registering an FIR in cases where a woman alleges rape on the ground of a false promise of marriage.
However, in an affidavit filed in compliance with the high court’s order, the state home department submitted that every police official was “duty-bound” to register an FIR and conduct preliminary investigations on the receipt of information of a cognisable offence.
While the amended rape laws in the country make it clear that if an adult woman engages voluntarily in a physical relationship even in such cases where she has been promised marriage, the same will not constitute the offence of rape, the state further submitted in the affidavit.
However, when such allegations are made and a complaint or FIR registered, it remains for the police to inquire into whether such consent was voluntary, or if it had been obtained by “falsely inducing the woman to believe that the accused would marry her,” the affidavit reads.
“A fine balance needs to be found between the rights of the complainant and the need to protect a manifestly innocent person from the travails of an investigation and trial,” it said.
“However, in view of the legal position, it is clear that when any information regarding the commission of a cognisable offence is received, the police officer concerned is duty- bound to register an FIR and conduct an investigation,” the affidavit further said.
If at a later date, it is concluded that no offence has been committed or that the allegations are not true, and then such officer is under an obligation to disclose the same to the court, it said.
“In view of the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, it is not possible to issue guidelines to an investigating officer to abstain from registering an FIR in certain cases,” the affidavit mentioned.
The state, however, also said that if the high court still feels the need for any guidelines to the police, it could issue the same or direct that they be framed by the authorities concerned.
The submissions came while the court was hearing a writ petition and another PIL seeking guidelines for the police in cases where a woman has consensual sexual intercourse with a man and then alleges rape after the relationship goes awry, or if the man goes back on his promise to marry her.