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The Supreme Court has ruled that the police officer must proceed to the place of crime immediately on receiving an information regarding commission of a cognizable offence and FIR can be registered later.

A bench comprising Mr Justices S B Sinha and Harjit Singh Bedi in their judgement noted " when an information is received by an officer in charge of a police station, he in terms of the provisions of the court was expected to reach the place of occurrence as early as possible. It was not necessary for him to take that step only on the basis of a FIR. An information received in regard of commission of a cognizable offence is not required to be presided by a FIR." The bench added that, "Duty of the state to protect the life of an injured as also endeavour on the part of the responsible police officer to reach the place of occurrence in the situation of this nature, is his implicit duty and responsibility." The ruling was handed down by the apex court while dismissing the appeals of nine accused in a murder case including village panchayat sarpanch Animireddy Venkataramana of Andhra Pradesh.

The trial judge had acquitted all the 24 accused involved in the murder of Annamreddi Tatayya Naidu which took place on June 23,1998.

Andhra Pradesh High Court, however, found ten persons guilty of murder and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The High Court, however, acquitted 14 others. The apex court in its 31 page judgement also noted that while examining the contents of an FIR the mental and physical condition of the informant at the time of giving information must be taken into consideration by the courts.

The apex court in its judgement also noted "once however, a FIR is found to be truthful, only because names of some accused persons have been mentioned, against whom the prosecution was not able to establish his case, the entire prosecution case would not be thrown away only on the basis thereof." "If further more the purported entry in the general diary, which had not been produced is not treated to be an FIR, only because some inquiries have been made, the same by itself would not vitiate the entire trial", the court added.

"Enquiries are required to be made for several reasons, one of them is to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the incident and the second to apprehend the accused persons. Arrest of accused persons, as expeditiously as possible leads to a better investigation.

Accused number one was the sarpanch of the village, accused number two is a fair price shop dealer, accused number three was also admittedly a well known person. It is also not denied and disputed that other accused were also related to him."

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