Observing there was an “unreasonable delay’’ of four years in registering a an FIR in a case of forgery against a builder, Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission recommended Rs 2 lakh compensation to an elderly woman. “Additional chief secretary (Home) to pay Rs 2 lakh compensation to the complainant for violation of her human rights due to serious lapse by a police officer in failing to register the FIR immediately,” said SHRC acting chairperson M A Sayeed in his order earlier this month. The amount is to be paid within six months.

To ensure police register FIRs promptly, the SHRC also recommended the state director general of police circulate the Supreme Court guidelines on registration in case of serious offences. The guidelines make it mandatory for police to register an FIR when a cognizable offence is reported. A cognizable offence is usually considered to be a serious crime, one where the police can initiate action.

The complainant, a 75-year-old resident of Vile Parle, had through her lawyer, Nitin Vhatkar, complained police had failed to register an FIR against a builder and others over forgery in a slum rehabilitation project.

The woman had named a senior police inspector and a sub-inspector and said she was made to “run from pillar to post” since July 2014. She said her house was demolished and she was left “stranded”. In November 2018, the SHRC issued a showcause notice asking why no action should be initiated against the errant officer under the Protection of Human Rights Act. The police had subsequently lodged the FIR in 2018. Last month, a departmental inquiry was initiated against the errant officer.

The police responded to the SHRC last December and again last month when it proposed disciplinary action against the sub-inspector, presently attached to Bhandup police station.

“It can be seen necessary action against the defaulting officer has been initiated for having committed an unreasonable delay in registration of FIR,” said Sayeed, recommending SC guidelines in the Lalitakumari case be circulated to all police stations for implementation, keeping in mind the mandate of law, “to meet the ends of justice.”