At police commissioner B S Bassi’s behest, Delhi Police is working out the modalities of registration of FIRs related to several “non-heinous” crimes under IPC via internet, say sources.
According to excerpts of the proposal accessed by TOI, the department is preparing different modules of applications for the project. A group of officers has been assigned the task of delivering the app at the earliest and it should be up soon.
While approvals from the Delhi high court and the home ministry are awaited, jury is out on how viable the idea is.
Though the police argue that online registration would save people the hassle of running around to lodge their complaints, empirical evidence from the success, or rather the lack of it, of the vehicle theft app tells a different story, with investigations having virtually halted in such cases.
Once the app is up and running, an FIR could be registered electronically at a designated nodal police station created for the purpose. The app, available in English and Hindi, will work on Android, iOS and Windows 8 platforms on computers as well as smartphones.
“The proposal is aimed at discouraging people from visiting police stations to report crimes or seek progress report in person. The idea is to make things easier for them,” said an officer. Initially, the app will be used by police personnel to register FIRs. Once the pilot project takes off, the app will be made open to all.
“Once this happens, people can log on to the website and report the theft, simply by keying in the details. This will end unnecessary trips to the police station,” said a senior officer. An e-police station has been established for lodging such e-FIRs. For unsolved cases, the Delhi high court and district courts will have designated magistrates for all 11 districts as e-courts to accept the charge sheets, sources said.
In most such crimes, sources say, the police are hardly able to make any recovery as the stolen items are disposed at the earliest and arrests, if any, made much later.
Investigators, however, are critical of the move. They say, if not thought through properly, the step could halt whatever little probe is being carried into these cases; also police-public interaction could be further curtailed. They cite the fate of the vehicle theft app, which has virtually halted investigations. In July 2014, TOI had first reported the plans to lodge vehicle thefts online and gradually expand it to other crimes.
“Unlike vehicles where most people get insurance after submitting untraced reports, home articles are largely uninsured. Online registration on a mass scale, in the current scheme of things and infrastructure, will not only cut down police-public interaction, but also reduce police-criminal contact to a large extent,” said another officer.
Others say crimes such as snatching or burglary need to be tackled on priority and investigations into these not only help nip in bud bigger crimes, but also strengthen the information network.
“A few days ago, an elderly couple were brutally murdered at their southeast Delhi home and their house robbed. The case was solved within 24 hours as one of the investigators had sources among burglars active in Delhi and NCR,” the officer added. With little action on burglaries and thefts, the menace would only grow.
“People expect the police to promptly register their complaint and take up investigation for early disposal of the case. However, archaic procedures, coupled with occasional reluctance to register FIRs, add to their woes. Overburdened investigation officers often delay preliminary probe. The situation calls for a fundamental shift in methodology; only making things online won’t help,” says another officer.