Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Filing a complaint with the police

I lost a BSNL SIM in Bangalore on 18/10/2016 and went to their office asking for a replacement (For those of you who do not know it - Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. is the Govt. owned telecom service provider in India). I was told to file a police complaint and then file an application. I went through the first part of this process and was rewarded with an eye-opening experience. The police station told me to visit the URL and file a complaint online. I went to this website and clicked on “Lost and Found” and was directed to this page:
I registered myself as a user, giving ID information, mobile number, address etc. I received a One-Time Password on my email address. Using this, I completed the registration and filled in my complaint. I got a digitally signed copy of the police record of my complaint, which I will submit to BSNL tomorrow. 

What is eye-opening about this?
We can now do this for a lost cell phone, a lost card like a driver’s license, etc. I believe that the courts can and should order this process to be made available to complain about serious crimes too. Visit the following page to read the legal provisions relating to the First Information Report (FIR).
In reality, filing an FIR requires cooperation by the police station concerned. This introduces a weakness in the system, sometimes allowing the powerful, the rich and others interfering in this first step in seeking redress.
There is logic in requiring that the identity of the complainant should be verified before a complaint is recorded. In this age of digitalization, this process can be automated at least for a significant part of the population. This part of the population, having access to the Internet and the necessary skills to file an online complaint, can also help others when necessary.
The Electronically Filed Complaint (EFC) need not be called an FIR as this might have legal implications. It is for the courts to decide if they will treat such complaints as FIRs or not.

Merely digitalizing complaints about lost cell phones is not progress in a country which sees over 33,000 murders, over 33,000 rapes, and over 77,000 kidnappings/abductions per year (2014 statistics reported in Violent Crimes – National Crime Records Bureau ).

If a victim or witness cannot complain promptly and in his/her own words about a crime, “Digital India” will only be a mirage! 

Visit to read about the intricacies behind filing a complaint!

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