An FIR (First Information Report) is the earliest form and the first information of a cognizable offence recorded by an officer-in-charge of a police station. The underlying reason for documenting an FIR is to a set criminal law into motion and not to express all the small details therein.
Though this term is not used in the Criminal Procedure Code however, ‘An information given under sub-section (1) of section 154 CrPC is commonly known as first information report (FIR)’
The information given to the Police Officer for registration of a case must be authentic and bona fide. It should be traceable to an individual who should be responsible for imparting information and not be gossip. It may or may not be hearsay but the person who reports of the said hearsay should take responsibility for it and mention the source of information. FIR should not be result of an irresponsible rumour.
If the information given by the woman against whom an offence u/s 326A,326 B ,354 , 354A-D,376,376A-E and 509 of Indian Penal Code is alleged then such information shall be recorded by a women police officer.
Meaning of Cognizable Offence:
An offence in which the police officer has the supreme authority of arresting without a warrant and to be able to start an investigation with or without the permission of the court is termed as a cognizable offence.
Who can lodge a FIR?
FIR can be filed by the following persons:
1) By an aggrieved person or somebody on his behalf.
2) Any person who is aware of the offence by being either:
(a) An eye witness and/or
(b) hearsay account.
3) By the accused himself.
4) By the SHO on his own knowledge or information even when a cognizable offence is committed in view of an officer in charge he can register a case himself however he is not bound to take down in writing any information and even if the information is only by a medical certificate upon arrival of the injured, then the (SHO) should enter it in daily diary and go to hospital for recording detailed statement of injured.
In all the cases the information must be definite, not vague, authentic, not baseless, gossip or rumour, clearly making out a cognizable case. It is to be kept in mind that the person delivering the hearsay is required to mention the source of his information and submit it along with his/her signature to prevent it from amounting to false rumour.
Where FIR should be filed?
Any person can lodge a first Information Report (FIR). It is not necessary for him to be the victim or the injured or an eye-witness. It is not essential for a First Information Report to be true and hence it can be a hearsay and need not necessarily be given by the person who has firsthand knowledge of the facts.
When should it be filed?
An FIR should be filed in the police station of the concerned area in whose jurisdiction the offence took place.
Though it is secondary, however it is an equally important object to obtain early information of an alleged criminal activity and to record the circumstances before the trial, lest such circumstances are forgotten or embellished.
Objective of FIR:
The objectives of filing an FIR are stated as below:
(1) To reduce the substance of data given of a cognizable offense ,whenever given orally, into a composed written form.
(2) To have it signed by the complainant if submitted in writing.
(3) To maintain a record of information of the cognizable offences committed.
(4) To initiate investigation on receipt of information of commission of cognizable offence.
(5) To inform Magistrate regarding the nature of the information received.
In the case of Habib v State of Bihar, the court stated the principle object of FIR which was to set the criminal law in motion. In the case of P.Sirajuddin v State of Madras, it has been held that to obtain an early information of an alleged offence from the informant and to put into writing the statement before his memory fails or before he gets the time and opportunity to embellish it, FIR is necessary.
Essentials of FIR:
The essential conditions to be known while reporting/recording information are:
1. What information needs to be conveyed?
2. In what capacity the crime happened?
3. Who committed the crime?
4. Against whom the crime was committed?
5. When was the crime initiated?
6. Where did the crime take place?
7. What was the motive behind ?
8. The way of occurrence, if any
9.Witnesses, if any.
10. If anything was taken away?
11. What traces were left by the accused?
12. Any causality, if at all.
Procedure of filing FIR
Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 lays down the procedure for lodging an FIR-
When the information about the commission of a cognizable offence is given orally, the police must write it down.
A person giving the information or making a complaint ,can demand that the information recorded by the police to be read over to him/her.
One should sign the report only after verifying that the information recorded by the police is as per the details given by you.
Once the information has been recorded by the police, it must be signed by the person giving the information. It is to to kept in mind that people who are unable to read or write are expected to put their left thumb impression on the document after being satisfied that it is a correct record.
Copy of FIR
A person filing a FIR has the right of getting a copy of FIR free of cost.
Difference between FIR & police complaint
It implies to the complaint registered with the police by the plaintiff or any other person having knowledge of the cognizable offence.
Police complaint means an appeal made to the magistrate, which includes an allegation that a crime has taken place.
There is prescribed format
No such prescribed format
Recorded only of cognizable offences
Both cognizable and non-cognizable offences are recorded.
WHO CAN SUBMIT?
Aggrieved party or the accused, or any such person .
Anyone subject to certain exceptions.
Evidentiary value of FIR:
FIR not being a substantive piece of evidence, can be used in the following ways :
1.Used for Corroboration purposes.
2. For contradicting purposes the evidence of person giving the information is important.
3. As an admission against the informer.
4. To refresh former’s memory.
5. To impeaching the credit of an informer.
6. To prove the informer’s conduct.
7. In order to establish identity of accused, witnesses & for fixing spot time as relevant facts.
When is FIR Substantive Evidence?
a. As dying declaration- During declaration when a person deposing about the cause of his death had died.
2. When the injured makes a statement to the SHO saying that accused was injuring him or/and when the injuries are being caused in the SHO’s presence.
3. When it becomes difficult for the informer who has written the FIR or read it ,to recall those facts but is however, sure that the facts were correctly represented in FIR at the time he wrote it or read it.
What if Policeman Refuses to record FIR?
1. One can bring the complaint to the notice of the Superintendent of Police or any other concerned official by meeting them directly.
2. Complaint can be sent in writing through post to the Superintendent of Police concerned. It is at the option of the officer that if he is satisfied with the complaint, he shall either investigate the case himself or order an investigation to be made.
3. One has the option to file a private complaint before the court having jurisdiction.
4. One can always approach the State Human Rights Commission or National Human Rights Commission in case the police acts in a negligent or biased manner.
Lalita Kumari v Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
Citation- (2014) 2 SCC 1
Bench: P Sathasivam, B.S. Chauhan, Ranjana Prakash Desai, Ranjan Gogoi, S.A. Bobde
The facts of the case go like this -The present writ petition was filed by Lalita Kumari through her father for the issuance of a writ of Habeas Corpus for the protection of his daughter who has been kidnapped. On 11.05.2008, a written report was submitted by the petitioner before the officer-in-charge of the police station but no action was taken by the so called officials .Hence the Superintendent of Police was approached for a FIR and then he registered it. However no course was taken by the police authorities to recover the kidnapped daughter or to apprehend the accused.
The main issue which stood in front of the court was whether a police officer is bound under section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to register an FIR upon receiving any information relating to the commission of a cognizable or does the police officer has the power to conduct a preliminary inquiry in order to test the veracity of such information before registering the same?
The FIR is a pertinent and an irreplaceable document in the criminal law procedure of our country and from the point of view of the informant its main objective is to set the criminal law in motion and to obtain information about the alleged criminal activity so as to be able to take suitable steps to trace and to bring to book the guilty from the point of view of the investigation authorities.
The main legislative intent behind section 139 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1861, and Section 154 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1882, is to ensure compulsory registration of FIR in case of a cognizable offence without conducting a preliminary inquiry. It becomes clear by reading section 154 with section 156 of the Criminal Code of 1898,that an investigation starts by the police officer recording the first information regarding commission of cognizable offence into writing and into the book prescribed by the Provincial Government for the same purpose.
A sine qua non pre requisite for recording an FIR under Section 154 of the Code is that there must be information disclosing a cognizable offence. This mandatory provision of section 154 can be noticed by the use of the word ‘shall’ in the section.
A duty has been cast upon the police, in cases of cognizable offences to register FIR and to conduct investigation in manner specifically mentioned under section 157 of the Code. Further, FIR book or FIR Register is a book where the registration of FIR needs to be done. Along with this,it is necessary to write down the gist of FIR or the substance of the FIR simultaneously in the General Diary as mandated in the respective Police Act or Rules, as the case may be, under the relevant State Provisions. If there is any confusion and inconsistency in the provisions relating to Section 154 of the Code and Section 44 of the Police Act 1861, with regard to the fact as to whether the FIR is to be registered in the FIR book or in the General Diary, the provisions of section 154 of the code will prevail and the FIR will be recorded in the FIR book as mandated by section 154 of the code.
Further, according to the provisions of section 154(1) of the code, reasonableness or credibility of the said information is not a condition precedent for the registration of a case.
The requirement of section 154 of the Code is only that the report must disclose the commission of a cognizable offence and that is sufficient to set the investigation machinery into action. Therefore conducting an investigation into an offence after the registration of FIR under Section 154 of the Code is the procedure established by law and thus in conformity with Article 21 of the Constitution. Accordingly, the right of the accused under Article 21 of the Constitution is protected if the FIR is registered first and then the investigation is conducted in accordance with the provisions of the law.
The advantage of compulsory registration of FIR is not only to ensure transparency in the criminal justice delivery system but also to ensure judicial oversight. Section 157(1) deploys the word forthwith. Thus, any information received under section 154(1) or otherwise has to be duly informed in the form of a report to the magistrate. Moreover, there are various other compelling reasons for the compulsory registration of FIR.
While registration of FIR is compulsory, the arrest of the accused immediately on registration of FIR is not at all mandatory. Registration of FIR and arrest of a person are different concepts under the law and there are several safeguards available against arrest.
Although, section 154 of the code postulates the mandatory registration of FIRs on receipt of all cognizable offences, yet there are few exceptions where preliminary inquiry may be required first before registering an FIR. Allegations relating to medical negligence on part of the doctor, corrupt practice on part of public servant, and others are considered as an exception to the general rule.
Decesion by Supreme Court
Directions to be followed in regards to Registration of an FIR, are discussed below:
(i) It is mandatory under section 154 of the Code to get a FIR registered, if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation.
(ii) A preliminary inquiry may be conducted only to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not, in case the information received does not disclose a cognizable offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry,
(iii) FIR must be registered, if the inquiry discloses the commission of a cognizable offence.a copy of the entry of such closure must be supplied to the first informant forthwith and not later than one week in cases where preliminary inquiry ends in closing the complaint. Reasons must be disclosed and stated in brief for the complaint being closed and not being proceeded further.
(iv)No police officer can avoid his duty of registering offence if cognizable offence has been committed and is hence disclosed. Strict steps must be taken against erring officers who do not register the FIR in case of cognizable offences.
(v) The scope of preliminary inquiry is only to ascertain whether the information reveals any cognizable offence and not to verify the veracity of the information received.
(vi) The category of cases in which preliminary inquiry may be made are as under-
(a) Cases of Matrimonial disputes family disputes
(b) Matters of Commercial offences
(c) Cases involving medical negligence.
(d) Matters of Corruption cases
(e) Abnormal delayed cases where in initiating criminal prosecution, for example, over 3 months have already passed.
The above are non-exhaustive conditions.
(vii)A preliminary inquiry should be made time bound and in any case it should not exceed 7 days while ensuring and protecting the rights of the accused and the complainant. Any reason or fact of such delay must be reflected in the General Diary entry.
(viii) It is a mandatory practice as directed by the Supreme Court that since the General Diary/Station Diary/Daily Diary is the record of all information received in a police station, all information relating to cognizable offences, either resulting in registration of FIR or leading to an inquiry, must be meticulously reflected in the diary, no matter even if it is a preliminary inquiry.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) What if it gets late to register a FIR?
It is well known that longer the delay, the stronger the suspicion. The delay should be satisfactorily explained so that the case does not appear to be a false one-
(1) Names of witnesses should be carefully and explicitly mentioned in a FIR.In situations when the name of the witnesses are not submitted in the first go and is later on procured ,it is assumed that they were not present at the spot.
(2) As much as material facts as possible and other first hand incidents relevant to the matter should be registered.
(3) Even if the FIR is delayed, however they material facts to be filed remains the same and hence the name of the accused, if known should also be disclosed.
There are three categories of delay in FIR-
a)Delay by an informant in lodging FIR.
b)Delay in recording the FIR. by the officer in charge of the police station.
c)Delay in dispatching the FIR to the magistrate.
In Bathula Nagamalleswara Rao & Ors. Vs. State Rep by public prosecutor, it was held that delay in lodging an FIR shall not be fatal if it is accompanied with suitable reason.An undue delay in lodging an FIR is always looked at with suspicion
2) Can FIR be lodged on a telephone or by means of telegram?
In the above situation ,a case may not be registered as it leaves the other person in doubt of authenticity and moreover it does not even satisfy the tests of section 154 of Criminal Procedure Code which demands the oral statement to be reduced into writing ,to be read over and admitted correctly and signed by the informant.
Exceptions are always there in all situations and similarly we see that in Sukharam vs. State of Maharashtra, it was held that it is not important for the informer to be present personally before the police for registration of an FIR.
It can be recorded on telephone or even through e-mail provided that the facts of the case are not ambiguous and hence it can be treated as a FIR.
It has been seen that in many police stations of India, even a message on email or whatsapp, can be registered as First Information Report, provided that they are not vague and all valid and necessary information has been provided.
3) Can an informant’s later version be regarded as FIR?
The answer to the above statement is no.
As FIR is the one on which investigation originally started and any later statement during an investigation, even if found true won’t be admitted as FIR.
4) Is there any such thing as a second FIR?
In the case of Mokab Ali & Others vs. State of West Bengal,it was held by the court that no first information report can be filed in a murder case after an inquest has begun.It is ensured that only the first statements and story of informant is to be penned down in the FIR and in cases of second complaint,there is no scope of getting a first hand information and hence it is narrowed down to zero possibility.
5) Are confessional statements accepted as FIR or not?
If the FIR is a confessional one, it can be admissible. A confession is received in evidence on the presumption that no person will voluntarily make a statement which is against his or her interest, unless it is true. In case where there is confession made by the accused,the court decides to accept it by two factor i.e. on the basis that whether the confession is voluntary and other is that whether the confession is true and trustworthy.
6) What if the informant files a false FIR?
False complaint being registered as FIR is an inescapable phenonmenon and hence it cannot be ignored. Lodging a false complaint in India is punishable offence under section 182 and section 211 of the Indian Penal Code.
According to section 182 there is prescribed a punishment for 6 months and a fine in case of any person registering a false complaint to a public servant ,on the basis of which the said public servant takes a certain action which he wouldn’t have had taken otherwise.
According to section 211,there is no use of the term ‘public servant ‘and hence accordingly any person who starts a criminal proceeding against any other person on the basis of filing false information to cause injury to the alleged person is liable to face imprisonment for a period extending to two years. Also if the charge discloses an offence which is punishable by death or to a minimum sentence of imprisonment up to 7 years then the informant is punishable with imprisonment for a maximum period of 7 years.
7) Is there any remedy available to persons against whom false FIR is filed?
A person against whom FIR is filed which is false and baseless then in that case as a precautionary step he has the freedom to apply for anticipatory bail under section 438 of the criminal procedure code, 1973.
The aggrieved can also file a case for defamation. He has also the right to file a petition under section 438 of the code of criminal procedure, 1973 praying to quash the FIR on the basis of the FIR. being a false allegation and he being not guilty.
8) Can a FIR be quashed?
There are provisions in our Indian legal system and there is precedence of FIR being quashed if characterised by lawful grounds by virtue of section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
The circumstances when the proceedings could be quashed are –
1) When the allegations made as complaints or statements by the witntess, informant make absolutely no case or when the complaint does not disclose the essential ingredients of an offence.
2) When the allegations and statements are so absurd that no conclusion can be reached about there being a sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.
3) Under section 156(1) of the code except under an order of a magistrate ,then within the purview of section 155(2) of the code if the allegations mentioned in the FIR do not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police officers then it can be quashed.
4) When the criminal proceedings are a result of mala-fide intention and with an ulterior motive for seeking vengeance on the accused.
In the case of Devendra & Ors.vs. State of U.P & Anr., it was held that the high courts could exercise its jurisdiction under section 482of the Cr.P.C, if the allegations made in the FIR do not constitute any offence and hence in such case the superior courts will not encourage any harassment in a criminal court for nothing.
9) What is a zero FIR?
A type of FIR that can be filed in any police station regardless of the place of incidence or jurisdiction. However after investigating and filing it with the magistrate, it transferred to the police station which has the competent jurisdiction. It is to be noted that a normal FIR has a proper serial number on the contrary the zero FIR is registered in any police station and hence is not numbered. The police station where the zero FIR is originally registered is supposed to make a basic investigation into the case before passing it on to the other police station which has its competent jurisdiction.
10) What is E-FIR?
E-FIR is a short form for electronic FIR and it can be filed in cases of cognizable offences like rape, murder, dowry deaths etc.Its main agenda is to protect the identity of such victims who may not be able to file FIR at the nearby police station for reasons such as society pressure, unablility to face the society etc.
Different states may have different patterns for lodging an E-FIR.
Edited by Shuvneek Hayer
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
3)AIR 1972 SC 283
4)AIR 1971 SC 520
5)(2014) 2 SCC 1
6)2008(2) CRIMES 188(SC) at page 189
7)C.R.A No.111 of 2000
8)Devendra & Ors. Vs. State of U.P & Anr,.[2009(7)SCALE 613]