Exposition of information on the commission of any ‘recognizable cognizable crime’ to an office on duty at a police station marked within the jurisdictional ambit or area in question is ‘first information’ and the corresponding report is termed as the First Information Report [hereinafter referred as FIR]. The documentation is the registry following the mode prescribed by the State government. [i]
FIR is paramount in a criminal proceeding as it initiates the judicial process in motion.[ii] Only when the police are acquainted with the alleged facts and details of the offence via the report, they investigate the case.[iii] The question of who can host an FIR can be answered with an ease that whoever is a victim or the aggrieved party of the recognizable crime or who has been a witness to the crime or even who is acquainted with the happening of the crime can submit an FIR.[iv] Prompt lodging of information of commission of cognizable offense at the first stance or available opportunity is the true version; without any addition, embellishment and concoction.[v] Any possibilities of missing links on vide of influence or additions are removed when the memory is fresh and information is given without any loss of time.
The procedure for filing an FIR has been detailed in the Code itself.[vi] When information regarding the offence is registered orally at the station, the police is bound by the duty to reduce them to writing. It remains the duty of the informant to read the stated details in the report or the report is read over to the informant by the official. The substance of the information written must be in the prescribed form, a book called as ‘Station diary or General diary’. Once the report is lodged, it must be signed by the informant providing the information and a copy of the same to be provided free of cost. Details mentioned in the Report may widely remain inclusive of name and address of the informant; date, time and location of the incident reported; comprehensive facts of the occurrence of the alleged crime and name and description of the people involved in the incident.
FIRs are lodged only for cognizable crimes, with an extended ambit engaged in cases such as murder, rape, dacoity, etc. However, this has become a general notion that aggrieved are often turned back at while they approach the police for the registration of FIR. The robust position holder, considering their own judgement as authoritative, may take the snap of dismissing pleas to be petty and refusing to take notice of the same.
What can be done if our dutifully imbed right of registration of FIR is violated?
A cognizable offence mandates a police officer to register a FIR. In case of default by the empowered party for his refusal under Section 154(3) of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1974 on unreasonable grounds, law provides us a way out by moving to a higher-ranking officer, Superintendent of Police, Deputy Inspector General or Inspector General of Police for instance, for filing a complaint.
Further, Judicial Magistrate beholds the power to direct the police- in- charge for the registration of FIR with seeking a viable explanation of its otherwise. The informant is legally entitled to lodge a FIR to a Judicial or Metropolitan Magistrate under Section 156(3) read with Section 190 of the Procedure. Concerned State or National Human Rights Commission have also been entrusted with the duty of enforcing the law and keep an eye on the police force on being negligent and ignorant.
With the 21st century booming with advancement and e-networking, various states have enlisted e-complaints to get the defaulter police officials on the radar of scrutiny. Writ Petitions can be filed in the respective High Courts for the issuance of mandamus against the defaulting officials, inter alia, for the failure to register the FIR and commanding him with a show cause notice as to state for his reasons of non-registration.
The aforementioned assertions has been held to be obligatory. Whenever any information is received by an officer on duty, he is bound to register.[vii] The Supreme Court of India, in Haryana v. Bhajan Lal[viii] opined that credibility and reliability of the information is no ground for the refusal to register an FIR. “It is manifestly clear that if any information disclosing a cognizable offence is laid down before an officer in-charge of a police station satisfying the requirements of section 154(1) of the code, the said police officer has no other option except to enter the substance thereof in the prescribed form, that is to say, to register a case on the basis of such information.”[ix]
Our society needs to be well-versed with the current legal know-how to be abled entities, thereby questioning the infringement pounced at them. Refusal to file a FIR on jurisdictional matrix calls for a one-year imprisonment notice for the police officials. Additionally, he can also be made liable under the penal provisions of rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than six months but extending to two years, plus fine.
As the name defines, ‘information’ received by the officer at the ‘first in time’, FIR must serve its purpose. It would be unfair when there, prima facie, exists a cognizable offence which requires to be duly and promptly noted but undue negligence costs injustice to the victim in the scenario. Police is entrusted with the shoulders for maintaining law and order in the society. It is prudent to be cleared that it is necessary for them for follow the laws expounded by themselves. Justice shouldn’t be denied to any individually by any prospect. The crux of Indian criminality must be strengthened from the niche itself.
“The views of the authors are personal“
[i] Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 154(1), No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India).
[ii] Habib v. State of Bihar, AIR 1972 SC 283 (India).
[iii] State v. Shiv Singh, AIR 1962 Raj 3 (India); Subhas Aggarwal v. State of Bihar, 1989 CrLJ 1752 (India).
[iv] Ravi kumar v State of Punjab, SC, Appeal (Cr.) 377/2005 (India).
[v] Thuba Kali v. State of Tamil Nadu, 1972 Cr LJ 1296 (India).
[vi] Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 154, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India).
[vii] Takwani, ‘Criminal Procedure’, ed.3, Pg. 69, Lexis Nexis.
[viii] Haryana v. Bhajan Lal, AIR 1992 SC 604 (India).