FIR stands for the abbreviation of first information report, embedding the documentation of cognizable offences, registered in the police station by an official on duty of the concerned jurisdiction. It is either be given by the aggrieved person himself or by any other person. They might merely be hearsay evidences and need not necessarily be given by the person who has first-hand knowledge of the facts.[i]
The prudence of lodging an FIR can be bulletined as:
- It is the first report of the occurrence of a crime. Police gets a kick-start by this inception.
- The investigation conducted by the police of the commission of the alleged offence centers around the FIR.
- For trials at court, FIR can be used for examination and cross-examination.
Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure[ii] defines as to what amounts to ‘information in cognizable cases’. If orally produced, the report would be reduced to writing under the guidance of the officer-in-charge and duly signed for authentication. It is for the purpose of discouraging irresponsible statement about offences by fixing the informant with the responsibility for the statement he makes. Though, it isn’t necessary to the extent of nullifying or vitiating the report, but signature is considered to be an important part of lodging the FIR.
Further, the substance shall be entered in a book to be kept by the officer as the State Government prescribes on its behalf. Furthermore, a copy of the information as recorded is given to the informant free of cost. In case, anyone is deprived of the registration of the information, the aggrieved party may report it to the Superintendent of Police concerned. Refusal on the part of the informant to sign will invite penal actions under Section 180 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
In order to constitute an FIR in terms of Section 154, two conditions needs to be fulfilled:
- What is conveyed must be an information.
- The information should prima facie relate to the commission of a cognizable offence.
Section 161 of the Code[iii] mandates a police officer (not below the rank as prescribed by the State Government) to examine any person orally who is well-acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case. He/she is bound to answer truly the questions relating to such case put forth him, which the officer may reduce it to writing and compound them into separate and true record of statements of each person whose statement is recorded. They hold certain evidentiary value and are corroborated during trials in the court of justice.
It is an unsaid golden principle of law that FIR must always be filed promptly, without much delay.[iv] Detaining the lodge might eliminate the credibility attached to it, thereby giving rise to suspicion. As possible and practicable, every FIR must invariably be filed promptly, expeditiously and without wasting any time. Only if the prosecution successfully substantiates the factual difficulties witnessed by the person lodging the report, the delay of FIR is considered not to be fatal in law.[v]
The Apex Court, in Lalita Kumari v. Government of Uttar Pradesh & Ors.[vi], minutely scrutinized and propounded principles for the registration of FIR. Registration of first information is an obligation under Section 154 of the Code. In case in divulges the commission of a cognizable crime, there is no requirement of any preliminary inquiry. Otherwise, undisclosed, then a preliminary inquiry is conducted to ascertain the credibility of the information.
There are several instances where statements or reports are not accommodated as FIR, such as information received by the police prior to the lodging of FIR, statement reported after the commencement of the investigation or complaint over the call. In Damodar v. State of Rajasthan, information conveyed and duly entered doesn’t constitute an FIR even if it divulges some serious offence.[vii]
It is well settled proposition that they aren’t substantial piece of evidence and can be used only to discredit the testimony.[viii] However, they can categorized as a noteworthy piece for contracting and corroborating the statement of its maker.[ix] Though secondary, FIRs are significantly valuable to obtain an alarm of the committed crime and to record the circumstances before the trial, lest such circumstances are embellished. They lead a path and persuade the police machinery so as to be able to take suitable steps for tracing and booking the guilty. In other words, FIR is a complaint to question a particular incident disturbing or violating the affairs of law and order in motion. Inception of investigation gives validity to the facts detailed in that report. FIR, in short, can be assumed to be prominent and a circumstantial piece of evidence.
“The views of the authors are personal“
[i] Surjit Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1992 SC 1389 (India).
[ii] Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 154, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India).
[iii] Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 161, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India).
[iv] P.Sirajuddin v. State of Madras, AIR 1971 SC 520 (India).
[v] Thuba Kali v. State of Tamil Nadu, 1972 Cr LJ 1296 (India).
[vi] Lalita Kumari v. Government of Uttar Pradesh & Ors, WP (Cr.) No.68/2008 (India).
[vii] Damodar v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 2003 SC 4414 (India).
[viii] Pandurang Chandrakant Mhatre v. State of Maharashtra, SC Cr Appeal No. 986/2007 (India).
[ix] Ram Chandra v. State of Haryana, 1981 AIR 1036 (India); State of Odisha v. Makund Harijan and Anr., 1983 CriLJ 1870 (India).