This post has been penned by Sejal Sahu, Student, Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur.
We all must have heard about FIR in our day to day life, may be during a usual conversation or may be during watching a Crime patrol or Savdhan India episode or may be during something else. But are we all aware that what FIR actually is ? It is just that we take it too lightly whenever we hear about it, but the real thing is that it has got much importance in our life as it sets the process of criminal justice in motion. Before going deeper on FIR, it is very essential to understand it from a common man perspective. So what actually is an FIR or First Investigation Report.?
What is FIR?
First Information Report is a written document prepared by the police essentially when they receive the commission of a cognizable offence. FIR is the first and initial step when a criminal case is recorded by the police. First Information Report basically consists of the most basic information regarding the crime and is covered under Section 154 of CRPC,1973.
It is a report which reaches the police first in the point of time whenever there is a commencement of crime,that is why it is called the First Information Report.
Now what is a Cognizable offence?
Cognizable Offence – A cognizable offence is an offence in which police can arrest a person without a warrant. In a cognizable offence, they are authorized to investigate on their own without any orders from the court. Cognizable offences include theft, rape, murder, etc.
On the other hand non-cognizable offence is the one in which police needs a warrant to arrest a person. The complaint is sent to Judicial Magistrate for further action.
Section 154 of the CRPC deals with the following provision.
- Information in cognizable cases.
(1) Every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction, and be read Over to the informant; and every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing as aforesaid, shall be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf.
(2) A copy of the information as recorded under sub- section (1) shall be given forthwith, free of cost, to the informant.
(3) Any person aggrieved by a refusal on the part of an officer in charge of a police station to record the information referred to in subsection (1) may send the substance of such information, in writing and by post, to the Superintendent of Police concerned who, if satisfied that such information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, shall either investigate the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by any police officer subordinate to him, in the manner provided by this Code, and such officer shall have all the powers of an officer in charge of the police station in relation to that offence.
Objectives of an FIR –
The following are the objectives of an FIR :
- The primary objective of FIR is to safeguard the victim from any subsequent variations or additions.
- to set the criminal law in motion.
- to inform the District Magistrate and the District Superintendent of Police who are responsible for the peace and safety of the district about the offence reported at the station.
So after understanding what FIR is, the next question that comes to our mind is who can file an FIR.
Who can file an FIR?
Any person can file an FIR if he/she is
- a victim of that particular crime
- a person who has the knowledge about a crime that has taken place or is about to take place
- a friend or relative or even an acquaintance of that crime.
- A police officer who comes to know about a cognizable offence can file an FIR himself/herself.
Things to be kept in mind before filing an FIR :
- Never file a false complaint or give wrong information to the police. You can be prosecuted under law for giving wrong information or for misleading the police under Section 203 IPC 1850.
- Never exaggerate or distort the facts.
- Never make unclear or vague statements.
Where to register an FIR?
Ideally, an FIR has to be registered to the nearest police station within whose geographical limits the crime took place. But in case of any emergency, it can be registered in any other police station and then can be transferred to the correct station. Further it is not always essential to go and register an FIR, sometimes during an emergency, the police can file an FIR based on a phone call or e-mail.
Sometimes the police may not investigate a case even if you file an FIR,when :
- the police feels that there is not any enough ground to investigate.
- the case is not serious in nature.
However, the police must record the reasons for not conducting an investigation and in the latter case must also inform you.
—[Section 157, Criminal Procedure Code, 1973]
How to register an FIR?
As soon as you approach the police station you will be directd to the duty officer/ officer in charge for the registration of your FIR. You will be required to provide information regarding the alleged offence. You can tell them verbally or can tell them in writing also, but if you re telling everything orally, the police ought to write it down.
The duty officer will make an entry their General or Daily diary. If you have your complaint in writing with you, you can make two copies of them and give them to the officer and get them stamped. He/she will stamp both and return one to you. The stamp would bear a Daily Diary Number or DD No. This number is proof that your complaint has been received. You can get onne copy without any charge of the FIR. It is also advisable to note the details down like the FIR number, date and place of FIR so that you can access the FIR online in case of any loss of the copy.
After this the police will read all the details of the FIR to you & once you confirm the details are correct, you can sign the FIR. You must make sure that the FIR mentions the date, time and place of the incident in a precise manner
After the FIR is registered, the police will investigate the case. This would include recording of statements by witnesses and thereafter making a final report. If there is enough evidence, and the Police finds ground in the complaint, they would frame charges and prepare a charge-sheet for submission before the Court. The trial procedure begins. However, if the Police is of the opinion that the complaint does not have any basis or that it lacks evidence, any further action will be dropped.
The content of the FIR cannot be changed once it get registered. However any additional information can be given to the police regarding the case at any point of time.
Some other options when your FIR is not registered.
The following options are available to person if his/her FIR did not get register :-
1.He/ She can meet the Superintendent of Police or other higher officers like Deputy inspector General of Police and Inspector General of the Police and can bring their complaint to notice.
2.He/ She can file a private complaint before the court having jurisdiction.
3He/ She can also make a complaint to the State Human Rights Commission or the National Human Rights Commission if the police does nothing to enforce the law or does it in a biased and corrupt manner.
Is it possible to file an FIR online?
Yes, it is possible to file an FIR online. Not every state has this provision, but some of the states allow for online submission because sometimes people are afraid of going to the police station and they fail in filing an FIR .The states which allow for this provision are :
2. Himachal Pradesh
4. Madhya Pradesh
You can get the details by accessing the respective state’s police website.
A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P [W.P.(Crl) No; 68/2008] held that registration of First Information Report is mandatory under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure , if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation. If the information received does not disclose a cognizable offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted only to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not. The Supreme Court issued the following Guidelines regarding the registration of FIR.
(i) Registration of FIR is mandatory under Section 154 of the Code, if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation. (ii) If the information received does not disclose a cognizable offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted only to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not.
(iii) If the inquiry discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, the FIR must be registered. In cases where preliminary inquiry ends in closing the complaint, a copy of the entry of such closure must be supplied to the first informant forthwith and not later than one week. It must disclose reasons in brief for closing the complaint and not proceeding further.
(iv) The police officer cannot avoid his duty of registering offence if cognizable offence is disclosed. Action must be taken against erring officers who do not register the FIR if information received by him discloses a cognizable offence.
(v) The scope of preliminary inquiry is not to verify the veracity or otherwise of the information received but only to ascertain whether the information reveals any cognizable offence.
(vi) As to what type and in which cases preliminary inquiry is to be conducted will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. The category of cases in which preliminary inquiry may be made are as under: (a) Matrimonial disputes/ family disputes (b)Commercial offences (c) Medical negligence cases (d)Corruption cases (e) Cases where there is abnormal delay/laches in initiating criminal prosecution, for example, over 3 months delay in reporting the matter without satisfactorily explaining the reasons for delay. The aforesaid are only illustrations and not exhaustive of all conditions which may warrant preliminary inquiry.
(vii) While ensuring and protecting the rights of the accused and the complainant, a preliminary inquiry should be made time bound and in any case it should not exceed 7 days. The fact of such delay and the causes of it must be reflected in the General Diary entry.
(viii) Since the General Diary/Station Diary/Daily Diary is the record of all information received in a police station, we direct that all information relating to cognizable offences, whether resulting in registration of FIR or leading to an inquiry, must be mandatorily and meticulously reflected in the said Diary and the decision to conduct a preliminary inquiry must also be reflected, as mentioned above.
Subho S. Chatterjee (Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative) First Information Report & You https://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/publications/police/fir.pdf