All about the First Information Report
What is FIR? Who can file it? Where can it be filed? When should it be filed? What is the content of FIR? What is the evidenciary value of it? Which provisions regulate FIR? It is a must read for all the people nationwide. The Article has been authored by Vaishnavi Mehta, a 5th year B.A. LLB Student at Law College, Dehradun, Uttaranchal University.
Under the Criminal Procedure Code, offences are divided into various criteria and one among them is cognizable and non-cognizable offences.
Sec 2(c)of the Code defines “Cognizable offences and Cognizable cases” as cognizable offence and cognizable cases means offences and cases in which a police officer may in accordance with the first schedule of Criminal procedure code or under any other law for the time being in force arrest without warrant.
The Sec 2(l) of Code defines “Non-Cognizable offences and non-Cognizable Cases” as non-cognizable offences and non-cognizable cases means offences and cases in which police officer has no authority to arrest without warrant.
Column 4 of the first schedule attached to the Code of Criminal procedure mentions which are cognizable and which are non-cognizable offences.
In case of commission of the cognizable offence, if the matter is reported to the police, thereupon the police will record the First Information Report under Section 154 of Crpc and shall proceed to investigate the matter and arrest the accused without warrant and Order of Magistrate.
FIR is the first information of a cognizable offence recorded by the officer in charge of the police station.
The principal object of the FIR, from the informant’s point of view, is to set the criminal law in motion and from the point of investigating authorities is to obtain information about any criminal activity so as to be able to take suitable steps of collecting evidence and trace and bring to book the culprits.
In case of the subsequent FIR, the Court has to examine the facts and circumstances giving rise to both the FIR's and the Identical Test is to be applied to find out whether both the FIR's relate to the same incident in respect of the same occurrence or are in regard to the incidents which are two or more parts of the same transaction. If the answer is in the affirmative, the second FIR is liable to be quashed. However, in case, the contrary is proved, where the version in the second FIR is different and they are in respect of two different incidents/crimes, the second FIR is permissible. In case in respect of the same incident the accused in the first FIR comes forward with the different version or counterclaim, investigation on both the FIR's is to be conducted.
Who can file FIR?
FIR can be filed by any person against whom cognizable offence has been committed or against any person who has witnessed the commission of the cognizable offence or to any person who has the knowledge of the commission of the cognizable offence.
Where an FIR can be filed?
Generally, FIR can be filed in the police station in the place of incidence or place of jurisdiction. However, in the case of emergency, there is no bar on any other police station registering the FIR and then transferring the investigation to the correct station.
This the concept of Zero FIR which is an FIR that can be filed in any police station regardless of the place of incidence or jurisdiction.
The difference between Zero FIR and Ordinary FIR is that in the latter, FIR is registered by a serial number in police station but in the former one an FIR is instituted at any Police Station other than the jurisdictional Police Station concerned, that is the place where the incident took place, and such an FIR is registered but not numbered. Such unnumbered FIR simply is then forwarded to the concerned Police Station where it gets numbered and further acted upon.
When an FIR should be filed?
The FIR has to be registered at the earliest point of time after the incident. Any delay in registration has to be adequately explained.
There can be no mathematical computation of the time taken in lodging of the F.I.R. What the court has to examine is whether the delay is inordinate and whether any cogent explanation is forthcoming in case it is so, some delay in the lodging of the F.I.R. is only natural and will not distract from the value to be attached to it
Also, mere delay in lodging an FIR is not necessarily fatal to the case of the prosecution. However, the fact that the report was lodged belatedly is a relevant factor of which the court must take notice.
Provisions regulating FIR
Sec 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code :- “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.”
In State of Haryana v. Bhajan lal, [1992 CrLJ 527] it was observed that if any information disclosing the cognizable offence is laid before an officer in charge of police station satisfying the requirements of Section 154(1), he has no option except to enter substance thereof in the prescribed form, that is to say to register a case on the basis of such information.
Section 154(3) to the Code provides a remedy in case of refusal of filing an FIR on the part of officer-in-charge of the police station :- '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.'
The word ‘shall’ used in section 154 leaves no discretion in police officer to hold a preliminary inquiry before recording FIR.
Contents of FIR
The law requires FIR to contain basic prosecution case and not minute details. There are no hard and fast rules that names of the witnesses, more particularly, eyewitnesses should be indicated in the FIR. It only has to state the basic case. It must at least contain some information about the crime committed as also some information about the manner in which the cognizable offence is committed .
In Ram Kumar Pandey v. State of M.P. [AIR 1975 SC 1206] , SC observed that “An F.I.R. is not a substantive piece of evidence and can only be used to corroborate the statement of the maker under Section 157 of Evidence or to contradict it under Section 145 of the said Act. It can only be used for corroboration or contradiction purposes that too when FIR was lodged by person having direct knowledge about the occurrence.”
However, the importance of FIR cannot be underestimated as it is first version on the basis of which the investigation proceeds. In most of the cases, FIR provides corroboration to the evidence of the maker thereof. It provides direction to the investigating officer and the necessary clues about the crime and the perpetrator thereof.