Understanding the First Information Report (FIR)

Understanding the First Information Report (FIR)

Criminal Procedure Code

  1. What is an FIR? When it can be filed? Is it mandatory to report every crime in India?

First Information Report (FIR) is a written document prepared by the police when they receive information about the commission of a cognizable offence.  A Cognizable  Offence is an offence is one in which the police may arrest a person without a warrant. They are authorised to start an investigation into a cognizable case on their own and they do not require any orders from the court to do so. A police officer is bound to register the FIR in such cases and can even start an investigation without any FIR. These are heinous crimes generally and non-bailable offences. First Information Report is a report of information that reaches the police first in point of time and that is why it is called the First Information Report. It is generally a complaint lodged with the police by the victim of a cognizable offence or by someone on his/her behalf. Anyone can report the commission of a cognizable offence either orally or in writing to the police. Even a telephonic message can be treated as an FIR. 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.

* You should sign the report only after verifying that the information recorded by the police is as per the details given by you.

* People who cannot read or write must put their left thumb impression on the document after being satisfied that it is a correct record.

* Always ask for a copy of the FIR, if the police do not give it to you. It is your right to get it free of cost.

Section 154 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973

154. 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.

Non-cognizable Offence

non-cognizable offence is an offence in which a police officer has no authority to arrest without warrant. The police cannot investigate such an offence without the court’s permission.


Continue reading on INDIAN LAW WATCH:

REGISTRATION AND QUASHING OF AN FIR


2. Is it mandatory for police to investigate every case reported to them?

The police may not investigate a complaint even if you file an FIR, when:

(i) The case is not serious in nature;

(ii) The police feel that there is not enough ground to investigate. 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)

157. Procedure for investigation preliminary inquiry.

(1) If from information received or otherwise, an officer in charge of a police station has reason to suspect the commission of an offence which he is empowered under section 156 to investigate, he shall forthwith send a report of the same to a Magistrate empowered to take cognizance of such offence upon a police report and shall proceed in person, or shall depute one of his subordinate officers not being below such rank as the State Government may, by general or special order, prescribe in this behalf, to proceed, to the spot, to investigate the facts and circumstances of the case, and, if necessary, to take measures for the discovery and arrest of the offender; Provided that-

(a) when information as to the commission of any such offence is given against any person by name and the case is not of a serious nature, the officer in charge of a police station need not proceed in person or depute a subordinate officer to make an investigation on the spot;
(b) if it appears to the officer in charge of a police station that there is no sufficient ground for entering on an investigation, he shall not investigate the case.
(2) In each of the cases mentioned in clauses (a) and (b) of the proviso to subsection (1), the officer in charge of the police station shall state in his report his reasons for not fully complying with the requirements of that subsection, and, in the case mentioned in clause (b) of the said proviso, the officer shall also forthwith notify to the informant, if any, in such manner as may be prescribed by the State Government, the fact that he will not investigate the case or cause it to be investigated.

3. Where the FIR should be filed and what is the procedure for filing?

An FIR should be filed in the police station of the concerned area in whose jurisdiction the offence took place.

4. What is the procedure for filing an FIR?

Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 lays down the procedure for lodging an FIR-

(i) Written Form: When the information about the commission of a cognizable offence is given orally, the police must write it down.

(ii) Read Over: 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.

(iii) Verification: One should sign the report only after verifying that the information recorded by the police is as per the details given by you.

(v) Signature: Once the information has been recorded by the police, it must be signed by the person giving the information. It is to be 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.

If an informer refuses to sign the F. I. R. he is guilty of offence u / section 180 of the Indian Penal Code which is as follows..-

‘Whoever refuses to sign on any statement made by him, when required to sign that statement by a public servant, legally competent to require that he shall sign that statement, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both”.

If the Police Officers refuses to enter the FIR and instead enters in D.D. Register a totally different and false report, he is guilty u/section 177/167/218 IPC

If an informer refuses to sign the FIR. he is guilty of offence u / section 180 Indian Penal Code which is as follows..-

‘Whoever refuses to sign on any statement made by him, when required to sign that statement by a public servant, legally competent to require that he shall sign that statement, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both”.

If the Police Officers refuses to enter the FIR and instead enters in D.D. Register a totally different and false report, he is guilty u/s 177/167/218 IPC

(vi) Copy of an FIR

A person filing an FIR has the right of getting a copy of the FIR free of cost.

5. Can multiple FIRs be filed on the same cause of action?

In Surender Kaushik & Ors vs State Of U.P & Ors CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.305 OF 2013
      1. From the aforesaid decisions, it is quite luminous that the lodgment of two FIRs is not permissible in respect of one and the same incident. The concept of sameness has been given a restricted meaning. It does not encompass filing of a counter FIR relating to the same or connected cognizable offence. What is prohibited is any further complaint by the same complainant and others against the same accused subsequent to the registration of the case under the Code, for an investigation in that regard would have already commenced and allowing registration of further complaint would amount to an improvement of the facts mentioned in the original complaint. As is further made clear by the three-Judge Bench in Upkar Singh (supra), the prohibition does not cover the allegations made by the accused in the first FIR alleging a different version of the same incident. Thus, rival versions in respect of the same incident do take different shapes and in that event, lodgment of two FIRs is permissible.

6. What are Supreme Court directions to be followed in regards to the registration of an FIR?

Directions for FIR in Lalita Kumari v Govt. of Uttar Pradesh (2014) 2 SCC 1

(i) It is mandatory under section 154 of the Code to get an 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 a 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 an offence if a 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 wherein 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.

7. Why is FIR important?

An FIR is a very important document as it sets the process of criminal justice in motion. It is only after the FIR is registered in the police station that the police takes up investigation of the case.

 8. Who can lodge an FIR?

Anyone who knows about the commission of a cognizable offence can file an FIR. It is not necessary that only the victim of the crime should file an FIR. A police officer who comes to know about a cognizable offence can file an FIR himself/herself. You can file an FIR if:

* You are the person against whom the offence has been committed;

* You know yourself about an offence, which has been committed;

* You have seen the offence being committed.

Any person who is aware of the offence by being either:

(a) An eye witness and/or

(b) Hearsay account.

(c) By the accused himself.

(d) 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 a daily diary and go to the hospital for recording the detailed statement of injured.

9. Refusal to register an F.I.R. is against the Law. What are remedies to file the FIR?

Although, if an FIR is refused on the ground of jurisdiction, it is mandatory for the police officer to record information about the commission of a cognizable offence and forward the same to the police station having proper jurisdiction. Otherwise, it would amount to dereliction of duty.

Statutory Remedies​

    • Under section 154(3) CrPC – When an informant’s right to register an FIR is refused, he/she can approach the Superintendent of Police and submit the substance of such information in writing by post. If the Superintendent of Police is satisfied that such information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence then, he might investigate the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by any police officer subordinate to him.
    • Under section 156(3), read with section 190 CrPC – If an informant remains unsatisfied even after pursuing the remedy under section 154(3), he/she can further pursue the remedy mentioned under section 156(3) read with section 190 CrPC.
    • Under section 200 CrPC – A complaint can be submitted to the magistrate orally or in writing under section 200 of the CrPC. After the submission of a complaint, the magistrate will conduct a hearing, deciding upon the issue of cognizance. In this channel, the complainant and the witnesses thereof are examined on oath in front of the magistrate.
    • Mandamus is one of the prerogative writs issued by the superior Courts (High Court or Supreme Court), which is in the form of a command to the State, its instrumentality or its functionaries as the case may be,  to compel them to perform their constitutional/statutory/public duty. Hence, a writ of mandamus can be filed under Article 226 or Article 32 of the Constitution of India, directing the police officials to perform their duty and register an FIR.

10. What is the consequence of filing a false FIR?

For filing a false complaint or giving wrong information to the police. You can be prosecuted under the law for giving wrong information or for misleading the police. —[Section 203, Indian Penal Code 1860]

According to section 203 of Indian penal code, 1860: Giving False Information Respecting an Offence: Whoever, knowing or having reason to believe that an offence has been committed, gives any information respecting that offence which he knows or believes to be false, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

Lodging a false complaint in India is a punishable offence under section 177, 182 and section 211 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

 See. 177 IPC. Furnishing false information

 Whoever, being legally bound to furnish information on any subject to any public servant, as such, furnishes, as true, information on the subject which he knows or has reason to believe to be false, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months.’ or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

Or, if the information which he is legally bound to give respects the commission of an offence, or is required for the purpose of preventing the commission of an offence, or in order to the apprehension of an offender, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both”.

Sec. 182 IPC: “False information with the intent to cause public servant to use his power to the injury of another person.

Whoever gives to any public servant any information which he knows or believes to be false, intending thereby to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause, such public servant

(a) to do or omit anything which such public servant ought not to do or omit if the true state of facts respecting which such information is given were known by him, or

(b) to use the lawful power of such public servant to the injury or annoyance of any person.

shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or With both.

Sec.211 IPC: False charge of offence made with the intent to injure.

‘Whoever, with intent to cause injury to any person, institutes or causes to be instituted any criminal proceeding against that person, or falsely charges any person with having committed an offence, knowing that there is no just or lawful ground for such proceeding or charge against that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both;

And if such criminal proceeding is instituted on a false charge of an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for seven years or upwards shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine’.

11. When is FIR Substantive Evidence?

(i) As dying declaration- During declaration when a person deposing about the cause of his death had died.

(ii) 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. 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.

12. What can be the reasons that are part of the delay in filing an FIR?

Reasons for the delay on the part of the complainant is mentioned as “DOC“.

Reasons for the delay on the part of police/ are mentioned as “DOP“.

      1. The physical condition of the informer (DOC).
      2. The psychological condition of the informer (DOC).
      3. Natural calamities (Both).
      4. The distance of the place of occurrence (Both).
      5. Ignorance of the law of informer.(DOC).
      6. Late detection of the commission of a crime (DOC).
      7. Due to threat, promise and undue influence (DOC).
      8. Economic & social and undue influence (DOC).
      9. A dispute over the jurisdiction of Police Station (DOP).
      10. Uncertainty of place of occurrence due to the continuous offence (DOP).
      11. Shortage of staff (DOP).
      12. Unavoidable departmental formalities (including delay due to opinion of experts ) (DOP).

Reasons for the delay should be explained in the FIR.

  1.  FIR will remain i.e. first information on which the investigation was started. The later statement being during the investigation, even if found true cannot become F.I.R.

13. 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 defamationSection 500 – Punishment for defamation. Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

He has also the right to file a petition under section 482 of the code of criminal procedure, 1973 praying to quash the FIR on the basis of the FIR being a false allegation and he is not guilty.

 14.  Can an FIR be quashed?

There are provisions in our Indian legal system and there is the 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 –

(i) When the allegations made as complaints or statements by the witness, informant make absolutely no case or when the complaint does not disclose the essential ingredients of an offence.

(ii) 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.

(iii) When the criminal proceedings are a result of mala-fide intention and with an ulterior motive for seeking vengeance on the accused.

“Recently in R. Kalyani v. Janak C. Mehta and Ors. 2008 (14) SCALE 85, this Court laid down the law in the following terms:

Propositions of law which emerge from the said decisions are:

(1) The High Court ordinarily would not exercise its inherent jurisdiction to quash a criminal proceeding and, in particular, a First Information Report unless the allegations contained therein, even if given face value and taken to be correct in their entirety, disclosed no cognizable offence. (2) For the said purpose, the Court, save and except in very exceptional circumstances, would not look to any document relied upon by the defence.

(3) Such a power should be exercised very sparingly. If the allegations made in the FIR disclose the commission of an offence, the court shall not go beyond the same and pass an order in favour of the accused to hold absence of any mens rea or actus reus.

(4) If the allegation discloses a civil dispute, the same by itself may not be a ground to hold that the criminal proceedings should not be allowed to continue.

15. 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 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.

 16. 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 social pressure, inability to face the society etc.

17. Can accuse himself file an FIR?

Sometimes it so happens that accused after the commission of crime goes to Police Station and lodges an F.I.R, the procedural legal provision, as well as the Indian Evidence Act, are mentioned as under:-.

    1.  Sec.162 Criminal Procedure Code. does not hit such F.I.R.
    2. Sec.25 Indian Evidence Act is applicable if the statement is in the nature of confession but is relevant u/s 21 of the Indian Evidence Act.
    3. Sec.25 of the Indian Evidence Act “No confession made to a Police Officer shall be proved as against a person accused of any offence may it be before or after investigation.”
    4. If the information is non-confessional, it is admissible against the accused as an admission U/S 18/21 of the Indian Evidence Act and is relevant.
    5. For corroborating the statement of the maker under section 157 of the Indian Evidence Act.
    6. For contradiction of the evidence of person giving the information U/S 145 of the Indian Evidence Act.
    7. For refreshing informer’s memory U/S 159 of the Indian Evidence Act.
    8. For impeaching the credit o f an informer U/S 155 of the Indian Evidence Act.
    9. For proving the informers conduct U/S 8 of the Indian Evidence Act.
    10. U/S 32(1) of Indian Evidence Act (Dying declaration)
    11. U/S 6 Evidence Act when the injuries are being caused in the presence of SHO in a Police Station.
    12. U/S 160 Evidence Act when the informer fails to recall his memory the facts, but he is sure the facts were correctly reported in the FIR at the time he wrote, read it.
    13. FIR is a public document prepared U/S 154 Criminal Procedure Code and a certified copy of it can be given in evidence U/S 77 of Indian Evidence Act.

The FIR by an accused person cannot be treated as evidence against any co-accused, as it was lodged by the accused and not by a witness. But if the information is received that injured had been shot and had been removed to Hospital, it is sufficient for registration of the case.

As such every case depends upon its own circumstances and the police officer should exercise his own judgement and diligence to test the information if it is clear, definite and based upon tangible facts to disclose the commission of cognizable or suspicion of commission of a cognizable offence.

F.I.R. need only be registered when information is definite about conspirators and their acts disclosing commission of the cognizable offence.

 18. How the FIR is lodged in corruption cases?

In cases of corruption, not registered on traps laid, but on complaints, always a suitable preliminary enquiry into the allegation is required. Such preliminary enquiries are relevant before the registration of case and are permissible under law. But as soon as it became clear to the enquiring officer that the public servant appeared to be guilty of severe misconduct, it was his duty to lodge F.I.R. and proceed further in the investigation.

19. What happens to the FIR finally?

  1. When there is sufficient evidence a CHALLAN is prepared.
  2. When there is insufficient evidence, F.I.R is declared as UNTRACE.
  3. When FIR is found to be false or is transferred to other Police Station on point of jurisdiction, it is decided as CANCELLED.
  4. After registering the FIR the contents of the FIR can not be changed. Only the High Court can quash the FIR.

20. What if the policemen record the wrong FIR?

Sec. 167 IPC: Public servant disobeying the law, with intent to cause injury to any person.

Whoever, being a public servant, and being, as such public servant, charged with the preparation or translation of any document, frames or translates that document in a manner which he knows or believes to be incorrect, intending thereby to cause or knowing it to be likely that he may thereby cause injury to any person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both’.

Sec.218 IPC:- Public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save a person from punishment or property from forfeiture.

 Whoever, being a public servant and being as such public servant, charged with the preparation of any record or other writing, frames that record or writing in a manner which he knows to be incorrect, with intent to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause, loss or injury to the public or to any person, or with intent thereby to save, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby save, any person from legal punishment, or with intent to save, or knowing that he is likely thereby to save, any property from forfeiture or other charges to which it is liable by law, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

Sec. 166 IPC: Public servant disobeying the law, with intent to cause injury to any person.

“Whoever, bring a public servant, knowingly disobeys any direction of law as to the way in which he is to conduct himself as such public servant, intending to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will, by such disobedience, cause injury to any person, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

Sec. 217 IPC: Public servant disobeying direction of law with intent to save a person from punishment or property from forfeiture.

“Whoever, being a public servant, knowingly disobeys any direction of the law as to the way in which he is to conduct himself as such public servant, intending thereby to save, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby save, any person from legal punishment, or subject him to a less punishment than that to which he is liable, or with intent to save, or knowing that he is likely thereby to save, any property from forfeiture or any charge to which it is liable by law, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

21. How does accused gets a copy of an FIR?

(i) The accused is entitled to get a copy of the First Information Report at an earlier stage as prescribed under Section 207 of the Cr.P.C.

Section 207. Supply to the accused of copy of police report and other documents. In any case where the proceeding has been instituted on a police report, the Magistrate shall without delay furnish to the accused, free of cost, a copy of each of the following:-

(i) the police report;
(ii) the first information report recorded under section 154;
(iii) the statements recorded under subsection (3) of section 161 of all persons whom the prosecution proposes to examine as its witnesses, excluding therefrom any part in regard to which a request for such exclusion has been made by the police officer under subsection (6) of section 173;
(iv) the confessions and statements, if any, recorded under section 164;
(v) any other document or relevant extract thereof forwarded to the Magistrate with the police report under subsection (5) of section 173: Provided that the Magistrate may, after perusing any such part of a statement as is referred to in clause (iii) and considering the reasons given by the police officer for the request, direct that a copy of that part of the statement or of such portion thereof as the Magistrate thinks proper, shall be furnished to the accused: Provided further that if the Magistrate is satisfied that any document referred to in clause (v) is voluminous, he shall, instead of furnishing the accused with a copy thereof, direct that he will only be allowed to inspect it either personally or through pleader in Court.

(ii) An accused who has reasons to suspect that he has been roped in a criminal case and his name may be finding a place in a First Information Report can submit an application through his representative/agent/parokar for grant of a certified copy before the concerned police officer or to the Superintendent of Police on payment of such fee which is payable for obtaining such a copy from the court.

(iii) Once the First Information Report is forwarded by the police station to the concerned Magistrate or any Special Judge, on an application being filed for a certified copy on behalf of the accused, the same shall be given by the court concerned within two working days. The aforesaid direction has nothing to do with the statutory mandate inhered under Section 207 of the Cr.P.C.

(iv) The copies of FIR, unless reasons recorded regard being had to the nature of the offence that the same is sensitive in nature, should be uploaded on the Himachal Pradesh Police website within twenty-four hours of lodging of the FIR so that the accused or any person connected with the same can download the FIR and file an appropriate application before the court as per law for redressal of his grievances.- Himachal High Court directions. The decision not to upload the copy of the FIR on the website of H.P. Police shall not be taken by an officer below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and that too by way of a speaking order. A
decision so taken by the Deputy Superintendent of Police shall also be duly communicated to the Area magistrate.

(v) Under the RTI Act,2005  RTI for FIR can be filed, and then status can be checked for the recorded FIR.

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