File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

FIR: Evidentiary Value: How They Shape Criminal Justice Without Being the Whole Truth

The First Information Report (FIR) constitutes a foundational document within criminal justice systems globally. It functions as the primary record of a cognizable offense reported to law enforcement, encapsulating crucial information regarding the incident, the complainant, and the alleged perpetrator. The evidentiary weight accorded to FIRs remains a subject of extensive debate and analysis within legal frameworks. This discourse delves into the evidentiary value of FIRs, scrutinizing their significance, constraints, and the integral role they fulfill in criminal adjudications.

While a First Information Report (FIR) does not constitute substantive evidence, it can serve as a tool for corroborating or contradicting the informant's testimony in court. This is permissible under sections 157 and 145 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 respectively, when the informant is called as a witness during the trial. However, it's crucial to note that the FIR can only be used for these purposes in relation to the informant who filed it and not any other witness. Moreover, in accordance with Section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act (1872), the FIR can be presented as evidence of the informant's actions.

The legal basis for filing a First Information Report (FIR) is outlined in Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). This section compels police to register an FIR when they receive information about a cognizable offense, which is a serious crime that allows police to take immediate action without requiring prior authorization from a court.

Introduction to FIR:
The FIR initiates the criminal justice process by recording the initial complaint from the victim or an informed individual. It includes essential details like the incident's time, location, and date, along with information about the complainant, witnesses, and a description of the events.

A First Information Report (FIR) is not considered substantial evidence. An FIR does not establish the veracity of the facts it contains. Since statements in an FIR are not made under oath or subject to cross-examination in court, they lack the weight of formal evidence. However, an FIR can be considered reliable to the extent that it was promptly reported without undue delay, suggesting that it is not likely to be fabricated or altered.

In the 2018 case of Ram Kumar v. State of Haryana, the Supreme Court emphasized that an FIR (First Information Report) should not be treated as substantive evidence. The court clarified that an FIR merely documents the information initially provided to the police and should be evaluated alongside other evidence gathered during the investigation.

Substantive Evidence:
Evidence that is substantial and relevant, directly influencing the case's outcome, establishing facts, and determining truth is called substantive evidence. Substantive evidence provides direct proof, while circumstantial evidence infers facts. Substantive evidence plays a crucial role in shaping the judge or jury's decision by establishing facts and determining guilt or liability.

Witness Testimony that is direct accounts providing firsthand knowledge, Documents such as written materials related to the disputed facts and physical evidence like objects or substances connected to the incident are the examples of substantive evidence.

FIRs Lack Substantive Evidentiary Value Due to the Following Reasons:
Statements in FIRs are not made under oath, rendering them unreliable and potentially untruthful. FIR statements are not made during trial or legal proceedings, making them irrelevant to the actual determination of guilt or innocence. The lack of cross-examination in court prevents the opportunity to challenge and verify the accuracy of statements recorded in the FIR. Statements recorded by police officers in FIRs are generally not admissible as evidence in court, as they are considered hearsay and lack the necessary legal safeguards.

Role of FIR in Criminal Investigations:
FIRs serve as a cornerstone of criminal inquiries, directing police investigations by providing information on evidence gathering, suspect identification, and event reconstruction. They also establish the jurisdiction, ensuring that the relevant police station is responsible for handling the case.

Presumptive Value of FIR:
In many common law jurisdictions, First Information Reports (FIRs) are considered to have a presumption of probative value. This means they are generally accepted as at least a reliable account of the events described.

Courts often view FIRs as accurate representations of the incident, especially when they are made voluntarily by the victim, who is free from coercion. The presumptive accuracy of FIRs makes them crucial for initiating criminal prosecutions.

Corroboration and Substantiation:
While First Information Reports (FIRs) provide a narrative of an alleged crime, they lack the weight to be considered substantial evidence in court. Law enforcement agencies, including the police, require supporting evidence to validate the statements within an FIR. This evidence can take various forms, such as physical and ballistic proof, eyewitness accounts, medical reports, or tangible items discovered during investigations. The presence of corroborating evidence ensures the veracity of the information in the FIR, effectively mitigating the risk of false reports or fabricated claims.

Challenges and Limitations:
Despite their importance, FIRs possess inherent limitations. Being drafted in the wake of a distressing incident, FIRs can reflect the complainant's emotional state and subjective perceptions. FIRs may exhibit a lack of precision or inconsistencies, especially when hastily compiled or under duress. Defense lawyers can contest the authenticity of FIRs in court proceedings, emphasizing discrepancies or omissions to erode their credibility.

Importance of Timely Reporting:
The moment of FIR filing is critical in assessing its significance as evidence. Reporting promptly bolsters the credibility of the FIR, implying a sincere pursuit of justice and protection against evidence tampering. Late or delayed FIRs can evoke doubts about the complainant's intentions or the reliability of the reported incidents, diminishing their evidentiary weight.

Admissibility in Court:
While FIRs are generally considered admissible evidence in court under criminal procedure laws, their acceptance is not automatic. Several conditions must be met, including adherence to proper procedures, verification by the investigating officer, and relevance to the case. Ultimately, courts retain the authority to reject FIRs if they deem them unreliable, fabricated, or potentially harmful to the accused's rights.

Use in Cross-Examination and Impeachment:
In court proceedings, defense lawyers thoroughly scrutinize FIRs through rigorous cross-examination. Defense attorneys meticulously analyze FIRs, identifying potential inconsistencies and contradictions. The credibility of the complainant and witnesses is challenged during cross-examination, potentially undermining the FIR's reliability. Effective cross-examination of FIRs can diminish their evidentiary weight and hinder the prosecution's argument.

Presumption of Regularity:
The legal principle commonly holds that documents generated by custodians of public records, such as First Information Reports (FIRs), are created during regular business operations and are hence deemed genuine unless contested. This presumption lends further credibility to FIRs and strengthens their standing as proof of criminal incidents within the nation. Nonetheless, this presumption is not indubitable and can be challenged with evidence to the contrary.

FIRs are fundamental documents in criminal cases, serving as initial reports of alleged crimes to the police. Although FIRs carry a presumption of truth and kickstart investigations, they are not conclusive evidence in themselves. The evidentiary weight of an FIR relies on factors such as supporting evidence, prompt reporting, adherence to legal procedures, and compliance with legal norms. Understanding the limitations and potential flaws of FIRs is crucial for ensuring a fair and efficient justice system.

FIRs are essential tools for initiating investigations, but their value as evidence is dependent on other factors. While FIRs provide a starting point for criminal proceedings, their evidentiary value is limited and requires corroboration. FIRs are not a substitute for substantive evidence, but rather a foundation upon which further investigation is built. The effectiveness of FIRs in criminal justice hinges on their accuracy, timeliness, and adherence to legal standards.

Written By: Md.Imran Wahab, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly