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Everything you need to know about FIR

An First Information Report (FIR) is a crucial document since it sets the law in motion. The police begin their investigation of the crime only when the FIR has been filed at the police station. The term FIR is not defined in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, or any other law, however information filed under Section 154 of the CrPC is referred to as a First Information Report in police regulations or guidelines (FIR).

In the case of T.T.Antony vs. State of Kerala & Ors, it was held that " Information given under sub-section (1) of Section 154 of Cr.P.C., is commonly known as the First Information Report (FIR), though this term is not used in the Code.And as its nickname suggests, it is the earliest and the first information of a cognizable offence recorded by an officer in charge of a police station".

When the police acquire information concerning the commission of a cognizable offence, they prepare a written document called a First Information Report (FIR). It's also known as the First Information Report because it's a report of information that reaches the police first in time. Orally or in writing, anyone can report the commission of a cognizable offence.

An FIR consists of three key components:

  • It should be given to the head of the police station in writing or orally, and
  • it must relate to the commission of a cognizable offence.
  • The informant must write it down and sign it, and the essential aspects should be noted in a general diary.

Why FIR should be filed promptly?

F.I.R. is built on the principles of spontaneity, deliberation, and collaboration. The prompt FIR goes a long way toward showing that the prosecution story was true and legitimate, as well as reflecting the role of the accused, the nature of the occurrence, and the names of witnesses. A mere delay in filing the FIR, on the other hand, cannot be used to dismiss the prosecution case. Long, unexplained delays in receiving aid may raise questions about how the situation occurred.

However, in Vidyadharan v State of Kerala, it was held that delaying the filing of a FIR in rape cases is a reasonable reaction in a traditional community to avoid embracement, and thus should not be suspected. Suspicion can only be aroused by an unexplained delay.

How is a FIR lodged?

Section 154 and its subsections of CrPC talks about First Information Report as followed:
  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.

    Provided that, if the information is given by the woman against whom an offence under is alleged to have been committed or attempted, then such information shall be recorded, by a woman police officer or any woman officer.

    Provided further that:
    1. in the event that the person against whom an offence under section 354 (assaults or uses criminal force to any woman), section 376 (rape), or section 509(insult the modesty of any woman) of the Indian Penal Code is alleged to have been committed or attempted, is temporarily or permanently mentally or physically disabled, then such information shall be recorded by a police officer, at the residence of the person seeking to report such offence or at a convenient place of such person's choice, in the presence of an interpreter or a special educator, as the case may be;
    2. the recording of such information shall be video graphed;
       
  2. The informant shall be given a free copy of the information recorded under this section as soon as possible.

What if the Police refuses to register a FIR?

If the police refuse to register a FIR, the aggrieved person may file a complaint with the Superintendent of Police/DCP in charge, who, if satisfied that the information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, will either investigate the case or direct a subordinate police officer to do so.

If no FIR is filed, the aggrieved parties may submit a complaint under Section 156(3) CrPC with a concerned court or magistrate, who, if satisfied that the complaint establishes a cognizable offence, will order the police to file a FIR and investigate.

In case of non-cognizable offence:
In the instance of non-cognizable offences, a FIR under Section 155 CrPC, sometimes known as the "NCR," is filed, and the complainant is directed to seek an order from a court. The court may then order that the complaint be investigated by the police.

Section 155 (Information as to non-cognizable cases and investigation of such cases) says:
  1. When information is given to an officer in charge of a police station of the commission within the limits of such station of a non-cognizable offence, he shall enter or cause to be entered the substance of the information in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf, and refer the informant to the Magistrate.
  2. No police officer shall investigate a non-cognizable case without the order of a Magistrate having power to try such case or commit the case for trial.
  3. Any police officer receiving such order may exercise the same powers in respect of the investigation (except the power to arrest without warrant) as an officer in charge of a police station may exercise in a cognizable case.
  4. Where a case relates to two or more offences of which at least one is cognizable, the case shall be deemed to be a cognizable case, notwithstanding that the other offences are non-cognizable.

What happens after FIR is filed?

The police will conduct an investigation and gather evidence in the form of witness testimony or other scientific materials. They have the legal authority to detain the alleged perpetrators. A chargesheet will be filed if there is adequate evidence to support the complainant's allegations. Otherwise, a Final Report will be produced in court stating that no evidence was identified.

A cancellation report will be made if it is determined that no offence has been committed. An 'untraced' report will be submitted if no trace of the accused persons can be found. If the court does not agree with the findings of the investigation, it might order a new investigation.

Who can lodge a FIR?

An FIR can be filed by anyone who has information concerning the commission of a cognizable offence. It is not necessary to submit a FIR solely if you are the victim of a crime.
  • A police officer who learns of a cognizable offence can submit a FIR on his or her own
  • The person who committed the offence,
  • The person who knows about an offence that has been committed,
  • The person who witnessed the offence being done

Does FIR has Substantive Values or Its Just an Important Piece of Evidence?

The following are the primary reasons why FIR has no substantive evidentiary value:
  • Because the FIR's statements are not recorded on oath.
  • Because the statements in the FIR were not made at the time of the trial or during the proceedings.
  • Because the statements made in the FIR are not subject to cross-examination in court.
  • Because the police officers' recorded statements are not admissible in court.

The following are some of the reasons why FIR is seen as a significant piece of evidence:

  • For cross-examination of the person named in the FIR's statements.
  • To call into question the informer's credibility
  • It can be used to explain the accused's actions and circumstances.
  • To determine broad facts such as the identity of the accused, witnesses, and the period of the offences, among other things.

However, there are some circumstances in which a FIR can be used as substantive evidence:
  • Under Section 157 of the Evidence Act, it can be used to corroborate an informant witness.
  • It can be used to refute an informant witness under Evidence Act Section 145.
  • The informant's statements or information as a dying declaration in the FIR.
  • It can be used under Section 11 of the Evidence Act in cases where an essential fact is omitted that affects or judges the prosecution case.

Difference between Complaint and an FIR?

A "complaint" is defined as "any accusation made orally or in writing to a Magistrate, with a view to his taking action under this Code, that some person, whether known or unknown, has committed an offence," but does not include a police report, according to the CrPC.

An FIR, on the other hand, is a document prepared by the police once they have verified the facts of the complaint. Details about the offence and the suspected offender may be included in the FIR. If it appears that a cognizable offence has been committed based on a complaint, a FIR under Section 154 CrPC will be filed, and police will begin an investigation. The police will close the investigation if no crime has been discovered.

What is Zero FIR?

When a police station receives a complaint about an alleged crime that occurred in another police station's jurisdiction, it files a FIR and forwards it to the other police station for further investigation. This is referred to as a Zero FIR.

It's a form of FIR that can be filed in any police station, regardless of the location or jurisdiction of the incident. However, it is transferred to the police station with the competent jurisdiction following an investigation and filing with the magistrate. It's also worth noting that a typical FIR has a serial number. A zero FIR, on the other hand, is filed in any police station and is not assigned a number, hence the name.

Before sending the case on to the other police station with its appropriate authority, the police station where the zero FIR was originally lodged is expected to conduct a basic inquiry into the case. The concerned police station opens a new FIR and begins the investigation after receiving the Zero FIR.

What is E-FIR?

E-FIR stands for electronic First Information Report, and it can be filed in cases of cognizable offences such as rape, murder, dowry deaths, and so on. Its major goal is to safeguard the identities of victims who may be unable to submit a police report at a nearby station due to societal pressures, unwillingness to face society, and other factors. An E-FIR may be filed in a variety of ways depending on the state.

Quashing of an FIR

The High Court can order a FIR to be dismissed if the court is convinced that the person is innocent and has been wrongfully accused. If the aggrieved person has been arrested, a High Court can invalidate the FIR on the grounds that it is a false case and order the police to release him. Under S.482 CRPC, a FIR cannot be quashed if the offence is ongoing. A FIR may not be rejected just because of a delay without first investigating the cause of the delay.

Registration and Filling of multiple FIR

The law does not preclude the filing and investigation of two FIRs in connection with the same incident if the versions differ.

In the event that two people go to the police station and make similar statements concerning a cognizable offence, the police will investigate. In this scenario, the police officer should use his common sense and may file a FIR based on the first-person statement. (Lalita Kumari v. Uttar Pradesh). Two FIRs cannot be registered if they are identical.

Lalita Kumari v. State of Uttar Pradesh
Lalita Kumari (Minor) filed a writ petition under Article 32 of the constitution, through her father Shri Bhola Kamat, seeking the issuance of a writ of Habeas Corpus. Local gangsters kidnapped the petitioner, a little girl. Her father went to the police station to file a report, but the officers refused. The father then went to the superintendent of police, who directed that a FIR be filed. Even so, no investigation was launched, and the police took no action to apprehend the accused or reclaim the little girl.

As a result, a writ petition was filed with the Supreme Court under Article 32. On 14.7.2008, the court issued a thorough judgement expressing significant concern over the non-registration of the FIR even in cases of cognizable offences.

The main question was whether a police officer is required to file a First Information Report (FIR) upon receiving any information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence under Section 154 of the CrPC, or whether the police officer has the authority to conduct a "preliminary inquiry" in order to verify the veracity of such information before filing it.

This case mandated the filing of a formal complaint in the event of a cognizable offence, and the Supreme Court issued instructions for filing a formal complaint.

Supreme Court's Directions to be followed in regards to Registration of an FIR Lalita Kumari v Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
  • If the information reveals the commission of a cognizable offence, registration of a FIR is required under section 154 of the Code, and no preliminary inquiry is permitted in such a circumstance.
  • If the information obtained does not reveal a cognizable offence but indicates the need for an investigation, a preliminary investigation may be performed solely to determine whether or not a cognizable offence has been revealed.
  • If the investigation reveals the commission of a cognizable offence, the FIR must be filed. If the preliminary investigation leads to the complaint being closed, the initial informant must receive a copy of the closure entry as soon as possible, but no later than one week. It must give a concise explanation for why the complaint was closed and no further action was taken.
  • If a cognizable offence is divulged, the police officer cannot evade his obligation to register the offence. If evidence obtained by him reveals a cognizable offence, action must be taken against erring officers who fail to register the FIR.
  • The purpose of the preliminary investigation is not to establish the accuracy or otherwise of the material obtained, but rather to determine whether it discloses any cognizable offence.
  • The type of preliminary investigation to be conducted and in which cases will be determined by the facts and circumstances of each case.
     
The following are the types of cases in which a preliminary inquiry may be conducted:
  1. Family disputes
  2. Matrimonial disputes
  3. Commercial offences
  4. Medical malpractice cases
  5. Cases of corruption
  6. Cases in which there is an unusually long delay in beginning criminal prosecution, such as more than three months.

  • In failing to adequately explain the reasons for the delay in reporting the situation. The aforesaid are merely examples and not an exhaustive list of all conditions that may necessitate a preliminary investigation.
     
  • While safeguarding and protecting the rights of both the accused and the complainant, a preliminary investigation shall be time-limited, not exceeding seven days in any case. The fact of the delay, as well as the reasons for it, must be recorded in the General Diary.
     
  • Because the General Diary/Station Diary/Daily Diary is the record of all information received in a police station, the Supreme Court has ordered that all information relating to cognizable offences, whether resulting in the filing of a FIR or leading to an inquiry, be mandatory and meticulously reflected in the said Diary, as well as the decision to conduct a preliminary inquiry, as mentioned above.

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