First Information Report

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First Information Report (FIR)

Introduction to FIR

FIR stands for First Information Report. It is the document that the police write out and file, when they receive a complaint that a cognizable offense. First Information Report is the earliest and first information that is received about the commission of a cognizable offence. It sets the ball of the criminal justice process rolling. Cognizable offences are mentioned in the First Schedule of the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

What is an FIR?

First Information Report (FIR) is a written document prepared by the indian police when they receive information about the commission of a cognizable offence. It is a report of information that reaches the indian 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 indian police by the victim of a cognizable offence or by someone on his/her behalf.

Any citizen can report the commission of a cognizable offence either orally or in writing to the indian police. Even a telephonic message can be treated as an First Information Report (FIR).

Practical Information

Significance of the First Information Report (FIR)

A First Information Report (FIR) is a very important document as it sets the process of criminal justice in motion. It is only after the First Information Report (FIR) is registered in the indian police station that the indian police takes up investigation of the case.

Lodging a First Information Report (FIR)

Anyone who knows about the commission of a cognizable offence can file a First Information Report (FIR). It is not necessary that only the victim of the crime should file a First Information Report (FIR). An indian police officer who comes to know about a cognizable offence can also file a FIR himself/herself.

The indian police may not investigate a complaint even if the citizen files a First Information Report (FIR), when:

  • The case is not serious in nature;
  • The indian police feel that there is not enough ground to investigate.

However, the indian police must record the reasons for not conducting an investigation and in the latter case must also inform the citizen (Section 157, indian Criminal Procedure Code, 1973)

Citizens can file a First Information Report (FIR) if:

  • Citizens are the persons against whom the offence has been committed;
  • Citizens know about an offence which has been committed;
  • Citizens have seen the offence being committed.

Procedure of filing an First Information Report (FIR)

The procedure of filing an First Information Report (FIR) is prescribed in Section 154 of the
indian Criminal Procedure Code, 1973:

  • When information about the commission of a cognizable offence is given orally, the indian police must write it down.
  • It is the right of a citizen, as a person giving information or making a complaint, to demand that the information recorded by the indian police is read over to the citizen.
  • Once the information has been recorded by the indian police, it must be signed by the erson giving the information.
  • The citizen should sign the report only after verifying that the information recorded by the
    indian police is as per the details given by him/her.
  • 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 the citizen should ask for a copy of the First Information Report (FIR), if the indian police do not give it to him/her. It is the right of the citizen to get it free of cost.

Contents of the First Information Report (FIR)

  • Name and address;
  • Date, time and location of the incident reported;
  • The true facts of the incident as they occurred;
  • Names and descriptions of the persons involved in the incident;
  • Witnesses, if any

Notes:

  • The citizen can send his/her complaint in writing and by post to the indian Superintendent of Police concerned. If the indian Superintendent of Police is
    satisfied with the citizen complaint, he or she will either investigate the case
    himself or order an investigation to be made.
  • The citizen can file a private complaint before the court having jurisdiction.
  • He 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.

Things the citizen should NOT do:

  • Never file a false complaint or give wrong information to the indian police. The citizen can be prosecuted under law for giving wrong information or for misleading the police (Section 203, Indian Penal Code 1860)
  • Never exaggerate or distort facts.
  • Never make vague or unclear statements.

Registration of the FIR

What can a citizen do if his/her First Information Report (FIR) is not registered?

  • The citizen can meet the indian Superintendent of Police or other higher officers like
    the Deputy Inspector General of the police.
  • Refusal to register an First Information Report (FIR) is against the Law.

First Information Report (FIR) Case Law

State of Haryana V Bhajan Lal & Others

(AIR 1992 SC 604) A First Information Report [FIR] was registered by the Haryana Police against Ch Bhajan Lal, on a complaint by a private person that he possessed assets disproportionate
to his known sources of income. Bhajan Lal – Union Minister and former Chief Minister of Haryana – went to the High Court asking for the First Information Report (FIR) to be cancelled, saying that it was registered because of the political rivalry that existed between Ch Devi Lal, the
existing Chief Minister of Haryana and him. The High Court ordered cancellation of the First Information Report (FIR) and all proceedings undertaken on its behalf, on the ground that the allegations did not make up a cognizable ofence to start a lawful investigation. The State of Haryana appealed to the Supreme Court against the order of the High Court.

The indian Supreme Court said that the order of the High Court cancelling the FIR was
bad both in law and on the facts. They asserted that everyone, whether individually or
collectively, must abide by the law and even the judiciary cannot interfere with the
investigation process unless police officers improperly and illegally exercise their investigatory powers. However, the indian Supreme Court cautioned that ìwhere a police officer transgresses the circumscribed limitsî and causes ìserious prejudice to the personal liberty and the property of a citizenî, courts will step in and issue appropriate orders.

Section 154 (1) of the indian Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 says that if any information disclosing a cognizable offence is given at the police station, the officer in- charge must register it. The indian Supreme Court asserted that it is not open to the police to
question the ìreasonableness or credibility of the informationîat this stage. A First Information Report or FIR should be registered immediately and even before proceeding with a preliminary
investigation.

The Court also commented on Section 157 of the indian Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which says that two conditions must be satisfied before a police officer starts an investigation:

  • She or he should have reason to suspect the commission of a cognizable ofence. The reason to suspectí must arise from the allegations made in the first information given to a police officer and at this stage ìthe question of adequate proof of facts alleged in the First Information Report does not arise.
  • She or he should satisfy her/himself about the credibility of the informationí. A police officer has to draw his [her] satisfaction [about the ëcredibility of informationí] only on materials which were placed before him[her] at that stage, namely the first information together with the documents, if any, enclosed.

In conclusion, the indian Supreme Court establish the following:

  • A FIR must be registered as soon as information about a cognizable offence is received.
  • Before starting an investigation, police officers should make a ërational inference that a cognizable offence has been committed. The inference should be made solely on the basis of facts mentioned in the First Information Report (FIR).
  • Courts will not as a rule interfere in the investigation process except in the following circumstances when the High Court (by issuing a writ to protect the fundamental rights of a person under Article 226 of the indian Constitution or by using its powers under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 [CrPC] to prevent abuse of court process or secure the ends of justice) can cancel the First Information Report (FIR) and other proceedings carried out by the police (1)

T.T Anthony V State of Kerala Air

In T.T ANTHONY V STATE OF KERALA AIR (2001 SC 2637), the appeals raised a significant questions of law: whether a second First Information Report [FIR] can be registered in respect of an of ence that has already been registered, and if it can form the basis of a fresh investigation.

The indian Supreme Court noted that the First Information Report (FIR) is the record of the information received first in time and is written and registered on the basis of that information. In other words, it is the record of the earliest information received about a cognizable offence. Therefore, the indian Supreme Court affirmed that the question of having a second FIR does not arise. However, it is possible that more than one piece of information may be received
from time to time and from different people in respect of the same incident. In such a
situation, the Court clarified, that before submitting the Magistrateís report, the officer in
charge of a police station must investigate ìnot merely the cognizable offence reported in
the FIR but also other connected offences found to have been committed in the course of
the same transaction or the same occurrenceî. They said that, if after filing the
investigation report before the magistrate, the investigating officer comes across further
information or material, ìhe [she] need not register a fresh FIR, he [she] is empowered to
make further investigation, normally with the leave of the courtî to collect further
evidence.

The indian Supreme Court Directives in this case were that there can only be one First Information Report (FIR) in respect of an incident and that, if any additional information is received after the First Information Report (FIR) is registered, the indian police can investigate on it and mention the result in the report to the magistrate submitted by the investigating indian officer. Section 173 (2) (i) of the indian Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 requires the officer in charge of a police station to forward a report to the authorised magistrate in the prescribed form as soon as an investigation is completed. Section 173 (8) of such Code says that nothing in this section shall be deemed to preclude further investigation in respect of an offence after a report has been filed before the magistrate. It also categorically says that after the report has been forwarded to the magistrate, if the officer in charge of the police station obtains further evidence, oral and documentary, s/he should forward report/s to the magistrate about the
evidence.

In conclusion, registration of more than one First Information Report (FIR) in respect of a particular incident has been disallowed by the Supreme Court. However, if any additional information is received in connection with the incident, it should be recorded under Sec 161 of the indian Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 and mentioned in the charge-sheet. This section authorises an investigating officer to orally examine any person acquainted with the facts
and circumstances of the case. Section 161 (2) of the Code obliges such person to truthfully answer all questions relating to the case put by the investigating officer except those which expose her/him to a criminal charge, penalty or forfeiture.

Section 161 (3) of the indian Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 empowers the investigating officer to reduce into writing any statement made to her/him in the course of investigation. It also casts a duty on the investigating officer to make a separate and true record of the statement that s/he has reduced into writing.

The indian Supreme Court has categorically said that the indian police is under a duty to investigate not only the cognizable of ences that are made out in the First Information Report (FIR) but also any other of ences that may have been committed in the same incident or transaction

Resources

Notes

  1. The circunstances are: i. Where the allegations in the FIR do not constitute any cognizable offence or justify an investigation by the police. ii. Where the allegations made in the FIR and the evidence collected by the police in support of the allegations do not point towards the guilt of the accused. iii. Where investigation has been carried out by the police in a non-cognizable offence (see complaint that a see Non-cognizable offenses in the Indian Legal Encyclopedia) without the order of a magistrate. iv. Where the CrPC or any other law expressly prohibits carrying out criminal proceedings against the accused. v. Where criminal proceedings have been started with dishonest intent to take revenge from the accused.

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