The Author, Gautam Kawatra is a 3rd Year student of Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, New Delhi.
WHAT IS FIR ?
FIR means First Information Report. It means th information recorded by the police officer on duty either by the aggrieved person or any other person to the commission of the alleged offence. It is called as first information report because it is the information which reaches the police first in point of time .
In other words it is a complaint lodged by the victim itself or by any other person on behalf of the victim. Once the FIR is registered, on it’s basis the policre starts the investigation. Section 154 of the Code Of Criminal Procedure defines what amounts to the FIRST INFORMATION. One of the most important ascect regarding filing of FIR is that it can only be filed in case of the cognizable offences and not in the case non-congnizable offences. A cognizable offfence can be defined as an offence where the police can arrest a person without a warrant of the court.
WHO CAN FILE A FIR ?
A FIR can be filed by either :-
- The Victim Himslef/herself
- Any other person on behalf of the victim
- If you have seen the offence being committed
- A police officer can also file an FIR himself
HOW CAN A FIR BE FILED ?
The procedure is as followed :-
- To file a FIR, one has to visit to the nearest pollice station.
- Then the person has to inform the police officer on duty his complaint. It can be done either orally or in writing . But if it is made orally, then it is the duty of the police officer recording the FIR to conert it into writing.
- FIR should be signed by the person making the complaint. But if the person cannot read or write the person must put up his left thumb impression on the FIR.
- The Fir should be registered by the police officer in the record book.
- The person making the complaint has the right ot get a free of cost copy of the FIR made by him.
ESSENTIALS WHILE FILING THE FIR ?
- Person filing the FIR must mention his name and address on the FIR.
- The Date, Time and Location of the incident which is being reported is one of the most essential requirement.
- The person shall state true facts of the incidents as it occurred and should mnipulate the orignal facts.
- The person filing the FIR must mention the name of all the person involved in incident being reported.
- If in knowledge of the person filing the FIR, there is any witness to support his cliam that must be mentioned by him.
DOES EVERY STATEMENT AMOUNTS TO THE FIR ?
The FIR is not a substantive piece of evidence. The person making the complaint makes various statements on various occasions but that does not mean that every statement amounts to the FIR. A statement shall be treated as a FIR only when it fulfills the following two conditions :-
- The statement made should be a accusation i.e. it must be in the nature of the conmplaint or a statement giving information about the crime.
- It must relate to the cognizable offence on the face of it.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COMPLAINT AND A FIR ?
- FIR can be only lodged in the case of cognizable offence or a criminal offence while a complaint can be made in the cas eof non-cognizable offence or non-criminal offfence.
- When the police get the information of a crime for the very first time it is known as FIR, on the other hand a complaint is a petition filed with the magistrate containing an accusation regarding the commission of an offence and a prayer is made that the accussed person shall be convicted.
- A complaint has no particular format but FIR can only be filed in accordance with the procudure and format laid down by the law.
- Once FIR is lodged the police starts investigating but when a complaint is made the police does not start a investigation untill it is directed by a competent authority.
TIME LIMIT FOR FILING THE FIR
The First Information Report must be filed promptly and without wasting any time because such FIR gains the maximum creditibility and is always welcome and appreciated by the courts. According to the Supreme Court of India, the Fir recorded promptly before the time afforded to embellish or do away with the evidence is useful as it eliminates the possible chance of giving rise to suspicion. This is also considered as the golden rule o filing the FIR.
But there are certain exceptions to this golden rule. If the person filing the FIR can show cogent reasons for the reasonable delay in filing the FIR under the compelling circumstances, he shall be allowed to file an Fir There is no fixed period of time and it is the discretion of the court to consider whether there was a reasonable or unreasonable delay in filing of the FIR. It depends upon the facts of each case. Even if there is delay, if FIR looks substantive from the point of view of law, such a delay shall not result in letting the culprit escape.
A SITUATION WHERE THE POLICE OFFICER DENIES TO REGISTER THE FIR ?
Firstly it is the duty of the police officer on duty to register a FIR when requested by a person. But in certain circumstances, if a police officer refuses to do so, then the only option available to the person is to write a letter in writing to the Superintendent of Police (S.P.).
Then the S.P. on receiving such information either have to start the investigation on such matter or he shall pass the matter and give order to investagte by the concerned authority.
ONCE A FIR IS LODGED? WHAT HAPPENS NEXT ?
- Once the FIR is lodged into the police station and the place where the incident had happened is within the jurisdiction of that police station, then that police station has all the necessary poweer to take an action. But if the place of incident is outside the jurisdiction of the police station where the FIR is filed, thn that particular office does not have any power to take any action and that police station shall transfer the FIR to the police station which has jurisdiction to take action against it.
- After the police officer lodges the FIR, he starts investigation about the offence complained. FIR can only be registered for the cognizable offfence, so the police officer can arrest any person related to the case but such person arrested shall be produced before the magistrate in the court within 24 hours.
- If the police officer after conducting the FIR is not convinced with the fact that any offence has been committed, he shall stop the investigation.
- Once the FIR and investigation is done, the police has to submit a final report in the court on the basis of which the Court shall decide whether findings of the FIR and investigation provide any substantial evidence of the offence reported.
GUIDELINES ISSUED BY THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA RELATING TO THE FIR :-
In one of the recent case of Youth Bar Association of India v. Union of India and Others (WP (Crl) No. 28 of 2016) has issued 10 important Guidelines on First Information Report.
The Bench comprising of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice C.Nagappan has issued the following Guideline :-
- An accused is entitled to get a copy of the First Information Report at an earlier stage than as prescribed under Section 207 of the Cr.P.C.
- An accused who has reasons to suspect that he has been roped in a criminal case and his name may be finding 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. On such application being made, the copy shall be supplied within twenty-four hours.
- 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 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.
- The copies of the FIRs, unless the offence is sensitive in nature, like sexual offences, offences pertaining to insurgency, terrorism and of that category, offences under POCSO Act and such other offences, should be uploaded on the police website, and if there is no such website, on the official website of the State Government, within twenty-four hours of the registration of the First Information Report so that the accused or any person connected with the same can download the FIR and file appropriate application before the Court as per law for redressal of his grievances. It may be clarified here that in case there is connectivity problems due to geographical location or there is some other unavoidable difficulty, the time can be extended up to forty-eight hours. The said 48 hours can be extended maximum up to 72 hours and it is only relatable to connectivity problems due to geographical location.
- The decision not to upload the copy of the FIR on the website shall not be taken by an officer below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police or any person holding equivalent post. In case, the States where District Magistrate has a role, he may also assume the said authority. A decision taken by the concerned police officer or the District Magistrate shall be duly communicated to the concerned jurisdictional Magistrate.
- The word ‘sensitive’ apart from the other aspects which may be thought of being sensitive by the competent authority as stated hereinbefore would also include concept of privacy regard being had to the nature of the FIR. The examples given with regard to the sensitive cases are absolutely illustrative and are not exhaustive.
- If an FIR is not uploaded, needless to say, it shall not enure per se a ground to obtain the benefit under Section 438 of the Cr.P.C.
- In case a copy of the FIR is not provided on the ground of sensitive nature of the case, a person grieved by the said action, after disclosing his identity, can submit a representation to the Superintendent of Police or any person holding the equivalent post in the State. The Superintendent of Police shall constitute a committee of three officers which shall deal with the said grievance. As far as the Metropolitan cities are concerned, where Commissioner is there, if a representation is submitted to the Commissioner of Police who shall constitute a committee of three officers. The committee so constituted shall deal with the grievance within three days from the date of receipt of the representation and communicate it to the grieved person.
- The competent authority referred to hereinabove shall constitute the committee, as directed herein-above, within eight weeks from today.
- In cases wherein decisions have been taken not to give copies of the FIR regard being had to the sensitive nature of the case, it will be open to the accused/his authorized representative/parokar to file an application for grant of certified copy before the Court to which the FIR has been sent and the same shall be provided in quite promptitude by the concerned Court not beyond three days of the submission of the application.
- The directions for uploading of FIR in the website of all the States shall be given effect from 15th November, 2016.
Supreme Court Bench in Lalita Kumari v. State of Uttar Pradesh 4 (1994) 4 SCC 260 issued series of Directions with respect to Registration of FIR, which as as follows:
(i) Registration of FIR is mandatory under Section 154 of the Code, if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation.
(ii) If the information received does not disclose a cognizable offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted only to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not.
(iii) If the inquiry discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, the FIR must be registered. In cases where preliminary inquiry ends in closing the complaint, a copy of the entry of such closure must be supplied to the first informant forthwith and not later than one week. It must disclose reasons in brief for closing the complaint and not proceeding further.
(iv) The police officer cannot avoid his duty of registering offence if cognizable offence is disclosed. Action must be taken against erring officers who do not register the FIR if information received by him discloses a cognizable offence.
(v) The scope of preliminary inquiry is not to verify the veracity or otherwise of the information received but only to ascertain whether the information reveals any cognizable offence.
(vi) As to what type and in which cases preliminary inquiry is to be conducted will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. The category of cases in which preliminary inquiry may be made are as under:
(a) Matrimonial disputes/ family disputes
(b) Commercial offences
(c) Medical negligence cases
(d) Corruption cases
(e) Cases where there is abnormal delay/laches in initiating criminal prosecution, for example, over 3 months delay in reporting the matter without satisfactorily explaining the reasons for delay. The aforesaid are only illustrations and not exhaustive of all conditions which may warrant preliminary inquiry.
(vii) While ensuring and protecting the rights of the accused and the complainant, a preliminary inquiry should be made time bound and in any case it should not exceed fifteen days generally and in exceptional cases, by giving adequate reasons, six weeks time is provided. The fact of such delay and the causes of it must be reflected in the General Diary entry. (After modification of the judgement done on 05 march,2014)
(viii) Since the General Diary/Station Diary/Daily Diary is the record of all information received in a police station, we direct that all information relating to cognizable offences, whether resulting in registration of FIR or leading to an inquiry, must be mandatorily and meticulously reflected in the said Diary and the decision to conduct a preliminary inquiry must also be reflected, as mentioned above.
CAN A FIR BE LODGED ON ONLINE ?
Initially, the prospect of registering an FIR in a police station would make people break into a sweat as the process was considered tedious and the fear of police harassment. When you approach the police station, you are required to file a First Information Report (FIR) or a complaint. This document record’s the complainant’s perspective on the crime committed. The procedure for filing an FIR is mentioned under Section 154 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
For police, earlier the process of registering of an FIR for each case would take up a lot of time and energy of the staff. Most police stations are understaffed and overburdened with paperwork, so basic public response and courtesy get overlooked, leading to people complaining of police rudeness and apathy.
Now the police departments in different states have introduced an online system to register FIR, check the status and track stolen vehicles online. This saves time, money and most of all, is free of any harassment and with a large percentage of FIRs now being filed online, the police staff has been freed of public pressure which in turn ensures a better FIR follow up and quicker response to complaints filed.