The purpose of a First Information Report (FIR) is to document information that is provided to the police. This information must be converted to a written report that will be credited with initiating the criminal law, regardless of whether it was obtained orally or in writing.
When a crime is cognizable, the police are free to make an arrest without a warrant and start an investigation. In contrast, the police are not free to take either of these actions in a non-cognizable case without the court's express consent. The CrPC's Sections 154 and 155, read in conjunction with Section 2, provide clarification of this viewpoint. An officer-in-charge of a police station must record the first information about a cognizable offense in the earliest form possible, known as a FIR (First Information Report). The police begin their investigation based on the first information report. The following definitions apply:
1. The police officer was provided this piece of information.
2. The information must be related to an offense that is cognizable.
3. It is a fact that was initially reported at the time.
4. The victim of the cognizable offence, or a representative acting on their behalf, provides information and files a police report.
The information provided to the police officer in order to register a case must be true and accurate. It shouldn't be gossip; it should be able to be linked back to the person who is in charge of disseminating the information. It might or might not be hearsay, but whomever reports it should accept responsibility for it and identify the information's source. Any person who has knowledge of the commission of a cognizable offense may file a FIR. The victim, a witness, and anybody else who knows of the commission of an offense are all covered by this authority, including the police officer. The primary goal of filing an F.I.R. is to initiate the criminal justice system. Additionally, it will help the police officer begin an investigation into the crime that was committed and gather all available evidence as soon as possible.
Some of the other objects of filing an FIR would be to notify the crime that was reported to the police station to the District Magistrate and the District Superintendent of Police, who are in charge of maintaining the district's safety and tranquilly, To notify the crime that was reported to the police station to the District Magistrate and the District Superintendent of Police, who are in charge of maintaining the district's safety and tranquilly and To defend the accused against any ensuing additions or variations.
ESSENTIAL CONDITIONS OF FIRST INFORMATION REPORT
Some of the essential conditions of an FIR are as follows:-
1) What details need to be communicated?
2) What capacity did the offense occur in?
3) Who was the criminal?
4) Who was the victim of the crime?
5) When did the crime start to occur?
6) Where was the crime committed?
7) What drove this decision?
8) How it happened, if at all.
9) If any, witnesses.
10) If something was removed?
11) What signs did the accused leave behind?
12) Any causality at all.
In Mani Mohan v. Emperor, it was established that the following are the essential conditions of a First Information Report:
1) It must contain some sort of information.
2) Writing is required. The concerned police officer should put the information, if provided in writing, into writing.
3) The primary act or crime should be cognizable in its own nature, not the following acts.
4) The F.I.R. must be in the form of a grievance or accusation with the intent to invoke the law.
INFORMATION IN COGNIZABLE CASES
Since the information obtained under Section 154 is referred to as a FIR, it is crucial to understand the rules governing the process for recording information in relation to incidents that are cognizable under Section 154.
If the information is provided verbally to a police officer in charge of a police station, that official is required to reduce it in writing. The informant should then read it over and sign it afterward. The state administration has authorized a book in which the information thus obtained must be recorded. The informant must receive a free copy of the information that was recorded.
The aggrieved party may send the Superintendent of Police the substance of the information if the officer in charge refuses to record it. If the Superintendent of Police is satisfied that the cognizable offense has been committed, he or she will either conduct the investigation himself or instruct a subordinate police officer to do so.
In relation to the relevant offense, this police officer will have all the authority of an officer in command of the police station. Section 154's requirement that oral statements be reduced to paper and signed by the informant serves as a deterrent against making careless statements about criminal offenses by making the informant accountable for his statements. Section 180 of the Indian Penal Code imposes penalties for refusal by the informant to sign the initial information. However, it is not essential for the informant to have signed the first information report in order for it to be void and invalid. The initial data remains acceptable as evidence.
In other words, a FIR just serves as a complaint to initiate the processes of law and order; all the information can be acquired during the inquiry stage. The Madhya Pradesh High Court noted in one of its rulings that subsequent reports were written and were not covered by section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and could not be treated as such. The FIR is the report of the crime that convinces the police apparatus to begin an investigation.
WHAT KIND OF INFORMATION IS CONSIDERED IN AN F.I.R?
An FIR can only contain information on a crime that is a cognizable offense. The information does not have to include all of the case's specifics. The name of the accused need not be mentioned as well. It is required that it reveal details about the commission of an offense that is cognizable in nature.
The following situations are exempt from being considered as an FIR:-
1) Information acquired after the investigation's commencement.
2) Telephonic information, unless it is provided by a known individual who admits his identity and the communication has all the necessary elements of an offence and is reduced to writing by S.H.O.
3) Information about a simple grouping of some people.
4) Unauthorized, vague, and illogical information
WHO CAN FILE AN FIR?
Anyone may submit a First Information Report (FIR). He does not necessarily have to be the injured party, the victim, or a witness. The source of the First Information Report need not be the person with firsthand knowledge of the events; it could just be hearsay.
WHERE TO FILE AN FIR?
The police station of the area in question under whose jurisdiction the offense occurred can receive a FIR.
In order to find the guilty party and bring them to justice, it is important to first learn more about the alleged criminal action. Its secondary but no less significant goal is to learn as soon as possible about an alleged criminal conduct and to document the circumstances before the trial in case they are forgotten.
WHY FIR SHOULD BE FILED PROMPTLY?
First Information Report must always be filed promptly and without wasting any time. Such a report has the highest degree of credibility and is consistently welcomed and valued by the courts. The Supreme Court ruled that it is important for the FIR to be filed as soon as possible, before there is a chance to tamper with or destroy the evidence. It takes away any potential for mistrust to arise.
IS THERE TIME DURATION FIXED FOR FILING AN FIR?
We have already underlined the need for every FIR to be submitted as quickly, efficiently, and without wasting any time as is reasonably possible. There may be instances where a time extension for submitting the FIR is necessary.
However, under the compelling circumstances, there must be compelling justifications for a reasonable delay in filing the FIR. Judges with extensive knowledge and experience can exercise their discretion wisely and in each case's best interest of justice. However, as we have already stated, there is no time limit that can be set for applying the reasonableness test to the filing of a FIR. Each case's specific facts and circumstances will determine this. If the prosecution supported the factual challenges faced by the people filing the report, the delay in filing the FIR as such is not legally fatal.
EVIDENTIARY VALUE OF F.I.R.
An FIR is not a significant piece of evidence. That is, it cannot be taken into account as proof of the facts contained within.
However, the following uses of FIR are permitted:
1) FIR is admissible in support of an informant witness. But it can't be used to refute or undermine the testimony of other witnesses.
2) FIR may be used to refute an informant witness.
3) The defense may use the FIR to challenge the credibility of the maker.
4) An accused may be found guilty of making a non-confessional FIR.
5) FIR may be used as substantive evidence in a deathbed declaration, if it is relevant to the events and circumstances that led to the informant's death .
DELAY IN FILING FIR
The goal of submitting an F.I.R. to the police as soon as feasible after an offense has been committed is to gather and receive new information about the circumstances and facts that are likely to have contributed to the offense.
If the FIR is taken and documented before the informant's memory deteriorates and before he begins to forget the facts, it will have more corroborative significance. In light of this, if there is a delay in lodging. If there is a FIR and there is an unjustified and unexplained delay, it may give rise to suspicion or the introduction of a made-up account by the prosecution. The prosecution must provide an explanation for the delay in filing the FIR. It retains its probative significance even after being adequately explained. However, the prosecution case is not destroyed by merely filing a late FIR. In Raghbir Singh v. The State of Haryana, it was determined that the victim's condition prevented him from going to the police station first, and that going to the hospital instead was a legitimate and valid justification for the delay in filing an F.I.R.
DELAY IN FILING FIR IN CASE OF RAPE
In situations of rape and other sexual offences, the case involves both the victim and the victim's family.
They frequently delay calling the police out of respect and embarrassment. Delay in a case of sexual assault cannot be compared to delay in a case involving other offences, the courts have regularly ruled. It was determined in Harpal Singh v. State of Himachal Pradesh that the delay of 10 days in lodging the first information report stands reasonably explained when the prosecution stated that as the honor of the family was at stake, the members needed time to determine whether the matter should be taken to court or not
PROCEDURE OF FILING FIR
The procedures to file an F.I.R. are as follows:-
Written Form- The police must record any oral information in written form if they receive information about the commission of a cognizable offense.
Read Over- A person who provides information or files a complaint may request that the police read the information to him or her.
Verification- You shouldn't sign the report until you've made sure that the details you provided match what the police have written down.
Signature- The person providing the information must sign the police report after it has been taken down. It should be remembered that those who are illiterate or blind are required to sign a document with their left thumb impression after being satisfied that it is accurate.
Copy of F.I.R- The right to a free copy of the FIR is granted to everybody who files one.
WHAT IF A POLICE OFFICER DECLINES TO FILE A FIR?
By personally meeting with the Superintendent of Police or any other relevant authority, one can bring the complaint to their attention.
You can send a written complaint to the relevant Superintendent of Police via postal service. If the officer is satisfied with the complaint, he may choose to conduct his own investigation of the matter or direct that one be conducted. One has the choice to present a private complaint to the relevant court. If the police act carelessly or unfairly, one can always go to the State Human Rights Commission or the National Human Rights Commission.
WHAT IS A ZERO FIR?
A particular type of FIR that can be submitted in any police station, regardless of the location or jurisdiction of the incident.
However, it is transferred to the police station, which has the necessary jurisdiction, following an investigation and filing with the magistrate. It should be noted that whereas a conventional FIR has a valid serial number, a zero FIR is one that has not been assigned one because it can be registered at any police station. Before transferring the case to another police station with its own competent authority, the police station where the zero FIR was initially filed is required to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the incident.
E-FIR: WHAT IS IT?
The abbreviation "E-FIR" stands for "electronic FIR and it can be used to report crimes including rape, murder, and dowry deaths. Its major goal is to safeguard the identities of victims who might be unable to register a FIR at the local police station due to social pressure, an inability to face society, or other factors. The procedures for filing an E-FIR may vary between states.
ARE THOSE WHO ARE THE TARGETS OF FALSE FIRS HAVE ANY REMEDY?
In the event that a false and unfounded FIR is made against a person, that individual is free to petition for anticipatory bail under section 438 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973. A defamation claim may also be made by the injured party. Additionally, he is entitled to file a petition pursuant to Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, asking for the FIR to be quashed on the grounds that it contains false allegations and that he is innocent.
FIR: LEGAL IMPLICATIONS
Although filing a FIR is the initial step in obtaining justice through the criminal justice system, the FIR itself does not signal the conclusion or punishment of the claims made by a complainant or victim.
Despite the aforementioned, the general public is often anxious and worried that a FIR may be filed against them. Employers frequently choose not to recruit candidates for whom a FIR has been filed. Furthermore, it is impossible to disregard the prospect of going through a criminal trial. The main impact of filing a FIR is that it can only be dismissed by the Hon'ble High Courts and not by Magistrates or Session Courts, which is the last consequence. Additionally, it is a well-known rule that courts frequently decline to dismiss FIRs due to the circumstances of the case. Therefore, the victims or complainants are eager to file a police report (FIR) against the accused parties, sometimes to seek retribution and sometimes to obtain justice.
Md. Habib vs. The State Of Bihar on 29 January, 2013
The main goal of a FIR, according to the court in the case of Habib v. State of Bihar, was to activate the criminal code and set it into motion. In the case of P. Sirajuddin v. State of Madras, it was determined that a FIR was required in order to acquire early information about an alleged offense from the informant and to record the statement before his memory failed or before he had the chance to embellish it.
State Of Rajasthan vs Shiv Singh on 3 December, 1960, AIR 1962 Raj 3
A First Information Report is the statement made by the report's maker in front of a police officer at a police station and recorded in accordance with the Code's requirements, according to the Rajasthan High Court's definition in State of Rajasthan v. Shiv Singh.
Mokab Ali & Others vs State Of West Bengal on 24 March, 2010
In the case of Mokab Ali & Others vs. State of West Bengal, the court ruled that after an inquest has started, no first information report can be filed in a murder case. It is made sure that only the first statements and account of the informant are recorded in the FIR; in cases of second complaints, there is no chance of obtaining first-hand information, thus the potential is reduced to nothing.
Sakiri Vasu vs State Of U.P. And Others on 7 December, 2007
The Hon'ble Supreme Court made the following observation in the case of Sakiri Vasu v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors: If a person has a complaint that his FIR has not been registered by the police or that a proper investigation is not being done, then the aggrieved person's remedy is not to go to the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, but to approach the concerned Magistrate under Section 156(3) first.
The FIR is the initial stage in the criminal process that results in a criminal's trial and punishment. The foundation of the prosecution case is formed entirely on this crucial piece of supporting evidence.
FIR is the Bible of the case brought about by the public report, as was correctly stated in the case of Mohan Lal v. State of Uttar Pradesh. It might be argued that FIR plays a crucial part in every criminal trial from the perspective of the law of evidence. In every criminal prosecution, the FIR, which is information that was first in time, is a crucial piece of evidence, both for supporting evidence and for opposing testimony. Therefore, it is imperative that a FIR be filed against any crime, especially when the victim has already arrived at the police station to file a FIR. A properly recorded FIR may offer important evidence in a criminal case. As soon as someone learns that an offence has been committed, they should report it to the police. In addition to helping to stop crimes from happening and keep the peace in society, FIRs can help criminal trials get off to a successful start.
--  Mani Mohan Ghose vs Emperor AIR 1931 Cal 745  The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 sec.154  The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973  Indian Evidence Act, 1872 sec.157  Indian Evidence Act, 1872 sec.145  Indian Evidence Act, 1872 sec.155(3)  Indian Evidence Act, 1872 sec.21  Indian Evidence Act, 1872 sec.32(1)  Raghbir Singh vs State Of Haryana 1980 AIR 1087 Harpal Singh and Anr. vs State Of Himachal Pradesh AIR 1981 SC 361 The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 sec.154
o The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
o The Code Of Criminal Procedure- Ratanlal & Dhirajlal-23rd Edition
o The Indian Evidence Act, 1872
o R.V. Kelkar’s Criminal Procedure
This article is written by Ashish Lobo of G.J. Advani Law College, Mumbai.