AUTHOR- Jonus D’souza, Student of V.M. Salgaocar College of Law, Panaji- Goa.
The Criminal Procedure Code is a legal framework that governs the procedural aspect used within the formal criminal justice system of a country. It provides a mechanism for all the procedures that have to be followed for the administration of justice. The Criminal Procedure Code 1973 is a primary legislation for the administration of substantive laws in India be it the Indian Penal Code 1860 or other Criminal Statutes.
FIRST INFORMATION REPORT (FIR) – MEANING
The term “First Information Report” is not defined in the Criminal Procedure Code 1973. The First Information Report (FIR) is a crucial document in the criminal justice system in India. It is the first step in the process of investigation of a criminal case. The FIR is a written document that is prepared by the police officer who receives information about the commission of a cognizable offence. The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) lays down the procedure for the registration of an FIR and its investigation.
In the case of Ravi Kumar V. State of Punjab, The Supreme Court Stated “The FIR is a report giving information of the commission of the cognizable crime which may be made by the complainant or by any other person knowing about the commission of such offence”.
SECTION 154 OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE 1973
It states that an officer in charge of a police station shall reduce to writing the information received orally by any person relating to the commission of a cognizable offence and the same should be read to the informant. Such information must be signed by the person giving it. The substance of information shall then be entered in a book generally known as Station Diary or General Diary. A copy of the information recorded must be furnished to the informant free of cost.
OBJECT OF FIRST INFORMATION REPORT (FIR)
The main object of the First Information Report (FIR) is to set the criminal law in motion. The FIR is the first step in the process of investigation of a criminal case, and it is a crucial document in the criminal justice system in India. The primary objective of the FIR is to provide information to the police about the commission of a cognizable offence.
In Habib V. State of Bihar it was stated that “The principal object of first information report from the point of view of the informant is to set the criminal law in motion and from the point of view of the investigating authorities is to obtain information about the commission of a cognizable offence with a view to taking suitable steps for tracing and bring to book the offender”.
WHO MAY LODGE FIRST INFORMATION REPORT (FIR)
Any person who has knowledge or information about the commission of a cognizable offence can lodge a First Information Report (FIR) with the police. The term “cognizable offence” refers to an offence for which the police can arrest a person without a warrant and start an investigation without the permission of a court.
BEFORE WHOM FIRST INFORMATION REPORT (FIR) IS LODGED
A First Information Report (FIR) can be lodged before the officer in charge of a police station or any police officer on duty. This means that the person who has knowledge or information about the commission of a cognizable offence can go to any police station and report the offence to the officer in charge or to any police officer on duty, and the officer is bound to register the FIR. It is nowhere provided that such information cannot be given to anyone else. In R.P Kapur V. Sardar V. Sardar Pratap Singh, a complaint was made to the Chief Minister who in turn sent it to Additional IGP was held legal and valid.
CONTENTS OF FIRST INFORMATION REPORT (FIR)
The FIR need not contain elaborate information about the crime or incident. The contents of an FIR may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the incident, but generally, it includes the following information:
- The Date, time and location of the incident.
2. The name and address of the complainant.
3. Nature and description of the crime or incident.
4. Names, addresses, and description of the accused, if known.
5. Names, addresses, and contact information of witnesses, if any.
6. Any other relevant information or details that can help the police in their investigation.
In many decided cases it was stated that “FIR is neither magna carta nor encyclopaedia nor chronicle of the exhaustive details of the occurrence, nor catalogue of every minute particular of the event”.
ESSENTIALS / REQUIREMENTS OF FIRST INFORMATION REPORT (FIR)
- Information must be given to the officer in charge of a police station.
- The information should be the first in point of time.
- Such information must relate to commission of a cognizable offence.
- It must be in writing and signed by the informant.
- It must be read out to the informant and a copy of the same should be given to the informant.
- The information received should be entered in a book called Station diary or general diary.
EVIDENTIARY VALUE OF FIRST INFORMATION REPORT (FIR)
The facts stated in an FIR is not substantive or primary piece of evidence of the facts stated therein. The information provided in the FIR can be used for corroborating any statement made by the maker of the FIR in a court during Trial. The Evidentiary Value of FIR must always depend on the facts and circumstances of a given case.
The evidentiary value of FIR was discussed in the case of Dharma Rama Bhagare v. The State of Maharashtra.
- FIR cannot be admissible as evidence before a court of law in a trial.
- It can be used only to discredit the maker of the FIR by contradicting him.
- It can be used for corroborating any statement made by the maker of the FIR in a court during the trial.
EFFECT OF DELAY IN FILING FIRST INFORMATION REPORT (FIR)
The Criminal Procedure Code does not prescribe any period of limitation for filing of FIR. The FIR should be lodged at the earliest opportunity after the occurrence of an offence. Delay in filing of FIR often results in embellishment. A delay in filing an FIR can raise credibility issues with regard to the complainant’s allegation since delay can be interpreted as a lack of seriousness or urgency on the part of the complainant. Delay in filing FIR also raises the possibility that the complainer may be falsely implicating an innocent person after due time has elapsed. It is essential that the delay in lodging FIR should be satisfactorily explained.
In the case of Lalita Kumari v. Government of U.P, the Supreme Court held that the police must register an FIR in cases of cognizable offences, regardless of whether there has been a delay in reporting the offence.
REFUSAL TO LODGE / REGISTER FIRST INFORMATION REPORT (FIR)
It is the duty of the police to register an FIR when a cognizable offence is reported. The police cannot refuse to register FIR in cases of cognizable offences. In case the police officer refuses to register an FIR, the aggrieved may approach the Superintendent of police to get the FIR registered. If the Superintendent of police is satisfied that the information disclosed is of a cognizable offence, he may either himself investigate the case or he will direct the subordinate police to investigate the case. If the Superintendent of police also refuses to register the FIR, the aggrieved may file a private complaint before the Magistrate. The Magistrate will then direct the police to record the FIR under section 156(3) of the Criminal Procedure code 1973.
In the case of Mohinder V. State of Punjab, it was held that a police officer cannot refuse to lodge an FIR without any reason. If he refuses on flimsy grounds, courts can intervene and get the report lodged.
QUASHING OF FIRST INFORMATION REPORT (FIR)
Quashing of FIR refers to the process of nullifying or invalidating an FIR by a court of law. The power to quash an FIR is vested in the High Court given under section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973, which provides inherent powers to the High court. Quashing of FIR is usually done in cases where the court finds that the allegations made in the FIR are baseless, frivolous, or vexatious, or that the investigation is being conducted with mala fide intentions. It is important to note that the power to quash an FIR is discretionary and is exercised by the court on a case-by-case basis, depending on the facts and circumstances of each case.
In the case of State of Haryana and Ors. V. Bhajan Lal and Ors. The Supreme Court laid down the guidelines for quashing of FIRs. The court held that an FIR can be quashed if it is found to be an abuse of the process of the court, politically motivated, without any legal foundation, or filed with the sole intention of maligning someone’s reputation.
ZERO FIRST INFORMATION REPORT (FIR)
Zero FIR can be filed at any police station irrespective of the jurisdiction where the crime has occurred, and the police station where the FIR is filed would then transfer the case to the appropriate police station for further investigation. The serial number on the FIR is put as Zero and the same is forwarded to the competent investigation police station.
SECOND FIRST INFORMATION REPORT (FIR)
A second FIR cannot be filed based on the same facts, same incident and for the same offence.
- Youth Bar Association of India v. Union of India and Others
The Supreme Court, in this case, formulated guidelines regarding FIR’s.
“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”.
- Ramesh v State (NCT of Delhi)
In this case, it was held that recording of FIR is mandatory, the concerned officer is duty bound to register a case on the basis of information disclosing cognizable offence.
FIR is an essential document in the criminal justice system, and its proper registration and investigation are crucial for the delivery of justice. The CrPC lays down the procedure for the registration of FIR, and it is the duty of every police officer to register the FIR in cognizable cases. The FIR should contain all the necessary information about the offence committed and the accused if known. The investigation of the FIR should be conducted diligently, and the police officer should submit a report to the Magistrate after the investigation is complete in the prescribed time period without any unreasonable and unjustified delay.
 AIR 2005 SC 1929 (1931) : 2005 9 SCC 315 : Cr LJ 1742.
 Patna High Court CR. APP (SJ) No.296 of 2001 dt.29-01-201.
 AIR 1961 SC 1117.
 1973 AIR 476, 1973 SCR (3) 92.
 AIR 2012 SC 1515.
 AIR 2001, SC 2113
 1992 AIR 604, 1990 SCR Supl. (3) 259
 AIR 2016 SC 4136
 2006 Cr. LJ 1622 SC