Society is a blend of both people with good as well as bad conduct. The person with bad conduct is likely to commit an act prohibited within the law. If so done, the person is said to have committed an offense. However, the offense has been categorized into two heads say:
Cognizable Offence, and
Non- cognizable Offence.
The offenses where the Police have the right to arrest the person alleged to have committed the crime or/and other people with or without a warrant are cognizable offenses. The Police have the right to investigate the related case even before the court passes an order. In simple terms, you can call it an offense with grave consequences.
Moreover, a non-cognizable offense is an offense where the Police have no authority to arrest without a warrant and the power of the Police to investigate the case without the order of the court cases.
At the core of this legal framework lies the concept of the "First Information Report" (FIR). An FIR represents crucial information pertaining to the occurrence of a cognizable offense, marking the initiation of the legal process. In this article, We have Explained the significance of FIRs, their pivotal role in criminal procedures, and the step-by-step procedure for filing one.
What is an FIR?
In the context of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in India, "FIR" stands for "First Information Report." FIR is a written document prepared by a Police officer based on information about the commission of a cognizable offense. As the name suggests, First Information Report is the first information that reaches the Police after an offense is committed. In common terms, it is a complaint lodged with the Police by an aggrieved of a cognizable offense or any other person who has information about the commission of the Offense.
Moreover, anyone can lodge about the commission of a cognizable offense either orally or in writing to the Police. One can render such information over the telephone. The person giving information is called the 'informant.' However, an FIR is a procedural provision incorporated in Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (herein called CrPC).
Types of FIR
There are various types of FIR. The following are some of the most important ones:
A general FIR is one filed by the aggrieved party or the first party against another party in a general transaction at the nearest police station.
Zero FIR is given the number "0" (zero) instead of a serial number, hence the name. It is recorded regardless of the location where the crime was committed. After registering a Zero FIR, the police station transmits it to the jurisdictional police station where the offence took place. When the appropriate police station receives the Zero FIR, it is assigned a serial number and turned into a regular FIR. Know More about Zero FIR
The other party (accused) may file an FIR against the complainant after the FIR is filed. This is called a cross FIR or counter FIR.
The filing of the counter FIR may be motivated by personal animosity or any malicious purpose to perplex the Court, or it may be used as a weapon to negotiate a future settlement and entice the complainant to retract the initial FIR.
Multiple FIR is when aggrieved parties file multiple FIRs with the same cause of action. Multiple FIRs will be submitted only if the subsequent informer accounts for a completely new version of the alleged occurrence.
Eligibility for filing FIR
There is no such hard and fast rule as to the eligibility of the person filing the FIR. Anyone can give information about the commission of a cognizable offense, and it is not at all necessary that the aggrieved of such an offense can only lodge the FIR. It can even be lodged by the Police officer who comes to know about the commission of a cognizable offense. However, it can be summed up as below:
You can lodge an FIR if you are the victim of a cognizable offense,
If you have information about the commission of a cognizable offense that should not be hearsay information, and
If you have witnessed the commission of a cognizable offense.
Therefore, filing an FIR is very important for a case related to a cognizable offense since it sets the criminal justice system in motion. The Police take up the investigation of a case only after an FIR is lodged. However, the Police may not investigate the case even after filing an FIR if they do not find the case severe or if there is reasonable ground to initiate the investigation. However, under Section 157 of CrPC, the Police have to record the reason for not initiating the investigation.
When and who can lodge an FIR?
When a crime occurs, the first step is to contact the police. From the moment of the incident, an FIR should be filed as soon as possible. A delay in doing so may need to be adequately justified. If there is a significant delay in registering an FIR with no plausible reason, there may be suspicion (that it is an afterthought or a manufactured version).
An FIR can be filed by anyone who possesses information about a cognizable crime being committed. Regardless of the severity of the crime, the police officer in charge must file an FIR as long as it is a cognizable offense. If a police officer learns the commission of any cognizable offense, he or she might file an FIR on their own.
Importance of FIR
The main goal of an FIR is to set the criminal law in motion and to gather information regarding alleged illegal behaviour so that appropriate steps can be taken to track down and prosecute the perpetrators. As a result, Sec. 154 has three objectives:
- To notify the Magistrate and the District S. P., who are in charge of the district's peace and safety, of the crimes recorded at the police station;
- To inform the judicial officers who will ultimately hear the case what information was released immediately after the occurrence and what documents were used to begin the inquiry,
- To protect the accused from future modifications or any other additions.
Step By Step Procedure to file an FIR in the Police Station
To file an FIR at the police station, consider the following steps.
Step 1: Go to the nearest police station and tell them everything you know about the situation.
Step 2: You can either tell the officer about the situation verbally, for example, what happened? How did you figure that out? Alternatively, jot down the data on your own.
Step 3: If you tell the police something verbally, the duty officer must write it down and record it in the General or Daily Diary.
Step 4: You must bring two copies with you if you’re filing a written complaint. One will be given to the duty officer, while the other will be returned to you.
Step 5: After you submit the information, the police will review all the details.
Step 6: You will then read the information that the police have recorded.
Step 7: You must sign the FIR after the police have recorded the information.
Step 8: Only sign the report after double-checking that the information recorded by the police matches the information you provided.
Step 9: You will be given a free copy of the FIR with an FIR number, the date of the FIR, and the name of the police station.
Make certain that both copies are stamped. A DD Number, or Daily Diary Number, is stamped on the FIR. It's proof that your complaint was received.
Information that must be mentioned in the FIR
The following are the contents of an FIR:
- Whether the informant is an eyewitness or evidence obtained through hearsay
- Cognizable offence nature
- The accused person's name and a comprehensive description (entire physical description)
- The victim's name and identity (if aware)
- The occurrence's date and time
- The location of the crime
- If the crime was committed for a specific reason (if aware)
- How the crime was perpetrated (description of the actual occurrence of the crime)
- The name and address of the crime witness.
Things to check while reviewing the written FIR:
The FIR shall contain the below-mentioned information by the informant:
Name and address of the informant.
Date, time, and location of the happening of the incident.
The well-known facts of the incident, or if the informant has witnessed such commission then, the proper sequence of the commission of the offense.
Names and the description of the persons involved in the incident, if known. In case of no information about the person involved, the FIR can be lodged in the name of "unknown."
The FIR may be filed at the Police Station in whose territorial jurisdiction the commission of the offense occurred. However, it can be filed at any Police Station, but such Police Station shall pass the information to the Police Station in whose territorial jurisdiction the matter lies.
Whatsoever, one should not make false complaints or make wrongful implications in the information. It may amount to an offense envisaged in Section 203 of the Indian Penal Code,1860 of misleading or giving false information about an offense committed. The exaggerated facts and unclear information must be prohibited while recording the FIR.
If the Police officer denies lodge the FIR, the person with such information can seek the help of the Superintendent of Police or other officers with higher ranks. Moreover, the person with such information can write the same and send it through the post to the Superintendent of Police.
The investigation may be done, subject to the satisfaction, by the Superintendent of Police himself, or he may appoint an officer for the same. If someone is aggrieved by the denial of lodging an FIR, he can apply to the State Human Rights Commission or the National Human Rights Commission since the Police might be acting in favor of kickbacks. However, a complaint can also be filed before a Court of appropriate jurisdiction.
What are the next steps after the FIR has been lodged?
Following the filing of the FIR, an investigation is commenced, which includes:
- gathering evidence
- questioning witnesses
- inspecting the crime scene
- forensic testing,
- and recording statements, among other things.
The police have the right to make arrests without a warrant because FIRs can be filed for cognizable offences. This can happen if the police believe that allowing the defendant to stay free would be harmful, or if the accused is a repeat criminal, for example.
According to Section 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the police must conclude the investigation in 60 or 90 days, depending on the offence, especially when the accused is in detention. This period begins only after the FIR has been filed and the investigation has begun.
If the police believe there is sufficient proof of a crime being committed based on the investigations, they can prepare and file a charge sheet with a competent court, requesting that it take cognizance of the offence.
The FIR is ruled untraced if there is inadequate proof, and a closure report is submitted with the magistrate, which can be disputed.
If the police decide to close the case, they must notify the person who originally filed the FIR.
When an FIR is proven to be false or is transferred to another police station for investigation (in the instance where the police station where the FIR was originally filed did not have jurisdiction), it is referred to as, cancelled in the police station where it was originally filed.
Also Read: HOW TO HANDLE A FALSE FIR?
Conditions that must be met to file FIR:
The following requirements must be met to qualify as an FIR under Section 154:
- It is information on the commission of a criminal offence;
- It is provided orally or in writing by the informant;
- It should be reduced to writing by the officer in charge of a police station or under his direction if presented orally, and it should be signed by the person giving it if delivered in writing or reduced to writing
- The substance of the information shall be recorded in a book in the manner prescribed by the State Government. ('General Diary')
- There must be something in the form of a complaint or accusation regarding the occurrence of a cognizable offence for the information to be classified as an FIR
In simple words, FIR filing procedures are like the first steps in unraveling a crime story. They initiate investigations and ensure fairness in the process. Learning about different offenses and FIRs is like being a lookout for justice in our community, making it a safer place for everyone.
What to do if the police refuse to register the FIR?
In case the police refuse to register an FIR at a police station, then the person can send a written complaint to the concerned Superintendent of Police. This information would then be accordingly recorded and investigated.
Where do I be able to register an FIR?
One can file an FIR at any police station. It is not necessary that the complaint has to be filed in the same area where the crime was committed. Filing the complaint at the nearest police station can help you save time and avoid any delay.
Who can Register FIR?
The FIR can be registered by anyone who knows about a committed crime. The complaint authority is not restricted to the victim. Even the police can suo motu file an FIR against a crime.
It is possible to report someone to the police anonymously?
Yes! Anyone can report a crime anonymously. However, the complaint filed must be true and the facts and circumstances need to be clearly stated. The alleged actions must account for actionable wrong and must be verifiable. One can file an anonymous complaint through a phone call, emails, SMS, letter, etc.
However, the person rendering information doesn't need to know every particular case. Thus, FIR is a crucial process to communicate with the Police about the commission of a cognizable offense.
For how many days is an FIR valid?
In the case of FIR, there is no question about its validity. It is valid until it is quashed by the HC or another court.
What to do if the police refuse to file an FIR?
It is a legal necessity for the police to keep track of the information provided. If you go to the police station to record your FIR and are turned down, you can file a formal complaint with the Superintendent of Police. A complaint can also be brought to the Judicial Magistrate with the assistance of a lawyer, who will then urge the police to investigate the case.
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Author: Shweta Singh