What Is An FIR

Law
24-May-2024
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First Information Reports or FIRs are important legal documents in many nations, including India. It is the first stage in the criminal justice system. The victim or anyone with knowledge of the offense may report it to the police in the case of any cognizable offense (an offense for which the police have the authority to make an arrest without a warrant). The information is subsequently recorded by the police in writing and this written record is referred to as an FIR.

Typically, the FIR includes important information about the offense like:

  • When And Where the Offense Occurred.
  • An Explanation of The Transgression.
  • Information About the Victim and If Any Witnesses
  • If Known the Accused’s Details.
  • Any Additional Pertinent Data.
    The FIR is essential because it initiates the criminal justice process. Following the filing of a First Information Report (FIR), the police are required by law to look into the situation and take the necessary action. In the Indian context, Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (Crp C) contains the pertinent legal provision pertaining to the filing of a First Information Report. According to this section, any information that an officer in charge of a police station receives verbally regarding the commission of a cognizable offense must be put in writing by him or under his supervision and given to the informant. Once the information has been recorded, it must be signed by the source and its contents will be recorded in a book that the officer will keep in a format determined by the state government. The FIR is this written document that the informant has signed.

Importance of FIR

In the criminal justice system, the First Information Report (FIR) is crucial because it forms the basis for the investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses. An explanation of its significance is provided below along with pertinent statutes and case laws, especially as they relate to India:-

FIR (First Information Report)

 This starts the criminal justice system investigation process. It causes the police to look into the reported offense as soon as possible and in great detail.

Evidence Preservation

 By recording important information about the crime scene witnesses and other relevant details, the FIR aids in the preservation of important evidence. This contributes to a just and fair investigation.

Legal Requirement

 According to Indian criminal law, filing Form I-94 is necessary for crimes that are considered crimes. The inability to prove the offense's occurrence in court later on could result from failing to file a FIR.

Protection of Rights

 It makes sure that the victims’ complaints are appropriately documented and looked into by the police.

As a result of its ability to start an investigation, preserve evidence and safeguard victims’ rights, the FIR is essential to the functioning of the criminal justice system. Relevant legal provisions and significant case laws that highlight its mandatory registration and evidentiary value in criminal proceedings serve to underscore its significance.

Types of FIR

There are two main categories of FIRs in the context of criminal law: Regular FIRs and Zero FIRs. Let’s examine each of these in more detail:

Regular FIR

 The term Regular FIR describes the typical First Information Report that the police file after learning of a crime that is legally actionable. Here are a few crucial elements:

Cognizable Offense: When a major crime occurs for which, the police have the authority to make an arrest without a warrant and launch an investigation without a judge’s approval, a regular Federal Information Report (FIR) is filed.

Jurisdiction: The police station with jurisdiction over the area where the offense occurred receives the Regular FIR. The police station that receives the complaint has the authority to file an FIR and conduct an investigation.
Investigation: The police have a duty to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the case after registering a Regular FIR. They gather information, speak with witnesses and, in light of the investigation’s conclusions, prosecute the accused as needed.

Zero FIR

The idea of zero FIR was introduced to make sure that there is no delay in filing a formal complaint, particularly in situations where jurisdictional concerns might surface. The following information about Zero FIR is important to know.

Instant Registration: Regardless of the location of the offense, a Zero FIR enables the victim or anybody aware of the offense to report it to any police station. A Zero FIR is subsequently registered at the police station where the complaint was originally filed. 

Transfer to Relevant Police Station: The investigation is started by the police station where the Zero FIR is filed following its registration. Afterward, the case might be moved to the relevant police station that oversees the location where the offense occurred. 

Delay Prevention: One of the main goals of the Zero FIR concept is to avoid any delays in filing a formal complaint, particularly when it comes to serious crimes involving sexual offenses, crimes against women, or other crimes for which prompt action is required.

Other Forms of FIR (Depending on the Offense Type)

  FIRs can be grouped according to the type of offense committed, in addition to Regular FIRs and Zero FIRs. Typical varieties include the following.

FIR for Particular Offenses: A variety of specific offenses including theft, robbery, assault, murder, abduction etc. are subject to the filing of an FIR. 
FIR for Cybercrimes: As a result of the increase in cybercrime there are now FIRs dedicated to offenses like hacking, online fraud, identity theft etc. happening more frequently.
FIR for Special Situations: Specialized FIRs such as those pertaining to organized crime, terrorism, economic offenses etc. may be necessary in some circumstances.

Who can file an FIR?

The filing of an FIR (First Information Report) is not limited to the victim of a crime in the majority of legal systems, including India. Instead, anyone who knows that a cognizable offense has been committed may file one. Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (CrPC) is the main legal document in India that outlines the requirements for filing a First Information Report (FIR). It requires the officer in charge of a police station to register an FIR as soon as they receive information about the commission of a cognizable offense. It stipulates that a police officer must put all information pertaining to the commission of a crime into writing.

Any person can provide written or verbal information to the officer in charge of a police station about the commission of a cognizable offense, according to Section 154(1). Documenting the information and providing it to the informant is the officer's responsibility. Section 154(2) further mandates that the individual providing the information to the police officer sign it. The essence of the data must be recorded in a book that the officer keeps in the format that the State Government specifies. Section 154(3) requires the officer to give the informant a free copy of any written information they provide. These legal provisions guarantee that anyone with knowledge of the commission of a cognizable offense may file a First Information Report (FIR), which makes it easier for the police to investigate and report crimes quickly.

Bhimappa Basappa versus. State of Karnataka According to the Karnataka High Court, if there is a legitimate reason for the delay it does not always impact the credibility of the FIR.

The following persons can file FIR

Victim of Offense

Following an offense, the victim of a crime has the right to lodge a formal complaint with the local police station that oversees the crime scene. The victim has two options: they can go to the police station in person or give someone else permission to file the FIR on their behalf. Witnesses: A formal complaint (FIR) may be filed by anyone who saw a cognizable offense being committed. Witnesses are essential to the investigation because they give the police information about the crime and support the investigation.

Family or Friend of the Victim

 If the victim is hurt, incapacitated or for any other reason unable to file the FIR, then their family members or friends may file the FIR on their behalf. This guarantees that the police will investigate the offense and report it as soon as possible.

Authorized Representatives

 A person may be legally permitted to file a First Information Report (FIR) on behalf of the victim in specific circumstances. Legal guardians, kin or delegates designated by the victim may fall under this category, particularly if the victim is incapable of reporting the crime on their own account because of disability or another reason.

Public Officials

Based on their own knowledge or information obtained while performing their official duties, some public officials such as police officers, magistrates or other authorized government personnel may also be able to file a formal complaint (FIR).

Any Person with Knowledge of the Offense

Anyone who learns of the commission of a crime that falls under the purview of the law, excluding witnesses and the victim, may register a First Information Report. This includes those who are nearby observing the incident from a distance or learning about the offense through other sources.

It's crucial to understand that having the right to file a formal complaint (FIR) does not automatically grant you the ability to pursue legal action or carry out an investigation. Following the filing of a formal complaint, the police and other pertinent law enforcement agencies are tasked with looking into the matter and, depending on the information they find, taking the necessary legal action. People who file a false police report (FIR) should make sure the information they provide is accurate and truthful to the best of their knowledge, as there may be legal repercussions for falsely reporting a crime.

In T. C. T. Anthony v. The State of Kerala The Supreme Court held that a formal complaint (FIR) is not considered substantive evidence and can only be utilized to support or refute testimony given by witnesses during a trial.

What will happen if an FIR is registered?

In many legal systems, filing a First Information Report (FIR) starts the criminal justice process. This is a thorough explanation of what usually occurs:

  • The criminal justice process commences with the filing of a First Information Report (FIR). A written report created by law enforcement using data from witnesses, victims and other individuals with firsthand knowledge of the offense is what it is. The FIR includes information on the date, time and location of the offense in addition to a synopsis of the events and, if available, the names of the parties involved.
  • The police look into the alleged offense after the FIR is filed. To do this, you might need to collect forensic samples, interview people, gather evidence and carry out other investigative tasks.
  • The accused person(s) named in the FIR may be taken into custody by the police contingent on the specifics of the offense and the evidence collected. However, depending on several factors, including the seriousness of the offense, an arrest may not always be necessary.
  • As part of the investigation, the police may question the suspect and record their statement. The declaration could be presented in court as evidence.
  • The police gather evidence in the form of witness statements, forensic reports, CCTV footage and other sources to assemble evidence against the defendant.
  • The police present a charge sheet or final report to the court upon completion of the investigation. The charges against the accused are listed on the charge sheet along with information about the evidence that was gathered during the investigation.
  • A trial is scheduled for this case. After giving the accused a chance to defend themselves, the prosecution makes its case using the information gathered throughout the investigation.
  • The court renders a decision after considering the evidence and hearing the arguments. If the defendant is proven guilty, the law may be followed in their conviction and sentencing.

In Punjab State v. Ram Singh The Supreme Court ruled in this case that an FIR is not an encyclopedia that needs to include every detail of the offense. All the essential details required to start the investigation should be included.

The First Information Report (FIR) serves as more than just a formal complaint. It is the foundation for all further inquiries and court cases. In addition to alerting law enforcement to the existence of a crime, it also provides crucial information about the type, location, and timing of the offense as well as the identities of the parties are available. In addition, the act of filing a formal complaint (FIR) embodies the essential concept of fairness in the legal system, enabling people to pursue compensation for crimes against them or others. It permits the state to carry out its obligations to preserve the rule of law, guarantee citizens' safety and security and uphold law and order. Though the criminal justice process begins with the filing of a formal complaint (FIR), this is only the first phase of a longer series of court cases.

Conclusion

In summary, people who have been harmed or who have witnessed a crime can formally report the incident to law enforcement authorities through the FIR, starting a sequence of legal actions meant to catch the criminals, gather evidence, and guarantee accountability.

The timely filing of the FIR is essential to its effectiveness, but it also depends on the thoroughness of any follow-up investigations, the impartial administration of justice and the defense of the rights of the accused and the victims. A formal Federal Investigation Report (FIR) is essentially the point where state accountability, individual rights and the quest for justice converge. It symbolizes our shared commitment to preserving the rule of law, advancing public safety and defending the rights and interests of every individual in society. As such, to guarantee its efficacy in combating crime and promoting a just and equitable society, it demands close attention to adherence to legal procedures and diligent action.