FIRST INFORMATION REPORT (FIR)
Information given to the officer in charge of the police station regarding the commission of a cognizable offence is called the First Information Report (FIR). Any information given under Sub Section (1) of Section 154 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 is known as FIR. FIR contains information that puts criminal law enforcement machinery in India into motion. Thus, FIR provides information regarding the commission of a cognizable offence based on which the police start their investigation into that case to trace the guilty person.
In Apren v. State, 1973 it was observed that an FIR is a report given to the police about the commission of a cognizable offence, and the same is recorded by the police under section 154 of Cr.P.C.
SECTION 154 OF Cr.P.C.-
The information regarding the commission of a cognizable offence if given orally by the informant then it must be written by the police officer and should be read to the informant and should be signed by the informant. An entry of such information should be made by the police officer in a book kept for this purpose in the format prescribed by the State Government. The informant should be handed over a copy of the recorded information free of cost.
SIGNATURE OF THE INFORMANT ON THE FIR– The signature of the informant is taken on the FIR to hold him accountable for the information given by him and thereby discouraging him from giving any irresponsible information about which he is himself not sure and is making stories. However, in Ratanchand v. The State, the court held that if the written FIR is not signed by the informant then it does not become inadmissible in court as signing the FIR is a mere procedure to be observed.
POWER OF POLICE STATION HOUSE OFFICER TO RECORD AN FIR OUTSIDE HIS JURISDICTION– Section 154 also allows the Police Station House Officer to record any FIR regarding commission of a cognizable offence even if it is outside his station limit meaning outside his jurisdiction. However, as per Section 157, he has no power to investigate such a case.
This power given to the Police Station House Officer to record FIR of an offence outside his jurisdiction is mainly to record early information regarding the commission of a crime before such information is either forgotten by the informant or embellished. Such recorded information helps the police officer having jurisdiction of the case to investigate the case and find the culprit by tracing him. Usually, FIR can be filed in a police station having jurisdiction of the area where the offence was committed.
Further, Section 154 also provides that only one piece of information regarding the commission of a crime doesn’t need to be recorded as FIR. All information that is given to the police before the police start to investigate the case amounts to FIR. Therefore, two different FIR’s filed at two different police stations regarding the commission of the same offence can be produced in court as evidence.
WHO CAN LODGE FIR–
FIR can be lodged by any person who has information about the commission of a cognizable offence. FIR can be made by any person be it, victim, eye witness, or even by the police officer himself if he knows about the commission of any such offence.
SECTION 155 OF Cr.P.C.-
ORDER OF MAGISTRATE TO BE TAKEN BY A POLICE OFFICER TO INVESTIGATE A NON-COGNIZABLE OFFENCE- SECTION 155 provides that a police officer cannot investigate a non-cognizable offence without taking prior order from a competent magistrate. If the police officer gets the permission then he can exercise the same power as he exercises in a cognizable case. The only exception is that in such a case the police officer is not empowered to arrest any person without a warrant.
Further, when a case is related to two or more offences and out of the two one is cognizable then such a case will be considered to be a cognizable case.
ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF FIR–
Essential elements of FIR are as follows-
- The FIR should give information of a fact regarding the commission of a cognizable offence.
- The information given in the FIR should not be vague or indefinite.
- The information regarding the commission of a cognizable offence may be given by anybody be it a victim, eye witness, or a police officer who has any such information.
- The information given in the FIR need not necessarily name the offender.
- Any information given to the police officer after the police have already started the investigation of the case does not amount to FIR.
- The FIR must provide information regarding the commission of a cognizable offence on the face of it. It should not provide information that is merely in the light of events that had happened subsequently.
- Any statement given by the witness of the case during the investigation does not amount to FIR.
- FIR usually contains the details of the informant who gave information, details about the commission of the crime, the details about how the crime was committed, whether the person committing the crime was known or unknown, the date, time, and place of the commission of the crime, weapons used in committing a crime, the motive behind committing the offence, etc.
DELAY IN FILING FIR–
As mentioned above an FIR should be filed as soon as possible without wasting any time before the information gets embellished or forgotten. However, in some cases when there is a reasonable delay in filing FIR due to certain compelling circumstances the judges of courts for protecting the interests of justice judiciously examine the facts and circumstances of each case to decide whether the compelling circumstances pass the test of reasonableness for the delay in lodging FIR. It must be noted that there is no time limit set by law for filing FIR.
WHEN POLICE REFUSE TO REGISTER FIR-
If a police officer refuses to make an entry in the diary kept for filing FIR or write a report made to him regarding the commission of an offence or is writing any report different from the information asked to be written by him by the informant then the aggrieved person can post such information in writing to the Superintendent Of Police who if satisfied that the said FIR provides information of commission of a cognizable offence then he investigates the case himself or directs any subordinate police officer to investigate the case.
IMPORTANCE AND EVIDENTIARY VALUE OF FIR:
An FIR can be produced in court as a shred of evidence for examining the informant who gave the information mentioned in the FIR.
FIR is not substantive evidence in itself. It can be used to investigate the case or to support or contradict the informant. As FIR provides the early information of commission of a crime it can be used during the trial for supporting or contradicting the prosecution story. FIR can be lodged either by the complainant, or any stranger who witnessed the commission of the crime in front of his eyes. Thus, FIR becomes the base for investigating the case.
PUNISHMENT FOR LODGING FALSE FIR:
Information given to the police officer must be authentic and bonafide and not baseless or a mere rumor. Any informant or witness providing false information regarding the commission of a cognizable offence shall be punished under Sections 182, 203, 211 of the Indian Penal Code.
- Ashok Kumar v. The State, 1984– In this case, the Delhi High Court observed that while giving information regarding the commission of a non-cognizable case it is not expected from the witness that he should provide even the minute details regarding the commission of the crime.
- Radhey Shyam Narendra v. the State of Orissa, 1980- In this case, the Supreme Court held that in case of lodging an FIR with great promptitude minor omission of information or minor variation in the information given does not make the FIR unreliable. However, it must be noted that such omission or variation must not change or distort the main substance of the prosecution case.
- Sankar Rana v. Lohar Rana, 1995– In this case, the Orissa High Court observed that an FIR need not contain the full series of events in committing crime or all detailed information about the crime but it should contain the basic information to build the prosecution case and set the law into motion. Further, Court also observed that FIR. cannot be considered as a piece of substantive evidence but can be used only for supporting or contradicting the informant.