First Information Report (FIR)

First Information Report is the earliest form of information recorded for the cognizable offence by an officer-in-charge of the police station. Information given under section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is regarded as FIR. If the information given by the woman against whom an offence under section 326A, 326B, 354, 354A-D, 376, 376A-E, and 509 of Indian Penal Code is alleged then such information shall be recorded by a women police officer.

Meaning of Cognizable Offence:

An offence in which the police officer has the supreme authority of arresting without a warrant and to be able to start an investigation with or without the permission of the court is termed as a cognizable offence. 

Who should file an FIR?

Any person can lodge a First Information Report (FIR). He doesn’t need to be the victim or the injured or an eye-witness. 

 When should it be filed?

An FIR should be filed in the police station of the concerned area in whose jurisdiction the offence took place. It is important to obtain information and to record the circumstances of a crime as early as possible.

The objective of an FIR:

The court stated the principle object of FIR which was to set the criminal law in motion in the case of Habib v State of Bihar. In the case of P.Sirajuddin v State of Madras, it has been held that to obtain early information of an offence from the informant and to put into writing the statement before his memory fails, FIR is necessary.

Procedure for filing FIR

Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure lays down the procedure for lodging an FIR. The Section states that when the information about the cognizable offence is given orally, the officer-in-charge should write it down. After writing down the entire complaint, the person giving the information can demand that it be read over to him/her. Once the information has been recorded and verification has been completed by the person giving the information, it should be signed by him/her.

Evidentiary value of FIR

The value of FIR depends upon the nature of the crime, information, and witnessing the offence.  An FIR is not a substantive piece of evidence. However, it can be used as a corroborative piece of evidence under section 157 or for contradiction under section 145 of the Indian Evidence Act. It can be used in the cross-examination of an informant who gave such information.

As per the law, there is not a time fixed for lodging an FIR but it should be lodged as timely as possible so that the culprit is taught promptly and no danger is present to others. There should not be any kind of delay as the same is looked at as upon being fabricated. If there is any kind of delay it should be explained with a sufficient reason.

One of the landmark cases of the registration of FIR is Lalita Kumari vs. Govt. of Uttar Pradesh. The main issue which was raised in this matter was that the officer-in-charge of the police station is liable to register the FIR or before writing down the report the preliminary inquiry as to whether the information is correct or not should be conducted? The Supreme Court had issued some guidelines regarding the registration of FIR:

  1. It is mandatory under section 154 of the Code to get an FIR registered if the information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation.
  2. A preliminary inquiry may be conducted only to ascertain whether the cognizable offence is disclosed or not, in case the information received does not disclose a cognizable offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry,
  3. No police officer can avoid his duty of registering offence if the cognizable offence has been committed and is hence disclosed.
  4. The scope of preliminary inquiry is only to ascertain whether the information reveals any cognizable offence and not to verify the veracity of the information received.
  5. A preliminary inquiry should be made time-bound and in any case, it should not exceed 7 days while ensuring and protecting the rights of the accused and the complainant.
  6. It is a mandatory practice as directed by the Supreme Court that since the General Diary/Station Diary/Daily Diary is the record of all information received in a police station, all information relating to cognizable offences, either resulting in registration of FIR or leading to an inquiry, must be meticulously reflected in the diary, no matter even if it is a preliminary inquiry.