You must have guessed it now, the above-written lines are said by the legendary Gopi Hawaldar, one of the characters of everyone’s favourite serial i.e., FIR. But here, I will not talk about the FIR serial, instead, my topic of discussion is FIR, the very title of that serial. So, let’s carry on.
If you have seen a person committing a crime, particularly a violent crime, it can be a very distressing experience. You may find yourself in a position, where you have no idea what to do. In that case, as a responsible citizen of society, you should report the incident to the police and file an FIR as soon as possible. It is very important to report a crime and lodge an FIR because if the police do not know where the crimes are happening, they cannot take any action to prevent further incidents or catch the person responsible.
Now, you may find yourself wondering a lot of questions like what is FIR? Can FIR be filed in all criminal cases? Can anyone file an FIR or only the person who is a victim of crime? What is the procedure to file an FIR in police station? What if the police refuse to register or file an FIR in police station? and so on. I will discuss all of those questions one by one. Firstly, let’s understand what does an FIR mean?
What is an FIR?
In criminal law, FIR is not defined anywhere. But, the detailed procedure of FIR and any related information can be found under two sections of the Criminal Procedure Code i.e. Section 154 and Section 155.
In general, FIR means ‘First Information Report’. As the name suggests, it is the first information of a cognizable offence recorded by an officer in charge of a police station. It is a report of information that reaches the police at the first point in time and that’s why it is called the First Information Report.
In the State of Rajasthan v. Shiv Singh, the Rajasthan High Court defined a First Information Report as ‘the statement of the maker of the report at a police station before a police officer recorded in the manner provided by the provisions of the code’.
An FIR is a pertinent document that helps in setting the criminal law in motion and obtaining information about the alleged criminal activity. It is only after the FIR is registered in the police station that the police take up an investigation of the case.
CAN AN FIR BE FILED IN ANY CASE
The answer to the above question is NO. An FIR can be filed only in cognizable offences. You must be wondering now, what is a Cognizable offence? Actually, Indian Penal Code defines all sorts of offences. But all the offences given under IPC are not the same, and so is the procedure of investigation and trial. On the basis of the nature, gravity and seriousness of the offence, it can be classified into Cognizable and Non-cognizable offences.
Cognizable Offences are those offences where the police have the power to arrest an accused without a warrant of permission from the magistrate. These offences are more serious and heinous. On the other hand, non-cognizable offences are not so serious offences and police cannot arrest an accused in such cases without a warrant. They need permission from the court to do so.
Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code deals with information on cognizable offences. Section 155 of the Code deals with information on non-Cognizable offences. In the cognizable offence, it is required that the officer who is in charge of the police station, should register an FIR and proceed with the investigation of the offence. However, a non-cognizable requires the police to send the information they have gathered to the local magistrate first and start an investigation into the matter only after receiving his approval.
WHO CAN FILE AN FIR IN POLICE STATION?
Anyone who knows about the commission of a cognizable offence can file an FIR. It is not necessary that only the victim of the crime should file an FIR. Even a police officer who comes to know about a cognizable offence can file an FIR himself/herself.
So, you can file an FIR if :
- You are the person against whom a cognizable offence has been committed.
- You have knowledge about an offence which has been committed.
- You have seen the offence committed.
PROCEDURE OF FILING AN FIR
Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code lays down the procedure to file an FIR in Police Station.
- When information about the commission of a cognizable offence is given orally, the police must write it down.
- It is your right as a person giving information or making a complaint to demand that the information recorded by the police is read over to you.
- Once the information is reduced to writing by the police, you as an informant, must sign it.
- But, you should sign the report only after verifying that the information recorded by a police officer is as per the details given by you.
- It is the right of an informant to get a copy of an FIR free of cost.
WHAT TO DO IF POLICE DO NOT LODGE AN FIR
Nowadays, cases of refusing to file an FIR by police officers in police stations are increasing day by day. It is important to understand that, the police officer can refuse to file FIR when he thinks that it is a petty offence. But he cannot do so in the case of a cognizable offence. If the police officer refuses to register an FIR without giving any reasonable reason in the cognizable offence you can seek other remedies provided under the law.
1) STATUTORY REMEDY
Under Section 153(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code, you have the option to send your complaint in writing to the concerned Superintend of Police via post. If the Superintendent of police is satisfied with the complaint, he would either examine the case himself or command any other subordinate police officer to do the same in accordance with the code.
2) JUDICIAL REMEDY
You also have judicial remedy where you are legally entitled to file a complaint to the Judicial Magistrate/ Metropolitan Magistrate.
3) OTHER REMEDIES
- You can approach High Court for the issuance of a writ of mandamus against the defaulting police officer.
- Can lodge a formal complaint with the State Human Rights Commission or the National Human Rights Commission. (if the police do nothing to enforce the law or do it in a biased or corrupt manner).
OBLIGATION TO REGISTER FIR
In Lalita Kumari v. Govt. Uttar Pradesh, the question came before the Supreme Court of whether a police officer is bound to register an FIR upon receiving any information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 or the police has the power to conduct a preliminary inquiry in order to test the veracity of such information before registering the same. The court affirming the mandatory registration of FIR made the following observations
1) It is mandatory to file the FIR u/s 154 of the Code if the information discloses the commission of a cognizable crime and no preliminary investigation is permissible in such a case. If the information does not reveal a cognizable offence but suggests the need for an investigation, a formal investigation will be undertaken.
2) If the investigation reveals a cognizable offence, the FIR must be reported. If this is not the case, a copy of the entry of the closure must be sent to the first informant immediately and no longer than one week.
3) Exceptions under which preliminary injury can be made before registration of FIR
- Matrimonial disputes/Family disputes
- Commercial offences
- Medical Negligence cases
- Corruption cases
- Cases where there is an abnormal delay in initiating criminal prosecution.
These are only illustrative and not exhaustive.
4) The conclusion of the preliminary investigation shall not exceed 7 days and all records relating thereto shall be reported in the General Diary, which shall be kept in the police station.
Lallan Chaudhary v. State of Bihar
Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Lallan Chaudhary v. State of Bihar, held that
“ The mandate of section 154 is manifestly clear that if any information disclosing a cognizable offence laid before an officer has no other option but to register the case on the basis of such information”
Hence, it is clear after reading the above-mentioned cases that it is the obligation of the police officer to register an FIR in the case of a cognizable offence and he cannot refuse to register it.
WHAT TO DO IF A FALSE FIR IS FILED AGAINST YOU?
So far, we have understood, how you can file FIR in case you have knowledge of the commission of a cognizable offence but what if a false FIR has been filed against you and you are falsely implicated in a case? There are people who use legal tactics to settle their scores with people. This is not the right path but it is unfortunate that this is happening. Not every person is well versed in their legal rights when it comes to dealing with false FIR. So let’s be aware of various remedies against false criminal complaints Or FIR. So that you can consider while figuring out how to deal with a false FIR filed against you.
1) REMEDY BEFORE ARREST
As soon as a false FIR is filed. You can file an anticipatory bail in the Session Court or High Court under Section 438 of the CrPC. But, before the arrest is made. After a person has been arrested, the accused can seek regular bail under Section 437 and Section 439 of CrPC.
2) APPLICATION UNDER SECTION 482 OF CrPC FOR QUASHING FALSE FIR
You can file an application under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure before the High Court to seek directions to quash a frivolous FIR against the accused. There are different stages when you can file an application under Section 482.
1) BEFORE THE CHARGESHEET IS FILED –
You can file an application under Section 482 to quash the false FIR registered against you before the chargesheet is filed. The High Court can quash an FIR when it is against the principle of Natural Justice or cause a grave miscarriage of justice to the victim. The High Court also has the power to reprimand the police officer or issue certain directions to such an officer.
2) AFTER THE CHARGESHEET IS FILED
If the chargesheet has been filed on the basis of frivolous FIR against you and the case is committed to the session judge then before the commencement of trial, you can file a discharge application under section 227 of CrPC. This application can be filed in order to get discharged from the offence charged on the basis of the false FIR.
3) AFTER THE COMMENCEMENT OF TRIAL
If your application under Section 227 has been rejected by Session Court and the charges are framed, then the trial is commenced. Now, an application under Section 232 of CrPC can only be filed for the Acquittal.
3) WRIT PETITION UNDER ARTICLE 226 OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
You can approach the High Court to quash the false FIR against you under Article 226 of the Constitution. Finding that grave injustice has been caused to the victim of a false FIR, High Court can issue two kinds of writs.
1) WRIT OF MANDAMUS
High Court may issue a writ of mandamus against the police officer or police department who lodged such false FIR against you and direct them to perform their duty in a lawful manner.
2) WRIT OF PROHIBITION
High Court may issue a writ of prohibition to a Subordinate Court, where the trial is underway. This stops all the criminal proceedings against the victim of a false complaint.
We all know that legal proceedings in India can drain all your energy. The situation becomes even worse when you are falsely implicated in a case. I hope now you know the legal remedies against the false FIR. The first thing you need to do in such situations is not to panic. But fight against it and teach a lesson to people who misuse the law for their personal scores.
The purpose to file and recording an FIR in the police station is, inter alia, twofold:
One, that the criminal procedure is initiated and well documented from the outset;
Secondly, the earliest information obtained in connection with the commission of a cognizable offence is registered. So that there can be no embellishment, etc,. at a later date. An FIR is an essential document for both parties (prosecution and defence). It serves as the case’s initial foundation. It is very essential for every individual to understand the basic concepts related to an FIR.
A person cannot report a crime if he has seen any person committing an offence without understanding these fundamental laws. As responsible citizens of society, we should all stand up against wrongdoers. A crime is always committed against the public at large not against a particular individual. On the other hand. It is also important to be aware of your rights if a false complaint has been lodged against you.
- AIR 1962 Ra j 3
- 2004 2 SCC 1
- 2006 AIR (SC) 3376
 AIR 1962 Ra j 3
 2014 2 SCC 1
 2006 AIR (SC) 3376