Anshika Parth, a 5th-year law student from Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT School Of Law) has written this Article “Registration of FIR: A Detailed Study”.
According to Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the First Information Report (FIR) is a crucial part of India’s criminal justice system. Although the statute does not define a cognizable violation specifically, an FIR serves as the first complaint and starts the legal procedure. Its main goals are to alert district officials and court officials and to protect the accused against changes to the case. Anyone, not only the victim, who knows a cognizable offence may submit a FIR.
FIRs appear in a variety of forms, each with unique traits, and they are used as evidence to support or refute claims. FIRs with confessions are not admissible, but those without confessions can show how the accused behaved. The criminal justice system is activated by filing an FIR. Although police may decide not to investigate if they justify it following Section 157 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC), Section 154, defines “First Information Report” (FIR). It has to do with an infraction that the police can look into. The term “FIR” refers to a complaint of a significant infraction that has to be immediately forwarded to the police, notwithstanding the CrPC’s lack of a precise definition. An FIR’s main function is to start the criminal justice system, not to offer all the information. For the police officer to register a case, the information presented must be genuine.
An FIR is significant to both the prosecution and the defence in a case. It acts as the basis on which to construct a defence. The prosecution’s case might be destroyed if this premise is unsound. Law enforcement organizations’ work includes conducting investigations into offences. The collection of evidence is the investigation’s primary goal. capturing them. The Criminal Procedure Code of 1973’s Chapter XII, which is titled “Information Provided to Police and Their Investigative Powers,”. It contains Sections 154 to 176 that provide the legal basis for police investigations.
The phrase “First Information Report” is not defined specifically in the Code of Criminal Procedure. Only Section 207—which requires the Magistrate to give the accused a copy of the FIR made following Section 154(1) of the Code—is mentioned elsewhere. The First Information Report is essentially the first report made by the police once a cognizable offence has occurred. The main source of information on the cognizable offence is this report.
Objective of Registration of FIR
Setting the criminal justice system in motion is the main goal of filing a FIR (First Information Report). It functions as the first stage in enabling law enforcement to launch an investigation into a reported crime and swiftly compile all relevant pieces of evidence.
An FIR’s recording serves several crucial purposes:
- The alleged infraction at the police station is brought to the attention of the District Magistrate and the District Superintendent of Police. Who is in charge of preserving order and security in the district.
- It ensures that the legal procedure is transparent by informing the judge and the judicial officials who will eventually preside over the case about the facts and circumstances that emerge as soon as the crime is committed.
- By prohibiting further additions or changes to the case and ensuring that the initial information supplied is maintained and not changed, filing an FIR helps protect the rights of the accused.
Essential Conditions for Registration of FIR
The court set the following key criteria for a First Information Report (FIR) in the case of Moni Mohan v. Emperor:
- It must be information about possible criminal behaviour.
- When information is presented in writing, the responsible police officer should carefully record it.
- The primary offence or crime that was reported must be cognizable and not include any later incidents or behaviours.
- The FIR must be written as a complaint or accusation with the intent to file a lawsuit. Its goal should be to get the legal system moving.
Section 154 CrPc:
“Every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction, and be read over to the informant; and every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing as aforesaid, shall be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf.”
When a police officer in charge of a police station receives verbal information regarding a cognizable offence:
- The officer is required to carefully put the facts in writing.
- The written account must then be reviewed and signed by the informant.
- This information must be placed into a “book of records” that has been authorized. It is kept by the state administration.
- The informant is entitled to a free copy of the recorded data for their records and use as reference material.
- The person who feels wronged may provide the Superintendent of Police with the information.
- The Superintendent of Police has two choices if they are confident that a cognizable violation has occurred
- Personalize the inquiry
- A police officer under your command should conduct the inquiry.
- Concerning the pertinent offence, the designated police officer will have the same power as the officer in command of the police station.
A First Information Report (FIR) is defined by the Rajasthan High Court as “the statement made by the person reporting the incident at a police station before a police officer, recorded in compliance with the procedural requirements outlined in the Code of Criminal Procedure” in the case of State of Rajasthan v. Shiv Singh.
Types of FIR
There are various types of F.I.R. The following are the most important F.I.R:
A General FIR is often filed with the local police station by the party impacted or involved in a routine transaction against another party.
In contrast to conventional FIRs, which are given serial numbers, a Zero FIR is distinguished by the number “0”. It serves as its sole identifier. Zero FIR is submitted regardless of where the crime was committed, and when it has been recorded. It is swiftly forwarded to the jurisdictional police station where the incident took place. The Zero FIR is given a serial number and converted into a standard FIR once it arrives at the relevant police station.
The other party, also known as the accused, can submit a counter FIR, also known as a cross FIR after the first FIR has been filed. A counter FIR can be filed for a variety of reasons. It might be the result of personal hostility that is motivated by malice to sabotage the judicial process. Furthermore, It could be used as a negotiating tactic in some circumstances to reach a future settlement. It possibly persuaded the complainant to drop the initial FIR.
When parties who have been wronged file several FIRs for the same underlying occurrence or cause of action, the notion of multiple FIRs is introduced. Many FIRs are frequently filed when a new informant offers a completely different story or rendition of the purported incident than what was previously documented.
Importance of FIR
The main goal of submitting a First Information Report (FIR) is to begin the enforcement of criminal law. It gathers crucial data on alleged illegal activity, making it easier to take the next steps necessary for finding and prosecuting the offenders. As a result, Section 154 of the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure accomplishes the following three key goals:
- It acts as a way to communicate the reported criminal occurrences at the police station to the Magistrate and the District Superintendent of Police, who are in charge of upholding law and order in the district.
- The instant information that was accessible when the alleged crime occurred is sent to the judicial authorities who would ultimately rule over the case through FIRs, providing insight into the first phases of the investigation.
- By barring any further alterations or unjustified additions to the case, FIRs help protect the rights of the accused by guaranteeing that the initial material is preserved and unchanged.
Cognizable and Non-Cognizable Offences
Cognizable: A definition of cognizable offences may be found in Section 2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. According to the First Schedule or any applicable law, these offences are those for which a police officer has the right to arrest without a warrant, a magistrate’s approval, or a judge’s instruction.
According to Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a police officer must receive the First Information Report (FIR) associated with the cognizable offence before opening an inquiry into it. It’s important to note that this FIR might be obtained without a magistrate’s permission. Moreover, it must be properly entered in the common notebook.
Non-Cognizable: A non-cognizable offence is one for which the police are not authorized to conduct an arrest without a warrant, according to the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973. Following Section 155 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, a police officer is expected to document the case’s specifics in the station diary and instruct the informant to get in touch with the appropriate magistrate if they learn of the occurrence of a non-cognizable offence. Before starting an investigation into a non-cognizable offence, the police officer must obtain the magistrate’s permission.
Concept of Zero FIR
In the State of Andhra Pradesh v. Punati Ramulu case, the court determined that it is a breach of duty to refuse to file an FIR because the crime scene is outside the jurisdiction of the police station in question. When information regarding a cognizable offence is provided, it has to be documented and then delivered to the relevant police station that has jurisdiction. A “Zero FIR” is a frequent name for such an FIR, which begins the legal procedure before the appropriate jurisdiction has been established. Police personnel who violate the policy of filing Zero FIRs may be prosecuted under Section 166A of IPC. Moreover, such a person is subjected to disciplinary action under the Indian Police Service (IPS).
Where FIR is Lodged?
It is common to submit information about a committed crime to the police station located within the geographical jurisdiction where the incident took place. It is important to remember that this restriction does not prevent submitting such information to another police station. A notable legal precedent was set in the State of Andhra Pradesh v. Punati Ramulu case in 1993. In one instance, a police constable objected to the recording of information about a criminal occurrence. He claimed that the crime scene was outside the station’s geographical authority.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court ruled unequivocally that the constable’s reluctance to comply with the request constituted a breach of duty. The constable should be able to record information about a crime that is cognizable and send it to the police station that has adequate jurisdiction over the region where the crime was allegedly committed without being hindered by the lack of territorial jurisdiction.
Evidentiary value FIR
An FIR has the status of a procedural record and is not taken into consideration as independent, substantial evidence. An individual’s conviction cannot be based simply on the information in a FIR.
The Supreme Court of India explained the function of an FIR in the judicial process in cases like Hasib v. The State of Bihar (1972) and Damodar Prasad v. the State of Maharashtra (1970). These rulings hold that an FIR may be used under the following circumstances within the purview of the Indian Evidence Act:
- According to Section 157 of the Indian Evidence Act, a FIR may be used to support the assertions made by its author. This implies that it can back up the veracity of the complainant’s version of what happened.
- Similarly, Section 145 of the IEA permits the use of an FIR to contest or refute the author’s claims. This enables the investigation of any discrepancies or inconsistencies in the complainant’s evidence.
Due to the rules of Section 25 of the Indian Evidence Act, a First Information Report (FIR) that includes a confession by the accused informant cannot be entered as evidence against them. Such confessions are not admissible in court, according to this provision.
On the other hand, a non-confessional FIR may be used to prove the behaviour of the accused-informant following Section 8 of the Evidence Act or it may be admitted as evidence under Section 21 of the Indian Evidence Act.
In Aghno Nagesia v. State of Bihar, it was decided that the First Information Report could be used following Section 145 of the Evidence Act for cross-examining the informant and refuting their claims. When Sections 157 and 145 of the Evidence Act are taken into account. It is clear that the FIR may only be used to support or refute the assertions of the informant who filed the FIR, and not for any other witnesses in the case.
Eligibility for filing FIR
There are no hard or rigid requirements regarding who is eligible to file a First Information Report (FIR). It is not necessary for only the person who has been wronged to submit an FIR; rather, anybody who learns of the occurrence of a cognizable violation may offer information. Even a police officer might start the procedure by filing an FIR after becoming aware of a cognizable offence. The qualifying requirements for submitting an FIR can be summed up as follows:
- If you have been the victim of a cognizable offence, you have the right to file a FIR.
- If you have direct knowledge of an offence that is cognizable, this information shouldn’t be considered hearsay.
- If you were there while an offence that is punishable by law was committed.
As the initiator of the criminal justice system’s activation, the act of filing an FIR takes great significance in situations involving cognizable offences. Only once a FIR is filed do police officials start their investigation. It is important to note, however, that there may be circumstances in which the police choose not to conduct an investigation even after the FIR is filed, Particularly if they believe the matter to be less serious or if there are good reasons not to conduct the inquiry. Section 157 of the CrPC requires that the police document the justifications for their choice not to launch the investigation in these circumstances.
As stated in Section 154 of the CrPC, 1973, the FIR is crucial to India’s criminal justice system. Its main goal is to begin the legal process, notify the appropriate authorities of crimes that may be prosecuted, and uphold the rights of the accused while maintaining openness. There are several different varieties of FIRs. It includes general, zero, cross, and multiple FIRs, each of which has a particular function. FIRs are essentially procedural records and do not stand alone as proof of guilt. However, they do have some evidentiary value in some situations. Importantly, anybody with knowledge of a cognizable offence may file an FIR; there are no rigorous qualifying conditions. Although police discretion may influence whether an investigation is conducted, this act initiates the criminal justice system.
The FIR is, in the end, a vital tool for sustaining the rule of law in India, making it possible to gather important evidence, and guaranteeing that justice is done in situations involving criminal acts.
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