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First Information Report (hereinafter referred to as “FIR”) is not defined anywhere in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as “The Code”). FIR is filed only in case of cognizable offenses. In the case of non-cognizable offenses, only a General Diary entry is made.
FIR serves the purpose of being the first information that is received by the police from the informant subsequent to the occurrence of the incident. In a way, the informant is bound by the contents of the FIR stated by him as he may be questioned about the contents of the FIR at a later stage of the proceedings for corroboration or contradiction.
What Is Fir?
FIR is recorded under Section 154 of The Code. The information must be recorded quickly and accurately according to Section 154. The police officer in charge is required to follow specific obligations and requirements in order to record an FIR. The prerequisites for filing a first information report are as follows:
- The officer in charge of the police station should receive any information.
- The data may be communicated verbally or in writing.
- The officer in charge must reduce any oral information to writing if it was provided.
- The officer in charge must go over the information to the person who provided it, have him sign it, and record it in a book held at the police station.
- A copy of the recorded information must be given to the informant
- In case the person being a victim of offenses committed or attempted under Sections 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D, 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB, 376 or 509 of the Indian Penal Code has developed a mental or physical disability then a police officer shall record the information at the victim’s residence or any other place as the victim deems fit.
Purpose Of Fir
It is an accepted principle that FIR is not a substantive piece of evidence. It is limited to being utilized to support or refute the testimony of the informant when he testifies in court. In K.E. v. Khwaja, it was noted that the police’s reception and recording of FIR is not a requirement before initiating a criminal investigation. Only the testimony of the one who gave it can be contested by the FIR. The FIR in no way may be used to refute or discredit other witnesses, who obviously have no motivation to spare the genuine offender and unjustly accuse the appellant.
FIR serves the purpose of:
- Setting the criminal law in motion
- Commencing the investigation process
- Corroborating or Contradicting
- In some circumstances, the FIR may be used to determine the cause of the informant’s demise or to assess the conduct of the informant.
[Image Sources: Shutterstock]
Refusal To Register Fir
Sakiri Vasu v. State of U.P. enunciates the alternatives and remedies available to the victim or the informant in case the officer in charge refuses to register an FIR.
The first remedy is available under Section 154 (3) and Section 36 of The Code. In case an officer in charge refuses to register an FIR, the informant can make a complaint in writing to the Superintendent of Police or other police officer referred to in Section 36 of The Code who can investigate the matter himself or direct any subordinate police officer to investigate the matter if he is satisfied that the information provided makes out a fit case of commission of a cognizable offense.
The second remedy is approaching a Magistrate under 156(3) of The Code.
The third remedy is filing a private complaint directly to the Magistrate as embodied under Section 200 of The Code.
The fourth remedy is the writ remedy which is available as a last resort.
Delay In Filing Fir
First of all, it is pertinent to understand that some delay in lodging FIR cannot right away be presumed to be suspicious. Reasonable delay in filing FIR as per the facts and circumstances can be justified. This is why, delay in lodging FIR does not necessarily make the prosecution case weak.
The Apex Court noted in Apren Joseph v. State of Kerala that a mere delay in filing FIR is not always fatal to the prosecution as a matter of law. It is important to give consideration to all the facts and circumstances of the particular case in order to determine the impact of the delay.
In Ram Jag v. State of U.P. it was opined by the Apex Court that in determining whether there is an unreasonable and long delay in filing an FIR a variety of factors ought to be considered which vary from case to case. If the prosecution witnesses do not have any interest in associating the accused to the crime, then, even an extended delay in reporting the incident may be condoned.
It was ruled in Sahebrao v. State of Maharashtra that it is a well-established legal concept that the prosecution’s case cannot be called into question or abandoned because of mere delay in filing the FIR. It is human nature to feel grief. Therefore, it is ridiculous to expect the family members who witnessed the incident to report it to the authorities in a timely manner.
The various aspects delved into in this article can be summed up and concluded here in below.
It can be understood that FIR merely sets the criminal law process in motion which is why it is only a substantive piece of evidence. However, as postulated by Section 154 of The Code, an FIR must be registered by the officer in charge. This can be inferred from the usage of the word shall in the said provision. In case, the officer in charge refuses to register the FIR, various alternative remedies are available to the informant.
In case of a reasonable delay in filing FIR, the prosecution case does not become weak at the outset. It is quite natural for the family members of a victim to take some time to process the happening of the incident. Delay in filing FIR due to utter shock and grief of the family members subsequent to the incident must be taken into consideration in condoning such reasonable delay. Filing of FIR being a cumbersome process takes a toll on the mental well-being of the family members of the victim who simply would not be in a proper state of mind to share the details pertaining to the incident immediately after its occurence.
Author: Sonakshi Pandey, A Student at Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA, in case of any queries please contact/write back to us via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorney.