WHAT IS AN FIRST INFORMATION REPORT (FIR)?
An first information report (FIR) is the very first step in a criminal matter in which the facts of the commission of a crime is reported to the police official by the person who is the victim, a witness of the case or a person who has the knowledge of the act committed by the accused.
The criminal cases can be classified into two categories:
- Cognizable cases are those cases where the police can arrest a person without a warrant. These involve cases, which are serious in nature and thus aims to prevent the culprit or the accused from harming others.
- Non-cognizable cases are those cases where the police, has no authority to arrest a person without warrant.
An FIR can be filed only in the cases which involve cognizable offence.
Now to understand better we must know what exactly is considered to be a well drafted FIR?
The most important points to consider when filing a FIR are:
- What is the nature of the incident that took place?
- Where did the incident occur?
- When did it happen?
- Who is reporting the incident?
- Against whom the report is filed?
- Why did the incident happen?
These questions help in the process of data collection and analysis of the situation in order to find the culprit.
NATURE OF AN FIR
An FIR is considered to be the most important aspect of any case. The whole criminal case initially relies upon the FIR, and hence it is important that the facts stated must be clear and not vague.
A proper recording of the FIR is necessary and it should contain as much information available. As it is the first time reporting of the case it becomes important to record every small detail of the alleged criminal activity.
WHO CAN LODGE FIR?
An FIR can be lodged by:
- A victim.
- A witness.
- A person who has knowledge of the crime.
It is not necessary that only a victim has to file an FIR, even a police officer who came to know about a cognizable offence can file an FIR himself/herself.
As per the provisions of the criminal law, the complainant has a right to get a copy of the first information report which is lodged at the concerned police station.
PROCEDURE OF FILING AN FIR
The procedure of filing an FIR is prescribed in Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
- When information about the commission of a cognizable offence is given orally, the police must write it down.
- It is a 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 has been recorded by the police, it must be signed by the person giving the information.
- One should sign the report only after verifying that the information recorded by the police is as per the details given by you.
- People who cannot read or write must put their left thumb impression on the document after being satisfied that it is a correct record.
- Always ask for a copy of the FIR, if the police do not give it to you. It is a right to get it free of cost.
STEPS TO BE TAKEN WHEN THE POLICE REFUSES TO FILE AN FIR
If the police refuse to file an FIR following are the steps to be taken by the individual:
- One can meet the Superintendent of Police or other higher officers like Deputy Inspector General of Police & Inspector General of Police and bring your complaint to their notice.
- One can send your complaint in writing and by post to the Superintendent of Police concerned. If the Superintendent of Police is satisfied with your complaint, he shall either investigate the case himself or order an investigation to be made.
- A person can file a private complaint before the court having jurisdiction.
- A person can also make a complaint to 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 and corrupt manner.
- The aggrieved person shall, with the help of the advocate may draft an application under clause 3 of section 156.
WHAT IS APPLICATION UNDER SECTION 156(3)?
- The court of Magistrates have their own police station wise jurisdiction, so one should approach the magistrate serving the jurisdiction including the application along with the complaint and the magistrate will further represent the case to the higher police authorities along with the witnesses.
- Once the magistrate is satisfied over the existence of sufficient evidence to proceed and discloses the offence as cognizable, the magistrate may order for registration of F.I.R. and order the police to proceed with the investigation.
It is important that the police officer being the ‘public servant’ has to abide with the law and failing to abide with it, he may be prosecuted under section 166(A) of IPC in which clause (c) deals with the cases of police officers disobeying the law by not registering a complaint for which he is duty bound. The punishment prescribed under this section is 6 months of imprisonment and fine, which may also extend up to 2 years.
WHAT IS ZERO FIR?
Zero FIR is an FIR which can be lodged in any police station regardless of the place where the incident took place or the jurisdiction of the police station. The case is later transferred to the police station of competent jurisdiction. It is a free jurisdiction FIR whose purpose is to avoid any delay in registering of the crime and avoid delay in investigation of the crime.
COMPLAINT TO THE MAGISTRATE
Magistrate may take cognizance of an offence upon the complaint, police report, knowledge, information. In other words it is also known as private complaint that is bringing the matter to the notice of the magistrate. An aggrieved person may draft a complaint with the help of an advocate to bring the offence/incident into the notice of the magistrate having jurisdiction.
If the magistrate is satisfied & there exists sufficient evidence to proceed, He/she may take cognizance of the offence. According to section 200 of the criminal procedure, when a magistrate takes cognizance of an offence upon a complaint, he/she shall examine the complainant on oath along with the witnesses if there exists any.
Author: Gargi Mishra,
Amity Law School, Student of 3rd Year B.A.LLB(H)