WHETHER A TELEPHONIC MESSAGE CAN BE AN FIR
Cr.P.C comes into the frame whenever some kind of offence takes place or some FIR has been filed.
FIR (First Information Report) comes under section 154 of Cr.P.C. Under Cr.P.C section 154, it says that it is an information regarding non bailable offence provided to the police officer in oral or in a written form and information reduced in the writing if given in an oral form.
On the grounds of FIR , police starts its examination. What all amounts in the first information report is mentioned under section 154 of the code.
- As the record made under sub section (1) shall be given forth while, free of cost, to the informant.
- Any person resentful by a refusal on the part of an officer in charge of a police station to make a record of the information as given under sub section (1), send a material of such information in in form of a writing and by the means of post to the superintendent of the police concerned with.
- In cases of an offence the officer of police station must reduce down writing provided to him in an oral form to the said officer. Also the officer must read what is written in writing to the informant and ask the informant to sign the writing which was read to him by the officer.
- It must be a cognizable offence.
- It must be oral or in a written form.
- Before signing the formant the officer is bound to take the record of the facts provided.
- Copy of an FIR must be given to the informant.
REGISTRATION OF FIR.
The question arises that whether it’s important for officer to roll a First information report on the grounds of the facts provided by an informant. This is clearly said with the consent by the five member bench in Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P.. It has been categorised in rules that Section 154(1) is very important and the officer is in charged to the right down the case on the grounds of the facts showing the truth of the whole commencing the non bailable offence.
In other words we can say that it is a very important provision to follow. If any non bailable offence is written in the report submitted, then first information report will not be entered at that time and the officer will perform a verification process to see whether any cognizable offence has been committed or not. Such cases as mentioned by the court can be related to the cases like matrimonial disputes , family disputes , medical negligence etc.
The object of this registration facts receive in regard to the commission of the non bailable offence is to see that there will not be any modification afterwards. Registering an FIR is not to see the judicial sight but also to ensure the transparency in the criminal justice judicial system.
The commitment to make a registration of an fir has several advantages i.e it has proven to be the first step to the ‘accession of fairness‘ for the deceased victim concerned. It supports the rule of law and makes smoother inquiry and ignores the unscrupulous in matters related to criminality in ample amount of cases.
Therefore under section 154, it is important that facts provided should relate with the commencing of the offence and should not stand untrue of in a make manner but definitely in a proper way so as to authorise the officer to start with the examination process. It has been observed by the supreme court of India that ‘ if the assentation’s mentioned in the first information report are received in the face value and acceptation is done fully, not constitutes as an offence or a crime. The crime events mentioned on the surface of such report must be rejected as invalid.
WHETHER A TELEPHONIC MESSAGE CAN BE AN FIR.?
A telephonic message where there is no disclosing of the name of the accused nor there is any disclosing of the commencing of the offence, it states that such message on telephone will not be termed as an FIR.
It was observed by the Rajasthan high court :
If a telephonic message has been given to officer in charge of the police station, the person providing the information about the message is sure or is having some sort of surety about facts given and which have brought down in the written format as asked in section 154 of crpc and the collection of such facts provided is faithful and the facts provided is disclosing the commencing of the offence which is cognizable and is not fake or not completed in the detailing provided.
Now in the above circumstances there can be two circumstances or two types of telephonic messages :
- CRYPTIC TELEPHONIC MESSAGES.
- NON-CRYPTIC TELEPHONIC MESSAGES.
CRYPTIC TELEPHONIC MESSAGES
In the first case if the message is cryptic, the officer may go to the place of the occurrence of the crime to do the checking or the investigation. But the object of the message is not an FIR filing but a mere request to reach a place for carrying out the justice.
NON-CRYPTIC TELEPHONIC MESSAGES
In the second case however, if the message is not cryptic and due to the information provided the police is satisfied prima facia of the commencement of a non-bailable or cognizable offence and records such facts/ statements made by person who sent the message , then such statements will be the statements given on behalf by a person to the police during the time of the examination u/s 162 of criminal procedure. It will not be treated as an FIR as per the precedent made by the Supreme Court of India. But recently many high courts, if the telephonic message is ascertainable regarding the essential facts of the cognizable offence and the identity of the informant, then it can be treated as an FIR.
PRECEDENTS IN SUPPORT:
Soma Bhai v. State of Gujarat ( AIR 1975 SC 1453)
A complaint was made to the sub-inspector on the basis of the commencement of the crime by complainant. The inspector before bringing down the information in the writing tried to search for the instructions provided by the main police station at surat by a telephone message. It held that the information which was written down by the sub inspector couple of minutes later was without any doubt an FIR. But the message received by the sub- inspector was too vague and cryptic to be held as an FIR itself as per the meaning of section 154 of the code of criminal procedure.
The court held that the FIR has to state all the important facts and the messages received to the police station at Surat was too cryptic to make an FIR under section 154 of the code of criminal procedure.
Tohal Singh v. State of Rajasthan
The court of Rajasthan observed that ‘ any message provided to the police is under the surety of capable of being in surety and it fulfils the requirements given under section 154 of crpc and it is not vague or cryptic or not incomplete in the important details will constitute to make an FIR.
Dhananjay Chatterjee alias Dhana v. State of West Bengal (AIR1995SCW510)
The cryptic telephonic message was the only information given to the police by the deceased father to make them go rushing to the occurrence of the crime and to record the deceased’s mother’s statement; The investigation started after that.
The Supreme Court observed that the an indefinite information which is vage in nature given on the telephone cannot be treated as an FIR under section 154 of CRPC.
Ram Singh Baba Ji Jadega v. State of Gujarat (1994 CRLJ 852 )
The Supreme Court held that irrespective of the nature of the telephonic information given by the complainant to the police, it cannot be held as an FIR but can only be deemed as a statement during the time of an investigation under Section 162. The court held information which lacks essential facts of the cognizable crime which is vague and cryptic in nature cannot be constituted as an FIR.
EVIDENTIARY VALUE OF FIR
A FIR is an information, provided by anybody the police officer who is in charge of a police station in relation with commission of a non bailable crime and on the strength on which the investigation can be constituted. It is a fixed law that First information report is not a substantial evidence and it is not the proof on the basis of the facts provided.
If the First information report is not a substantial proof , it can’t be used to confirm about the information mentioned in section 157 of the Evidence Act of 1872.
The FIR should be filed in starting only to the officer as soon as the cognizable crime is being committed. The main object behind lodging the First information report in the starting is to receive early information in relation to the circumstances in which the heinous cognizable crime was committed. Delaying in lodging the FIR will result often results in the embellishment and there is the risk of the danger prevailing . It is important that there should be satisfactory explanations for delaying in lodging the report.
The FIR will have better value it is recorded at the earliest of the case when the cognizable crime takes place.
From the above we can decipher that in all the cases cryptic phone calls can surely never act as an FIR or evidence to start the investigation. On the other hand non-cryptic telephonic message cannot always be considered as an FIR but under section 162 can be taken as a statement in the due process of an investigation which can be presented in the court and be corroborated with other evidences to make the case even more stronger.
Even though the legal standing of telephonic message as an FIR is dubious, since its credibility of source can be traced by tracing the caller. Various High Courts in certain exceptional instances has considered a telephonic message as an FIR.
Having said that , we know that telephonic message cannot be considered as a FIR due to its incompetence to fall under the strict definition of FIR under asection 154 of the code but as seen in few precedents, certain circumstances and exceptions can be made and the court may consider it as FIR . So the legal standing of telephonic message is not always just a statement if the source is credible and the message is non – cryptic.
Author: Shivam Sharma,
Delhi Metropolitan Education , GGSIPU. Law 3rd year