This article on ‘First Information Report (FIR): All you should know’ was written by Chelsi Antil, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
The basic purpose of the criminal law is to protect our society and its people from threats, crime, criminals, and lawbreakers. Crime is not defined anywhere, neither in the Indian Penal Code nor in the Criminal Procedure Code. So, we can’t define crime properly and satisfactorily because it is flexible, temporal, and depends on societal variations. In the past, bigamy was not a crime under the law. However, as society developed with new technologies, new crimes, such as today’s cybercrime, covered a vast area of crime due to the advancement of technologies.
Another instance is adultery, which was considered a crime in the past. However, it is no longer a crime. That’s why no precise definition of a crime is found in any statute. However, in general, crime means the commission of acts or omissions that are forbidden by law. In Sevaka Perumal vs. State of Tamil Nadu, SC states that crime is a social phenomenon that arises first when the state sets up rules for the welfare of people, and breaking that rule is termed a crime. Now, in this article, we are going to discuss FIR and its evidentiary value in depth with the help of decided cases.
What is FIR and its law?
The first statement that is given by the informant to the police officer is considered a first information report under Section 154 of the CRPC. Registration of the FIR is the very first step to putting the criminal law into motion. The information under this section can be given by any person who is well aware of all aspects of cognizable offenses. Even the accused can be an informant. The registration of the FIR is mandatory, and the police officer cannot refuse to record it and avoid his duty. However, in a few cases, such as matrimonial cases, medical negligence cases, commercial cases, etc., the officer can do a preliminary investigation before registering an FIR.
The information in this section can be given orally or in written form. If the information is given by the informant in oral form, Then, in that case, the police officer reduces the information in writing as it is given by the informant and then reads it over to the informant and signs it by the informant. The substance of the information shall be kept by the police officer in a general diary or the station diary in the form prescribed by the respective state government, and a copy of the FIR shall be given to the informant free of charge.
In case of acid attacks and women-related offences, as mentioned in the Indian Penal Code, the information shall be filled by the women police officer or any women officer. The information shall be filled in at the victim’s place or at any other place, which is convenient to the victim if the victim is mentally and physically disabled. In such cases, it is mandatory that the information be video-graphed.
If the head officer of the police station refuses to record the FIR. Then, in that case, the victim or any other person who knows about the whole crime can send the material information to the higher authority, and then, if the higher authority is satisfied, the case is the cognizable case. Then, in that case, he can either order to investigate the offence of his subordinate or can investigate the offence himself and such an officer has all the power to investigate the offence as the head officer of the police station has related to that offence.
What is Zero FIR?
Zero FIR is an information report in which the informant or the aggrieved person gives information about the crime or incident at such police station that does not have jurisdiction to record the FIR. However, the information is later transferred to the police station which has jurisdiction to record the information after investigation.
Whether two FIRs are possible in one case?
Two FIRs can be registered in one case under section 154 and the courts cannot quash the second FIR in the exercise of inherent powers if the second FIR is recorded by the other person and the second FIR contains different aspects of the crime which are contained in the first FIR. Investigation in such cases shall be conducted in respect of both FIRs.
Evidentiary Value of FIR
- Non-Substantive: FIR is not a substantial piece of evidence.
- Corroborate: FIR can be used to support the informant as per section 157 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.
- Contradict: FIR can be used to deny the informant as per section 145 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
- Conduct: FIR can be used to explain the circumstances and actions of the accused. Omission: FIR can be used under section 11 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 as far as the omission of important facts is there.
- Non-Confessional: If FIR is non confessional. Then, in that case, it will be used as evidence as per section 21 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 .
- Dying Declaration: If FIR is in the form of a Dying Declaration. Then, in that case, it can be used as such under section 32 of the Indian Evidence Act.
Landmark cases on FIR
Youth Bar Association of India vs. Union of India & others
In this case, the SC states that copies of the FIR shall be uploaded on the police website unless the case is sensitive in nature, such as sexual offences, terrorism, offences under the POCSO Act, or any other such offence.
Lalita Kumari vs. Government of Uttar Pradesh
In this case, SC issued the following guidelines which are as follows:-
- The registration of the FIR is mandatory for cognizable offences, and no initiatory inquiry is permitted for cognizable offences.
- If the information does not disclose a cognizable offence, however, it shows the necessity of initiatory inquiry. Then, in that case, a preliminary inquiry is permissible to know the nature of the offence.
- If the information discloses that the offence is cognizable, then, in that case, the police officer cannot avoid his duty to register the FIR.
- The extent of the initiatory inquiry is to check the accuracy of the nature of the offence, whether it is cognizable or not.
- All the information related to the FIR or preliminary inquiry shall be mentioned in the station diary.
- The preliminary inquiry shall not be carried out for more than seven days, and if it is carried out for more than seven days, then, in that case, the reason for the delay shall be mentioned in the station diary.
Lallan Chaudhary vs. State of Bihar & others
In this case, the SC held that the authenticity or reliability of information is not a necessary condition before the registration of an FIR.
State of MP vs. Chakki Lal
In this case, the Supreme Court held that the value to be attached by the court to the FIR is dependent on the facts and circumstances of each case. However, when important information is missing in the FIR, it creates suspicion about the reliability of the FIR.
This author concludes that FIR is the first information through which an investigation of a crime begins. The foundation of the prosecution case is formed entirely on this crucial piece of supporting evidence. So, it is mandatory that the victim or any other person who knows about the whole incident or crime file the FIR.
- Can FIR be in the form of a Dying Declaration?
Dying Declaration can be used as FIR. If the person is dying and discloses all the information about the commitment of the crime & offender. Then, in that case, it is a highly relevant piece of information.
- Is it mandatory that FIR contains all ingredients of offence?
No, it is enough that the informant informs the police about the commission of the offence he needs not, mention all the ingredients of the offence. It is later, evidence is collected, and we can know whether all ingredients of offence are there or not.
- The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Act 2 of 1974), ss.154, 2(c) (l)
- Lallan Chaudhary vs. State of Bihar & others AIR 2006 SC 3376
- State of MP vs. Chakki Lal, (2019) 12 SCC 326
- Lalita Kumari vs. Government of Uttar Pradesh, (2014)2 SCC
- Youth Bar Association of India vs. Union of India & others, AIR 2016 SC 4136
- ‘What is an FIR?’, Human Rights Initiative, available at: https://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/publications/police/fir.pdf
- ‘First Information Report (FIR)’, Drishti IAS, 19 February 2022, available at: https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-news-analysis/first-information-report-fir