First Information Report under Criminal Law

By Arya Gupta


From where does it begin? Definitely, when someone complains to the police regarding some crime, it is considered as First Information and it is registered as First Information Report, i.e. FIR. The purpose of an FIR is to commence the investigation of a criminal proceeding, by providing information to the Police officer or to the judicial magistrate of its Jurisdiction. FIR acts as a preface about the facts, circumstances, and occurrences of the offense before the authorities to whom the matter will be tried. The information mentioned in an FIR can act as a defense against the accused person, in case of any loopholes or if he’s falsely framed. It can also be used as a source of first-hand information to provide justice to the victim in any alleged criminal activity. In this blog, we’ll read about the Criminal Law that deals with FIR, the Information in FIR related to cognizable and non-cognizable offenses, and answer some basic questions related to First Information Report.

Judiciousness of an FIR

FIR is the first-hand information report of the occurrence of any criminal activity, which can be substantiated for any cross-examination and re-examination. Section 154 of the Cr. P.C provides information that can be produced orally or in writing to the police officer or to the officer in charge and signed for authentication. This signature is an important element to lodge the FIR as it provides authentication to verify the information which doesn’t allow any misinterpretation of facts or circumstances from getting registered. To constitute an FIR, it must contain the name and address of the victim, the exact time and location where the offense has occurred, the correct timeline and facts of the case, the number of people involved in the crime, the degree of harm caused to the victim and the information of commencement of the cognizable offense, which must be mentioned in writing and made to be informed the same to the complainant which should be duly signed by him.  The informant should answer the questions truthfully as the FIRs act as a prominent and circumstantial piece of evidence during the trial. 

Information as to Cognizable Offences

If the information is relating to cognizable cases it comes under Sec. 154 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C.) Section 154(1) when information in cognizable cases is given orally to an officer in charge of the police station, it shall be constituted in writing and signed by the complainant and shall be kept as per the State Governments’ directions. However, the offenses under Section 326 A and Section 326 B, Section 354 & 354-ABCD, and offenses under Section 376 & 376-ABCDE or Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code, these offenses either committed or attempted, such information shall be recorded by a women police officer only, this was included by the 2013 Amendment. Section 154(2) says that the copy of the information, which is given by the informant, will be given free of cost. Section 154(3) says if the police do not register the complaint, or refuses to write an FIR, the information or the complaint letter can be sent by post to the Superintendent of Police concerned with that area, and if he is satisfied either by himself or he may instruct his subordinate to do the investigation only in Cognizable Offences.

Information as to Non – Cognizable Cases and Investigation of such cases

Non-cognizable offenses come under Sec. 155 of Crpc. Section 155(1) says that when information is received in a police station and that information relates to a non-cognizable offense, it shall be noted down in the general diary of the police station, this is as per the instruction of the State Government, which can refer the informant to the Magistrate. Section 155(2) says that the police officer shall not investigate a non-cognizable offense without the order of the magistrate. Section 155(3) states, the police officer will investigate when he is given the instruction from the magistrate, he has all the powers, but he does not have the power to arrest without a warrant. Section 155(4) clarifies the confusion in a situation when the information is given to a policy that relates to two or more offenses, and one offense is cognizable and the other is non-cognizable, then the case will be deemed to be a cognizable offense. 

After the complaint, the police have the power to investigate, in cognizable cases, it is in Sec. 156 to Sec 159; To begin with, Sec. 156 says the police have the power to investigate in cognizable cases and Sec 156(3) also says that any Magistrate empowered under Sec. 190 of Criminal Procedure Code, may order an investigation in cognizable cases on a complaint if the police don’t register FIR.

Police Officer’s Power to investigate Cognizable Case as per Sec 156 

Section 156(1) says police have the power to investigate in cognizable cases, without the order of the magistrate, In the case of S.N. Sharma v. Bipin Kumar Tiwari AIR 1970 SC 196, it was held that a magistrate cannot prevent the police from investigating.  It is in Section 156(2), which says that No one will question the investigation done by the police regarding his powers. As mentioned above, according to Section 156(3), In the case of Baleshwar Singh v. State, it was held that any ‘magistrate’ refers to the ‘Judicial Magistrate’ and not the ‘Executive Magistrate’. So, only a judicial magistrate can order the investigation in a case.

Investigation Procedure after an FIR

After the complaint has been registered Sec. 157 says, the Investigation Officer shall proceed to the spot to investigate the case. In the case, State of Jammu & Kashmir v. Mohan Singh, the FIR was recorded in the evening, but the copy was not sent to the magistrate at his residence during the night, but it was sent early morning on the next day in Court, it was held that it cannot be considered that there was a delay in sending a copy of the report to the magistrate. Section 157(1) provides that, if the case is not of a serious nature, the police officer need not proceed to spot for investigation, and also if he thinks that the investigation is not required, it is his discretion, not to investigate the case. He is not bound to act on the information, sometimes, this clause hinders the investigation process as the Police officers could take the defense of such clauses and can abscond from their responsibility. Further, the subsection provides that, in case of an offense of rape, the statement of the victim can be recorded at a place of her choice and by a women police officer. 

After the investigation Sec. 158 says, the police officer will submit the report to his senior or to the magistrate, if the investigation has been ordered by the magistrate. When such a preliminary Investigation report is given to the magistrate under Sec. 158, the magistrate will check the report and can order a further investigation in the case, if not satisfied. Section 159, informs us that when a magistrate receives such a report from the police on a complaint, he can ask his subordinate magistrate to hold a preliminary inquiry or to dispose of the case if further investigation is not required. 

Section 160(1) says Police will give notice for investigation but will not call the females to the Police Station, will not call the senior citizens to the police station and not less than 15 years old or mentally or physically disabled person, these exceptions were added in the 2013 Amendment. After calling witnesses by Police under Sec. 160, Sec. 161 says police will examine witnesses and take their statements, they can record their statements by Audio or Video mode, and this was inserted by Sec 161(3), the amendment was done in 2008. Sec 162 says witnesses will not be asked to sign the statement which they have given to the police. In the case of Hazari Lal v. The State (Delhi Administration), it was held that the statement made by the witnesses to a police officer in the course of the information can be used for the purpose of contradicting the witnesses, but cannot be used as substantive evidence. 

Sec 163 says, the witnesses shall not be given threats or promises to give statements. Sec 164 says that recording of witnesses’ statements or confessions will be done. Recording a statement was said under Sec 161 as well, but it was by Police which is Inadmissible, and it is before magistrate and admissible. 

 Relaxation to the individuals from an FIR

While holding the office of the President of India and the governors of Indian State, No FIR can be lodged against the person, according to Article 361 of the constitution of India, or against any sitting member of the legislature or Parliament due to any act or statement by them inside the house. But, if the speaker or any person authorized by him directs the police officer to register a complaint against them, they won’t be able to enjoy any immunity thereafter. These members are protected by Articles 105 and 194 of the Constitution of India. However, they can be liable for criminal prosecution for any act committed by them in their private capacity outside the Legislature and Parliament.

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