The first information report means an information recorded by a police officer on duty given either by the aggrieved person or any other person to the commission of an alleged offence. On the basis of first information report, the police commences its investigation. Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 defines as to what amounts to first information.
The said section reads as under:-
154. Information in cognizable cases
- Every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer-in-charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction, and be read over to the informant; and every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing as aforesaid shall be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf.
- A copy of the information as recorded under sub-section
(i) shall be given forthwith, free of cost, to the informant.
- Any person aggrieved by a refusal on the part of an officer-
in-charge of police station to record the information referred to in sub-section (1) may send the substance of such information, in writing and by post to the Superintendent of Police concerned, who if satisfied that such information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence shall either investigate the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by any police officer subordinate to him, in the manner provided by this Code, and such officer shall have all the powers of an officer-in-charge of the police station in relation to that offence.
The provision in section 154 regarding the reduction of oral statement to writing and obtaining signature of the informant to it, is for the purpose of discouraging irresponsible statement about criminal offences by fixing the informant with the responsibility for the statement he makes.
Refusal by the informant to sign the first information is an offence punishable under section 180 of the Indian Penal Code. The absence of signatures on the first information report by the informant, however, is not necessary to the extent that it will vitiate and nullify such report. The first information is still admissible in evidence.
In order to constitute an FIR in terms of section 154 of the Code. of Criminal Procedure, 1973 two conditions are to be fulfiUed:-
(a) what is conveyed must be an information; and
(b) that information should relate to the commission of a cognizable offence on the face of it.
In other words, FIR is only a complaint to set the affairs of law and order in motion and it is only at the investigation stage that all the details can be gathered. In one of the judgments, the Madhya Pradesh High Court observed that the report of the crime which is persuading the police machinery towards starting investigation is FIR, subsequent reports are/were written, they are not hit under section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and cannot be treated as such.
Who can File an FIR?
First Information Report (FIR) can be filed by any person. He need not necessarily be the victim or the injured or an eye-witness. First Information Report may be merely hearsay and need not necessarily be given by the person who has first hand knowledge of the facts.
Where to File an FIR?
An FIR can be filed in the police station of the concerned area in whose jurisdiction the offence has occurred. A first are to obtain information about the alleged criminal activity so as to be able to take suitable steps for tracing and bringing to book the guilty person.
Its secondary though equally important object is to obtain early information of an alleged criminal activity and to record the circumstances before the trial, lest such circumstances are forgotten or embellished.
Why FIR should be filed promptly
This is the golden principle of law prescribed in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 that the First Information Report should always be filed promptly and without wasting any time. Such type of report gains the maximum credibility and is always welcome and appreciated by the courts.
According to Supreme Court the FIR recorded promptly before the time afforded to embellish or do away with the evidence is useful. It eliminates the possible chance of giving rise to suspicion.
Is there time duration fixed for Filing an FIR?
We have already emphasized this fact that as far as possible and practicable, every FIR should invariably be filed promptly, expeditiously and without wasting any time. There may be circumstances where some concession of time must be given in filing the FIR But there must be cogent reasons for reasonable delay in filing the FIR under the compelling circumstances. Judges with lot of wisdom and experience can use their discretion judiciously and in the interest of justice in each and every case. However, no possible duration of time can be fixed for applying the test of reasonableness to the lodging of an FIR as we have already explained. It depends upon facts and circumstances of each case. The delay in lodging the FIR as such is not fatal in law if the prosecution substantiated the factual difficulties encountered by the persons lodging the report.
Following are the reports or statements which do not amount to be an FIR:
- A report or a statement recorded after the commencement of the investigation (sections 162 and 163 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973).
- Reports not recorded immediately but after questioning of witnesses.
- Reports recorded after several days of developments.
- Information not about occurrence of cognizable offence but only cryptic message in the form of an appeal for immediate help.
- Complaint to the Magistrate.
- Information to beat house.
- Information to the Magistrate or police officer on phone.
- Information received at police station prior to the lodging of an F.LR.
It was held in Damodar v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 2003 SC 4414: 2003 AIR SCW 5050: 2003 (4) RCR (Cri) 355 (SC) that if the information was conveyed to police on telephone and DO entry was made, it will not constitute an FIR even if the information disclosed commission of cognizable offence.