Evidential Value of FIR
Author: Sakshi R. Patil, PUNE UNIVERSITY, BALAJI LAW COLLEGE
First Information Report (FIR) is the earliest form of information of a cognizable offense recorded by the officer-in-charge of the Police station. The term FIR is not used in the Criminal Procedure Code, however, it is information given under sub-section (1) of section 154 CrPC, which is commonly known as First Information Report (FIR). It should not be the result of irresponsible rumors. In all cases, information must be definite, authentic, and not vague.
However, Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure code talks about the information related to the cognizable offence, while section 155(2) talks about information regarding the non-cognizable offense. Thus, FIR can be segregated into two parts;
a) FIR in case of cognizable offence.
b) FIR in case of non-cognizable offence.
EVIDENTIAL VALUE OF FIRST INFORMATION REPORT:
The FIR cannot be depended on substantive pieces of evidence which is the general principle. The statements made to the police are of three categories,
a) A statement recorded as a First Information Report by the police.
b) Statement recorded in the course of the investigation by the police.
c) Statement recorded not falling under above mention category i.e. (a) and (b) by the police.
These above-mentioned statements cannot be said as substantive evidence, which is to say as evidence of facts stated therein.
REASONS WHY FIR IS NOT SUBSTANTIVE EVIDENCE AND DOES NOT HAVE SUBSTANTIVE EVIDENTIARY VALUE:
- The statements made in FIR are not made under oath.
- The statements are not made during trial or at the time of proceedings.
- The statements recorded in FIR have no cross-examination in the court.
- The statements recorded by the police officer are not admissible in the court.
However, the above statements cannot be considered as substantive evidence that is to say, as evidence of facts therein. According to the provision of the Evidence Act, 1872 FIR can be used to corroborate or contradict the testimony.
According to Section 157 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872, “In order to corroborate the testimony of a witness, any former statement made by such witness relating to the same fact, at or about the time when the fact took place, or before any authority legally competent to investigate the fact, may be proved.”
Also according to section 145 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872, “A witness may be cross-examined as to previous statements made by him in writing or reduced into writing, and relevant to matters in question, without such writing being shown to him, or being proved; but, if it is intended to contradict him by the writing, his attention must, before the writing can be proved, be called to those parts of it which are to be used for the purpose of contradicting him.”
Thus, normal rules have been modifying substantially in respect of the statement recorded in the course of the investigation by the police.
WHY FIR IS TREATED AS IMPORTANT PIECE OF EVIDENCE?
The evidentiary value of an FIR is said to be very important than any other statements during the cognizance of offense or at the time of the investigation. The reasons as to why they are treated as an important piece of evidence in Criminal law are as follow;
- Corroboration of statements made by the person who recorded it.
- Refreshing informer’s memory.
- Cross-examination of statements made by person in the FIR.
- Impeaching the creditworthiness of the informer.
- Ascertaining general information in relation to commission of offence.
In the case of Pandurang Chandrakant Mhatre v. State of Maharashtra[i] it was observed that “it is fairly well settled that FIR is not a substantive piece of evidence and it can be used only to impeach the creditworthiness of the testimony recorded by the maker and it cannot be used for the purpose of contradicting or discrediting the testimony of other witnesses.”
CORROBORATIVE VALUE OF FIR:
FIR is not the substantive piece of evidence but it can be corroborative in nature under section 157 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. The FIR can have better corroborative value if they are recorded before the informant’s memory fails and unreasonable delay in lodging an FIR can lead to suspicion. Generally, the content of an FIR is used to corroborate or contradict the maker. The omission of important facts affecting the possibilities of the case is relevant in judging the prosecution veracity is the case. FIR is the first version of an incident or offense recorded by a concerned police officer it must naturally be given a due weightage and it cannot be disputed.
In the case, Hasib vs. State of Bihar[ii] it was held by Supreme Court, considering the principle of Section 145 and 157 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 FIR can only be used for the purpose of corroborating and contradicting the informant.
In the case, The State of Orissa v. Makund Harijan and another, Orissa High Court held that FIR can only be used to corroborate or contradict the maker of FIR.
If FIR is of confessional in nature, then it cannot be proved against the accused as it is prohibited under section 25[iii] of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
INFORMATION OR STATEMENT AS DYING DECLARATION IN FIR:
A dying declaration is any statement made verbally or written by the person who is dead or any statement of a person who died explaining the circumstances of his death. It is based on the maxim ‘nemo mariturus presumuntur mentri’ i.e. a man will not meet his maker with lying on his mouth.
Section 32(1)[iv] of the Indian Evidence Act 1872 deals with the concept of dying declaration where it is assumed that the statements made are relevant.
In the case of K.R Reddy vs. Public Prosecutor[v] the evidentiary value of dying declaration was observed as, “The dying declaration is admissible under Section 32 & because the statement not made on oath so that its truth could be tested by cross-examination, the court has to observe the closest inspection of the statement before acting upon it. And it is also assumed that the words of a dying man are of a very serious nature because a person on the verge of death is not likely to tell lies or to connect a case to a malice prosecution of an innocent person. Once the court is satisfied that the dying declaration is true & voluntary and are not influenced, then the statements can be sufficient to prove the conviction even without further corroboration.”
A dying declaration can also be recorded by a public servant or by a doctor in case of the victim is hospitalized, he can make a note and record such a statement. The court discourages the dying declaration recorded by police officers, but circumstances are of such nature with no possibilities then such declarations are considered by the court.
In the case of Maniram vs. State of Madhya Pradesh[vi], the dying declaration was recorded by a doctor without attestation on the conscience report of the deceased and also there was no thumb signature on the dying declaration. In this case, FIR lost its credibility and it was difficult to rely on dying declaration.
First Information Report is not an encyclopaedia but a procedure followed to set the law in motion. It is important to report if duly recorded and have evidentiary value. It is a very important factor to record such a report in any circumstances of the commission of an offence. It is a report of evidential value in the trail for corroborating evidence and contradicting witnesses. Sometimes it is considered a Substantial piece of evidence but it sometimes ends up with an importance piece of evidence. There are certain exceptions to this evidentiary value of FIR. It can be said that the evidential value of FIR can be depended upon circumstances of cases, where it can use a substantive piece of evidence or can be used to corroborate evidence or contradict the witnesses. Thus we can assume that it is a vital circumstantial piece of evidence as it is the first report of information of commission of the offence.
[i] AIR 1976 SC 2423 1995 Suppl (1) SCC 217 1996 SCC (Crl.)
[ii] (1972) 4 SCC 773
[iii] Section 25 of Indian Evidence Act 1872-No confession made to a police officer1, shall be proved as against a person accused of any offence.”
[iv] Section 32(1) of Indian Evidence Act -When the statement is made by a person as to the cause of his death, or as to any of the circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his death, in cases in which the cause of that person’s death comes into question.Such statements are relevant whether the person who made them was or was not, at the time when they were made, under expectation of death, and whatever may be the nature of the proceeding in which the cause of his death comes into question.
[v] 1976 AIR 1994, 1976 SCR 542
[vi] AIR 1994 SC 840