Article by Mahak Sharma- B.COM LLB- UPES
Before the Trial and the examination, Police need to be very clear that an offence is established. The information is being given to the Police Officer, a person approaches and give points of the offence. In general is called First Information Report(F.I.R) and is embedded in section 154 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. Not considered as a substantive piece of evidence, that is, no evidence of the facts which are stated. It should not contain every minute subtle elements of the wrongdoing.
F.I.R relates to the commission of a cognizable offence which is communicated to a Police Officer and recorded under Section 154 of Cr.P.C. it should be made as earliest as possible as a further action could be taken in the view of such report. F.I.R does not hold an evidentiary value but only under few instances is considered to be treated as an evidence. The benefit of early F.I.R recording helps in the arrest of real criminals and also helps in gathering evidence of the crime
Evolution of F.I.R
The first ever F.I.R was registered 156 years ago in Subzimandli,North Delhi(1861) by a resident named Maeeuddi which was for the theft of utensils and hukka(a priceless piece and a treasured information).
Second F.I.R; there can’t be second F.I.R is it deals with the exact same version of first report where it alleges same accused with same offence. But is a situation when there are rival versions for a same offence, would be considered two different reports and investigating agency can further investigate. The police has to investigate not only the cognizable offences reported but also for the offences which are connected and form part of same transaction
Same as complaint?
F.I.R is not defined under CrPC but under section 2(d) Complaint has been described. There is a distinction between a Complaint that too with F.I.R:-
1. F.I.R is filed with the officer in charge of a Police Station where as a complaint is filed with a Magistrate.
2. Primarily a F.I.R is related to only a cognizable offence but on the other side a complaint can consist both cognizable as well as non-cognizable offence.
3. In a F.I.R an offence can be reported and a police officer can also do such whereas a complaint does not hold a report by a police officer.
Are there any requirements for a F.I.R?
Any person can be a host to a F.I.R whether a witness to has seen the crime, the victim or any such person who is aware of the commission of an offence. Sine qua non under the F.I.R is the ‘commission’ which is of a ‘cognizable offence’. ‘Information’ means something which describes the nature of a complaint for putting the police in motion to investigate. Manifestly clearing that any such information which is in fact disclosing the commission of a cognizable offence is to be laid before a police officer when the requirements are fulfilled mentioned under section 154(1), within the jurisdiction over the case. No excuse can be put up by a police officer to enter the substance in a prescribed manner, that is, to register the information.The statements would be treated in F.I.R only when it is made before the commencement of an investigation. Through telephone an information can be provided to police officer but it will be considered only when it is reduced in writing and also signed by him. Information can be tampered easily and to grab the every bit of information, Parliament in safeguarding the authenticity of the version has created the modes in which an information has to be drawn under section 154(2).
- Must be read to the person who is telling the information of an offence(Informant);
- Must be signed by the informant and the information must be entered in the books of the officer which is maintained by him and;
- The copy of the recorded information must be given to the informant, free of cost.
Mere suspicion of the commission of an offence does not amount to a F.I.R as there is a lack of authentic source. It is not necessary that the person providing the information has a personal knowledge of the incident. The possession of the knowledge of the commission of a cognizable offence by any person can set up the motion of the case by lodging the F.I.R.
Landmark Judgment, was specifically declared that section 154 is mandatory in nature where the police officer in charge is duty bound to register such information received in F.I.R. Also stated that if there is no commission of cognizable offence then such need not to be recorded immediately. Police here can verify that the commission of offence is cognizable in nature or not.
Mandatory registration of information acts as the foundation to a transparent justice as well as the judicial oversight. Information registered by police must be so much so specific in nature in respect of which police can initiate an enquiry.
Message not be F.I.R; when the messages are transferred to police officers, the purpose for such transfer must be ascertained before that message is labelled as First Information. Might be the scenario where the message was only to narrate the crime and to proceed an investigation based on the crime, would not be a F.I.R.
Must be a continuous process, that is, the information and recording the same must be done in continuation. The process cannot be altered by the fact that investigation can be commenced unless it is proved by eminent evidences that the information provided or recorded is on a true event and inquiries must be made. Substance of the report plays an important role where if there is any defect in writing, it can be neglected if the substance of offence is entered. Police officers at spot also reports the crime in a handed version is treated as F.I.R.
It is important?
Corroborative evidence is an evidence which supports or backs up the information in a particular story. F.I.R contains the information which needed to be corroborated which is an important piece of evidence to build the structure of a case. Stepping into the shoes of investigating authorities the information gathered holds immense power by which reasonable steps are taken towards tracing and articulating the guilty party. In the trail version, a story which is given opposes the one which was in the first report creates a big question and treated as a suspicion. The importance behind lies with the information provided at time before gets embellished and there is a want of successful fabrication. Trial on other hand, holds importance where prosecution case is once put in the F.I.R and opportunities for proving the same is considerably reduced, reason is that the setting up of prosecution case is checked through the lights of the First Report which was himself made by the complainant. If there is any omission in the First Report, it benefits the accused persons.
Recording of F.I.R is a mandate; a police officer in charge has no other option but to register it to police diary and to start the investigation thereon. If he considers that information does not appear to be of a serious nature and there is no reasonable ground for starting the investigation, then by sending the information to Magistrate can be done where discretion on Magistrate whether to direct the police to investigate or not, as it thinks fit.
Importance of earliest version
The provision is enacted to procure the early information which alleged to have been committed. The circumstances must be recorded before the time it gets to be forgotten or gets embellished for which the ‘Spontaneity’ is required. F.I.R cannot be relied upon when it lacks spontaneity. The information holds it’s own weight-age in a criminal proceeding which has obtained by an earliest report and does not loose sight. Main object is basically regarding the circumstances in order to avoid the coloured version.
Delay in F.I.R
In a country like India, where people living in Villages prefer to be more conservative, try to avoid getting into tantrum. Where a person has knowledge or sees any heinous crimes do not expect to act promptly to rush immediately to nearest police station. It is a Human tendency where people do not want to be treated as a witness for the occurrence of situation and can act accordingly. Report consists a contemporaneous record which has the fresh narration by the informant for reflection of the facts. Law does not have a fixed time in lodging the F.I.R but is subject to reasonable circumstances where the court must be convinced about the delay. However, F.I.R has to be filed within the reasonable time. It might be expected to have a probative value even though it is not considered to be a substantive piece of evidence. Delay does not give rise to quashing the report but can create a doubt in the minds of court where possible motive has to be viewed. An unreasonable delay can cause unnecessary doubt on accused of false implication in a criminal proceeding which carries great importance.
There is no settled provision in law which determines the delay in report. Conditions vary from case to case which is ultimately in the power of court to decide on the matter of promptness.
Situation might arise where delay can be on the part of police. Information of a cognizable offence in compliance with section 154 has created a mandate where the police officer cannot question as to the information is reliable or fraud or genuine in order to refuse the registration of the information. Another instance where the police officer delays in forwarding it to the Magistrate. The trial process gets delays in result the accused might flee.
Delay in lodging in cases of rape is not the traditional formula where the prosecution case can be disregarded and it’s authenticity to be questioned. It puts the court on duty to check whether the delay was reasonable/acceptable and satisfies the court. Mere delay in lodging will not fatal the prosecution case.Delay is but natural in sexual offences, where the society generally harasses the reputation of a women. In a gang rape case, no male member was present in the house and subsequently the F.I.R was lodged in 3 days delay was held not fatal.
No explanation to delay- specially in rape cases where the victim’s family does not decide on the factor whether to report the act or not in order to save their family honour but somehow comes to the conclusion to report is considered to be accepted. The plausibility in explaining the delay comes in question which has to be considered. Where if the delay is unsatisfactory to court, the evidences which are lead by prosecution can be disbelieved. Informant accompanied the victim to go the hospital and victim was brought back due to the non-availability of medical officer which was considered to be a justified delay.
How delay will effect?
Instances might rise where there can be no explanation to a delay and some might not be satisfactory in eyes of court. Such cannot be regarded as a failure on the ground that prosecution has failed to prove the satisfactory delay. The great importance holds the witnesses which will be examined which court will look upon. An unexplained delay can create a doubt towards the prosecution’s trustworthiness.
In the trial F.I.R is an extremely valuable piece of evidence by corroborating the oral evidence. The object is to obtain the name of culprits and part played by them at the place of occurrence. Delay in report not only gets the benefit of spontaneity but also the coloured version. The reasons for delay in lodging must be put by prosecution before Trial Court.
Treated as evidence?
The report consists of the information given by an informant who can be any person knowing about the commission of an offence. Intention is to get the criminal law in motion. Information of a cognizable offence mut be reduced in writing and the same must be signed by the person giving such information. Obviously it cannot be treated as evidence against the person who himself is making it and to corroborate the witnesses.
As the FIR is said to be the first ever version of the incident which has taken place so. The statements involved in such report must have a weight-age. But is not a substantive piece of evidence. The value depends on the facts and circumstances. Other evidences in connection of such information received is gathered as to analyse that whether a case stands or not. The statement of a victim of rape in cross-examination which was not there in the FIR could not be used for contradicting her.
It must contain necessary allegations and relevant details for constituting a cognizable offence, thus FIR is not an encyclopedia. If an FIR is lodged without any waste of time then it is almost free from exaggerations and polluting the same. The superior purpose is to procure the earliest details for the offence so as to avoid the opportunity of circumstances to be embellished. It is not permissible just to take a part of it and be ignorant towards the rest.
FIR having a better corroborative value it is provided to the officer before it gets embellished so that the memory of the informant does not fail. If the informant of F.I.R is treated as a witness in Trial then can be used to corroborate or contradict under section 157 as well as under 145 of Evidence Act. It will hold a better version of corroboration when it is lodged before it gets embellished by memory fail of informant.
A F.I.R can be registered by accused itself, under such it is not possible to corroborate or contradict because accused cannot be treated as a witness of prosecution, in connection it would offer himself to be a defence witness under section 315. It is corroborated by the oral evidences thus making it a vital piece of evidence.
Relation with Indian Evidence Act, 1872
If F.I.R is of a confessional nature, the same cannot be proved against the maker as under section 25, no confession has to be proved if made to a police officer. But, under section 8, it can be relevant if conduct of person differs. If is of a confessional nature, then under section 21 it is admissible against the accused by his conduct.
If omission of important facts in F.I.R it affects the probabilities of a case under section 11 in viewing the prosecution case. The person who deposited the information dies in consequence, that is, declaration of death, F.I.R is admissible under section 32(1) which is treated as a dying declaration which is direct evidence showing the cause of death or circumstances in which the deceased has met his/her death.
In a case where a defect in the investigation then the Court has to evaluate the evidences and have to adopt an analytical role to ensure the truth lacking behind by section 311 CrPC. It would not be right in acquitting the accused solely on the grounds of defect; to do so would tantamount to playing into the hands of the investigating officer if the investigation is defective.
A new system
Zero F.I.R; can be filed in any police station, even outside the jurisdiction of the offence where is committed. The object is to ensure a speedy action and investigation after the report is filed. After such registration being done by police station acting outside the jurisdiction, is transferred to it’s original jurisdiction where the offence lies. Initially recorded it is ‘0’ serial number until it is transferred to a competent police station, where it gets the number turning into a regular F.I.R. it is valid. A report can be treated as Zero F.I.R when it does not has territorial jurisdiction where the matter is been made over.
E-FIR; any citizen of the country can use this system to report the information. This basically interprets that every individual has their fundamental right to have justice for any violation which has been committed against the society or with any person. Under this system, the information is submitted in an online platform which is the website of a police station or department. Some of the police stations have launched the smartphone application which can be used in filling a report.
It not only saves time but also is a hustle free process where the report can be filed with an immediate process when there is a commission of an offence. The complainant can tract it’s complaint status, also it allows a healthier response.
F.I.R is an important report an is a valuable piece in any criminal proceeding. It is necessary that the report must be recorded in every circumstance where any person is seeking the police at a police station against a particular crime. Delivering the first impression over prosecution if it is spontaneous which can help in conviction. There must be a reasonable assurance given by the police department for a fair investigation which will be conducted connected to the case when it is registered on time. Fear of police must be clear from mind of a common man living in this country and should have a view of people protection and service to people.
Useful Article Related Links
Link 1 – Link 2 – Link 3 – Link 4
Evidentiary value of FIR – Lawyersclubindia,(July 13, 2015), http://www.lawyersclubindia.com/articles/Evidentiary-value-of-FIR-6747.asp
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