Author: Mr. Krishna Murari Yadav
Assistant Professor, LC-I, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, Delhi.
Question 1 (UP J Mains) – What is First Information Report? What is its evidentiary value?1 Question 2 (UP J Mains) – Distinguish between Police Report and FIR.
Question 1(LL.B. DU 2017) – What is the first information report? Whether a police officer who receives any information under section 154 or comes to know otherwise under section 157 is under an obligation to register an FIR or does he or she have the discretion to conduct the preliminary inquiry? Explain in the light of the case Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P.(2013). Question 1 – What is the First Information Report? What is its evidentiary value?
Answer – First Information Report (FIR) has not been defined in the Cr.P.C. FIR means first time reporting of information to the police regarding commission of the cognizable offence. By this criminal law comes into motion.
Ravi Kumar vs. State of Punjab2 (SC, March 4, 2005)
Hon‟ble Justice Arijit Pasayat said “The First Information Report is a report giving information of the commission of a cognizable crime which may be made by the complainant or by any other person knowing about the commission of such an offence. It is intended to set the criminal law in motion. Any information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence is required to be reduced to writing by the officer-in-charge of the Police Station which has to be signed by the person giving it and the substance thereof is required to be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in that behalf. The registration of the FIR empowers the officer-in-charge of the Police Station to commence an investigation with respect to the crime reported to him. A copy of the FIR is required to be sent forthwith to the Magistrate empowered to take cognizance of such offence.”
Essential ingredients of FIR
There are following essential ingredients of FIR under section 154 –
- Information- There should be information
- Cognizable Offence-That information must be related to the commission of cognizable offences,
- Officer in charge of a police station and woman police officer or any woman officer –It must be made to the officer in charge of a police station. If the informant is the victim (woman) of acid attack, the outrage of modesty, rape or word uttered to insult outrage the modesty then such information shall be recorded, by a woman police officer or any woman officer. If the victim is temporarily or permanently mentally or physically disabled, then such information shall be recorded by a police officer, at the residence of the person seeking to report such offence or at a convenient place of such person‟s choice, in the presence of an interpreter or a special educator, as the case may be. The recording of such information shall be video graphed.
- Oral or written – It may be given either orally or written form. If it is 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.
- Signature of informant– Every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing (oral information) as aforesaid, shall be signed by the person giving it (informant), and
- Entering of substance in book – The substance the information shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf.
Contents of FIR
In the case of Gorle S. Naidu vs. State of A.P. and Ors. (Dec. 15, 2003, SC) Hon‟ble Justice Arijit Pasayat said, “The FIR is not supposed to an encyclopedia of the factors concerning the crime, yet there must be some definite information vis- a- vis (along with) the crime.”
In the case of Ravi Kumar vs. State of Punjab3 (SC, 2005,) Hon‟ble Justice Arijit Pasayat said “It is not the requirement of law that the minutest details be recorded in the FIR lodged immediately after the occurrence.”
Kinds of FIR
Lalita Kumari Case – In the case of Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P.4 Supreme Court said that the Code contemplates two kinds of FIRs. namely (1) FIR under section 154 (1) and (2) FIR under section 157(1). The duly signed FIR under Section 154(1) is by the informant to the concerned officer at the police station. The second kind of FIR could be which is registered by the police itself on any information received or other than by way of an informant Section 157(1) and even this information has to be duly recorded and the copy should be sent to the Magistrate forthwith.
Jurisdiction – Every police station has own territorial jurisdiction. If cognizable offence is committed within territorial jurisdiction then FIR is registered and it contains date, time and place of occurrence, serial number etc.
Zero FIR – Zero FIR can be registered by any Officer in charge of Police Station even he has no jurisdiction for investigation the offence. In such FIR serial number is put Zero and such FIR is forwarded to competent investigating police station.
In case of Aasaram Bapu Rape case rape was committed in Jodhpur, Rajsthan. FIR was lodged in Kamla Market Police Station, New Delhi. This was the „Zero FIR‟. It was transferred to Jodhpur for investigation.
Manoj Sharma Manu v. State of NCT of Delhi & Anr. (Delhi H.C.13 April, 2017)
In this case alleged offence against girl was occurred sector 11, Noida and not within the jurisdiction of PS New Ashok Nagar, New Delhi. By using section 156(3) Metropolitan Magistrate having territorial jurisdiction over the area of PS New Ashok Nagar directed SHO PS New Ashok Nagar to register zero FIR and thereafter to transfer the same to the concerned Police Station having jurisdiction in the matter as per procedure.
Delhi High Court quashed the order of Metropolitan Magistrate and held that section 154(1) is different from section 156(3). Section 154 (1) Cr.P.C. unlike section 156(3) does not prescribe for a restriction on registration of FIR in respect of an offence committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the police station. Thus even if the offence may have been committed beyond the territorial jurisdiction of a police station, the officer-in-charge of the police station would still register the FIR and investigate thereon, however, a Magistrate under section 156(3) cannot direct to an officer-in-charge of a police station beyond its territorial jurisdiction.
Judicial Magistrate cannot pass an order for Zero FIR by using section 156(3). Order of Judicial Magistrate was quashed. Officer-in-charge of the police station shall register the FIR in case of need.
Territorial Jurisdiction of P.S. and FIR
State of Andhra Pradesh vs. Punati Ramulu and Others (SC 19 Feb., 1993)
Section 154 does not say anything regarding territorial jurisdiction. The police constable at the police station refused to record FIR on the ground that the said police station had no territorial jurisdiction over the place of crime.
In this case Supreme Court “It was certainly a dereliction of duty on the part of the constable because any lack of territorial jurisdiction could not have prevented the constable from recording information about the cognizable offence and forwarding the same to the police station having jurisdiction over the area in which the crime was said to have been committed.”
Cryptic telephonic message cannot constitute FIR.
Tapinder Singh vs. State Of Punjab (SC May 7, 1970)
Facts- The person, giving the information on telephone, did not disclose his identity; nor did he give any further particulars. When the police officer receiving the telephone message made further enquiries from him he disconnected the telephone. This report was entered in the daily diary at 5.35 p.m.
Held – The telephonic message recorded in the daily diary of the police station was a cryptic and anonymous oral message which did not in terms clearly specify a cognizable offence and could not, therefore, be treated as first information report. The mere fact that this information was the first in point of time could not by itself clothe it with the character of first information report. The question of whether or not a particular document constitutes a first information report has to be determined on the relevant facts and circumstances of each case.
Advantage of immediate registration of FIR
The registration of FIR either on the basis of the information furnished by the informant under Section 154(1) of the Code or otherwise under Section 157(1) of the Code is obligatory. The obligation to register FIR has inherent advantages: (a) It is the first step to access to justice for a victim. (b) It upholds the Rule of Law inasmuch as the ordinary person brings forth the commission of a cognizable crime in the knowledge of the State. (c) It also facilitates swift investigation and sometimes even prevention of the crime. In both cases, it only effectuates the regime of law. (d) It leads to less manipulation in criminal cases and lessens incidents of ante-dates FIR or deliberately delayed FIR.
Delay in lodging FIR
Delay in lodging FIR shall not affect credibility of FIR if there are justified reasons. In the case of State of Himachal Pradesh v. Gyan Chand (May 1, 2001SC). In this case Supreme Court observed, “Delay in lodging the FIR cannot be used as a ritualistic formula for doubting the prosecution case and discarding the same solely on the ground of delay in lodging the first information report. Delay has the effect of putting the Court in its guard to search if any explanation has been offered for the delay, and if offered, whether it is satisfactory or not. If the prosecution fails to satisfactorily explain the delay and there is possibility of embellishment in prosecution version on account of such delay, the delay would be fatal to the prosecution. However, if the delay is explained to the satisfaction of the court, the delay cannot by itself be a ground for disbelieving and discarding the entire prosecution case.”
Uploading of FIR on police website or official website of Government concerned
Youth Bar Association of India v. Union of India and Others (Sep.7, 2016SC) (CJI Dipak Misra Justice C. Nagappan).
In this case Supreme Court issued directions –
(1)FIR on website within 24, 48, 72hours –The copies of the FIRs, unless the offence is sensitive in nature, like sexual offences, offences pertaining to insurgency, terrorism and of that category, offences under POCSO Act and such other offences, should be uploaded on the police website, and if there is no such website, on the official website of the State Government, within twenty-four hours of the registration of the First Information Report so that the accused or any person connected with the same can download the FIR and file appropriate application before the Court as per law for redressal of his grievances. It may be clarified here that in case there is connectivity problems due to geographical location or there is some other unavoidable difficulty, the time can be extended up to forty-eight hours. The said 48 hours can be extended maximum up to 72 hours and it is only relatable to connectivity problems due to geographical location.
- DSP shall decide sensitive nature – The decision not to upload the copy of the FIR on the website shall not be taken by an officer below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police or any person holding equivalent post. In case, the States where District Magistrate has a role, he may also assume the said authority. A decision taken by the concerned police officer or the District Magistrate shall be duly communicated to the concerned jurisdictional Magistrate.
- Not ground for anticipatory bail- If an FIR is not uploaded, needless to say, it shall not ensure per se a ground to obtain the benefit under Section 438 of the Cr.P.C.
- Supply of copy of FIR to accused – An accused is entitled to get a copy of the First Information Report at an earlier stage than as prescribed under Section 207 of the Cr.P.C. Question 1(LL.B. DU 2017) – What is first information report? Whether a police officer who receives any information under section 154 or comes to know otherwise under section 157 is under an obligation to register an FIR or does he or she have discretion to conduct preliminary inquiry? Explain in the light of the case Lalita Kumari Govt. of U.P.(2013).
Answer – Optional vs. Mandatory Registration of FIR
What FIR is has been already discussed above. In the case of Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P.5 Supreme Court laid down following proposition –
- Registration of FIR is mandatory under Section 154 of the Code, if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation.
- If the information received does not disclose a cognizable offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted only to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not.
- If the inquiry discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, the FIR must be registered. In cases where preliminary inquiry ends in closing the complaint, a copy of the entry of such closure must be supplied to the first informant forthwith and not later than one week. It must disclose reasons in brief for closing the complaint and not proceeding further.
- The police officer cannot avoid his duty of registering offence if cognizable offence is disclosed. Action must be taken against erring officers who do not register the FIR if the information received by him discloses a cognizable offence.
- The scope of preliminary inquiry is not to verify the veracity or otherwise of the information received but only to ascertain whether the information reveals any cognizable offence.
- As to what type and in which cases preliminary inquiry is to be conducted will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. The categories of cases in which preliminary inquiry may be made are as under:
(a) Matrimonial disputes/family disputes
(b) Commercial offences
(c) Medical negligence cases
(d) Corruption cases
(e) Cases where there is abnormal delay/laches in initiating criminal prosecution, for example, over 3 months delay in reporting the matter without satisfactorily explaining the reasons for the delay.
The aforesaid are only illustrations and not exhaustive of all conditions which may warrant preliminary inquiry.
- While ensuring and protecting the rights of the accused and the complainant, a preliminary inquiry should be made time bound and in any case it should not exceed 7 days. The fact of such delay and the causes of it must be reflected in the General Diary entry.
- Since the General Diary/Station Diary/Daily Diary is the record of all information received in a police station, we direct that all information relating to cognizable offences, whether resulting in registration of FIR or leading to an inquiry, must be mandatorily and meticulously reflected in the said Diary and the decision to conduct a preliminary inquiry must also be reflected, as mentioned above.
Evidentiary Value of FIR
Aghnoo Nagesia vs. State of Bihar (SC, 4 May, 1965)
In the case of Aghnoo Nagesia vs. State of Bihar Supreme Court observed, “Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides for the recording of the first information. (1) The information report as such is not substantive evidence. (2) It may be used to corroborate the informant under Section 157 of the Evidence Act or to contradict him under Section 145 of the Act, if the informant is called as a witness. (3) If the first information is given by the accused himself, the fact of his giving the information is admissible against him as evidence of his conduct under Section 8 (MP PSC) of the Evidence Art. (4) If the information is a non-confessional statement, it is admissible against the accused as an admission under Section 21 of the Evidence Act and is relevant. (5) But a confessional first information report to a police officer cannot be used against the accused in view of Section 25 of the Evidence Act.”
Pancham Yadav v. State of U.P. (All. H.C. 1993)
Information of victim was recorded as FIR. Later on he died. This FIR was also treated as a dying declaration under section 32(1) of Indian Evidence Act, 1872. This is the only circumstances when FIR becomes substantive piece of evidence.
Shayam Nandan Singh and Ors. vs. The State Of Bihar (9 May, 1991) FIR was also treated as res gestae and it was also relevant under section 6 of IEA.
Ravi Kumar vs. State of Punjab (SC, March 4, 2005) Division Bench
Hon‟ble Justice Arijit Pasayat said “It has been held time and again that the FIR is not a substantive piece of evidence and can only be used to corroborate the statement of the maker under Section 157 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 or to contradict him under Section 145 of that Act. It can neither be used as evidence against the maker at the trial if he himself becomes an accused nor to corroborate or contradict other witnesses.”
Alternate remedy in case of non-registration of FIR under Sec. 154(1)
Sakiri Vasu v. State of U.P. ( SC, Dec.07, 2007)
In the case of Sakiri Vasu v. State of U.P. Justice Markandey Katju said, “If a person has a grievance that his FIR has not been registered by the police station under section 154(1) his first remedy is to approach the Superintendent of Police under Section 154(3) Cr.P.C. or other police officer referred to in Section 36 Cr.P.C. If despite approaching the Superintendent of Police or the officer referred to in Section 36 his grievance still persists, then he can approach a Magistrate under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. instead of rushing to the High Court by way of a writ petition or a petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. Moreover he has a further remedy of filing a criminal complaint under Section 200 Cr.P.C. …..
It is true that alternative remedy is not an absolute bar to a writ petition, but it is equally well settled that if there is an alternative remedy the High Court should not ordinarily interfere. He can approach High Court either through section 482 or with writ petition under article 226 of the Constitution of India.”
No doubt the Magistrate cannot order under section 156 (3) investigation by the CBI. But Supreme Court or the High Court has power under Article 136 or Article 226 to order investigation by the CBI.
Art. 226 (Writ Jurisdiction of High Court. Writ u/ 32 is also possible)
Sec. 482 (Inherent Power of H.C.)
Sec. 200 (Judicial Magistrate)
Sec. 156(3) (Judicial Magistrate)
Sec. 36 (Police Officers superior to O.P.S e.g. DIG, IG, DGP)
Sec. 154(3) (Superintendent of Police)
Sec. 154(1) (Officer in charge of a police station)
Alternate remedy in case of non-registration of FIR under sec. 154(1)
(Sakiri Vasu v. State of U.P.2007 SC)
*Failure in the lodging of FIR by public servants in certain cases is punishable under section 166A (c) of IPC. For this failure minimum punishment is 6 months rigorous imprisonment and maximum punishment is 2 yrs. Section 166A was inserted by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013