Many people in our society think that filing First Information Report (FIR), approaching a police is tricky/tardy process that may screw up their time and life and may think that they might end up with harassment. Also in some cases sometimes the police refuses to lodge an FIR or may try to tweak to their own necessities. For those who think the same the Indian law provides adequate option to go one step further while lodging an FIR. Here in this article I will discuss the important steps regarding FIR.
Who can register an FIR?
Any individual who acts as an informant may lodge a report about the commission of an offence, even if an informant may not know the name of the victim/how the occurrence took place or the name of the accused/assailant, can lodge an FIR.
A first informant need not necessarily be an eyewitness to disclose in great detail all aspects of the offence committed. What is important is that the information given to the police must disclose the commission of a cognizable offence, and the Police officer after perusing the information must suspect the commission of the cognizable offence.
Though FIR is not defined in C.r,P.C, it generally means an information made by the informant/eyewitness or by any other person who has the knowledge of any cognizable offence committed by the accused. It’s a report given to the concerned police officer on the basis of which the Police Officer can start investigation.
FIR is a pertinent document which sets the Criminal Law in motion, which means the police start investigation, when information of cognizable offence is reported.
FIR can be made only when any offence is cognizable, which means, those offences which are serious in nature and where a Police officer can investigate/arrest a person without warrant and without magistrate permission. Common example of cognizable offences are Murder, rape, Criminal assault Kidnapping, theft etc.
Procedure when a police registers an FIR.
Under Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Police is duty bound to register FIR and is required to reduce information (if given orally) in writing by the Officer-in-charge and has to be signed by the person giving it. Courts in several occasion has held that the information should not be vague or fictitious but should be credible enough to enable police to start the investigation. Section 203 of the Indian Penal Code also regards false information or misinformation as a punishable offence. Once the police records the oral information in writing, the same has to be read over to the informant and also has to be entered into the record maintained as General Diary (GD) and subsequently the copy of the information has to be given to the informant free of cost.
What if the information provided does not disclose the cognizable offence?
Even if the information given by the informant does not prima facie disclose the cognizable offence then the police is duty bound to hold the preliminary inquiry to ascertain the nature of the offence. After the preliminary inquiry, if the police officer does not find merit/substance in the case then the police officer may close the complaint upon disclosing the reason for closing the complaint. Further, the police shall supply the copy of the closure report to the first informant not later than one week.
Information on Non-Cognizable offence
Under this category of offence police has no authority to arrest a person without warrant, in order to facilitate arrest first police has to obtain permission from the concerned magistrate.
Non-Cognizable offences are less serious in nature; an informant has to lodge NCR, i.e. Non-Cognizable report. Common example of Non-Cognizable case are Cheating, Forgery, Defamation, Bigamy etc.,
What if the police refuses to lodge FIR?
Approach Superintendent of Police:
Under Section 154(3) of Cr.Pc, if any Police officer refuses to register an FIR in Cognizable offence within the jurisdiction, the aggrieved person can approach 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.
Make a Complaint to Judicial Magistrate:
After exhausting the remedies available with the police and the Superintendent of police, if the informant is unsuccessful in lodging the FIR or if the Police or Superintendent of Police refuses then the informant/aggrieved person can opt out the remedies available under Section 156(3) CrPc, whereby the informant/aggrieved person can request the Magistrate court to direct the police officer to register an FIR and apprehend the accused person. The Magistrate with its discretion can exercise his power after applying its judicial mind; it may either dismiss it under Section 203 C.r.P.C if the perverted litigant tries to harass the fellow citizens or either the Magistrate will direct the police officer to register FIR if the information is credible and inspires confidence of the court.
So, in the course of time if the Magistrate finds that there is a Prima facie case and credible information, he will direct the police to investigate the case.
If the police officer feels that the information provided is not credible or the information is incomplete that itself is not the ground to refuse to register the FIR. In other words, reasonableness or credibility is not the condition precedent for registration of the case.
In case, if despite the Magistrate’s direction the police fails to lodge an FIR within one week from the date of the Magistrate’s decision then the citizen has the right to move the High Court under Section 482 of CrPc for seeking the High Court direction to initiate disciplinary action against the concerned police officer and also is liable to contempt of Court proceedings in view of the Constitution Bench Judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Lalita Kumari, 2013. The aggrieved party can also request the police officer to provide the information of the local Legal Service Authority to seek assistance regarding their case.
For those who feel that their voice has been subdued, for those who feel that their freedom has been curtailed, for those who feel that their dignity has been destructed or their life is under danger, such individuals can play a proactive role by just stepping one step ahead by registering FIR and set Criminal Law in Motion.
Freedom and security will prevail if we bring the perpetrators under the scanner of the fundamental laws.
The information in this article is intended to provide general advice; any advice to specific circumstances may be sought according to the facts and circumstances of the case.
By Pramit Chettri
The author is an Advocate who hails from Malbassey, Budang village under Soreng Sub-Division, West Sikkim and is currently practising law before the Supreme Court of India and Delhi High Court. The author can be contacted via email@example.com
NB: Views/Opinions expressed in the article or write up is purely of the author or writer. For any queries or contradictions the author can be contacted in his/her email id.