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What is FIR or First Information Report?

An FIR / First Information Report is a report of a crime filed with the police to record and initiate the investigation process. However, an FIR cannot be registered for all crimes, and so it is important for one to know the crimes and circumstances in relation to which an FIR may be registered.

For which Offences the FIR can be filed?

Criminal offences are classified into two categories depending on the degree of seriousness / cognizance i.e. cognizable and non-cognizable offence.

Cognizable means to take note of or to take cognizance of. An offence is classified as cognizable if it is of a serious nature, e.g. murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, etc. In case of cognizable offences, the police can arrest an accused or suspect without a warrant (i.e. without an order from a court).

Non cognizable offences are minor offences, e.g. defamation, intimidation etc. In case of non-cognizable offences, the police can neither investigate nor arrest the suspect for a crime without an order/ warrant from the court.

An FIR is filed only in cases of cognizable offences. Non cognizable offences may also be reported to police but the police will not file an FIR for these offences. Instead, they will register the complaint in the Daily Diary Report (DDR).

Whether an offence is cognizable or not can be found out from the 1st Schedule of Code of Criminal Procedure. As per the schedule, theft is a cognizable offence without any qualification.

How to file an FIR?

When an offence of a serious nature occurs, it is natural that one would want to inform the police so that the matter can be investigated. In order to do so, it is necessary to file an FIR.

Who can file an FIR?

It is not necessary that only a victim of a crime can file an FIR in relation to it. The following persons may file an FIR:

1. The victim or any person on behalf of victim;

2. Any person who has witnessed the crime or has heard of the crime. In case the person has only heard of the crime and wants to file an FIR, then he must mention the source from where he/she has heard of the crime; and

3. An officer in-charge of a police station.

Hence, any of 1, 2 or 3 above, then go to the police station closest to the area where the crime has occurred and ask for the person-in-charge of the police station. After finished narrating the events surrounding the crime, if the person in- charge of the police station (not lower than the rank of head constable) is satisfied that the crime which took place is a cognizable offence and it is his duty to register the FIR.

Either giving a written statement or making an oral statement given to the officer in charge to write it down in the FIR register is allowed. The officer in- charge is under an obligation to read over the statement written in the FIR register to the person reporting and then that person must put your thumb impression or sign the FIR register.

Generally four copies of an FIR are made, one copy each is sent to the Magistrate, second to the Superintendent of police and the third will be handed over to the person reporting. The original is retained, for record, in the police station.

Things must be considered while registering an FIR?

There are a few things you should keep in mind if you are filing an FIR:

1. An FIR is recorded in first person, e.g. I was present on the scene of crime, I saw him taking out his gun.

2.The FIR should be registered immediately after the happening of crime. If there is any delay in registering an FIR, the reasons for the delay must be explained. Try to give a detailed description of the accused and other witnesses so that they can be easily identified.

3. Try to give as much information as possible about the scene of crime, e.g. the kind of weapon used, any physical damage caused to property, the date, time and place of the incident the question.

4. Use simple language and not ambiguous, i.e., the meaning should be clear and obvious. Also make sure that nothing is left out with any relevant facts as FIR once registered cannot be modified again. Do not lie regarding any fact as it is a punishable offence under section 177 and 182 of Indian Penal Code.

The things to be mentioned in the FIR:

1. the date and time of reporting of the FIR.

2. the date and time of the occurrence of the crime.

3. All known facts of the crime.

What are consequences if the police refuses to file an FIR?

The person in- charge of a police station cannot refuse to register an FIR. It does not matter whether or not the information given is genuine. It is the statutory duty of a police officer to register an FIR whenever any information pertains to the cognizable offence is reported to him/her.

In case the person in charge of a police station fails or refuses to register the FIR, then the person intends to file FIR can approach superintendent of police who will either himself or through any other officer get the FIR registered.

To inform the Superintendent of such non registration via a written complaint which may be sent to the Superintendent of Police through post. This is an effective method of ensuring that your plea is heard and don’t forget to mention the name of the police officer who refused to file an FIR.

Reporting non-cognizable offence?

Non cognizable offence can also be reported to the police. This is registered in the daily diary register (DDR). After the crime has been so recorded, a signed and stamped copy of the DDR is handed over to the person reporting.

However, the police will not take any action on the matter without the direction of a magistrate. If it is needed that the matter should be investigated be the police, then the person reporting can obtain an order from the magistrate directing the police to investigate in the matter. It is advisable to go to the appropriate court in whose jurisdiction the matter falls and obtain the permission from the appropriate magistrate (who is competent to hear the matter) and request the court to pass an order for police to investigate the matter.

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