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The information given to a police officer and reduced to writing as required by the following sections is known as the "first information" and the corresponding report is understood to mean the "first information report (FIR)"

Section 154 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides that every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence (i.e. an offence for which a person may be arrested even without warrants), if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station,shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction, be read over to the informant, 
every such information whether given in writing or reduced to writing, shall be signed by the person giving it, substance thereof shall be entered in a book in a prescribed manner.


Section  154 (2) provides that a copy of the information as recorded under sub section (1) shall be given free of cost to the informant.

Section  154 (3) provides that if the information is not recorded by the police officer, the informant can approach the Superintendent of Police by sending him the substance of the information by post. Such officer can investigate the case himself or direct an investigation by his subordinate officer.
Where any information disclosing a cognizable offence is laid before the officer-in-charge of a police station, he has no option but to register the case and thereafter start investigations. 

The principal object of the FIR from the point of view of the informant is to set the criminal law in motion and from the point of view of the investigating authorities is to obtain information about the alleged criminal activity so as to be able to take suitable steps to trace and bring to book the guilty.

The word "information" means something in the nature of a complaint or accusation, or at least information of a crime, given with the object of putting the police in motion in order to investigate, as distinguished from information obtained by the police when actively investigating a crime.
In determining whether a report is or is not a FIR, regard should be had to the following:-

It should not be vague or indefinite but an information of facts showing commission of a cognizable offence enabling the police or giving scent to take up investigation. 

It may be given by any one, not necessarily the person aggrieved or by someone on his behalf. 

It need not name any one as offender or witness; nor need it state the circumstances of the commission of the crime. It is the first information, which sets the police in motion. 

No duration of time is fixed as reasonable for giving information to the police.


Mere delay, therefore, in lodging the FIR is not necessarily, as a matter of law, fatal to the prosecution. Where delay in filing the FIR in a rape case had taken place, the Court was satisfied by the explanation that since the honour of a family was involved, the complaint was delayed. 

FIR does not constitute substantive evidence (cannot be used as evidence in itself), and it can, however, be used as a previous statement for the purpose of corroboration or contradiction of its maker. The FIR can in no means be utilised for contradicting or discrediting other witnesses.
FIR by the Accused to the police stands on the same footing as an information by another person except that the confessional part, if any, must be excluded.

Section 155 deals with information relating to the commission of a non-cognizable offence (arrest with a warrant). S155 (1) provides that a police officer receiving information of a non-cognizable offence must enter the substance of it in a book kept in such form as the State Government may prescribe and then refer the informant to the Magistrate.
The word "offence" includes an intended offence or offence imminently likely to take place

S155 (2) provides that a police officer must not investigate a non-cognizable case without an order of a Magistrate having the power to try the case or commit it for trial.

Court has held that a Magistrate should not order investigation in a non-cognizable offence arbitrarily and capriciously. He must apply his mind to the facts and see whether there are reasonable grounds for believing that an offence has been committed.

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