A majority of us in India are ignorant of even the basic legal procedures like filing the FIR. And with rise of crimes, especially against woman and children today, it is essential today to be informed and educated about these basic simple procedures.
The First Information Report (FIR) is the first and the most important document to initiate criminal proceedings.
Let’s try to answer below the basic queries and clarity needed around FIR :
What is an FIR?
An FIR is a written document prepared by the police when they receive information about the commission of a cognizable offence. It is also one of the most important supportive evidences on which the entire structure of the prosecution case is built-up.
Who can file an FIR?
An FIR can be filed by the victim, a witness to the incident or any person with knowledge of the incident.
Why file an FIR?
An FIR is the document which initiates criminal proceedings against the wrongdoer. In instances where there is damage to property, it is very much necessary to claim insurance and to protect yourself from any liability that could arise from the misuse of your property. The purpose of an FIR is –
a. To inform the Magistrate of the District and the District Superintendent of Police, who are responsible for the peace and safety of the District, of the offense reported at the Police Station
b. To make known to the Judicial Officers before whom the case will be ultimately tried, about facts that have been shared at the time of registering an FIR and the evidence, based on which the investigation commenced
c. To set the criminal law in motion (this is from the point of view of the informant)
d. To obtain information about the alleged criminal activity so as to be able to take suitable steps for tracing and bringing the guilty party to light (this is from the point of view of the investigating officer)
What instances can prompt the filing of an FIR?
FIR can be registered by the police only for cognizable offenses or those offenses where the police have the power to arrest the accused without a court warrant. Cognizable offenses include, murder, child sexual abuse, rape, theft, attack, etc.
When should you file an FIR?
Generally, the FIR has to be registered at the earliest point of time after the incident and if some delay occurs in filing of the same then it has to be explained. A delay in registration has the chances of reducing the credibility of the same because it may give rise to a suspicion as to whether it was an after-thought or a fabricated version.
Where should you register an FIR?
Ideally, the FIR should be registered at the police station under whose geographical limits or jurisdiction the crime has taken place. But this rule is not concrete. In emergency cases, you can register the file at any police station and then transfer the investigation to the appropriate station. Also, in emergency situations where one can’t go in person and register an FIR, police can register an FIR based on a phone call or e-mail. Even if you are away from the place of incident or are unaware of the right jurisdiction, you can successfully file an FIR in any police station. This type of FIR is termed as a Zero FIR.
How does the procedure work?
The procedure for filing an FIR is prescribed in Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
a. When the information about the commission of a cognizable offence is given orally, the police must write it down.
b. It is your right as a person giving the information or making a complaint to demand that the information recorded by the police is read over to you.
c. Once the information has been recorded by the police, it must be signed by the person giving the information.
d. You should sign the report only after verifying that the information recorded by the police is as per the details given by you.
e. People who cannot read or write must put their left thumb impression on the document after being satisfied that it is a correct record.
f. Always ask for a copy of the FIR, if the officials do not give it to you. It is your right to get it free of cost.