First Information Report (Law in Motion – 15): Rupin Sharma, IPS

The "First Information Report" (Law in Motion - 15) is in continuation to the articles on ‘Law’, written by Shri Rupin Sharma, IPS, to educate people about the process of Law in matters of crime

Kohima, October 14 (NEx): The “First Information Report” (Law in Motion – 15) is in continuation to the articles on ‘Law’, written by Shri Rupin Sharma, IPS, to educate people about the process of Law in matters of crime to create awareness and bridge the gap between law and people;

Law in Motion – 15: First Information Report;

Having dealt with the law pertaining to FIRs (Section 154 of CrPC), it
may be worthwhile turning our attention to some other related aspects.

1. What Does lodging an FIR mean ?

In the simplest terms, an FIR is a report to the police about a cognizable offence or an attempt to commit one. It may be noted that attempts to commit offences are punishable and sometimes even preparatory acts are also made punishable by law. Thus, when an information about a cognizable offence (where police can arrest without warrant) is made, the O/C first determines whether the facts and circumstances narrated disclose commission of a cognizable offence and lodges an FIR.

If a cognizable offence is not made out, he can refer/advise the informer to approach the magistrate and seek orders for police to investigate.
In case the facts and circumstances disclose commission of a cognizable
offence as well as a non-cognizable one, the O/C shall treat the entire sequence as a cognizable one and investigate the matters.

An FIR is the first step which sets the law rolling for investigation. It is the initiation of investigation into an offence by the police.

2. What should the FIR contain – Expectations from Informer:

It is ironical that ignorance of law is no excuse, yet, whether an act/omission or facts constitute an offence, is let to the O/C to decide as per his discretion. Thus, there are innumerable cases where the complainants may have sought legal advice to ‘write a legally worded complaint’ where all the cognizable offences committed are listed out and linked to various acts/omissions, yet, even in such cases, it is the O/C who has a certain amount of discretion on whether to register an FIR or not.

Actually, strictly speaking when information about a cognizable offence is given, the O/C has no discretion to delay registration of an FIR – the CrPC makes it mandatory {shall being the word used in 154(1)} to register an FIR. Ideally speaking, FIR should be lodged in all such cases. But we do not live in
an ideal world.

-To lodge an FIR, besides the cognizability aspect, the following things should be included to the extent possible:

(a) Narration of the sequence of facts and events which form a crime – this
will help the O/C determine the cognizability;

(b) The modus operandi used for committing the offence;

(c) Names of the victim or victims;

(d) Names of the accused persons or suspects or their associates;

(e) Date and time (even a time period/span) over which an offence is
committed – especially if it is a continuing offence or the offence
continued over a period of time;

(f) Mention of the ‘instruments of crime’ i.e., any weapons or items including things like mobile phones or computers which may have been used – these will help police in linking the person to the crime and his role in it;

(g) Names of the witnesses if any or any other persons who are likely to know about the crime or accused or victims or the modus operandi;

-What should FIR contain – what a Police officer would do:

Once an informer gives report about a cognizable offence, the O/C has to
record that information or the substance of such information in the FIR Register (now Integrated Investigation Form – I) in writing.
The IIF-1 has a number of columns to be filled up, some of which are as follows:

1. Name of district, police station (PS), Year, FIR number and date of registration;

2. Act and Sections of law attracted by the FIR – there can be many such Acts and sections for a case;

3. (a) Occurrence of Offence –

i. Date/Time – from Date/Time to Date/time

ii. Information received at PS – Time and Date

iii. GDE reference number – GDE No and Date/Time.

4. Type of information – Written / Oral.

5. Place of occurrence – Distance and Direction from PS, Beat number, Address. In case of occurrence being outside the PS jurisdiction, then the name of PS and District.

6. Complainant – Name, F/Name, DoB, Address, Contact number, Passport Number and details etc;

7. Details of known/suspected/unknown accused persons with full particulars (attach separate sheets if necessary);

8. Details in reporting to the police by complainant/informant – full reasons and details to be given.

9. Particulars of Properties stolen;

10. Total value of property stolen;

11. Inquest Report/Unnatural Death report, if any.

12. FIR Contents – description of the case and sequence of events – a descriptive sheet may be attached;

13. Action Taken by O/C:

– Details of the officer who is endorsed the case for investigation have to be mentioned;

– Refusal of investigation – grounds have to be given to the complainant/informer;

– Transferred to other PS/District.

All this information in the IIF-1 has to be completed to the extent possible. It may not be possible to fill-up all the columns but the O/C should endeavour to complete as many details as possible.

Inferences from the IIF-1:

(a) Informing the police about a cognizable offence (whether in writing or orally) does not mean an FIR has been registered. It merely means police has been informed;

(b) An FIR is supposed to have been registered only when the O/C or PS
has filled up the Integrated Investigation Form -1 (IIF-1). This form will have the words “First Information Report” written at the TOP in the centre, followed by words “Under Section 154 CrPC” in the next line;

(c) This IIF-1 will have a mention of the District, the PS name and date and time and also an FIR number (eg 1234/2020- where 1234 is the FIR number and 2020 is the year) besides a reference to the GD number and date on which the GDE was made. Sometimes, there can be a date/time gap between the FIR date and GDE number;

(d) The IIF-1 and FIR will also mention details of Sections of IPC and/or other Local or Special Laws under which the Crime is registered for investigation. These indicate the provisions of law and the cognizable offences which the police feels get attracted for a particular crime. It is these provisions/crimes (some or all of them) which the investigating officer would endeavour to collect evidence about to link the accused with the incident;

(e) The IIF-1 also provides for registration of an FIR when a cognizable offence is brought to the notice of a PS, even when the offence committed is not within his local jurisdiction. It is not the duty of the informer to go to the ‘PS having jurisdiction’.

The informer can report to any PS if he comes to know about a cognizable case and the O/C of the PS shall register an FIR. Once the FIR is registered, it is the duty of the O/C to sort out the jurisdiction issues and transfer the FIR to the concerned PS. Even the section 154 of CrPC does not talk about jurisdiction issues. It merely talks about cognizable offence.

(f) ZERO FIR – The concept of ZERO FIR was evolved to cater to situations where FIRs are registered at the PSs which do not have jurisdiction. The PS to which a report is made of a cognizable offence, it’s O/C has NO OPTION but to register an FIR. This FIR, sans jurisdiction is called ZERO FIR. A ZERO FIR is then immediately transferred to the PS which would have territorial jurisdiction over the place where the offence is said to have taken place.

This provision in law has been incorporated so as not to inconvenience a victim or informer who wants to report a crime to the police. It is the duty of the police to sort out the jurisdiction issues.

(g) Lastly, the Refusal of investigation – grounds have to be given to the

Strictly, Police has no option to but to register FIRs in cognizable cases. Police may refuse to investigate certain cases e.g., for reasons of jurisdiction or being petty matters or complexity of cases which cannot be handled at the PS level.

However, when the PS or O/C does not investigate, the informer/complainant have to be informed the reasons for not doing so. These reasons should be communicated in writing to the
complainant, preferably so that the complainant/informer can have
recourse to redressal either from senior officers or courts, if required.

(h) The FIR (IIF-1) also mentions clearly that the FIR has been correctly
recorded and read over to the informant/complainant and copy is given free of cost to the informant.

At the cost of repetition, let me reiterate that a GD Entry is not an FIR. An FIR necessarily leads to the filling up of IIF-1 form with police and would definitely contain an FIR number.

It is the duty of the PS to ensure that a copy of the FIR is given to the
informant. Ideally, a signature of receipt would be best. However, nowadays, it is not uncommon for the complainant/informant to capture a photograph of the FIR registered on a mobile phone or get it by whatsapp or email etc.

– By Rupin Sharma IPS