F.I.R. – What? How? If not, then what?

First Information Report[1], or more commonly known by its acronym, “F.I.R.”, is a tool of the criminal law in India which pushes the Police into action. So, what is this tool of the criminal justice system that initiates the criminal proceedings by pushing the Police into action?

In simple words, F.I.R. means a complaint. It is the first information that the police receives about the commission of an offence. However, there’s one element that should be fulfilled to be able to register an F.I.R., and i.e., the offence for which it is to be file should be a cognizable offence. Cognizable offence means an offence for which the Police may arrest a person, as per the First Schedule of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973(Cr.P.C.) or as under any other law for the time being in force, without a warrant, like rioting[2], bribery[3], murder[4], dowry death[5], etc.

As soon as the Police receive the first information about the commission of a cognizable offence, they are bound to register the F.I.R. and investigate the said offence without any unreasonable delay. And it’s a simple process to register an F.I.R. How? Any person can, in accordance with the law for the time being in force, inform the police about the cognizable offence and, then, it is registered in by the Police by noting down all the information that they receive without any change, manipulations or any content deliberately left out. Once that is done, the Police are bound to read out the contents of the F.I.R. to the complainant. A copy of the F.I.R. is to be given to the complainant free of cost. So, F.I.R. is a very significant document which puts the Police in action. However, it should be noted that F.I.R. is not admissible as evidence in court because there are possibilities of the information recorded in the F.I.R. being false or made under coercion or influence. It can only be used as a reference.

But, there have been many instances whereby the Police have refused to file the F.I.R. or have manipulated the information in such a manner that the offence was made to look like a non-cognizable rather than a cognizable offence. Why? It’s because the productivity of the functioning of the Police in a particular jurisdiction was inferred as per the number of F.I.Rs. registered. If there were less number of F.I.Rs. registered that means less number of crimes in the concerned Police’s jurisdiction, which further meant that the Police of that jurisdiction was doing a good job. And if more number of F.I.Rs., then that means the Police was doing a bad job. For the purpose of the goodwill, the Police manipulated the F.I.R. on many instances. They even refused to register the F.I.R. for the same reasons.

Now the question is, “What do I do if the Police don’t register the F.I.R or if they manipulate it?” The answer to this question lies in Cr.P.C. Sec 154 of the Code states that if the Police refuse to register the F.I.R. in case of cognizable offences, then the person complaining may in writing and through post inform the Superintendent of Police or. If the Superintendent is satisfied that the information given by any person constitutes a cognizable offence, then, he may investigate the matter himself or direct an investigation to be made by any police officer subordinate to him.

Another remedy lies in our human rights. When the Police refuse to register an F.I.R., they deprive a person of justice in turn violating their human right to live a dignified life[6]. This violation occurs due to the Police inaction. Since it a human rights violation, the aggrieved person or anyone on such person’s behalf may approach the State Human Rights Commission set up in each state of India and file a case against the concerned Police for violating his/her human right due to Police inaction. And this process is completely free of cost, without any extra effort to be taken by the complainant. As once the complaint is filed in the State Human Rights Commission, the Commission will carry forward with the proceedings, with or without the complainant being present for the hearings.

Remember folks, if you face Police inaction at any stage, you will deprived of your human right of access to justice, and when that happens, do take further action. The laws in India have empowered us enough to hold the Police accountable for their lack of action. It’s just a matter of awareness. Now that you are aware, do take further action.

[1] Sec. 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973

[2] Sec. 147 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860

[3] Sec. 171-E of the Indian Penal Code, 1860

[4] Sec. 300 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860

[5] Sec. 304-B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860

[6] Art. 21 of the Indian Constitution


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Headshot - Vidhya Kumarswamy

VIDHYA KUMARSWAMY

Vidhya Kumarswamy is a Law student pursuing B.B.A. LL.B. (Hons.), has a craving for knowledge and passionate about writing just as she’s a passionate foodie. Also, she’s a blogger and an Otaku.

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