When under Section 154(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, a First Information Report (FIR) is recorded, by virtue of Section 207 of the Code, a copy of it ought to be furnished to the accused by the Magistrate. An FIR may be elucidated as a crucial piece of written information provided to a police officer with respect to an offence that is cognizable in nature. Such information must be outlined in most initial instances of the complaint by the victim or anyone acting as his/her representative. The investigation which is conducted in lieu of the same is dependent on this information.
The actual reason behind filing an FIR is to facilitate the workings of criminal law. The aim is also to kickstart the investigation process of the crime alleged to be committed. This allows for the speedy collection of all the relevant evidence and proof. Ultimately, the aim is also to safeguard and protect the interests of the accused against belated additions or alterations to the account of events initially provided in the complaint.
Essentials of a Valid FIR
In the case of Mani Mohan Ghose v. Emperor AIR 1931 Cal 745, the Court enumerated the essential features of a valid FIR: it should be a crucial piece of written information; once the written account is submitted, it ought to be compressed into a further concise form by the concerned police official and; the crime alleged must be that of a cognizable one.
Procedural Aspects under Section 154 of the Code
The information provided and jotted ought to be read aloud to the individual who has lodged the complaint so that it can be attested by him/her. The information must be documented in a state government-authorized book and a copy of the same should be handed to the complainant for free. If the police officers present rebuffs the complaint and does not document the information, the aggrieved individual may approach the Police Superintendent who, if convinced about the gravity of the cognizable offence, shall implement all his powers possible with respect to setting the requisite procedures in motion with regard to the offence alleged.
Delay in Filing FIR
In the event of a delay in filing the FIR, it ought to be established that the delay was reasonable and with a valid justification, failing which could arouse suspicion of a heavily-planned concocted fiction by the complainant in question. However, if the reason for such delay is satisfactory, the FIR does not cease to possess its evidentiary value.
- In the case of Raghbir Singh v. The State of Haryana 1980 AIR 1087, 1980 SCR (3) 277, the Court observed that heading to the hospital in order to save the victim’s life instead of immediately filing an FIR amounted to an understandable and valid justification for the delay in filing the FIR.
- In Harpal Singh v. State of Himachal Pradesh 1976 CriLJ 162, the Court held that a delay of ten days in filing the FIR can be considered as reasonably justified on account of the fact the family members needed time to ponder upon whether the instance at hand should be brought before the court or not.
- In the case of P.Sirajuddin v. State of Madras 1971 AIR 520, 1970 SCR (3) 931, the Court stated that it is imperative to procure the earliest possible written information of an alleged crime from the victim before he/she forgets the relevant details of the event or worse, the FIR is concocted to suit the prosecution’s preferred narrative.
- In the case of Devendra & Ors v. State of U.P & Anr. 2009(7)SCALE 613, the Court observed that the High courts cannot hear a case if the allegations in the FIR itself do not indicate the commission of any offence and that superior courts shall not encourage any such frivolous cases.
An FIR is an important and incomparable procedural aspect of Criminal Law in India. It aims to kickstart the workings of criminal law procedures in motion in order to gain and establish complete information about the crime alleged, follow suitable measures to trace evidence, and the accused’s side of the matter before the investigation authorities so that justice is served.