The information regarding commission of an offense has to be entered in a book available with the police. The information so recorded is called First Information Report i.e. F.I.R. It is an information to the police station at first in point of time that an offense has been committed and on the basis of which the investigation is commenced. Vague, cryptic and indefinite telephonic information cannot be treated as F.I.R. But it need not be an encyclopedia containing every minute detail of the offense (Manoj v. State of Maharashtra (JT 1999 (2) SC 58).
There cannot be two F.I.R.s against the same accused in respect of the same offense. But rival versions in respect of the same episode may take the shape of two different F.I.R. and investigation can be carried on under both of them by the same investigating agency. Registering of F.I.R. includes only the process of entering the substance of the information relating to the commission of the cognizable offense in a book kept by the officer in charge of the police station.
The information may relate to the commission of either cognizable offense or non-cognizable offense. Section 154 of Criminal Procedure Code deals with the cognizable offenses and Section 155 deals with the non-cognizable offenses.
The book, mentioned in section 154 of CrPC, regarding cognizable offenses, is commonly known as Formal F.I.R. whereas the book, mentioned in section 155 of CrPC, regarding non-cognizable offenses, is commonly known as General Diary book.
Evidentiary Value of F.I.R. and effect of Delay
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India held in one case that the first information report is never treated as a substantive piece of evidence. It can only be used for contradicting or corroborating its maker when he appears in court as a witness. Its value must always depend on the facts and circumstances of a given case. The F.I.R. can only discredit the testimony of its maker. It can by no means be utilized for contradicting or discrediting the other witnesses. F.I.R not being a substantive piece of evidence cannot encroach upon the periphery of the evidence tendered by other witnesses with regard to the incident.
The law has not fixed any time for lodging the F.I.R. In different Judicial pronouncements it has come out that the F.I.R. should be filed as promptly as possible and if delayed, the explanation for delay should be given in the F.I.R because delay in lodging the F.I.R often results in embellishment, which is a creature of an afterthought. On account of delay, the F.I.R. not only bereft of the advantage of spontaneity, but danger creeps with the introduction of a colored version or exaggeration. Where the first information report regarding cognizable offense was lodged after considerable delay, it was held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that it introduces serious infirmity in the prosecution case against the accused.
If the delay is unreasonable and not satisfactorily explained, it becomes fatal for the prosecution case. But where the delay is reasonable and was satisfactorily explained, the delay cannot by itself be a ground for disbelieving and disregarding the entire prosecution case. (Apren Joseph v. State of Kerala (AIR 1973 SC 1)
While deciding a famous rape case, where there was delay of 10 days and by way of explanation it was argued that as honor of family was involved its members had to decide whether to take the matter to court or not Hon’ble Supreme Court accepted the explanation as reasonable. (Harpal Singh v. State of H.P. (AIR 1981 SC 361)
Contributed by – Ashwin Mohan,
Army Law School
- Criminal Procedure Code by RV Kelkar, Eastern Book Company