It is the duty of a police officer to record the complaint that is brought to the police station and this is formally known as the First Information Report (FIR). All though it is to be mandatorily done by the police, it’s very often to see flaws committed from both sides (police and complainants). The article discusses the… Read More »

It is the duty of a police officer to record the complaint that is brought to the police station and this is formally known as the First Information Report (FIR). All though it is to be mandatorily done by the police, it’s very often to see flaws committed from both sides (police and complainants). The article discusses the various elements of FIR and the common problems faced in registering them. Introduction The First Point of bringing a crime to the notice of the authorities is...

It is the duty of a police officer to record the complaint that is brought to the police station and this is formally known as the First Information Report (FIR). All though it is to be mandatorily done by the police, it’s very often to see flaws committed from both sides (police and complainants). The article discusses the various elements of FIR and the common problems faced in registering them.


The First Point of bringing a crime to the notice of the authorities is lodging a complaint with the police authorities. Senior police officers and courts have time and again emphasized that free registration of crime is mandatory, yet compliance is not complete.

A Prompt lodging of information of the commission of offence at the first available opportunity is essential for a fair investigation. Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 deals with the provision with respect to information of cognizable offence.

An FIR can be lodged by the victim, a witness, or any person with knowledge of the incident.

The police can register FIRs only for cognizable offences, where they have the power to arrest without a warrant such as murder, rape, theft etc. For non-cognizable offences defamation, the police cannot arrest without a warrant and thus cannot register an FIR. The complaint is sent to the Judicial Magistrate for action.

It is ideal that the FIR be registered in the police station within whose geographical limits the crime took place. But in case of an emergency, there is nothing against reporting the crime at the nearest police station which can later be transferred to the appropriate station limits.

Moreover, it is not always necessary to go in person to register the FIR, the police can register an FIR based on a phone call or e-mail.

In case of offence against women, the information has to be recorded by a woman police officer or any woman officer. A copy of the FIR should be given to the informant free of cost.

In Jiju Lukose v. the State of Kerala[1], the court held that the FIR is a public document but under 8(1) of the RTI Act, it may not be disclosed till the investigation is complete. But it can be claimed by the Informant and the accused as per legal provisions under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 as it is their legal right.

What is the procedure for registration of an FIR?

According to Section 154(1) Cr.P.C., when the officer-in-charge of a police station receives information about the commission of a cognizable offence, it is the duty of the said officer to record the same in the book that has been prescribed to them by the State Government for this purpose.

If the information is in oral form, then the officer must write it down under his supervision. As soon it is done, the content must be read to the informant and then get it signed by the informant once he is satisfied by the same.

Then it would be entered under the daily diary register. However, if the information has already been given in the form of a written complaint which is signed by the informant, then the entry could be made in the daily diary register straight away.

This section further provides that if an offence under section 326A, 326B, 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376E or 509 of the Indian Penal Code, has been alleged to have committed against a woman, and the said woman herself is the informant in the case, such information is to be recorded by a female police officer.

Moreover, if the victim has acquired either physical or mental disability which could be temporary or permanent, then the recording of the information must be done at the victim’s place or any other place as per victim’s convenience.

Furthermore, as per Section 154(2) Cr.P.C., the police officer is supposed to provide a copy of the FIR to the informant free of cost.

Importance of FIR

Usually, an FIR is not evidence of the facts which it mentions. In case of inconsistency between the statement made in FIR and evidence produced at the time of trial, it would only discredit the evidence at trial but will not make the statement made in the FIR to be considered as evidence.

Apart from the exception of dying declaration, an FIR is said to support the investigation and it need not contain all the information. However, if there is a delay in registering an FIR, there may be a miscarriage of justice as there is a delay in the investigation to begin which may give the offender an opportunity to destroy evidence or to escape.

Common problems in filing FIR

Registration of FIR can be considered the first step in the investigation as it aids the investigating officer by providing information and a first-hand statement of the crime. One of the major issues concerning the registration process is the delay.

Delay in filing FIR can be of three types when the delay is caused by the complainant or informant in getting the FIR registered with the Police, delay on part of the police in getting the FIR registered and when the delay is in dispatching the FIR to the magistrate.

  • Delay In Lodging FIR By Informant

There is no span of time which is fixed either by the law-making body or the judiciary for giving data of wrongdoing to the police. Nonetheless, it has been seen that FIR must be documented within a reasonable time. The questioned to be addressed here is what exactly constitutes ‘reasonable time’.

The impact of delay in registering the FIR questions the credibility of the clarification of facts and testimonials. Although delay in filing FIR does not result in quashing the FIR but nevertheless gives rise to suspicion which puts the court on guard to look for the possible motive.

  • Delay By Police in Recording FIR By Police In Charge

It has been manifested clearly that if the information disclosing a cognizable offence is laid before a police officer in charge, satisfying the requirements of Section 154(1) of CrPC the said officer has entered the details in the prescribed form in the very instance rather than looking into the genuineness of the information.

In State of AP v. Punati Ramulu[2], the Supreme Court observed that

investigating officer has deliberately failed to record the FIR on receipt of information of a cognizable offence of nature, as in this case, and had prepared the FIR after reaching the spot after due deliberations, consultations and discussions, the conclusion becomes inescapable that the investigation is tainted and it would, therefore, be unsafe to rely upon such a tainted investigation, as one would not know where the police officer would have stooped to fabricate evidence and create false clues”.

In the case of Mohindro v. State of Punjab[3], the petitioner approached the police for registering a case but the police never registered a case therefore she approached the high court. Such incidents are black marks in the work history of the police officer also.

In fact, our country has witnessed numerous cases where the complainant had to directly approach the courts as the State police refused to register an FIR due to several reasons and the courts often transfer the case to CBI due to the inability of the police.

There have been gross allegations and true instances especially in rape and missing cases where the police made offensive and objectionable remarks about the woman rather than registering the FIR which is their actual duty.

  • Delay By Police In Forwarding FIR To Magistrate

The police in cases like theft are often reluctant to file the FIR, instead, they lodge a non-cognizable report(NCR) which does not require them to investigate immediately. There is no time limit for sending the NCR to a magistrate for an order of investigation so there is laxity in this matter. Many a time the NCR is never sent or once it is sent, it would have been too late as the evidence of the crime would have become completely traceless.

Remedies in Law

Remedies to citizens for when the police personal refuses to register are available in law.

Section 154 (3) Cr.PC provides that if an officer in charge of a police station refuses to register the FIR, then the citizen may approach the Superintendent of Police, further, any magistrate empowered under section 190 Cr.P.C who may also order an investigation in any case of cognizable offence.

A five Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice of India once considered the question if “a police officer is bound to register a First Information Report (FIR) upon receiving any information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence under Section 154 in Lalita Kumari v. State of U.P[4].

The Bench noted that registration of First Information Report is mandatory under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation.

If the information received does not disclose a cognizable offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted only to ascertain whether the cognizable offence is disclosed or not. The Supreme Court issued the eight guidelines regarding the registration of FIR.

However, the judgement received wide criticisms as it ruled out the duty of the police to hold a preliminary enquiry to ascertain whether there is a prima facie case of commission of a cognizable offense or not before filing an FIR as held in Sevi v. State of Tamil Nadu[5] and Binay Kumar Singh v. State of Bihar[6].


  1. Punishment For Non-Registration Of FIR: Although Section 221 of IPC provides for punishment for a public servant intentionally omitting to apprehend or keep in confinement any person charged with or liable to be apprehended for an offence or helps such person to escape, it does not specifically make a mention about the refusal to file an FIR. Therefore, an explicit mention of punishment for non-registration of FIR is needed.
  2. E- FIR: The facility for online FIR should be made mandatory in all the States across the country and for this, a new section has to be inserted in CrPC. This would not only enhance the ease of filing an FIR, but it would be more transparent and accurate.
  3. Awareness: The public should be made aware of the procedures of registering an FIR. Rather than getting sacred, they should be encouraged to report the crime and obviously, reforms should be brought about in the behaviour of police personals as well.
  4. Fixation Of Time Limit For Forwarding Report To Magistrate: The CrPC does not provide a time limit under section 154 or 156 to send the report to the magistrate. The law in this regard should be made stricter where delay in sending report to magistrate should also be explained by the police and penal provisions for unreasonable delay in forwarding report to magistrate should also be provided.


Refusal to register FIRs no matter how barbaric the crime, has become a common sight nowadays. Whatever may be the reason, it is the victim who suffers who already has been through trauma due to the commission of an offence that is put through the whole agony once again when they denied the justice they deserve. It is with no dispute that this act of the police is one amongst the most atrocious and they shouldn’t go unpunished due to the lack of laws.


  • The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, Available Here
  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860, Available Here
  • Hanif Qureshi, Whether India Is Ready for Online FIRs, Available Here
  • Raj Kumar Yadav, First Information Report and Delay in Registration of a Case: A Study of Judicial Trends, Available Here

[1] 2016 (334) ELT 504 (Ker)

[2] AIR 1993 SC 2644

[3] AIR 2001 SC 2113

[4] AIR 2012 SC 1515

[5] 1981 Supp SCC 43

[6] (1997) 1 SCC 283

  1. Law Library: Notes and Study Material for LLB, LLM, Judiciary and Entrance Exams
  2. Legal Bites Academy – Ultimate Test Prep Destination
Updated On 16 Jun 2021 10:25 PM GMT
Rajeswari Rajesh

Rajeswari Rajesh

Next Story