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The article gives an account of the things to be done if the police don’t register your FIR. In the Indian Legal system, a Criminal offence so disclosed is first recognized by and is recorded in a document called the FIR (First Information Report).
Filing of an FIR defined as the first step with which the legal machinery springs into action. Thus it is a matter of grave importance that the officials concerned for its filing do accordingly within the preferred framework provided by the law failing of which legal action could be taken.
About FIR (First Information Report)
The information given by any person to the police of an offence which the police is empowered to investigate under the Code (Cognizable Offence), is called ‘first information’. Under Section 154, this information must be reduced to writing and the police officer must make a note of the receipt of this information in a diary maintained by him every day. This written information is called the “First Information Report” (FIR).
For common understanding, it is believed that FIR is recorded to set the criminal law into motion. Precisely, the police cannot investigate unless any information on criminal activity or conduct is received by it. As soon as the police receive the information, the process of arrest, search and trial start. Thus, it is said that FIR is needed to set the criminal law into motion.
The primary objective of recording an FIR is to allow the police officer to investigate. Further, FIR also forms a part of the final charge sheet prepared by the police under Section 173 and is produced before the court during the trial. FIR is not a substantive piece of evidence and cannot be relied on by the prosecuting agency for conviction of the accused. FIR is not recorded on oath and is a mere statement made to the police without any swearing. Further, its veracity is not tested by cross-examination. Click Here to Read more about FIR
Procedure for Filing
The information produced by either the aggrieved person himself or any other person concerned may be recorded in writing by the officer in charge(the Duty Officer) the same shall be read over to the informant, who is to then fix his/her signature which is to be then entered into ‘a book to be kept by such officer in such format as the State government may prescribe therein this behalf’ (CrPC, Section 154).
(2) A copy of the information as recorded under subsection (1) shall be given forthwith, free of cost to the informant.
It is to be noted here that FIR has to be filed immediately after the happening of the incident so that the maximum possible information is gauged from the informant/witnesses while the memory is still afresh.
Inordinately delayed filing may result in the ambiguity of the information provided or inaccuracies as there is a chance for information gaps which would then be attempted to fill by fabrication rather than actual facts. That will lead to inconsistencies and may result in initial misdirections during preliminary investigations.
First Information Report as previously stated is merely the initial recording of the case information as stated by the primary informant who in most cases is the aggrieved person themselves. Hence, it could carry potential bias that could affect the progress of the case or the information furnished may not be accurate or clear.
Thus, FIR cannot be given the status of substantial evidence but is used as corroboratory evidence as provided for under Section 157. It is also used for contradiction under Section 145 of the Evidence Act.
However, if the FIR is given by the accused himself, it cannot be used either for Corroboration or Contradiction as it is affected by Section 25 of the Indian Evidence Act.
In addition, FIR can be used to establish the motive for the offence, to construct the conduct history of the accused and also to delineate the subsequent conduct once after the crime. It also serves as a valuable base for cross-examination during trials.
In Case of Denial
Thus, it is evident from above that filing of the FIR is a crucial stage in the administration of justice as it is the primary document which formally recognizes the offence committed. It is the initiating factor which triggers a series of procedures which will ultimately result in the restoration of justice.
It could be seen as a guarantee to the aggrieved that his/her complaint is legally and formally recorded and is a promise towards the adoption of further measures necessary. FIR is thus an obligatory statement which affixes the responsibility on the part of the police to take action.
Though in the normal course of the event the Duty Officer is bound to compulsorily make the FIR upon the reception of a complaint, there are instances where the officer concerned may refuse to do so, malafide or otherwise.
However, there are certain scenarios in which the Officer concerned can legitimately refuse to file the report if he genuinely feels is that the case under consideration is not serious enough or is outside his jurisdiction. Thus, the Supreme Court states that;
“A vague, indefinite, or unauthorized piece of information cannot be regarded as first information merely because it was received first in point of time. Likewise, an unclear message over the phone simply stating that a person is lying dead on the road does not amount as First Information Report.
Nevertheless, in all the other cases in general where there is a refusal to file the report may amount to a violation of the CrPC. There can also be occasions when the filing of the FIR be inordinately delayed leading to the lackadaisical and improper investigation. Under such circumstances, Section 154 (3) of the CrPC provides for certain alternative and remedial measures.
The Judiciary has time and again underlined the importance of the FIR and had stressed the unavoidable responsibility on the part of the police towards the filing of the same. As is evident from the ruling of the Supreme Court in the ‘Lallan Chaudhary v. State of Bihar’ which held that;
“The mandate of section 154 is manifestly clear that if any information disclosing a cognizable offence laid before an officer has no other option but to register the case on the basis of such information.
The primary action to be taken in case the Officer in charge declines a legitimate request to file an FIR is to report it to the concerned higher authority in this case the complaint has to reach the Superintendent of the Police.
Once obtaining the complaint the Superintendent of Police subject it to a thorough enquiry if he is satisfied with the authenticity he shall investigate the case himself or may issue an order to conduct such an investigation by his subordinate, and the officer to whom which the authority is delegated shall have the same powers as an officer in charge of the station under whose jurisdiction the offence is committed .
The Complaint can be submitted to the Superintendent in writing and by post. There is also an option for the complainant to directly submit the complaint in person to the Officer if he /she fears the alternative channels take considerable time.
If the Superintendent declines to take note of the complaint the next option available before the aggrieved is to file a criminal complaint in the Magistrates Court before the Judicial Magistrate or the Metropolitan Magistrate as is provided for under Section 156 (3) read with Section 190 0f CrPC.
Or as an ultimate measure, the third option available before the complainant is to file a Writ Petition in the corresponding high Court. If the unresponsive approach amounting to inaction resulted in a substantial loss in the part of the aggrieved leading to a grievous infringement on the fundamental rights in the form of deprivation of life and liberty, the person concerned can ask for appropriate compensation.
Under Section 166A©,if the public servant concerned failed to record any information given to him under subsection (1) 0f Section 154 of the CrPrC, 1973 ,in relation to cognizable Offences punishable under Section 326A, Section 326bB, Section 354, Section 354B, Section 370, Sction 370A, Section 376, Section 376A, Section 376B, Section 376C, Section 376D, Section 376E, or section 509 of the Indian Penal Code, the maximum degree of punishment ranges from rigorous imprisonment for a period of 6 to 24 months in addition to cash penalty .
The only other option left is to lodge a formal complaint in the State Human Rights Commission, or the National Human Rights Commission.
I. Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P, WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 68 OF 2008
Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P was one of the milestone judgement which settled, updated and clarified several aspects of the Sections 154, 157, 190 and 200 which governs the procedures and statutes relating to the filing of the First Information Report.
The Judgement touched upon, the provision relating to Interference of Court by which the court can initiate contempt proceedings against the erring officer in case of inaction, the affixed prerogative to ensure proper enforcement of the aforementioned on Chief Secretaries and DGPs.
The Supreme Court also introduced the use of modern technology such as faxing and updation on the court’s website as a major modulation of court Practice and Procedure. The court also clearly set forth the objectives behind the Filing of an FIR which include to set in motion the criminal procedure in response to a cognizable offence and to ensure that the process is well documented, as well as to prevent embellishments to the original information received by reducing it to writing in the first instance of it being received.
Additionally, the court’s ruling led to the proper delimitation of the Duty Officer’s Powers, Rules and Duty with regard to the Filing of the report or Refusal to do so. It held that the officer cannot shirk off the responsibility to file the FIR once a cognizable Offence is disclosed which will invite penal action and initiate disciplinary proceedings. The court also set forth 24 hours as the window period within which a copy of the report is to be handed over to the informant.
II. Lallan Chaudhary v. State of Bihar, Appeal (crl.) 1047 of 2006
The SC ruling with regards to Lallan Chaudhary v. State of Bihar properly defined the Duty and responsibility of the Officer concerned, the court voiced its opinion and stated that Section 154 necessitates as a statutory duty upon the police officer to register the case, as stated in the complaint and to initiate an enquiry on its basis.
The most striking and significant observation of the court was however regarding the question of the discretion of the officer in charge to file or refuse to file the information on account of doubtful credibility of the information provided, the court stated that genuineness or credibility of the information disclosed is not a precondition for the registration of a case.
Thus in effect making it mandatory on the part of the officer to file the FIR once a piece of information regarding a cognizable offence is reported to him/her.
III. C. Kumaravel v. The Director of Police and Ors, Crl. O.P. No. 11418 of 2019
This recent ruling pertaining to the important statute that governs the provisions of the CrPC has once again reiterated the remedial measure as set out in Section 156 (3) of the code which provides for investigation by Magistrate as the principal remedial measures. The Judgement affirmed the quintessential status of Section 156 by which it stated that Section 482 of the CrPC cannot be invoked in all circumstances and that it can never be seen as an alternative remedy to Section 156.
The court held that the provision for filing a petition in the court could be utilized only after the completion of 15 days from the date of receipt of the information by the Station-House Officer. It further stated that a petition cannot be entertained in the court until and unless it is obvious that the petitioner has utilized to the fullest the provision for remedy given under Section 154(3) of Criminal Procedure Code.
It also held that the Station House Officers final decision whether to register the report or discarding it has to be conveyed to the informant within 7 days of such a decision being made. Further, it was clarified that once the officer responsible makes the decision the purview of Section 482 ends and the informant can longer seek remedy under the same.
The Court emphasized the importance of absolute compliance by the duty officers to the circulars or directions issued time to time by the concerned DGPs regarding the Registration of FIRs. The court also upheld and reiterated its earlier ruling with regard to the Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P. on cases pertaining to Section 156(3).
Subsequent court rulings and actual practice of CrPC has time and again reiterated the significance of FIR as the first step towards efficient dissemination of Justice and a true record of the ensuing proceedings. The court has additionally given a third objective to FIR as a necessary tool to avoid tampering with the initial corpus of original information, thus enlarging the scope and adding to its weight.
It is in this light that we have to evaluate the implications of denial by a duty officer to register the FIR. Hence proper remedial measures have to be established to ensure fair and proper administration of justice as envisaged in the Indian Constitution which is further detailed in the Criminal Procedure Code.
- www.scconline.com (Case References of Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P and the Lallan Chaudhary State of Punjab
- News Reports of Kumaravel v. The Director of Police & Ors