If you don’t know your rights, you don’t have any!
Know your rights, procedure of filing an First information report, generally known as FIR, it is the report in writing of any offence recorded by the police. It need not be elaborate but should contain necessary allegations to constitute cognizable offences. FIR cannot be considered as an substantive evidence, because it is not made during any trial, it is not given on oath, nor is it tested by cross- examination.
There are few questions that a common man has about FIR. Theyinclude: Who can lodge an FIR?Where can one lodge an F.I.R?How to lodge an F.I.R?What are the things one must ensure while the F.I.R is being lodged?This article will be answering all these questions.
Any person who is aware about the offence can file an F.I.R. It is not compulsory that he should be an aggrieved person. Even a police officer can file an F.I.R. if he comes to know about any offence. The F.I.R. can be filed by various people like: an aggrieved person a person who is aware about the facts of the crime, a person who has seen a crime being committed. One can lodge an F.I.R only in case of a cognizable offence.A cognizable offence is a criminal offence in which the police are empowered to register an F.I.R, investigate, and arrest an accused without a warrant. Offences like murder, rape, kidnapping, theft, robbery, fraud, etc. are classified as cognizable offences.A non-cognizable offence is an offence in which the police can neither register an FIR, nor effect arrest without the express permission or directions from the court. Offences like simple hurt, verbal abuse, intimidation, defamation, misappropriation of property, physical assault, forgery, etc. are non-cognizable offences.
Every piece of information relating to the commission of offence is to be given to the officer in-charge of the police station. If it is given orally to the officer, he shall reduce it to writing and read it over to the informant to confirm and verify the details.Every such information has to be signed by the informant after which it is required to be recorded by the officer in a book maintained for this purpose as prescribed by the State Government.The informant is entitled to receive a copy of the F.I.R free of cost.If the officer in-charge of the police station refuses to record the information, you can send the substance of such information, in writing and by post to the Superintendent of Police (SP) concerned. The SP is required to start the investigation himself or direct any other officer subordinate to him to start the investigation.You do not have to pay a single penny to lodge an F.I.R. It is completely free of cost.
While lodging an F.I.R you must ensure the following:There should be four copies being recorded simultaneously (with carbon sheets in place), Language must be recorded in first person, Try not to over write or score out, Try to use simple words, Ensure that the arrival / departure time is mentioned in the FIR and in the Daily Diary Register at the Police Station and carefully read the document before signing.
If the officer in-charge of the police station refuses to record the information, one can make a complaint to a higher ranking officer such as the Superintendent of Police (SP)/SHO (Station House Officer of Local Police Station), the Deputy Inspector General (DIG)/ACP (Assistant Commissioner of Police)/DCP (Deputy Commissioner of Police) or the Inspector General of Police (IGP)/CP (Commissioner of Police). The officer is required to start the investigation himself or direct any other officer subordinate to him to start the investigation.
You can also complain to the nearest judicial magistrate, who will order the police to register the FIR if deemed necessary. Ensure that you get a receipt of your complaint being registered. One can also send your complaint in writing to the Superintendent of Police (SP)/SHO of the Local Police Station by Registered Post Acknowledgement Due (Regd. Post AD). Few things to avoid while filing F.I.R are: Never file a false complaint or give wrong information to the police. One can be prosecuted under law for giving wrong information or for misleading the police.—[Section 203, Indian Penal Code 1860],Never exaggerate or distort facts, Never make vague or unclear statements.
FIR must be filed immediately. If there is any delay, mention it in the form. If given orally, it must be taken down in writing and explained to you by the officer in charge, at a Police Station within the offence has taken place.It must be recorded in first person. Do check in which language this needs to be done. Ensure that the arrival/departure time is mentioned in the F.I.R and in the Daily Diary.
After completion, you must carefully read the document and sign it.
It must be recorded by the officer in the book maintained for this purpose by the State Government. You have the right to and must get a copy of it for your records. You are not required to pay for the same. You are not required by law to give an affidavit.
The Supreme Court of India in Youth Bar Association of India Vs Union of India and Others issued important Guidelines on First Information Report.
The Bench comprising of Justices Dipak Misra and C.Nagappan has issued the following Guidelines
(a) An accused is entitled to get a copy of the First Information Report at an earlier stage than as prescribed under Section 207 of the Cr.P.C.
(b) An accused who has reasons to suspect that he has been roped in a criminal case and his name may be finding place in a First Information Report can submit an application through his representative/agent/parokar for grant of a certified copy before the concerned police officer or to the Superintendent of Police on payment of such fee which is payable for obtaining such a copy from the Court. On such application being made, the copy shall be supplied within twenty-four hours.
(c) Once the First Information Report is forwarded by the police station to the concerned Magistrate or any Special Judge, on an application being filed for certified copy on behalf of the accused, the same shall be given by the Court concerned within two working days. The aforesaid direction has nothing to do with the statutory mandate inhered under Section 207 of the Cr.P.C.
(d) The copies of the FIRs, unless the offence is sensitive in nature, like sexual offences, offences pertaining to insurgency, terrorism and of that category, offences under POCSO Act and such other offences, should be uploaded on the police website, and if there is no such website, on the official website of the State Government, within twenty-four hours of the registration of the First Information Report so that the accused or any person connected with the same can download the FIR and file appropriate application before the Court as per law for redressal of his grievances. (f) The word ‘sensitive’ apart from the other aspects which may be thought of being sensitive by the competent authority as stated herein before would also include concept of privacy regard being had to the nature of the FIR. The examples given with regard to the sensitive cases are absolutely illustrative and are not exhaustive.
(g) If an FIR is not uploaded, needless to say, it shall not ensure per se a ground to obtain the benefit under Section 438 of the Cr.P.C.
(h) In case a copy of the FIR is not provided on the ground of sensitive nature of the case, a person grieved by the said action, after disclosing his identity, can submit a representation to the Superintendent of Police or any person holding the equivalent post in the State. The Superintendent of Police shall constitute a committee of three officers which shall deal with the said grievance. As far as the Metropolitan cities are concerned, where Commissioner is there, if a representation is submitted to the Commissioner of Police who shall constitute a committee of three officers. The committee so constituted shall deal with the grievance within three days from the date of receipt of the representation and communicate it to the grieved person.
Special thanks to Retired Police Officer of Haryana Police Mr.Mahender Singh who shared his personal experience as an officer dealing with these issues for almost 30 years in his service.
Amandeep Bhardwaj & Mayank Mishra