FIRST INFORMATION REPORT
Section 154 deals with information relating to the commission of cognizable cases. It is popularly called First Information Report (FIR) though the term has not been defined in the Code.
Definition and meaning
First Information Report or F.I.R. is not defined under Criminal Procedure Code. However, the concept of F.I.R. is found under Section 154 of the Code. It is the information given in oral or in writing to a police officer in charge of a police station as to the commission of a cognizable offence. Section 154 lays down the manner in which the information given in cognizable offence is recorded.
In case of sexual offences punishable under Sections 354, 354A, 376, etc. of Indian Penal Code, such information must be recorded by a woman police officer.
Object and Importance of F.I.R
A First Information Report is the information relating to commission of cognizable offence which is first in point of time and on the strength of which the investigation into that offence is commenced [State of Bombay v. Rusy Mistry, AIR 1960 SC 391]. In the case of Hasib v. State of Bihar, (1972) 4 SCC 773, the Court laid down the following objects of F.I.R:
1. From the point of view of the informant, it sets the criminal law in motion.
2. From the point of view of the investigating agency, to obtain information about the alleged criminal activity so as to be able to take suitable steps for tracing and bringing to book the guilty.
Essentials of Section 154: Following are the essentials of Section 154:-
Ø It is an information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence;
Ø It is given by the informant to the officer-in-charge of a police station;
Ø It may be given either orally or in writing;
Ø If given oral, it should be reduced to writing by the officer in charge of a police station or under his direction;
Ø It should be read over to informant;
Ø If given in writing or reduced to writing shall be signed by the person giving it;
Ø Substance of the information shall be entered in a book in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf. This book is called ‘General Diary’. [Section 44 Police Act]
Ø Copy of the information recorded should be given to informant free of cost.
It is not necessary that it should come from an eye witness only. It can be hearsay also. Even a telephonic message if it discloses a cognizable offence may constitute FIR [Soma Bhai v. State of Gujarat, (1973) 3 SCC 114]. Supreme Court in Patai alias Krishna Kumar v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 2010 SC 2254 held that in order for the information to be qualified as an FIR there must be something in the nature of complaint or accusation regarding commission of a cognizable offence. A cryptic message recording an occurrence cannot be termed as an FIR. It is also a settled law that FIR is not encyclopedia of facts and every minute details of crime need not be mentioned therein. [Latesh v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 3 SCC 66]
Proviso to Section 154 : Amendment Act of 2013 inserted the proviso to Section 154 which provides that if the information is given by a women against whom the offences under Sections 326A, 326B, 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D, 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB, 376E & 509 of Indian Penal Code is alleged to have been committed or attempted then the information will be recorded by women police officer or any women officer.
It further provides that if the person against whom offences under Section 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D, 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB, 376E or 509 of Indian Penal Code is alleged to have been committed or attempted is temporarily or permanently, mentally or physically disabled then such information shall be recorded by police officer at the residence of the person seeking to report or at convenient place of such person’s choice. Interpreter or special educator shall also be present. Such recording of information shall be videographed.
Remedies available on non-registration of FIR
Where the police officer in charge refuse to register F.I.R. under Section 154 (1), the informant has following options:
1. Remedy before Superintendent of Police [Section 154 (3)]: Under Section 154 (3) the substance of information shall be sent in writing and by post to Superintendant of Police who, if satisfied that cognizable offence is committed, shall:
(a) Either conduct investigation himself or
(b) Direct any other subordinate officer to do so.
2. Remedy before Magistrate [Section 156 (3)]: If no action is taken by the authorities under Section 154 (1) or (3), the person can approach Magistrate under Section 156 (3) who may order registration of F.I.R. and investigation into the matter.
Mandatory registration of FIR
The question whether it is obligatory for the police to register FIR on information given by the informant has been answered in affirmative by Supreme Court in Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1. The court has held that the police officer is duty bound to register FIR if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence. The police does not have an option to conduct a preliminary inquiry and then proceed to register FIR.
The legislative intent behind Section 154 is to ensure compulsory registration of FIR. The mandatory nature of the provision can be noticed by use of the word ‘shall’ in Section 154. Supreme Court in State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal, 1992 Supp (1) SCC 335 as well as in Lalita Kumari’s case has held that the word ‘information’ in Section 154 is not qualified by the term ‘reasonable’. By omitting the word ‘reasonable’ and ‘credible’ the intent of legislature is clear that no discretion is given to the police to lodge the FIR. The court has clarified that the registration of FIR is compulsory but the arrest of the accused immediately after registration of FIR is not mandatory.
Cases in which preliminary inquiry should be made : The court in Lalita Kumari’s case has however, reserved few category of cases for preliminary inquiry before the registration of FIR. The court has held that in the following types of cases the police is at liberty to conduct the preliminary inquiry before registration of FIR.
(i) Matrimonial/family disputes
(ii) Commercial disputes
(iii) Medical negligence cases
(iv) Corruption cases
(v) Cases where there is abnormal delay in registration of FIR
Supreme Court in Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar v. Union of India, (2018) 10 SCC 443 has made it clear that the purpose of preliminary inquiry is not to verify the information but to ascertain whether the information discloses any cognizable offence.