PURPOSE OF A FIRST INFORMATION REPORT
By AISVARYA CHANDRAN (BATCH-2019-2024)
A First Information Report (FIR) is a report that has been delivered to a police authority that comprises knowledge regarding a crime. As prescribed by the State government, the police officer must write it in the registry.[i] In Bhagwan Singh v State of MP[ii] the Supreme Court held that the sole purpose of FIR is to set the criminal law in motion. Only after the registration of such document can any police authority begin the investigation regarding the offence as reported. A report can be submitted by anyone who had witnessed the offence or had the basic knowledge of the offence and an injured party as a result of the said offence. The procedure with reference to filing a First Information Report is encompassed in the Code of Criminal Procedure under section 154.[iii] An FIR must include personal information of the informant such as their name and address, information regarding the offence such as the location and time and date, the facts as they had occurred and any additional description about the commission of the offence. The police officer must record any matter brought forward, and in the rare exception that the police do not take your First Information Report, one can approach the superintendent of police who will take it upon themselves to investigate the matter or direct a subordinate to do so.[iv] One can even contact the Human Rights Commission at either a state level or national level. Though an FIR has been filed in certain circumstances, the police officer does not go forward with the investigation. It is either that the offence is not serious in nature[v] or that there is insufficient ground for them to proceed[vi]. The police officer in this situation must compile a report stating their reasons for not moving forward with the investigation as well as inform the informant of the matter.[vii]
A First Information Report in no circumstances can be utilized as evidence to discredit witnesses, although it can negate the maker’s testimony[viii]. The report’s contents do not guarantee the truth; this means that the mere mention of facts such as the name does not guarantee their connection to a crime. It can be used to corroborate[ix] or to contradict[x] the matter at hand[xi]. An FIR is a mere version of the cognizance of offence, which assists in obtaining information of the crime as early as possible. In order for the court to arrive at a conclusion regarding the standing of a case, it must look into other evidence. In the case of Kanik Lal Thankur v State of Bihar[xii] it was upheld that “a first information report is not evidence that holds substantive value and the presence of a report is only an indication of an alleged offence, and the prosecution must refer to evidence that holds substantive value.” It is not meant to be a document that goes into detail[xiii]. The evidentiary value is circumstantial in nature and will look into the facts of the case; this stance was brought up in the case of Dharma Rama Bhargava v State of Maharashtra[xiv]. Although it contains vital information, an FIR should not be used as the only form of evidence the prosecution uses for conviction. Its lack of value as the evidence does not diminish the value it has otherwise. An individual’s dying declaration is one such instance in where an FIR can be admissible[xv]. Section 32(1) of the Indian Evidence Act deals with the dying declaration. The principle on which a dying declaration is admissible in evidence is indicated in the Maxim ‘Nemo Moriturus Praesumitur Mentire’, which means that a man will not meet his maker with a lie in his mouth. This stance was upheld in the case of Dharampal v State of U.P. [xvi].
A First Information Report is an
important document when dealing with criminal justice. Regarding the role it
plays, it has numerous purposes, such as kickstarting an investigation as it
gives the earliest encounter of the commission of an offence in corroborating,
contradicting, and establishing relevant facts related to the offence. It does
not hold any evidentiary value barring few circumstances in which it would be
admissible to do so.
[i]Abhyuday Bhotika, Evidentiary Value of First Information Report, Research Gate (Apr. 29 2021), https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228226560_Evidentiary_Value_of_First_Information_Report_FIR_/.
[ii]Bhagwan Singh v State of MP, AIR 2002 SC 1621.
[iii]Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 154, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1974 (India).
[iv]Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 154(3), No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1974 (India).
[v]Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 157(1)(a), No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1974 (India).
[vi]Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 157(1)(b), No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1974 (India).
[vii]Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 157(2), No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1974 (India).
[viii]Kapil Singh v. State of Bihar 1990 Cri LJ 1248.
[ix]Indian Evidence Act, 1872, §157, No. 1, Acts of Parliament, 1872 (India).
[x]Indian Evidence Act, 1872, §145, No. 1, Acts of Parliament, 1872 (India).
[xi]Satya Pal v. State of U.P, 1992 A Cri R 328.
[xii]Kanik Lal Thakur v. State of Bihar, 2003 Cri L.J 375 (Pat).
[xiii]Jhoda Khoda Rbari v. State of Gujarat, 1992 Cri LJ 3298.
[xiv]Dharma Rama Bhargava v. State of Maharashtra, 1973 Cri L.J 680.
[xv]Indian Evidence Act, 1872, §32(1), No. 1, Acts of Parliament, 1872 (India).
[xvi]Dharampal v. State of U.P, AIR 2008 SC 920.