A CITIZEN’S RIGHT TO FILE F.I.R: EVERYTHING TO KNOW The word ‘F.I.R’ is very famous and thrown around very casually in media and the enter...
A CITIZEN’S RIGHT TO FILE F.I.R: EVERYTHING TO KNOW
The word ‘F.I.R’ is very famous and thrown around very casually in media and the entertainment industry. Numerous Bollywood movies over the decades have built myths around the concept of F.I.R. While some of these myths are true, most of them are false and paint a very one-sided picture of a citizen’s right to file an F.I.R. This post will help you to fully understand what is F.I.R and what are your rights revolving around it.
What is an F.I.R?
The word F.I.R is an acronym and it refers to ‘First Information Report”. The essence of the F.I.R lies in its full-form. It is the first information received by the Police in relation to a crime. An FIR cannot be filed for every complaint received by the Police. This is a fact most of the Bollywood movies will not tell you! The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 is the primary law that deals with criminal justice administration in our country. An FIR refers to the complaint received and written down by the Police in accordance with section 154 of CrPC, 1973.
An FIR is only filed where the information received is in relation to a ‘cognizable offense’. Cognizable offenses are considered as grave offenses and the Police hold the power to arrest without a warrant in cognizable offense cases. The list of cognizable offenses is provided under the Schedule I and Schedule II of CrPC, 1973. These include grave offenses where the punishment usually ranges beyond three years of imprisonment and are non-bailable in nature (although there are exceptions to this rule as well).
What is the Purpose of F.I.R?
F.I.R or First Information Report is the basic tool that triggers the criminal justice administration apparatus. A majority of the investigation by Police, filing of charge-sheet and evidence in the Trial will be based on the F.I.R is registered. F.I.R is itself a piece of evidence and is used accordingly by the lawyers/counsels on both sides. This will be covered in another post.
Who can file an F.I.R?
There is no bar under CrPC, 1973 as to who can and cannot register an FIR. Thus, anyone who has information with respect to a cognizable offense can become the first informant. This can include the victim, witnesses to the crime, any relative of the victim, etc. In some cases, the Police Personnel themselves become the first informant. As far as the credibility of the information is concerned, the Police can conduct a preliminary investigation within seven days of receiving the information to verify its credibility. However, in no circumstances registration of F.I.R can be refused.
Where can you file an F.I.R?
The standard rule of procedure is to file an FIR in the nearest Police Station where the crime took place. This rule facilitates proper investigation of the crime scene. However, where the victim is a woman, the F.I.R can also be registered where she generally lives or resides.
However, the law allows us to depart from the standard rule in certain circumstances. A ‘Zero-F.I.R’ can be registered in any Police Station. This FIR is then forwarded to the concerned Police Station having the requisite jurisdiction. If you feel that the victim will suffer a callous or partial treatment in the local Police Station, then you can register an F.I.R in any Police Station.
What if the Police refuse to file an F.I.R?
It is quite common for Police to harass the victim or first informant and refuse to file an F.I.R.
This is commonly seen in cases where the victim is ignorant or illiterate. The standard rule dictates that the Police cannot refuse to file an FIR. However, if you are unable to register an F.I.R in spite of holding credible information on a cognizable offense, then you can follow various routes to register an F.I.R:
1. The informant can submit a written complaint to the Superintendent of Police or the Commissioner of the Police. This can be done through e-mail also. If the SP is satisfied that the information relates to a cognizable offense, then he will direct his subordinates to register the FIR.
2. In case the SP or CP also refuses to take any action, then the informant can also approach the Judicial Magistrate (under section 156(3) and Sec 190 of CrPC) to file a complaint.
3. A Writ of Mandamus can also be filed in the High Court against the Police Officers who refuse to file the F.I.R
Can you file an F.I.R through email or a phone call?
The advent of technology has necessitated new, cheap and quick ways of filing FIR. Currently, the following states support online registration of F.I.R:
1. Tamil Nadu
2. Himachal Pradesh
5. New Delhi
6. Madhya Pradesh
9. Bangaluru city
10. Patna city
11. Kolkata city
Many people dial-up 100 to register their complaints. If such a complaint reveals a cognizable offense, then it can be treated as first information on the offense, and subsequently converted to an F.I.R.
Right of the Informant:
In order to ensure proper criminal justice administration and eliminate Police discretion in the process, the government has accorded several rights to the informant. The informant as well as the offender named in the FIR are entitled to a free copy of the FIR immediately. The informant must note down the number, date, and the Police Station where it was recorded. The FIR must be recorded in writing and read over to the informant. It must be signed by the informant. Further, if the informant is a woman or physically/mentally disabled, then the information must be recorded at the residence of such person, in presence of a female officer, special educator, interpreter as the case may be.