Filing of a First Information Report (‘FIR’)
Here we outline some important information to note when filing an FIR including eligibility, steps and further actions.
What is an FIR?
An FIR is a written document that is filed by the police when you are a victim of a cognizable offence, i.e. an offence for which police can take action without prior court approval (a warrant). Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (‘CrPC’) defines what amounts to first information. Examples include but are not limited to murder, rape, theft, insulting the modesty of women and kidnapping.
Who can file an FIR?
Anyone who is either a victim of a crime, or has witnessed a crime or has information regarding a crime may file an FIR.
Where can an FIR be filed?
An FIR must be filed at the police station closest to the location of the crime. No police station can refuse filing of an FIR. Please note that every police station has a jurisdictional area within which they may investigate offences and crimes committed.
What is a Zero FIR?
A Zero FIR allows for any police station to register an FIR, regardless of their jurisdictional area. It is usually used for crimes such as murder and rape and other cognizable offences, i.e. an offence for which police can take action without prior court approval. Initial action and investigation is conducted before it is transferred to the appropriate jurisdictional station as required. It is helpful for crimes that require immediate response as it allows for swifter action that is not bogged down by bureaucratic procedure as well as accounts for whether the police station under whose jurisdiction the crime was committed is not easily accessible.
When can an FIR be filed?
An FIR has to be filed immediately and any delay in reporting must be justified. The police officer must give you a copy of the FIR at no cost to you.
Why should one file an FIR?
An FIR is a very important document as it is one of the first steps towards justice for the wronged. Police take up investigation of the case only after registering the FIR in their respective police station.
What is the procedure to file an FIR?
- The officer must record the FIR in writing;
- The officer must read the FIR back to the person filing the FIR to ensure that all details are correct;
- The person filing the FIR must sign the FIR; and
- Once recorded, signed and registered, the person filing the FIR must get a copy of the FIR free of cost.
Here is a sample format of an FIR :
What about after the FIR has been filed?
Once an FIR has been filed the police are legally obligated to start investigating the case. The process of investigation includes, but is not limited to, collecting evidence, questioning witnesses, inspecting the crime scene, recording statements and forensic testing. If the criminals are found, the police will make arrests.
Once the investigation has been concluded the police will record all their findings in a ‘Challan’ or charge sheet. If it is deemed that there is enough proof on the charge sheet the case goes to court.
If, after the investigation, the police conclude that there is not enough evidence that a crime has been committed they may close the case after justifying their reasons in court. If the police decide to close the case, they are obligated to inform the person who filed the FIR of their decision.
What can you do if your FIR is not registered?
- You can meet the Superintendent of Police or other higher officers like Deputy Inspector General of Police and Inspector General of Police and bring your complaint to their notice.
- You can send your complaint in writing and by post to the Superintendent of Police concerned. If the Superintendent of Police is satisfied with your complaint, he shall either investigate the case himself or order an investigation to be made.
- You can file a private complaint before the court having jurisdiction.
- You can also make a complaint to the State Human Rights Commission or the National Human Rights Commission if the police do nothing to enforce the law or does it in a biased and corrupt manner.
Are there alternate steps available to filing an FIR?
Yes, there are alternate steps to filing an FIR, for women.
Step 1: Call the National Commission for Women (ideal if there is a refusal to file an FIR)
The National Commission of Women (‘NCW’) is a national level organization mandated to protect the interests of women. They have counselling, legal and research arms to tackle issues of violence and discrimination against women.
The complaints they receive include but are not limited to domestic violence, harassment, dowry, torture, desertion, bigamy, rape and refusal to register FIR, cruelty by husband, derivation, gender discrimination and sexual harassment at the workplace.
If you call the NCW, they will tell you how to proceed with regards to counsel – the main functions of the NCW cell are to make spot enquiries, examine various witnesses, collect evidence and submit the report with recommendations, which can offer some direct and immediate assistance.
Action taken by the NCW on receipt of complaints
- Counselling: Counselling services are provided to the aggrieved and she would be told about the status of law and various options available to her.
- Resolution through alternative methods: the NCW through its panel of experts would arrange for the mediation between the parties
- In certain cases, the victim may choose to settle the matter with the perpetrator of the crime.
- If you can identify the person then the person will be tracked and put in judicial custody within 24 hours unless he/ she has crossed the city limits.
- A charge sheet is filed, witnesses are called and interrogated as required. The documents are filed with the FIR and the sessions court takes over from there.
Nyaaya.in has an explainer on police complaints which is a useful guide to the criminal justice system.
Safer India has a helpful FAQ feature on their website regarding FIR.
The content provided here in no way claims to act as legal advice. In case you would like to offer feedback or suggest additional resources, kindly email firstname.lastname@example.org