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The Criminal Procedure Code of 1973 provides for a detailed

procedure when it comes to dealing with criminal matters in our
country. The criminal process in our country is divided into many
phases. One such phase is the pre-trial stage. This is the stage
where the role of the police is important. They investigate into
any crime and collect evidence that is crucial to prosecute the
accused. Without proper evidence, the court will not convict the
accused. In a criminal trial, the facts lie scattered all over the
record and are not readily available in one single document. They
have to be therefore collected from a multitude of papers. The
earliest version of the prosecution case is available in the First
Information Report which is the trigger point of action.

There is usually a lot of controversy in determining when the

actual investigation started as the Code of Criminal Procedure
affords a certain protection to the accused.

Distinction between cognizable and non-cognizable cases:

A non-cognizable case is one under which a police officer can

arrest a person only with a warrant. Cases falling under this
category are usually petty offences or those of a less serious

A cognizable case is one under which a police officer can arrest a

person without a warrant. These types of cases are usually those

of a serious nature. Hence, the police are vested with powers to

arrest a person accused of such an offence without a warrant, and
in doing so, a procedural safeguard that is given to a person is
done away with. The possible rationale behind the removal of
such a safeguard could be the fact that the police are expected to
act quickly in such cases and put the accused behind bars

A very important distinction between cognizable and non-

cognizable cases is the procedure for the commencement of
investigation. In the former an FIR is essential whereas for the
latter, the permission of a Magistrate is a must. The FIR shall be
discussed in detail elsewhere in this chapter. But for the moment
it is necessary to note the significant difference as to how
investigation commences in both the type of cases.

The First Schedule of the CrPC specifies what offences are

cognizable and those which are non-cognizable.


The term investigation has been used many times above. This
term has been defined in S.2 (h) of the CrPC and includes all
the activities carried out by a police officer or any other officer
authorized by a magistrate that are associated with the collection
of evidence.

The Supreme Court has had the opportunity to consider what the
activities that constitute an investigation are. The Court said that
an investigation consists of:

1.Proceeding to the spot;

2.Ascertainment of the facts and circumstances of the case;

3. Discovery and arrest of the suspected offender;

4. Collection of evidence relating to the commission of the offence

(this includes examination of witnesses and search and seizure);

5. Formation of an opinion as to whether material collected is

enough to place accused on trial; and

6. Submission of Charge-Sheet under section 173 of the Cr.P.C.

Therefore, it can be said that the process of investigation begins

with the recording of the FIR and culminates with the filing of the

The First Information Report:

There is a distinction between how an investigation commences in

a cognizable case and a non-cognizable case. In simple terms, the
First Information Report (FIR) is the basis on which an
investigation begins in a cognizable case. The object of lodging
the FIR is to obtain the earliest information regarding the
circumstance in which the crime was committed, including the
names of the actual culprits and the parts played by them, the
weapons, if any, used, as also the name of the eyewitnesses.

Chapter 12 of the CrPC deals with the power of the police to

carry out investigation. The first provision appearing under this
chapter is S.154. This is the material provision that we are
concerned with. S.154 deals with information given to the police
in cognizable cases and is divided into three distinct parts. It is on
the basis of this initial information given to the police that
investigation commences. This initial information is more
commonly known as the FIR. It is very important to note that
S.154 itself does not make use of the term First Information
Report. However, one should not immediately come to the
conclusion that this term has not been mentioned anywhere in
the code. Though S.154 does not make use of this term, one
should read S.207 (ii) of the CrPC. The conclusion that can be
drawn by reading this section is that the report recorded under
S.154 is the First Information Report. The FIR is a very important
document and marks the beginning of the investigation. The
object of the FIR is to set the criminal law machinery into motion.

In case of Lalita kumara vs Govt of U.P 1 it has been held by

the five judge bench of SC that it is mandatory under S 154(1)
thay the concerned police officer is bound to register the
case on the basis of information disclosing commission of
cognizable offences. However, if no cognizable offence is made
out in information given, then the FIR need not be registered
immediately and the police may conduct a preliminary verification

1 (2014) 2 SCC 1.

for ascertaining whether a cognizable offence has been


In case of Patil Subba Reddy2 here a person reported to the

police officer that he had seen a certain women with her throat
cut, and the officer had not made a record of that fact but
subsequently treated an information lodged by women fatheras
first information in the case, it was held that unrecorded
statement was in fact the first information in the case and not
that given by the women father.

In case of Mani Mohan Ghose vs Emperor,3 in this case a

person first made a statement that a certain women named S
had left her house in night with ornaments with her. The next
day he made another statement that S was sought to be located
but could not be found. Investigation began; the day after he
made another statement that as S has not yet returned , I
suspect that M and L had taken her somewhere, and she might
have been killed by them for the sake of ornaments. It was held
that really it was third statement which amounted to first

There are three distinct parts of S.154:-

1. The first part corresponds to sub-section (1) of S.154 deals with

the procedure involved in recording an FIR. An important

2 37CrLJ 357.


component of this provision is that the information should be

given to an officer in charge of a police station. S.2 (o) of the CrPC
defines who an officer in charge of a police station is. The officer
in charge should reduce the information so given into writing. The
informant should also sign the FIR. If he does not then he can be
punished under S.180 of the Indian Penal Code which provides for
punishment if a person refuses to sign a document.

2. The second part which corresponds to sub-section(2) of S.154

mentions that a copy of the FIR should be given to the informant.

3. The third part corresponds to sub-section(3) of S.154 which

contains the procedure to be followed in case the officer in charge
of a police station refuses to record the FIR.

Once, the FIR is recorded Sections 156 and 157 of the CrPC come
into play. S.157 lays down the procedure for investigation. The
police officer has to send a report to the appropriate Magistrate
and take necessary steps for carrying out investigation. The
Proviso to S.157(1) lays down a few exceptions from the
procedure prescribed under S.157(1) but the officer in charge of
the police station should record reasons for doing do as is laid
down under S.157(2). If the officer in charge of the police station
is desirous of going ahead with the investigation he can do so.
S.156 gives the power to investigate cognizable cases without
order of the Magistrate. S.156 (2) is crucial as it empowers the
police to carry out investigation in any area without the
investigation being called into question. As has been

authoritatively laid down by the Supreme Court, the Station

House Officer has statutory authority under S.156 of the CrPC to
investigate any cognizable offence for which an FIR is lodged.

The commission of a cognizable offence can be reported at any

police station, irrespective of whether it has jurisdiction over the
place where the alleged offence was committed. Once the
investigation is over, the officer may forward the report to the
appropriate magistrate. The logic being that at the time of
investigation it might not be known where the offence has been

Object of recording the FIR:

The main object of FIR from the point of view of the informant is
to set the criminal law into motion and from the point of view of
the investigating authorities is to obtain information about the
alleged criminal activity so as to be able to take suitable steps to
trace and bring to book the guilty. It has been held that Section
154 has three-fold objective, that is

1. To inform the Magistrate of the District and the District

Superintendent of Police who are responsible for the peace and
safety of the district;

2. To make known to the judicial officers before whom the case is

ultimately tried, what are the material facts on which
investigation is commenced;

3. To safeguard against subsequent forgetfulness and

embellishment on part of the informant about the incident.

Clearly, an FIR helps police in going ahead with the investigation

as it provides the police with the initial information of the crime
committed. Such FIR lodged by common citizens is a kind of help
forwarded by them to the police, to take cognizance of the
offence that has been committed in their locality.

However, it has been held that the receipt or recording of an FIR

by the police is not a condition precedent to the setting into
motion of a criminal investigation. This means that if a Police
Officer starts the investigation of a cognizable offence and goes to
the spot on hearing about the commission of a crime; without
recording it in accordance with Section 154, the prosecution or
trial thereafter cannot be vitiated on the ground that there was no
FIR in the case. But if information is received and it is recorded in
accordance with Section 154, such FIR becomes the basis of the
case set up by the informant, even though it may not be
admissible as substantive evidence.

However, under Section 154(3), it is mandatory for an officer-in-

charge of the police station to record the FIR if someone
approaches him for giving information about a crime.

SEC 154(3)provides that If the officer refuses to record the FIR,

the informant may send the substance of such information to the
Superintendent of Police (SP) who may take necessary actions in
this regard and may even ask the officer-in-charge to start the
investigation upon such information. Therefore, as earlier said
that the FIR is not a condition precedent, but it cannot be refused
if a person is willing to give such information. But, it is important
to note here that such noncompliance with Section 154 and not
filing FIR when the informant approaches the officer-in-charge has
not been made illegal or punishable under CrPC. This means that
even after receiving the information, the officer-in-charge may not
record it and may not proceed with the investigation.

The informant, who in most cases will be a common man, may not
know his right under CrPC that he can approach SP in such cases,
and would be helpless to take any action against such officer. This
negligence on part of the Police Officers may hamper the law and
order in the society. Also, even if the person knows about such
right of going to the SP, he/she may ignore such right if he/she is
a mere witness to the incident since he/she would be reluctant to
go into too much of hassle. Further, sending the information to
the SP by post may take too much of time and by that time the
evidence and witnesses may be manipulated by the accused. This
makes the main objective of FIR completely futile.

Furthermore, it has been held that FIR, though being an important

and valuable document, cannot be considered to be the last word
of the prosecution because it need not be made by an eye-

witness, nor is it required to give full details. It merely marks the

beginning of the investigation and its value must accordingly
depend on the circumstances of each case, including the nature
of the crime, the position of the informant and the opportunity he
had of witnessing the whole or part of the commission of the
offence. It is not substantive evidence and can only be used to
either corroborate or contradict the evidence and witnesses.

From this discussion it is quite evident that FIR is, in fact, a highly
valuable and vital piece of evidence in a criminal trial. It is
necessary to corroborate the oral evidence in the case. It is the
first version of the incident and is of considerable value as it
reveals the materials that the investigation commences with and
what the original version of the story was. It has high practical
value since the information is from the earliest instance, when the
memory is clear and vivid But, as discussed above, it is not
mandatory and if it is not recorded then it would not affect the
trial in any way. However, this would lead to the situation where
the Police Officer may show indolence in filing FIR and would not
take any initiative for conducting investigation into the crime,
even after receiving information about such crime.

In State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal,4 it was held that when the

petitioner approaches the police and prays for registration of FIR,
the police have no option but to register it and thereafter start

4 1992,CrLJ 527 SC.


Mandatory Conditions of F.I.R.:

In the case of State of Maharashtra v. Ahmed Shaikh

Babajan & Ors.5 the Honble Supreme Court discussed in detail
the contents of a F.I.R. as per Section 154 Cr.P.C.:-

The first information report is a report relating to the

commission of a cognizable offence, given to the police and
recorded by it under Section 154 of the Cr.P.C.

Recording of F.I.R. is not a condition precedent to the setting

in motion of the criminal investigation yet from the view
point of the investigating authorities it conveys to them
earliest information regarding the circumstances in which
the crime was committed, the names of the culprits and the
role played by them as well as the names of the witnesses
present at the scene of occurrence, so vital for effective and
meaningful investigation.6

The information about an occurrence can be given by any

person knowing about the commission of such an offence
and not necessarily by the eye-witnesses.

Lodging of F.I.R. keeps the District Magistrate and the

Superintendent of Police informed of the occurrence of a
cognizable offence and when it was recorded.

5 2009 (1) RCR (Criminal) 224.

6 Emperor v. Khwaja Nazir Ahmad, AIR (32) 1945 PC 18


It is not the requirement of law that every minute detail of

the occurrence needs to be recorded in the F.I.R. 7

F.I.R. is not intended to be an encyclopedia of the back-

ground scenario. Nevertheless, it must disclose the
commission of an offence.

F.I.R. does not constitute substantive evidence though its

importance as conveying the earliest information regarding
the occurrence cannot be doubted. It can, however, only be
used as a previous statement for the purpose of either
corroborating its maker under Section 157 of the Indian
Evidence Act or for contradicting him under Section 145 of
that Act.8

An analysis of Section 154 brings out the following points:

1. The information is to be given to an officer in charge of the

police station having jurisdiction for investigating the case
[Section 154(1)].

2. If the information is given orally to such officer, it shall be

reduced to writing by the officer himself or under his
direction [Section 154(1)].
7 State of Andhra Pradesh v. Golconda Linga Swamy & Anr., 2004 (3) RCR (Criminal)

8 Sheikh Hasib alias Tabarak v. The State of Bihar, (1972) 4 SCC 773.

3. The information, if given in writing, or if reduced to writing as

aforesaid, shall be signed by the informant [Section 154(1)].

4. The information as taken down in writing shall be read over

to the informant [Section 154(1)].

5. The substance of the information is then to be entered by

the police officer in a book kept by him in the prescribed
form [Section 154(1)]. This book is called Station Diary or
General Diary [Section 44 of the Police Act, 1861].

6. The informant then shall forthwith be given a copy of the

information as recorded in the aforesaid manner [Section

Delay in filing FIR.

The criminal court attaches great importance to the lodging

ofprompt F.I.R. because same greatly diminishes the chances of
flase implication of accused as well as informant being totored.
Thus the F.I.R. relies on spontaneity; deliberation andconsultation
are inimical to it.

However, the mere fact that F.I.R.has been lodged early does not
rule out the chances of embellishment or falsehood in every

9 Tara chand AIR 1970SC 841.


At the same time, mere delay in lodging not necessarily, as

a matter of law, fatal to to the prosecution; delay can be
condoned if there is satisfactiorly explanation 10.

In the case of Amar Singh v. Balwinder Singh11 the Honble

Supreme Court held that, There is no hard and fast rule that any
delay in lodging in F.I.R.would automatically render the
prosecution case doubtful. It is necessarily depends on facts and
circumstances of each case.

Where delay in filing the F.I.R. in a rape case had taken place , the
court was satisfied by the explanation that since the honour of a
family was involved, the the comoplaint was delayed, this was
decided in the case of Harpal Singh vs State of H.P12.

Similarly, where the murder took place at about 7:30 p.m. and
F.I.R. was lodged next morning at about 7:30 a.m., the police
station being 7 k.m. away and the informant having admitted that
due to the apprehension of danger of his life, he did not go in the
night. It was held that this situation was eligible for condoning of

10 Apren Joseph VS State of Kerla AIR 1973 SC 542.

11 AIR 2003SC 11643.

12 AIR 1981 SC 361.


Thus , there is no hard and fast rule that delay in lodging the F.I.R.
would automatically render the case depends on the
facts and circumstances in each case.

Omissions in the F.I.R. whether justified?

F.I.R. is required to contain the basic feature of prosecution case,

since its sets the law into motion. The word information means
something in the nature of a complaint or accusation, or at least
informationof a crime. It should contain the circunmtance of the
crime, the names of actual culprits and part playe4d by them as
well as names of eyewitnesses.

In Superintendence of Police, CBI vs Tapan Kumar Singh 13 it

was held that not an encyclopedia which must conatain or
disclose all facts and details relating to the reported offences.
Only a report lodges by the informant about the commission of a
crime without ant name is sufficient for the disclosure of the
commission of a cognizable offence.

Normally , a telephonic message received by a police officer

regardind the commission of a cognizable offence is not a F.I.R.
( under sec154),since it is neither reduced to writing by the police
nor givenin writing signed by the informant. In such se, the courts
view is that the report can be recorde by station writer who
13 2003CRLJ SC.

receives the messages. He himself sign it as person giving the

information and may state in evidence that he received the
message and recorde it truly and honestly.

In State vs Rambal14 the station writer died after receiving and

recording the message and thus could not be produced in the
court for the purpose of authenticating the information as
recorded, the court held that it was not reliable.

In Shyam Deoghariya v State15 a message was sent by

telephone to the police officer and recorded by him in his station
dairy, which discloses an information regarding a cognizable
offence amounts to a F.I.R.

A cryptic and anonymous telephone message which did not

clearly specify cognizable offenceannot be treated as F.I.R., even
after such information is given by an identifiable person.

In Ram Singh Bavaji Jadeja vs State of Gujrat 16here police

officer after receiving a call from someone about the comission of
cognizable offence was about to proceed to the place of
occurrence, an eyewitness of the occrunce appearedand gave
written version of the incident, on basis ofwhich formal F.I.R. was
drawn up, it was held that cryptic telephonic message did not
amount to F.I.R. but the written report legally formed the F.I.R.
14 AIR 1953 ALL 163.

15 (1953) 33 Pat 122.

16 1994 CrLJ 1254.


Zero F.I.R.:

A police officer cannot refuse to record the F.I.R. on the ground

that the place of crime does not fall within the territorial
jurisdiction of the police station this would amount to dereliction
of duty. Information about cognizable offebce would have to be
recorded and forwarded to the police station having jurisdiction,
such F.I.R. is called Zero F.I.R., and it was decided in the case of
State of A.P.v Punati Ramlu17.

Punishment for giving false information:

Secs.182,203 & 211,I.P.C. dealts with false information given to

police officer. Even if such information is not reduced to writing
u/s- 154, the person giving the false information nevertheless
may be punished under sec 211 of I.P.C.

A police officer refusing to enter in the diary a report made to him

about the commission of an offence, and instead making an entry
totally different from the information given, would be guilty under
sec.177 of I.P.C.

Evidentiary Value of F.I.R.

17 AIR 1993 SC 2644.


F.I.R. is a vital and important piece of evidence as it contains the

first version of the incident. However, it cannot be treated as
substantive piece of evidence as it is neither recorded on oath nor
tested by cross examination. But when the informant is called as
witness in the Court his former statement (F.I.R.) can be used both
for corroborating and contradicting his testimony as per Section
157, Section 161 and Section 145 of the Indian Evidence Act. But
it cannot be used as evidence against the informant as it is hit by
Section 25 of the Evidence Act.

F.I.R. could be used for corroborating the informant as

per Section 157 and Section 161 of the Evidence Act but it
could not be used for corroborating other prosecution
witnesses or prosecution case in general.

F.I.R. could be used for contradicting the informant as

per Section 145 of the Evidence Act but for that firstly,
the attention of the informant must be drawn to the relevant
portions where the contradiction occurs. Secondly,
explanation should be invited and only then defence can rely
upon the contradiction.

If F.I.R. is made by accused himself then it could be used as

per the normal rules of evidence unless it is in the nature of
a confession, as then it will be hit by Section 25 of the
Evidence Act. The position of such case has been discussed
in detail in Aghnoo Nagesia .v. State of Bihar AIR 1966
SC 119:-

1. Such an F.I.R. is not inadmissible in evidence

2. If the information is non-confessional then it could be

admissible under Section 21

3. If it is confessional in nature then it will become inadmissible

except the portion which will come under Section 27 of the
Evidence Act.

4. In this case, Supreme Court for the first time clarified that
F.I.R. will be admissible in evidence as a whole not in parts
but with a rider that in case the non-confessional part has no
connection with the confessional part then the former will be
relevant under Section 18 and Section 21.

F.I.R. by an accused cannot be treated as evidence against the co-


F.I.R. can be used by the informant to refresh his memory

under Section 159 of the Evidence Act.

F.I.R. can be used for impeaching the credit of the informant

under Section 155 of the Evidence Act.

It can also be used for proving the conduct of the informant

as per Section 8 of the Evidence Act.

F.I.R. can be used to identify the accused, witnesses, place

and time of occurrence as per Section 9 of Evidence Act.

In certain circumstances, it could also be used as

per Section 11 of the Evidence Act.

F.I.R. cannot be used as a primary evidence of the truth of its

contents as it cannot be substituted for evidence given on oath.
Therefore, F.I.R. itself cannot lead to the conviction of the
accused. But in certain circumstances F.I.R. becomes substantive
piece of evidence:

1. Under Section 32 of the Evidence Act

2. Under Section 6 of the Evidence Act as res-gestae

3. Under Section 160 of the Evidence Act.

On the basis of the above, it can be concluded that normally F.I.R.

is not a substantive piece of evidence but is a public document as
per Section 74 of the Evidence Act and its certified copy could be
given as per Section 79 of the Evidence Act. However, it
becomes a substantive piece of evidence under certain
circumstances but S.H.O. cannot give copy of F.I.R. to the accused
unless the police report is ready or else he would be liable under
Section 27 of the Police Act, 1861.


FIR is an extremely vital report which sets the criminal

investigation into motion. Also, being the earliest report, it is a
valuable piece of evidence in any criminal trial either for
corroborating evidence or for contradicting witnesses. Therefore,
it becomes necessary that such report be recorded in all
circumstances, especially where the person has come to the
police station to lodge an FIR against a particular crime. But, a
clear reading of Section 154 does not put any mandate on the

Police Officer to lodge an FIR. The provision merely stops by

saying that in case of any refusal on part of the officer in charge,
the informant may report the matter to the Superintendent of
Police who will then take necessary actions. In such
circumstances, in most of the cases, the report would not be
taken into cognizance of and consequently no action would be
taken as regards the crime.

Thus, it is highly recommended that any refusal on part of the

Police Officer to lodge the FIR should be made a punishable
offence and strict action should be taken against such officers for
their dereliction of duties, in terms of departmental inquiry, or
otherwise. It is also suggested that the provision (that is Section
154, CrPC) should be strictly interpreted and shall should be
considered as must for all reasons, thereby mandating the
Police Officers to take down the report given by an informant.
Also, frequent visits should be made to the police stations by
senior Police Officers to see that there has been no dereliction of
duties by the officers and other men in that police station.
Further, as regards the issue of anonymous telephone messages
are concerned, as has already been discussed in the project, they
are for no reason to be considered as cryptic merely because
certain procedural requirements as mentioned in Section 154
(such as signature of the informant, etc.) has not been met with.
Any complaint if it discloses the correct facts about the
commission of an offence should be considered a valid FIR and
the Police Officer should initiate an investigation soon after

receiving such complaint. It is the duty of every Police Officer to

prevent the commission of crimes and maintain law and order in
the society, and should also provide protection to the citizens.
Thus, by considering an anonymous telephone FIR to be a mere
crank or cryptic message, the police cannot ignore such
information. Perhaps, the person would not have been in a
position to disclose his/her identity, or perhaps he/she would not
like to disclose his/her identity to prevent getting into any
investigative inquiries by the police, and hence he/she gave
anonymous message to the police. Therefore, Police Officer,
without considering all these immaterial issues regarding FIRs
such as name of the informant, signature of the informant, etc.,
should immediately take action against the crime reported. Since
FIR is the first information about a crime, such telephone message
being earliest in time should be considered as FIR and any
statements recorded thereafter should be considered as
statements made during the investigation, thus being hit by
Section 162 of Evidence Act.

Conclusively, it can be said that FIR is an important report and if

duly recorded provides a valuable evidence in a case. To whatever
extent possible, such information should be lodged with the police
as soon as one gets to know about an offence having been
committed. In this way citizens can help the police who would not
otherwise get know about the commission of a crime while sitting
in the police station.