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Recording of first information report (FIR): Section 154 CrPC

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The procedure for recording of first information report i.e. FIR is given in section 154 CrPC. This section devises a process to lodge FIR in commission of cognisable offence. When the information discloses cognisable offence the officer in charge of the police station cannot refuse to record FIR. Police officer has no discretion in recording of FIR if information discloses cognisable offence.

The first information report commonly named as FIR. This is the information about the commission of a cognisable offence. Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (crpc) provides a detailed procedure to register the FIR. The officer in charge of the police station is empowered to record the information as FIR. You must know these important points about the FIR.

1) CRPC Section 154: Procedure for recording FIR?

According to section 154 crpc, the informant can intimate the officer in charge of police station about commission of cognisable offence. He must give such an information with the intention to lodge FIR. The procedure for recording FIR under section 154 crpc is very simple. Informant can furnish the information either orally or in writing.

Step by step procedure for recording of FIR

  • When the police officer receives oral information he shall reduce it into writing.
  • In case of written information the police will record it under section 154 crpc
  • Police officer shall read over the information to the informant or complainant
  • The police officer shall take signature or thumb impression of the informant
  • Thereafter, the police will record the substance of information in General Diary (GD)
  • Police officer will give a copy of FIR to the informant at free of cost

Reading over the FIR

Reading over the information is mandatory because during the process of lodging FIR the police officer cannot manipulate the information. Police officer cannot change the version of information while reducing FIR in writing.

Signature or thumb impression of informant

Signature or thumb impression of information is mandatory because it proves the genuineness of FIR. After lodging the FIR the informant cannot deny its content at the later stage of proceeding. During the trial the court may use the FIR to contradict the informant under section 145 Indian Evidence Act.

However, the FIR is not a bible of the case but it contains the material information about the offence. It sets the criminal law in motion and enables the police officer to start the investigation in the right direction. Therefore, section 154 crpc devises very simple procedure for recording of First Information Report.

2) What to do if the police officer refuses to lodge the FIR

In Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1 the constitutional bench of Supreme Court has held that “The recording of FIR is mandatory under section 154 crpc if the information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence. Hence, no preliminary investigation is permissible in such a situation.”

If the police officer refuses to lodge the FIR then you should send the substance of such information to the District Superintendent of Police by a registered post. Section 154(3) provides an alternate procedure for recording the first information report on refusal of SHO. According to section 154(3) the SP will either himself investigate the case or depute any subordinate police officer to do so.

3) What to do if SP does not give any response?

When the SP does nothing after receiving your information under section 154(3) crpc then you have to approach the Court. You have two options while approaching the court. Firstly, if you do not want to file a private complaint then you should move an application under section 156(3) crpc. Secondly, if you are able to collect the evidence then file a complaint under section 200 crpc.

3.1 File an application under section 156(3) crpc

The informant can approach the court for recording of First Information Report. Judicial Magistrate has power under section 156(3) crpc to direct the officer in charge of the police station to lodge FIR. The Magistrate can direct to record FIR if the application under section 156(3) crpc discloses commission of cognisable offence. If application does not reflect cognisable offence the Magistrate shall admit it as complaint under section 200 crpc.

3.2 File a complaint under section 200 crpc

This should be the last resort if you failed to lodge the FIR in above said provisions. You should prefer a complaint along with evidence and witness. The court shall examine the witness and proceed further if it finds sufficient materials. The court will take cognisance of the offence and issue summon or warrant against the accused.  

4) When the police officer can refuse to lodge the FIR?

However, the police officer is bound to lodge the FIR but in exceptional circumstances he can refuse to do so. In the following situation the police can refuse to lodge the FIR.

  • If the information does not disclose a cognisable offence. 
  • When the information prima facie seems false or frivolous.
  • Information pertaining to the commercial offences, matrimonial dispute or corruption cases.
  • When the offence relating to offences mentioned in chapter XX of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • When the accused is the President of India, Vice President, Prime Minister, Judges or Foreign Envoy.  
  • If the law specifically prohibits lodging the first information report such as offences under section 138 Negotiable Instrument Act. 
first information report

The police officer cannot refuse to lodge the information on the ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction. Each police station has specific territorial limits and that limit is the territorial jurisdiction of the police station. When the offence has been committed beyond his territorial jurisdiction the police officer shall record the zero FIR

5) Can a police officer do some preliminary inquiry before lodging the FIR?

If the information discloses cognisable offence then the police are bound to lodge the FIR. He cannot do a preliminary inquiry before the recording of FIR. Therefore, in Lalita Kumari case the Court has held that recording of first information report is mandatory. However in following offences the police may conduct a preliminary inquiry to check the veracity of information.

  • Commercial offences
  • Matrimonial disputes
  • Medical negligence
  • Corruption cases

6) Whether police have discretionary power in the recording of FIR?

No, the police officer has no power to exercise his discretion while lodging the FIR. In Lalita Kumari’s case, the Supreme Court has held that a police officer has no such discretion in the recording of FIR (first information report). According to section 154 Crpc if the information is relating to the cognisable offence the police shall record it. Section 154 crpc read as:

“Every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction…………..”

7) Which kind of information is necessary for lodging FIR?

So far as FIR is concerned, the information must relate to the commission of a cognisable offence. If the accused has committed more offences than one and any one of them is cognisable then you can lodge the FIR under section 154 crpc. 

In State of Haryana v Bhajan Lal AIR 1992 SC 604 the Supreme manifested the compulsory requirement for the recording of first information report:

  • There should be a piece of information. 
  • That information must disclose the commission of a cognisable offence.

The code of criminal procedure classifies offences into two broad categories. One is cognisable offence and the other is non-cognisable offence. The police have power to arrest the accused in a cognisable offence and he has no such power in respect of non-cognisable offences. 

Where information is relating to the commission of a non-cognisable offence then the police officer will lodge NCR instead of FIR. NCR is the abbreviation of non-cognisable report. The police may lodge the NCR and will not proceed further except the order of the Magistrate. Police cannot suo-motu investigate in NCR.

8) What is the purpose behind the recording of first information report?

The FIR is not a substantive piece of evidence but it can be used against the informant for contradiction. However, it is an important document for the prosecution. Without lodging the FIR the police cannot start investigation. FIR gives the earliest information about the cognisable offence. Police initiate the investigation immediately after receiving the FIR. The purpose of recording of first information report is:

  • Obtain first-hand information about the cognisable offence.
  • Sets the criminal law in motion.
  • Arrest the accused before his absconding.
  • Collect evidence before its embellishment.

9) When you should lodge the FIR?

You should lodge the FIR as early as possible. First information report is the first information in point of time. Thus, time is the essence of FIR. If you have committed delay in lodging the FIR then you have to explain the delay. 

Your FIR will lose its authenticity if you do not satisfactorily explain the delay. There must be a reasonable time between the commission of offence and recording of FIR under section 154 crpc. The reasonability will depend upon various factors like:

  • Distance of police station and place of occurrence.
  • Fatal injuries to the victim, in this situation the informant will first provide proper medical treatment instead of lodging the first information report.
  • Death of victim.
  • Nature of offence, in sexual offence the informants take time to lodge the FIR.
  • Ferocious nature of the accused. If the accused is the terrible person then some delay is caused in lodging the FIR. 

9.1 Delay in lodging FIR may seriously affect the prosecution case. Such as:

  • Accused may abscond and eliminate the relevant evidence.
  • Creates doubt and lowers down the authenticity of first information report. 
  • Infers that the informant has concocted a false story.

9.2 Prompt FIR has these effects:

  • It inspires confidence.
  • Rules out the possibility of falsehood.
  • Brings a spontaneous version of the offence.
  • Eliminates the possibility of false implication of the accused person.
  • Rules out tutored, concocted or planned story regarding the offence.

10) Who can lodge the FIR?

Any person who knows the commission offence can lodge FIR. The source of information does not matter and the police cannot be compelled to disclose the source of information. If the police officer heard about the commission of cognisable offence from a third person he can lodge FIR. Section 154 crpc does not want that only victim or eye witness shall furnish the information. The informant should disclose the source of information while recording the first information report under section 154 crpc.

In Superintendent of Police, CBI v. Tapan Kumar Singh, (2003) 6 SCC 175 the Supreme Court held that anyone can lodge FIR even a person who does not know the name of the victim and accused.

11) What is the evidentiary value of FIR?

The court does not place much reliance on the FIR because it is not a substantive piece of evidence. But it has some value for the prosecution case. It shows the conduct of the informant. The prosecution may use the FIR for these purposes:

  • For contradiction of informant under section 145 of the Indian Evidence Act (IEA).
  • It may be used for corroboration under section 156 of the Indian Evidence Act.
  • If the informant dies then FIR will be used as a dying declaration. 
  • To show the conduct of the informant. 
  • Forms basis for initiating a proceeding under section 182 IPC.
  • If the informant becomes accused then the contents of FIR may be used to prove his conduct under section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act. 
  • The informant can use the FIR for refreshing his memory under section 159 of the Indian Evidence Act.

12) What should be the contents of FIR?

FIR is not an encyclopedia. Therefore, it is not necessary that you must furnish all the minute facts relating to the offence in recording the fir. You should state the important facts regarding the offence. You should give the following information when you recording the FIR:

  • Time and place of the commission of offence.
  • If you know the name of the accused then you should give their name otherwise record the first information report against unknown persons. 
  • Mode of commission of the offence. 
  • How the accused has committed the crime.
  • Nature of the weapon they used in commission of the offence.
  • If there is any enmity between the accused and informant then you should state some facts about that enmity.

13) Whether you can lodge more than one FIR?

You cannot lodge more than one first information report in respect of the same offence. If you have obtained more information about the alleged crime then you should furnish them to the investigating officer. He shall record your information under section 161 crpc. 

You have to give additional information during the investigation when the investigating officer will record your statement under section 161 crpc. In T. T. Antony v. State of Kerala 2001 SCC, the Supreme Court held that there cannot be two or more FIRs against the same offence.

14) How to lodge first information report in cyber crime?

The Government of India has taken an initiative to facilitate victims/complainants to report cybercrime complaints online. A dedicated portal has launched to file an online complaint pertaining to cybercrimes only. This portal gives special focus on cyber crimes against women and children.

online complaint cybercrime

When you file the complaint, the respective law enforcement agencies or police of your state will deal with your complaint. You should provide correct and accurate details while filing the complaint therefore the concerned authority will take quick action.

Cybercrime is an unlawful act where a computer or communication device or computer network is used to commit or facilitate the commission of the crime. You can file an online cyber complaint with respect to child pornography, cyberbullying, cyberstalking, phishing, spamming, online espionage and ransomware etc.

15) Important judgments regarding the first information report

(15.1) Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1 

  • If any information disclosing a cognizable offence is led before an officer in charge of the police station satisfying the requirement of Section 154(1), the said police officer has no other option except to enter the substance thereof in the prescribed form, that is to say, to register a case on the basis of such information.
  • The provision of Sec. 154 of the Code is mandatory and the concerned officer is duty bound to register the case on the basis of information disclosing a cognizable offence.
  • The police officer shall record the substance of information in the FIR book or FIR Register. The gist of the FIR or the substance of the first information report may also be mentioned simultaneously in the General Diary as mandated in the respective Police Act.
  • FIR is to be recorded in the FIR Book, as mandated under Section 154 of the Code, and it is not correct to state that information will be first recorded in the General Diary and only after preliminary inquiry, if required, the information will be registered as first information report.

(15.2)  CBI v. Tapan Kumar Singh, (2003) 6 SCC 175

  • It is well settled that a first information report is not an encyclopaedia, which must disclose all facts and details relating to the offence reported. 
  • An informant may lodge a report about the commission of an offence though he may not know the name of the victim or his assailant. He may not even know how the occurrence took place. 
  • A first informant need not necessarily be an eyewitness so as to be able to disclose in great detail all aspects of the offence committed. 
  • What is of significance is that the information given must disclose the commission of a cognizable offence and the information so lodged must provide a basis for the police officer to suspect the commission of a cognizable offence. 
  • At this stage it is enough if the police officer on the basis of the information given suspects the commission of a cognizable offence, and not that he must be convinced or satisfied that a cognizable offence has been committed. 
  • If the police officer has reasons to suspect, on the basis of information received, that a cognizable offence may have been committed, he is bound to record the information and conduct an investigation.  
  • At this stage it is also not necessary for him to satisfy himself about the truthfulness of the information. It is only after a complete investigation that he may be able to report on the truthfulness or otherwise of the information.

(15.3) Madhu Bala v. Suresh Kumar, (1997) 8 SCC 476

  • When a written complaint disclosing a cognizable offence is made before a Magistrate, he may take cognizance upon the same under Section 190(1)(a) of the Code and proceed with the same in accordance with the provisions of Chapter XV. 
  • The other option available to the Magistrate in such a case is to send the complaint to the appropriate police station under Section 156(3) for investigation. 
  • Once such a direction is given under sub-section (3) of Section 156 the police is required to investigate into that complaint under sub-section (1) thereof and on completion of investigation to submit a “police report” in accordance with Section 173(2) on which a Magistrate may take cognizance under Section 190(1)(b) but not under 190(1)(a).

(15.4) State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal, 1992 Supp (1) SCC 335

  • Where the allegations made in the first information report or the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused then the court may quash the FIR.
  • Where the allegations in the first information report and other materials, if any, accompanying the FIR do not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police officers under Section 156(1) of the Code except under an order of a Magistrate within the purview of Section 155(2) of the Code then the court may quash the FIR.

(15.5) Parkash Singh Badal v. State of Punjab, (2007) 1 SCC 1

  • At the stage of registration of a crime or a case on the basis of the information disclosing a cognizable offence in compliance with the mandate of Section 154(1) of the Code, the police officer concerned cannot embark upon an enquiry as to whether the information laid by the informant is reliable and genuine or otherwise and refuse to register a case on the ground that the information is not reliable or credible.
  • At the stage of registration of a crime or a case on the basis of the information disclosing a cognizable offence in compliance with the mandate of Section 154(1) of the Code, the police officer concerned cannot embark upon an enquiry as to whether the information laid by the informant is reliable and genuine or otherwise and refuse to register a case on the ground that the information is not reliable or credible.

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