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Starting with what the FIR actually mean and what is the difference between the complaint made in Police Station and an FIR.
FIR means First Information Report, made in writing to the Police Station either by the victim himself, the eyewitness about a commission of a Cognizable offence(in which Police Officer can arrest without a warrant). It is generally made in the jurisdiction of the concerned Police Station or in some cases it can also be made at different places and it is transferred back to the concerned Police Station.Every FIR holds a unique number, It is basically the formal registration of a criminal complaint. Whereas, Complaint made to Police Station is different. Informal complaints include both, the cognizable and non-cognizable offences. A Complaint could be in oral or in writing form about an illegal activity or an act.
FIR is filed giving the very first-minute information to the police station, it is not necessary that the person filing the FIR is fully aware of the Offence, what is important is giving the information to the police at the earliest. The need for filing an FIR is that once an FIR is registered only when the Police start the process of further investigation.
Anyone who knows or have the knowledge of the commission of a Cognizable offence being it the Victim, Eyewitness, police officer himself or any other person can lodge the FIR to the Police Station of the concerned Jurisdiction.
The procedure of filing the FIR is given under Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973, : Following details that need to be mentioned correctly in an FIR are as follows:
Name and address of the Complainant
Date, Time and Location of the place where the incident took place.
Facts of the incident
Name and Description of the persons involved
After the personal information of the complainant and the necessary details of the incident are given, there are few important steps that need to be kept in mind :
Once the information is given, it is the duty of the Police officer to write it down
Secondly, after writing down the complaint, he should recite the same to you
Thirdly, after verifying the details given by you in the complaint, it should be duly signed or for the people who cannot read and write, they should put their thumb impression on the same.
Fourthly, it is the right of the complainant to get a copy of the FIR, free of cost.
There are certain situations in which delay could be made in the lodging of an FIR, such cases need to justify the reason for the delay caused. In cases where unexplained and if an undue delay is made in the lodging of FIR, these are always seen with the eye of suspicion. There are basically three categories due to which delay is made, these are as follows:
Delay by an informant in lodging the FIR
Delay in recording the FIR by the officer in charge of the Police Station
Delay in dispatching the FIR to the Magistrate
DELAY BY AN INFORMANT IN LODGING THE FIR
The law demands a valid explanation for the delay caused in the FIR, In the case of Munna@Pooran Yadav v State Of Madhya Pradesh, The court held that the distance between the village and the Police station was 6 km, that caused the delay of 1 hour. Thus, the distance could not be ignored and the FIR was held genuine. Likewise, in a Rape complaint the delay of 10 days was made in lodging the FIR, the explanation given was that the reputation of the family members was at stake and it filing a complaint of such serious nature could have hampered the image of the family in the society. In this case, also, the delay made was considered genuine.
DELAY IN RECORDING THE FIR BY THE OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THE POLICE STATION
In some cases, Police first visit the crime scene or the location where the incident took place and then record the FIR from the witnesses present there. This leads to the delay in lodging of the FIR because in cognizable cases it should be lodged first and then the police start their investigation. So, such kinds of activities cause the delay from the side of the police officers.
DELAY IN DISPATCHING THE FIR TO THE MAGISTRATE
Sometimes, the delay is caused beyond the limits of the police in charge and the informant. In the cases where the delay caused is validly justified by the Police in charge, then the reliability of the FIR will automatically increase.
Beyond the above mentioned three categories, the other reasons due to which the delay is caused in the lodging of a Fir from the side of the informant/complainant are:
Fear of damage of family’s reputation in the society.
Fear of the accused person
Fear of getting falsely implicated
Fear of grievous injuries to the complainant or the family members.
Shock caused by such incident.
Beyond the remedies that we can take for the reasonable delay caused in the filing of FIR, like the two sides of the same coin, it has consequences also. According to the delay in hours, there are different consequences in every increasing hour.
5 hours delay: Not seen with suspicion
12 hours of delay: Delay caused of 12 hours in the filing of FIR comes in the purview of Evidence law
15 hours of delay: When the FIR is lodged with a strong delay of 15 hours, the false implication of accused cannot be completely ruled out.
5 Days of delay: Accused becomes entitled to benefit of doubts
14 Days of delay: It would be needing the strong and valid reason for conviction of a person based on an allegation lodged after the delay of 14 days.
Sometimes, Police refuses to lodge FIR in few cases. This could be because of the reasons that Police may not be having the Jurisdiction over such area or it could be because the case would have been of non-cognizable nature then, refusal in such cases is legal and correct. Beyond these cases, where the Police Officer refuses to register an FIR is illegal and the person may take following steps to get his FIR lodged in the Police records.
In the case of Cognizable offence, if Police Officer refuses to write down the complaint that comes under his territorial jurisdiction under Section 154 (3) of Criminal Procedure Code,1973, then the Complainant/informant can approach the Superintendent of police or the Higher Officers of Police with a written complaint. If the S.P of on analysis of the written complaint gets satisfies or agrees that the Complaint discloses the non-cognizable nature of the offence, he may either investigate himself or direct his subordinates to register the FIR and start the process of investigation.
If the above-mentioned remedy does not work then the person can also file a private complaint in the Court of Judicial Magistrate/ Metropolitan Magistrate having the territorial jurisdiction under section-156(3) read with section -190 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
More to these remedies, if the police officers are not doing any efforts to get the FIR registered or is working in a biased manner, then we can also file a complaint to the State Human Rights Commission or the National Human Rights Commission.
Once the FIR is registered, there are following steps that take place and the process of investigation starts:
If the area comes under the Jurisdiction of the Police, then the Police possess all the powers to investigate
It then comes to the assessing power of the police officer, whether such case needs investigation or not. For Eg- mere theft of Rs.100, 200 does not need investigation.
Convinced with the findings or the results of the FIR, the Police Officer forwards the report to the Magistrate and asks him to take the cognizance of the offence.
Magistrate orders further investigation on that particular FIR
No statement given by any person during the inquiry investigation shall be signed.
After giving the report of the investigation, if the Magistrate is satisfied with the results of the FIR, the court issues Summons.
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