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What is an FIR?

First Information Report (FIR) is a written document prepared by the police when they receive information about the commission of a cognizable offence. It is a report of information that reaches the police first in point of time and that is why it is called the First Information Report. It is generally a complaint lodged with the police by the victim of a cognizable offence or by someone on his/her behalf.

What is the difference between Cognizable and Non Cognizable Offence?

A cognizable offence is one in which the police may arrest a person without warrant. They are authorized to start investigation into a cognizable case on their own and do not require any orders from the court to do so.
A non-cognizable offence is an offence in which a police officer has no authority to arrest without warrant. The police cannot investigate such an offence without the court’s permission.

Who can file FIR?

FIRs can be registered by a victim, a witness or someone else with knowledge of the crime. As per the laws laid down u/s 154 of the Cr.P.C., the complainant can give information about the offence either in written or orally. In regard to who can file an FIR, the Apex Court of India has observed that;

“Section 154 does not require that the Report must be given by a person who has personal knowledge of the incident reported. The section speaks of information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence given to an officer in charge of a police station”.

Supreme Court guidelines regarding filling the FIR

Supreme Court has given Directions to be followed in regards to Registration of an FIR, these directions are discussed below:

Registration of FIR is mandatory under section 154 of the Code, if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation.
If the information received does not disclose a cognizable offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted only to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not.
If the inquiry discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, the FIR must be registered. In cases where preliminary inquiry ends in closing the complaint, a copy of the entry of such closure must be supplied to the first informant forthwith and not later than one week. It must disclose reasons in brief for closing the complaint and not proceeding further.
The police officer cannot avoid his duty of registering offence if cognizable offence is disclosed. Action must be taken against erring officers who do not register the FIR if information received by him discloses a cognizable offence.
The scope of preliminary inquiry is not to verify the veracity or otherwise of the information received but only to ascertain whether the information reveals any cognizable offence.
As to what type and in which cases preliminary inquiry is to be conducted will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. The category of cases in which preliminary inquiry may be made are as under:
1. Matrimonial disputes family disputes
2. Commercial offences
3. Medical negligence cases
3. Corruption cases
4. Cases where there is abnormal delay in initiating criminal prosecution, for example, over 3 months delay.
While ensuring and protecting the rights of the accused and the complainant, a preliminary inquiry should be made time bound and in any case it should not exceed 7 days. The fact of such delay and the causes of it must be reflected in the General Diary entry.
Since the General Diary/Station Diary/Daily Diary is the record of all information received in a police station, it was directed by Supreme Court that all information relating to cognizable offences, whether resulting in registration of FIR or leading to an inquiry, must be mandatory and meticulously reflected in the said Diary and the decision to conduct a preliminary inquiry must also be reflected.