The First Information Report in India is formal complaint lodged for cognizable offense, initiating criminal investigation.

What is the First Information Report in India?


The First Information Report in India is formal complaint lodged with police for cognizable offenses, initiating the criminal investigation. Imagine you witness a crime or become the victim of one yourself. The first step towards justice in India’s legal system involves a crucial document: the First Information Report, or FIR. An FIR is not just a police complaint; it’s the foundation for a criminal investigation.

It sets the official record rolling for cognizable offenses, serious crimes where the police can arrest suspects without a court warrant. This includes offenses like theft, assault, or robbery.

The process of filing an FIR is relatively straightforward. Anyone with knowledge of a cognizable offense can report it, be it the victim, a witness, or even a police officer who discovers the crime. The FIR typically includes details like the nature of the offense, the date and time of its occurrence, and any known information about the suspect(s). This information is documented by the police officer in a written report, and a copy is provided to the complainant free of charge.

What is the First Information Report in India?

In India, a First Information Report (FIR) is a vital document that initiates the criminal justice process. It’s a written record prepared by the police when they receive information about a cognizable offense.

Here’s a breakdown of key points about FIRs in India:

Purpose: It sets the wheels of investigation in motion. The police are obligated to investigate the offense after an FIR is registered.
Who can file: Anyone with knowledge of a cognizable offense can file an FIR. This includes the victim, someone on the victim’s behalf, or even a police officer who discovers the crime.
What’s included: The FIR typically includes details like the complainant’s information, the nature of the offense, and any known information about the suspect(s).
Some additional points to note:

FIR can be filed orally or in writing, even a phone call can be considered an FIR.

The concept of FIR is not defined in any specific law but is established through police regulations and Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

What are the types of First Information Report in India?

In India, while there isn’t a single classification system for FIRs defined by law, there are different categories that have emerged through police regulations and court judgements. Here’s a breakdown of some common types of FIRs:

General FIR: This is the most common type, filed for various cognizable offenses like theft, assault, robbery, vandalism, etc. It provides a detailed account of the incident and relevant information for investigation.

Zero FIR: This FIR can be registered at any police station irrespective of where the crime occurred. It’s particularly helpful when the place of crime is unknown or the victim feels unsafe approaching the local police station. The station that registers the Zero FIR then transfers it to the appropriate police station for investigation.

Cross FIR: This occurs when both parties involved in an incident file FIRs against each other, accusing the other of wrongdoing. This is common in situations like fights or disputes where each party blames the other for initiating the conflict.

Multiple FIRs: This happens when aggrieved parties file separate FIRs for the same incident. However, courts generally discourage this practice unless there’s a significantly different version of events presented in the subsequent FIRs.

Dowry Harassment FIR: This FIR is filed under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and related laws. It deals specifically with offenses related to dowry harassment and cruelty against married women by their husbands or in-laws.

Domestic Violence FIR: This FIR is registered under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. It addresses violence or abuse faced by a woman from her spouse or any other family member.

Cybercrime FIR: This FIR is filed for offenses related to cybercrimes, such as hacking, cyberbullying, online fraud, and identity theft. It helps initiate investigations into these digital crimes.

Narcotics FIR: This FIR is lodged when someone reports offenses related to the possession, sale, or distribution of illegal drugs or narcotics.

It’s important to note that this isn’t an exhaustive list, and specific types of FIRs may emerge based on the nature of the offense.

What are the provisions of First Information Report in CRPC?

The provisions regarding First Information Reports (FIR) in India are primarily covered under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973. Here’s a breakdown of the key points:

Mandatory Registration: Police officers are mandated to register an FIR when information about a cognizable offense is received, either orally or in writing [Section 154(1)]. They cannot refuse to register an FIR without a valid reason.

Content of FIR: The FIR should contain details like:

  • The informant’s information (name, address)
  • The time, date, and location of the offense
  • The nature of the offense (theft, assault, etc.)
  • Any known information about the suspect(s) [Section 154(1)]

Recording the FIR: The police officer must record the information provided by the informant in writing. The informant has the right to get a copy of the FIR free of charge [Section 154(1)].
Timeliness: The FIR should be registered without any unnecessary delay [Section 154(1)].
Preliminary Inquiry: If it’s unclear whether a cognizable offense has occurred, the officer can conduct a preliminary inquiry. However, if the inquiry confirms a cognizable offense, an FIR must be registered [Section 154(1)].
Complainant’s Rights: In case the FIR is not registered, the informant has the right to file a complaint before a magistrate under Section 156(3) of the CrPC.
Additional points to remember:

Though the CrPC doesn’t define FIR, police regulations and interpretations establish its importance.
FIR serves as the foundation for a criminal investigation.

What are the important objectives of First Information Report in India?

The First Information Report (FIR) serves several crucial objectives within the Indian criminal justice system. Here are some of the most important:

Initiate Investigation: The primary objective of an FIR is to set the criminal justice process in motion. Once a cognizable offense is reported through an FIR, the police are legally obligated to investigate the matter. This triggers a series of actions, including collecting evidence, identifying suspects, and potentially making arrests.

Record Keeping: The FIR serves as a formal record of the reported crime. It documents the initial information received by the police, including details like the time, date, location, nature of the offense, and any known suspect information. This record becomes a vital reference point for the investigation and any subsequent court proceedings.

Protection of Rights: An FIR protects the rights of both the complainant (victim) and the accused. By filing an FIR, the complainant gets a formal acknowledgement of their complaint and initiates the process for seeking justice. For the accused, a properly documented FIR ensures a fair investigation based on the initial information, preventing manipulation or fabrication of facts later.

Transparency and Accountability: The FIR promotes transparency and accountability within the criminal justice system. It creates a paper trail of the events from the initial report, making it difficult for the police to ignore or suppress a complaint. This deters potential misconduct and ensures a more transparent investigation.

Evidence Gathering: While not a primary source of evidence itself, the FIR can be a crucial starting point for gathering evidence. The details provided in the FIR can guide the police investigation towards relevant witnesses, locations, and potential leads. This helps them build a stronger case based on concrete evidence.

In essence, the FIR serves as the foundation for a criminal investigation in India. It sets the wheels of justice in motion, protects the rights of involved parties, and promotes transparency within the system.

What is the background history of First Information Report in India?

While the exact origin of FIRs in India is unclear, there’s evidence suggesting their presence since at least the mid-1800s. Here’s a glimpse into the possible background:

Early Mentions: The oldest documented FIR in Delhi Police records dates back to 1861 [HISTORY OF FIRST INFORMATION REPORT IN INDIA: A READING OF DELHI POLICE RECORDS (1960)  FIRs were likely in use around the time of the Indian Police Act of 1861.

Legal Framework: The concept of FIR isn’t explicitly defined in any specific Indian law. However, Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, mandates police officers to register FIRs upon receiving information about cognizable offenses. This legal provision highlights the importance of FIRs in initiating criminal investigations.

Evolution through Regulations: Police regulations and departmental instructions likely played a role in establishing the standardized format and procedures for FIR registration. These regulations ensure consistency and adherence to best practices across police stations.

In essence, the FIR system seems to have emerged from a combination of early practices, legal provisions (CrPC), and departmental regulations. It has become a cornerstone of India’s criminal justice system, streamlining the process of reporting crimes and initiating investigations.

How the NC complaint became FIR under CRPC?

An NC complaint (Non-Cognizable complaint) itself doesn’t directly become an FIR (First Information Report) under the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure). They are two distinct categories of complaints handled differently by the police.

Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

Nature of Offense:

  • FIR: Deals with cognizable offenses. These are serious crimes where the police have the authority to investigate and arrest without a warrant (e.g., theft, assault, robbery).
  • NC Complaint: Deals with non-cognizable offenses. These are typically minor offenses where the police cannot arrest without a warrant and require permission from a magistrate to investigate (e.g., property disputes, petty thefts).

Registration Process:

  • FIR: Mandatory registration by the police officer upon receiving information about a cognizable offense (Section 154 CrPC).
  • NC Complaint: Registered at the police station but not mandatory. The police have discretion to decide whether to register or not.


  • FIR: Triggers a police investigation into the reported offense.
  • NC Complaint: The police may or may not investigate depending on the nature of the complaint and their discretion.

So, how can an NC complaint be connected to an FIR?

While an NC complaint itself doesn’t become an FIR, there are scenarios where information from an NC complaint can lead to an FIR:

Further Evidence: If during the investigation of an NC complaint, new evidence comes to light suggesting a cognizable offense, the police can convert the NC complaint into an FIR and initiate a formal investigation.
Upgradation of Offense: Sometimes, the details of an NC complaint might initially seem like a minor offense, but further investigation reveals a more serious crime. In such cases, the police can upgrade the complaint to an FIR.

NC complaints and FIRs serve different purposes in the criminal justice system.
An NC complaint cannot directly become an FIR, but the information it provides can lead to an FIR being registered if a cognizable offense is suspected.

What are the steps after First Information Report as per CRPC?

The First Information Report (FIR) under the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) initiates the criminal investigation process. Here’s a breakdown of the typical steps that follow after an FIR is registered:

1. Station House Officer (SHO) Investigation (Section 157):

  • The FIR reaches the Station House Officer (SHO) of the police station where it was filed.
  • The SHO conducts a preliminary investigation to verify the information provided in the FIR. This may
  • involve visiting the crime scene, questioning the complainant and witnesses, and collecting any initial evidence.

2. Deeper Investigation (Sections 156 & 173):

  • Based on the preliminary investigation, the SHO decides whether to register a case.
  • If a cognizable offense is confirmed, a case is registered, and a detailed investigation commences.
  • The investigating officer (IO) might be the SHO or another designated police officer.
  • The investigation may involve:
    -Further questioning of witnesses and suspects
    -Collecting forensic evidence
    -Conducting searches and seizures (with proper warrants)

3. Arrest of Accused (Chapter V):

  • If sufficient evidence suggests the involvement of a suspect, the IO can make an arrest.
  • The arrest procedures are outlined in Chapter V of the CrPC and depend on factors like the severity of the offense and the possibility of the suspect fleeing.

4. Detention and Interrogation:

  • The arrested accused can be detained for a specific period (as per the offense) for further investigation and questioning.
  • The CrPC lays down guidelines for the duration and conditions of detention to prevent illegal confinement.

5. Charge Sheet or Closure Report:

  • After investigation, the IO prepares a report.
  • If enough evidence supports the charges, a charge sheet is filed in court, formally initiating the prosecution process.
  • If the investigation reveals insufficient evidence or no cognizable offense, a closure report is submitted, and the case may be closed.

Additional Points:

  • The CrPC also allows for provisions like medical examination of the accused and the victim.
  • The accused has specific rights during the investigation process, including the right to a lawyer.
  • This is a simplified overview, and the specific procedures may vary depending on the nature of the offense and the investigation’s complexity.

The circumstances are different for various FIR therefore the further stages can be varies as per the situation and as per the law.

What are the Supreme Court Landmark Judgements regarding FIR?

The Indian Supreme Court has delivered several landmark judgements that have shaped the understanding and application of FIRs under the CrPC. Here are a few key ones:

Lalita Kumari vs. State of UP (2014): This judgement emphasized the mandatory nature of FIR registration. The Court ruled that the police cannot refuse to register an FIR for a cognizable offense without a valid reason. It laid down clear guidelines for registering FIRs, irrespective of the social status of the victim or the accused.

State of Maharashtra vs. Prakash Pandurang Hiwarkar (2015): This case clarified the scope of preliminary inquiry. The Court held that the police can conduct a preliminary inquiry only to verify the information provided and not to decide the merit of the case. If the inquiry reveals a cognizable offense, an FIR must be registered.

T.S.R. Subramanian vs. Union of India (2015): This judgement dealt with the format and content of FIRs. The Court ruled that FIRs need not be elaborate but should contain essential details like the time, date, place of occurrence, and the nature of the offense.

Mohammad Wajid vs. State of U.P (2023): This recent judgement addressed the issue of quashing FIRs. The Court established that the criminal history of the accused alone cannot be the sole reason to quash an FIR. The Court considers factors like the genuineness of the complaint and the possibility of a fair investigation before quashing an FIR.

These are just a few examples, and the Supreme Court continues to refine the legal framework surrounding FIRs. It’s important to note that these are complex legal pronouncements, and if you require specific legal advice regarding an FIR, it’s advisable to consult a lawyer.

What is the Fundamental Rights of Constitution work with FIR?

The Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution and FIRs under the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) are two important pillars of the Indian legal system, but they function in separate spheres. Here’s how they connect:

Fundamental Rights (Part III of the Constitution):

These guarantee basic human rights to all Indian citizens.

Relevant rights in the context of FIRs include:

  • Right to Life and Liberty (Article 21): This protects citizens from arbitrary arrest and detention. An FIR, when properly registered, helps ensure arrests are based on legitimate reasons.
  • Right to Equality (Article 14): Guarantees equal treatment before the law. FIR registration should not be discriminatory based on factors like religion, caste, or gender.

FIR (First Information Report under CrPC):

It initiates the criminal justice process for cognizable offenses.

Here’s how FIRs can be linked to Fundamental Rights:

  • Protection from Arbitrary Arrest: A well-documented FIR prevents police from arresting individuals without proper cause. This safeguards the Right to Life and Liberty.
  • Right to Fair Investigation: An FIR lays the foundation for a fair investigation by providing details about the alleged offense. This indirectly protects the rights of both the complainant and the accused.

However, it’s important to note:

FIR registration itself doesn’t guarantee a violation of Fundamental Rights. The police investigation and subsequent legal proceedings determine whether there have been any infringements.

In some cases, an FIR’s contents might be challenged if they appear fabricated or malicious, potentially violating the Right to Reputation of another individual.

In essence:

  • FIRs and Fundamental Rights operate in tandem to uphold the principles of justice and equality within the legal system.
  • FIRs can be a tool to protect Fundamental Rights, but their misuse can also lead to violations.
    Additional Points:

If you believe an FIR infringes on your Fundamental Rights, you can consult a lawyer and explore legal options like approaching a higher court.
The National Human Rights Commission can be approached for alleged violations of Fundamental Rights.

Critical Analysis of the First Information Report in India-

A First Information Report (FIR) in India is a crucial document that sets the criminal justice process into motion. Here’s a critical analysis of the FIR in the Indian context, covering its significance, procedures, advantages, challenges, and potential reforms:

Significance of the FIR
Legal Basis: The FIR is mandated under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973. It is the first step in the process of criminal investigation, serving as a formal complaint to the police about the commission of a cognizable offense.
Initiation of Investigation: An FIR empowers the police to begin an investigation, collect evidence, and, if necessary, arrest the accused. It forms the basis for the entire criminal investigation process.
Documentation: It provides an official record of the information received about a crime. This documentation is crucial for ensuring that the criminal justice process is transparent and accountable.

Procedure for Filing an FIR

Who Can File: Any person who has knowledge about the commission of a cognizable offense can file an FIR. This includes the victim, a witness, or any other person with information about the crime.
Mode of Filing: An FIR can be filed orally or in writing. If given orally, the police officer must write it down. The informant must sign the written document.
Content: The FIR should include details such as the date, time, and location of the incident, the identity of the accused (if known), and a brief description of the offense.
Registration: Once the FIR is recorded, a copy is given to the informant at no cost. The police are then obligated to investigate the case.
Advantages of the FIR System
Prompt Action: The FIR ensures that the police take prompt action to investigate and address the reported crime.
Public Participation: It encourages public participation in the criminal justice system by allowing any person to report a crime.
Transparency: By documenting the initial complaint, the FIR process enhances transparency and accountability in police operations.

Challenges and Criticisms

  • Non-Registration: One of the significant issues is the refusal by police officers to register FIRs, often to manipulate crime statistics or due to corruption and influence from powerful individuals.
  • Delays: Delays in filing and registering FIRs can hinder the investigation process and potentially allow evidence to be lost or tampered with.
  • False Reporting: There is a risk of false FIRs being filed due to personal vendettas, which can lead to wrongful arrests and harassment.
  • Accessibility: In some cases, marginalized and vulnerable sections of society face difficulties in getting their FIRs registered due to biases and systemic issues within the police force.

Potential Reforms

  • Technological Integration: Implementing online FIR registration systems can reduce delays and ensure easier access for the public.
  • Legal Reforms: Strengthening legal provisions to penalize the non-registration of FIRs and protect those filing legitimate complaints can improve the effectiveness of the FIR system.
  • Training and Sensitization: Regular training and sensitization programs for police officers can help address biases and improve the handling of FIRs.
  • Monitoring and Accountability: Establishing independent bodies to monitor the registration of FIRs and address grievances can enhance accountability.

The FIR is a foundational element of the criminal justice system in India, aimed at ensuring prompt and effective investigation of crimes. While it has significant advantages in terms of initiating investigations and maintaining public trust, several challenges need to be addressed to enhance its effectiveness. Reforms focused on technology, legal provisions, training, and accountability are essential to overcoming these challenges and ensuring that the FIR system serves its intended purpose effectively.

Conclusion –

The First Information Report (FIR) serves as a cornerstone of India’s criminal justice system. It sets the wheels in motion for investigating cognizable offenses, those serious crimes where police have the authority to arrest without a warrant.

When someone reports a crime like theft, assault, or robbery, the FIR becomes the official record of the complaint. It includes details about the offense, the time and location, and any known suspect information. This documented record protects the rights of both the complainant and the accused.

The mandatory registration of FIRs ensures transparency and accountability within the system. Police are legally obligated to investigate upon receiving information about a cognizable offense, preventing them from ignoring or suppressing complaints. Additionally, the FIR serves as a crucial reference point for court proceedings, ensuring a fair trial based on the initial information provided.

Overall, FIRs play a vital role in initiating investigations, protecting rights, and promoting transparency in India’s criminal justice system. While the process isn’t without its complexities, landmark Supreme Court judgements and the connection to Fundamental Rights continue to shape the understanding and application of FIRs, ensuring a more just and equitable system.

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