The First Information Report (FIR) is a written document prepared by a police officer, containing information about the commission of a criminal offence, eg- murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, etc. The FIR is the primary and most important step in seeking justice against any criminal offence.
Often people are reluctant in filing an FIR or approaching the police for reasons like-family honor, or they think that getting involved in court proceedings could lead to a lot of humiliation and defamation, or due to the fear or threats from the offenders, some even consider it a tedious process. Due to this fear of people, a lot of criminal activities occurring in our society go unreported. This in a way also encourages the criminals to commit further crimes. Hence, it is very important to file an FIR.
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While there are few people who refrain from filing a legal complaint because they do not want to get involved in criminal proceedings, that can take years to get resolved, there are others who do not have complete information about what they should do in such situations. If you too want to file a legal complaint but have no idea about the legal procedures, have a look at this article to get a complete set of knowledge about how can you file an FIR and what can be done next.
A detailed procedure for filing a legal complaint in India is laid down in the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. The following steps shall clear all the doubts that you may have in such a case-
An FIR can be filed by the victim of the offense that is to be reported, or any person on behalf of the victim if he/she is either dead or not in a state to make the complaint. A person who has witnessed the crime taking place can also file a legal complaint or any other person who has the knowledge about the commission of an offense.
An FIR is the document which initiates criminal proceedings against the wrongdoer. In instances where there is damage to property, it is very much necessary to claim insurance and to protect yourself from any liability that could arise from the misuse of your property. The purpose of an FIR is –
a. To inform the Magistrate of the District and the District Superintendent of Police, who are responsible for the peace and safety of the District, of the offence reported at the Police Station
b. To make known to the Judicial Officers before whom the case will be ultimately tried, about facts that have been shared at the time of registering an FIR and the evidence, based on which the investigation commenced
c. To set the criminal law in motion (this is from the point of view of the informant)
d. To obtain information about the alleged criminal activity so as to be able to take suitable steps for tracing and bringing the guilty party to light (this is from the point of view of the investigating officer)
An FIR can only be made for cognizable crimes i.e. serious offenses involving 3 or more years of punishment under the Indian Penal Code (rape, murder, theft). In case of non-cognizable offenses (that carries a punishment of less than 3 years), the police will read the matter and direct it to the magistrate. Generally, the FIR should be filed at a police station that is nearest to your place of residence or the place where the crime has taken place. However, if you have any confusion regarding the jurisdiction of the police station in which the FIR should be filed, you can even file a zero FIR in any police station. The police officer shall later transfer the case to the police station having competent jurisdiction in the case.
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-Who is the perpetrator of the crime?
-Who has the crime been committed against – victim /complainant?
-When was it committed (time)?
-Where was it committed (specific place /locality/area)?
-Why do you think it was committed?
-Which way (the actual process involved) was it committed?
– Were there any witnesses? (Names will be required here.)
– What were the losses? (Money /valuables/ physical damage, etc)
– Also if you have any evidence related to the crime
A zero FIR is used for crimes such as murder,rape etc. where immediate investigation is required and time cannot be wasted in reaching the police station under whose jurisdiction the crime falls. The main idea of a Zero FIR is to initiate the investigation or urge the police to take their initial action. Once you have lodged a Zero FIR, make sure that your complaint is not transferred to the appropriate police station in your jurisdiction without any initial action or investigation.A zero FIR is necessary for crimes where immediate action is required,eg in case of murder,rape etc, or when the police station under whose jurisdiction the crime was committed is not easily accessible, eg in case of crimes while travelling
An e-FIR or an online complaint can only be made against non-cognizable criminal offenses, which means the offenses while carrying less than three years of punishment to the offender as provided under the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Some of the non-cognizable offenses are- assault, cheating, assault, etc. E-FIR is a process wherein an individual can go online and log into the specified website and file an FIR. In turn, he receives a confirmation receipt with date, along with a specific FIR number. The complainant will have to log on to the portal and create a user ID and submit some personal information before proceeding to file the complaint. The complainant will subsequently have to visit the police station concerned, along with the E-FIR reference number, to complete the remaining procedural formalities before the police can proceed with further investigation.