An FIR (FIRST INFORMATION REPORT) is, as the name suggest the first information a victim or any other person gives to the police about a cognizable offence. A cognizable offence is one on which the police can take action, arrest, investigate on it own. Anyone can be a complainant; the victim, the eye witness or any other witness who is privy of information relating to a cognizable offence.
A complaint/information with respect to an offence can be both oral or in writing. If it is in writing, the police official shall receive the same and give the complainant a copy. If it is an oral complainant, the police official shall reduce the same into writing and give the complainant a copy of the same. A complaint is reduced into a register maintained by the police station and this is now termed as an FIR. The complainant has a RIGHT to receive a copy of the FIR lodged by him/her.
An FIR can be lodged with any police officer, at a police station or a police post. One can also, or if I may say, ideally call the emergency number 100 and inform the Police Control Room of an offence, if the complainant is the victim or the eye witness. This enables the police to act swiftly and the approaching police team can record the very first version of the offence, from witnesses present. This version given the complainant and the witnesses can then be converted into an FIR at the police station. FIR can be lodged at any police station. If one chooses to approach the police beyond the jurisdiction of the place of offence, they are bound to register an FIR and transfer the same to the appropriate police station. Ideally the jurisdiction lies of the police station where the offence has occurred, but in cases relating to dowry/domestic violence, jurisdiction is made out even at the place where the woman/victim is residing or has at any point of time resided with her husband.The FIR is not supposed to be an encyclopedia and missing out on a few point because of the mental state of a victim/witness to an offence is acceptable. The same can be covered when the police subsequently approaches your to record your statement.
As per section 166A of the Indian Penal Code, no police officer can under any circumstance refuse to lodge an FIR with respect to offences relating to women. In event he does so, such erring officer is himself liable for a criminal offence, with punishment ranging to a maximum of 2 years of imprisonment.
In event of other offences, if a police officer refuses to lodge an FIR, you have the right to approach his senior for the same. If he doesn’t, you have the right to approach the Commissioner of Police directly. If even he fails to lodge an FIR, one can directly approach the local Metropolitan magistrate with a proper complaint, who shall direct the police to lodge an FIR and investigate the same matter. As per the latest law laid down by the Supreme Court of India, a police officer is mandated to inquire into every complaint received by him and lodge an FIR within a maximum of seven days. In event the police officer, after a seven day inquiry decides that no cognizable offence is made out, or think that an FIR cannot be registered, he shall intimate the same to the complainant in writing, within 7 days.
It is not necessary that you should always be able to disclose the name of the person you are accusing. It is very common to not know the person’s name and hence in that event, a good description of the said person should be mentioned, along with details with respect to the time, place and other details of the event. An FIR can be lodged against anyone, including public servants, of any rank.
1. How do I go about lodging an FIR?
An FIR should have the following details-
1) a detailed description of the incident- date, time, place included.
2) If you know the accused- then his name and address. If not, as close a description as possible.
3) You must also put down exactly what happened. E.g. If you were felt up- how and where.
2. Do I have to report the incident only to another male officer?
There are all women’s police stations that one can complain at. It is mandatory for all police stations to have women officers and you can request that a lady police officer may lodge your complaint. Some offences against women are earmarked to be investigated only by women officers.
3. How long does the whole procedure take? What am I getting involved in by lodging an FIR or reporting the ‘eve teaser’?
Lodging of an FIR does not take very long, a few minutes, depending upon how precise and aware you are of the facts and circumstances. By lodging one, you are putting the criminal justice mechanism into motion That is, you are asking the police to begin investigating the incident that you have reported. It is then the job of the police to investigate, arrest, take down statements etc.
You may be called by the police to identify the person/s they have arrested. The police then have to file what is called a chargesheet and then the case goes to trial before a judge, where you will be the primary witness, along with others, if there are any. The latest law mandates that every case relating to sexual assault (erstwhile rape) shall be disposed off within 6 months from the chargesheet being submitted in the court. As a complainant, your matter shall be pursued by the Public Prosecutor, but you can always engage a private advocate, who can argue on your behalf with the permission of the court.