The primary objective of filing an FIR is to initiate criminal law and not to tell the details from minute to minute1. A First Information Report is the 1st move in the police recorded criminal case and includes the common knowledge of the crime done, location of commission, time of commission, who was the victim, and so on. FIR stands for FIRST INFORMATION REPORT and defined under section 154 of CRPC, which says that: “Every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction, and be read over to the informant; and every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing as aforesaid, shall be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf”.2
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, in the matter of T. T. Antony vs. State of Kerala & Ors.3, laid down certain significant points regarding Sec. 154 of the Cr.P.C.:
Details provided under sub-section (1) of Section 154 of the Cr. P.C. is commonly referred to as the First Information Report (FIR), although this term is not used in the Code… And as its given name indicates, it is the earliest and first information of a cognizable offense recorded by a police station officer.4
In another case5, the Court held that: “As all FIR registration involves only the process of entering the details in a book managed by the officer in charge the materialistic of the information relating to the Commission of a cognizable offence… as indicated in Section 154 of the Code”.
According to the statute, the first knowledge report needs to be reported as early as possible so that no time is lost and the guilty party is found in good time and no risk is posed to anyone. But sometimes, there is a postponement in lodging the F.I.R. this might be due to the police’s negligence or behaviour, or the informant’s own mistake. If there is an interruption on the part of law enforcement, they must provide substantial grounds for such delay and in the eyes of law no vague basis of delay would suffice. Under Indian criminal law, police would not be liable if the delay were inevitable, and on reasonable grounds. Furthermore, the various circumstances of delay in the delivery of the first information report have different legal implications. Although the legislation itself did not stipulate any period for F.I.R. lodging, it is an established rule that it should be submitted promptly. When there is a delay, the reason for the delay should be given in the F.I.R., since such a delay may cause embellishment which may be considered an afterthought by the Court.
In BathulaNagamalleswara Rao & Ors. Vs. State Rep. By Public Prosecutor6 the Apex Court held that: “If justifiably explained, delay in the lodging of FIR will not be fatal. An unnecessary delay in filing a First Information Report is often looked at with some doubt, and should be avoided as far as possible.”
There can be three reasons for which Delay in F.I.R. can be understood. They are as following:
Impediment by an informant in lodging F.I.R.
Postponement in registering the F.I.R. by the police officer who is in charge of the police station.
Impediment in presenting the F.I.R. before the magistrate.
Delay by Informant in Lodging an F.I.R:
The court may consider numerous minor detainees while making a decision on the delay caused by F.I.R. lodging, such as the distance between the nearest police station and the place of commission of the crime, the time of commission of the crime, whether the informant has any means of communication when approaching the police, the type of crime, the social and financial status of the aggrieved party, the area to which they belong, etc. The Court, in the case of Munna @ Pooran Yadav vs. State of Madhya Pradesh7, held that The distance of six kilometers between the village and the police station cannot be overlooked, and the delay of approximately one hour caused by F.I.R. lodging is the effect of this gap and thus the F.I.R. has been considered real. The law requires a fair explanation of the delay caused by the registration of the F.I.R., whether it was on the part of the informant or police. In a rape case, where the F.I.R was lodged 10 days after the crime was committed, it was clarified that the reason was that the reputation of the prosecutrix family was involved, and therefore family members needed time to determine whether or not it would be possible to lodge the first report of knowledge in the matter, the Court acknowledged this justification as a valid reason for the delay.8
The FIR must be reported as soon as possible after the incident. Any lag in registration must be satisfactorily clarified. Delay in registering may give rise to apprehension as to whether it was an afterthought or a cooked up version.
We have already pointed out that, every FIR should inevitably be filed immediately, quickly, decisively and without wasting any more time. There could be conditions in which a concession of time must be granted when filing the FIR, but there must be reasonable grounds for delay in registering the FIR under compelling circumstances. Magistrates with a great deal of experience and knowledge can use their discretion wisely and in the interests of justice throughout every case. However, as we have already explained, no practicable period of time can be set for applying the test of reasonableness to the FIR lodging. Facts and circumstances of each case may vary. The delay in Registering the FIR as such is not devastating in law if the prosecution has justified the credible challenges faced by the persons making the report.
1 State of U.P v. Krishna Mater &Ors. , 2010 (2) L.S 42 (SC)
2 Section 154, of the Code of Criminal Procedure
3 Appeal (crl.) 689 of 2001
5Dilawar Singh v. State of Delhi
6 2008(2) CRIMES 188 (SC)
7 AIR 2009 SC 1344