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The Evidentiary Value Of First Information Report

A criminal case is actuated by filing of an FIR. It is the moment that a complaint is filed with a police station (more specifically with the officer in charge of a police station) in the form of an FIR that the entire criminal justice machinery comes into operation and further procedures are adopted by the authorities for the purpose of carving out the truth of a particular case.

FIR: First Information Report

An FIR is basically a complaint lodged with a police station falling within the jurisdiction of the place of commission of crime. It is a narration of the facts, bringing about the commission of a cognizable offence, either by the victim himself or some representative of him. FIR can also be brought into the notice of the police through a written piece describing the occurrences leading to a crime.

FIR needs to be earliest in the point of time. It would be of immense importance if the FIR is lodged with a police station at the earliest possible opportunity, a prompt lodging without undue delay, because doing so would safely preclude the existence of any ulterior motives, coloured version of the evidence or a concocted story as a product of deliberation.

Section 154 of CRPC prescribes the procedure for filing a First Information Report.

Section 154: Information in cognizable cases.
  1. 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. A copy of the information as recorded under sub- section (1) shall be given forthwith, free of cost, to the informant.
     
  3. Any person aggrieved by a refusal on the part of an officer in charge of a police station to record the information referred to in subsection (1) may send the substance of such information, in writing and by post, to the Superintendent of Police concerned who, if satisfied that such information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, shall either investigate the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by any police officer subordinate to him, in the manner provided by this Code, and such officer shall have all the powers of an officer in charge of the police station in relation to that offence.


The First Information Report provided to the officer incharge of the police station relating to a cognizable offence, whether given orally or reduced to writing, needs to be reduced into writing if given orally. The same shall be read over to the informant and be signed by him. Also such substance of information shall be recorded in a diary maintained by the officer in charge of the police station. Not only this, a copy of such information free of charge is to be provided to the informant.

Section 154 also prescribes the procedure where the officer refuses to lodge the FIR without proper justification. The aggrieved informant may send the substance of the case to the Superintendent of Police concerned through post and if the latter is satisfied that a cognizable case is made out he then initiates the required action. Either he or some other officer subordinate to him then proceeds and investigates the case.

The Evidentiary Value Of First Information Report

A First Information Report is not a substantive piece of evidence. FIR is not an evidence of the facts that is mentioned in it. Being not recorded on oath, neither do such statements are the product of cross examination in a court of law making an FIR not a substantial piece of evidence.

However, being a First Information Report itself, an FIR can be relied upon to such extent that it was lodged promptly without any undue delay by the informant and thus carries with it some reliance that the same would not have been a result of deliberations and tampering and being a coloured version .

Some important points regarding evidentiary value of an FIR becomes pertinent to mention here:
  1. An FIR can be used to corroborate the statement of the informant under Section 157 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872:
    Former statements of witness may be proved to corroborate later testimony as to same fact : In order to corroborate the testimony of a witness, any former statement made by such witness relating to the same fact, at or about the time when the fact took place, or before any authority legally competent to investigate the fact, may be proved.

    It becomes of immense importance to know as to when the witness makes the statement to the other person post the occurrence of a crime. Either a witness makes the statement to an authority legally bound to investigate the case or makes the same to a non-authority. The time gap between the occurrence of the crime and the making of the statement to the other person is of extreme relevance. If the statement is made to an authority bound to investigate the case, then such time period is immaterial.

    Whereas, if the statement is made to a non authority then such a time period plays a crucial role and the same should be so small that an opportunity of concoction or fabrication of the evidence is out of question. So, such a previous statement should have been made either at or about the time the fact took place. The same was held in the case of Rameshwar V State of Rajasthan[1]

    Therefore, these statements are used to corroborate the testimony of the witness in the court of law.
     
  2. It can also be used to contradict the informant under Section 145 of Indian Evidence Act.
    Cross-examination as to previous statements in writing : A witness may be cross-examined as to previous statements made by him in writing or reduced into writing, and relevant to matters in question, without such writing being shown to him, or being proved; but, if it is intended to contradict him by the writing, his attention must, before the writing can be proved, be called to those parts of it which are to be used for the purpose of contradicting him.

    Statements made by a witness in writing some time back relevant to the matter in issue can be used either for the purpose of contradicting him through cross examination or can be used for impeaching his credit. And the same happens with the FIR. The same has been held in the case of state of Kerala V Babu[2].

Conclusion
Even though an FIR as such is not considered as a substantial piece of evidence, itís relevance and importance is to be undoubtedly found in the fact that using the statements made in the FIR by corroborating or contradicting the averments made by the witness is of paramount significance for the purpose of eliciting the truth. Therefore, the general importance of an FIR in a particular case is to be appreciated while pursuing for justice in a court of law.

References
  1. AIR 1952 SC 54
  2. AIR 1999 SC 2161

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