A first information report (F.I.R.) is based on a statement, which a complainant narrates to an officer in charge of police station in oral or in writing after commission of a cognizable offence. After registering of an F.I.R. the whole State machinery relating to the criminal justice system comes into motion to collect evidence. It is a statement of the whole occurrence, and it is registered immediately after commission of a cognizable offence. Hence, investigation is conducted by a police officer according to the contents of an F.I.R. It is registered under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, (Cr.P.C.) which is reproduced as follows:

154. Information in cognizable cases: Every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence if given orally to an officer-in-charge of a police station, shall 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 Provincial Government may prescribe in this behalf.

Who can lodge F.I.R.?

Anyone who knows about commission of a cognizable offence can file an F.I.R. It is not necessary that only the victim of crime can file an F.I.R. A police officer who comes to know about commission of a cognizable offence can file an F.I.R. himself.

What is purpose of F.I.R.?

It is the purpose of an F.I.R as follows:-”The purpose of the F.I.R. is to set the criminal law in motion, and to obtain to the first hand, spontaneous information of occurrence in order to exclude the possibility of fabrication of story or consultation or deliberation or the complaint has had time to devise or contrive anything to his advantage and to the disadvantage of others and to safeguard the accused of such like happenings/occurrences in the F.I.R. as the spontaneity in the guarantee of truth to a greater extent.

It is important to note that F.I.R. carries great weight and plays a pivotal role in a criminal case before its maker is examined in the Court. Once its maker is examined in the Court, then it loses its that much importance and reduces to the position to the extent to be used only to corroborate as provided under Article 153 of Qanun-e-Shahdat Order, 1984 or contradicts its maker in the manner as required under Article 140 of the said Order.”(1)

F.I.R. registers after commission of a cognizable offence

It is a mandatory duty of an officer in-charge of police station to register F.I.R. under Section 154, Cr.P.C. after commission of a cognizable offence. On this point, the Superior Courts of Pakistan had held decisions in as follows: “-An Officer In-charge of Police Station shall record the information in concerned Book/Register, with regard to a cognizable offence. The Officer in-charge of Police Station, is supposed to be aware of the law on the subject and it is his legal obligation to assess the information, so conveyed, that whether any cognizable offence is made out, on the basis of such information or not. If no cognizable offence is constituted, in the light of the allegations so made, he is not required to register the case.”(2)

No limitation for lodging F.I.R.

It is not given a limitation to register an F.I.R. under Cr.P.C. Hence, the Superior Courts of Pakistan had held decision on this issue as follows: – “Section 154 Delay in lodging of F.I.R. was not material… No limitation has been provided in criminal law for lodging F.I.R.” (3)

Evidentiary value of F.I.R.

It is not an evidentiary value of an F.I.R. and the Supreme Court of Pakistan had held decision as follows: -”It is for this reasons that in its wisdom, repeatedly this Court had held that F.I.R. is not substantive piece of evidence, but simply an information about occurrence laid down before the law enforcing agency to set the law into motion for the purpose of investigation. Therefore, narration of facts in the F.I.R. cannot be made basis for getting contradictions in the prosecution case or discarding ocular testimony on that premise. At best F.I.R. can be considered as a piece of document to which the complainant, when he appears in the witness box, can be confronted with its contents.” (4)

Police do not have authority to inquiry prior to registration of F.I.R.

A police officer does not have authority to investigate any case prior to registration of F.I.R., according to decision of the superior Court of Pakistan as follows: -”Police officer did not have the authorities to carry out an inquiry prior to registration of a case.”(5)

Role of F.I.R. in Bail cases

If an accused is nominated in an F.I.R. and his role is defined which is non-bailable, a Court will consider the F.I.R. as a basic document for deciding a bail application of such an accused. It is a very important public document in the criminal justice system. Practically, Courts do not, usually, grant bail to an accused who is nominated with a specific role attributed to him in a non-bailable offence.

Delay in lodging F.I.R.

“Delays in lodging F.I.R. must be explained by the complainant plausibly. … if complainant, had failed to furnish the circumstances beyond his control or sound justification in that regard, the allegations leveled in F.I.R. could be presumed to be the result of deliberation, negotiation, discussion and afterthought; with sole drive, and ulterior motive to get accused convicted … such deliberation delay, could not be ignored by the Court in routine manner.”(6)

Alternative remedy of F.I.R.

If an officer in charge of police station does not register an F.I.R. against an accused in a cognizable offence, then a complainant can file an application before the Illaqa Magistrate under section 156 (3) of Code of Criminal Procedure for giving directions to the police officer to register F.I.R. according to law. However, if every effort of a complainant/victim is failed, then a complainant may file a private complaint under Section 200, Cr.P.C. It is an alternative remedy available to a complainant or victim. A competent Court can pass judgment upon a complaint similar to a challan submitted by a police officer under Section 173, Cr.P.C.

What are effects of lodging F.I.R.?

Practically, whether a person has committed or not a cognizable offence, if his name appears on a page of an F.I.R., he will be completely on the mercy of the concerned police officer. Usually, people are very afraid of registration of an F.I.R. against them, because the police tortures them mentally, physically and in some cases financially. It is registered against any person easily by the instruction of a complainant, but to exclude a name from it is possible only after complete investigation of the case. Hence, it is not easy method to exclude name of an accused from it. If a fake or fictitious F.I.R. is registered against a person, then it is a lengthy process to discharge it.

It is also a lethal weapon in the hands of some criminal minded persons to lodge it against their opponents for their social, political, and economic motives. It is a most effective weapon in their hands. The police humiliates an accused whether he is an innocent or not. Hence, it is also a fact that a fake and fictitious F.I.R. opens a door of corruption in the police.

Note: References has been taken from the below mentioned case citation:

  1. 2011 SCMR 45
  2. PLD 2012 Peshawar 46, PLD 2012 Lahore 188
  3. PLD 2014 Islamabad 71, 2011 SCMR
  4. 2014 SCMR 749
  5. PLD 2013 Lahore 442, PLD 2007 SC 539
  6. 2014PCr.L.J. 1123