Judicial Pendency

Move towards e-FIR, but with caution


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : cognisable offences

Mains level : e-FIR


Central idea

The Law Commission proposes e-FIR registration for unknown accused in cognizable offenses, combining electronic submission with physical signing within three days. Despite ensuring swift crime registration, concerns arise over limited efficacy, emphasizing the importance of human intervention, especially in cases requiring immediate police involvement. The article suggests exploring e-authentication techniques for enhanced verification.

What is e-FIR?

  • Definition: Digital system for reporting crimes to the police.
  • Process: Information submitted online through a national portal. Complainant required to physically sign the report within a specified timeframe (usually three days).
  • Objective: Streamline crime registration with initial electronic submission.

Key provisions of law commissions report

  • e-FIR Recommendation: Proposal for e-FIR registration in all cognizable offenses with unknown accused. Verification through OTP and Aadhaar ID proof suggested by the Law Commission.
  • Verification Process: Complainant verification through OTP for authenticity. Aadhaar ID proof mandated to confirm the complainant’s identity.
  • Information Deletion: Automatic deletion of unverified information within two weeks. Complainant’s failure to sign the e-FIR within the prescribed time leads to deletion.
  • Timeframe for Physical Signing: Complainants given three days to physically sign the e-FIR for formal registration. Failure to sign within the stipulated time results in non-registration.
  • Human Intervention: The article emphasizes the importance of human interaction in certain cases, suggesting that electronic registration may be suitable only for offenses where immediate police interaction is not crucial.

What are cognisable offences?

  • Cognizable Offenses Definition: Offenses for which police can make an arrest without a warrant. Immediate police action is permissible upon receiving information or a complaint.
  • Serious Nature: Generally involves more severe crimes. Examples include murder, robbery, kidnapping, and certain types of fraud.
  • No Court Permission Needed: Law enforcement can initiate an investigation without court authorization. Immediate action can be taken by the police upon learning about the offense.
  • Jurisdictional Variations: Classification as cognizable or non-cognizable may vary in different legal systems. The severity and nature of offenses determine their categorization.


  • Limited Efficacy: The concept of e-FIR relies on obtaining information electronically but requires physical signatures within a prescribed time, limiting the effectiveness of the online process.
  • Lack of Discussion: The article notes that the Law Commission did not discuss models adopted by states currently lodging e-FIRs, leading to potential gaps in understanding the practical implementation.

Key Phrases:

  • Cognizable Offenses: Offenses for which police can make an arrest without a warrant.
  • E-authentication Technique: The use of digital signatures or e-authentication techniques, not extensively discussed in the Law Commission’s recommendations.
  • Human Interaction: Highlighted as crucial, especially in cases like kidnapping, where immediate police involvement is essential for both medical examinations and crime scene visits.

Key Facts/Data:

  • Verification Methods: OTP and Aadhaar are suggested as methods for verifying the complainant’s identity in the e-FIR process.
  • Three-Day Timeframe: Complainants have three days to physically sign the e-FIR; otherwise, the information is automatically deleted from the portal.

Way Forward:

  • Mandating E-authentication: The article suggests considering the use of e-authentication techniques, such as digital signatures, to enhance the verification process and facilitate immediate e-FIR registration.
  • Clarification on Models: The Law Commission and states should provide clearer insights into the practical models adopted for e-FIR registration, addressing potential gaps in the recommendations.

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