Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is a First Information Report (FIR)?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: FIR, Cognizable Offence

Mains level: Policing in India

This newscard is an excerpt from the original article published in the IE.

What is an FIR?

  • The term first information report (FIR) is not defined in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, or in any other law.
  • However, but in police regulations or rules, information recorded under Section 154 of CrPC is known as FIR.
  • Section 154 (“Information in cognizable cases”) 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 recorded in writing.
  • It has to 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.

Important components of FIR

In essence, then, there are three important elements of an FIR:

  1. the information must relate to the commission of a cognizable offence,
  2. it should be given in writing or orally to the head of the police station and,
  3. it must be written down and signed by the informant, and its key points should be recorded in a daily diary.

What is a cognizable offence?

  • A cognizable offence/case is one in which a police officer may make an arrest without a warrant.
  • In the First Schedule, “the word ‘cognizable’ stands for ‘a police officer may arrest without warrant’; and the word ‘non-cognizable’ stands for ‘a police officer shall not arrest without warrant’.”

What is the difference between a complaint and an FIR?

  • The CrPC defines a “complaint” as any allegation made orally or in writing to a Magistrate, that some person, whether known or unknown, has committed an offence, but does not include a police report.
  • However, an FIR is a document that has been prepared by the police after verifying the facts of the complaint.
  • The FIR may contain details of the crime and the alleged criminal.
  • If, on the basis of a complaint, it appears that a cognizable offence has been committed, then an FIR under Section 154 CrPC will be registered, and police will open an investigation.
  • If no offence is found, the police will close the inquiry.

What in case of non-cognizable offences?

  • In case of non-cognizable offences, an FIR under Section 155 CrPC, commonly called “NCR”, is registered, and the complainant will be asked to approach a court for an order.
  • The court may then direct the police to conduct an investigation on the complaint.

What is a Zero FIR?

  • When a police station receives a complaint regarding an alleged offence that has been committed in the jurisdiction of another police station, it registers an FIR, and then transfers it to the concerned police station for further investigation.
  • This is called a Zero FIR. No regular FIR number is given.
  • After receiving the Zero FIR, the concerned police station registers a fresh FIR and starts the investigation.

What if the police refuse to register an FIR?

  • Under Section 154(3) CrPC, if any person is aggrieved by the refusal on the part of the officer in charge of a police station to register an FIR, she can send the complaint to the Superintendent of Police/DCP concerned.
  • If the SP/DCP if satisfied that such information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, will either investigate the case, or direct an investigation by a subordinate police officer.
  • If no FIR is registered, the aggrieved persons can file a complaint under Section 156(3) CrPC before a concerned court.
  • If the court is satisfied that a cognizable offence is made out from the complaint, will direct the police to register an FIR and conduct an investigation.

What happens after an FIR is filed?

  • The police will investigate the case and will collect evidence in the form of statements of witnesses or other scientific materials. They can arrest the alleged persons as per law.
  • If there is sufficient evidence to corroborate the allegations of the complainant, then a charge sheet will be filed.
  • Or else, a Final Report mentioning that no evidence was found will be filed in court.
  • If it is found that no offence has been committed, a cancellation report will be filed. If no trace of the accused persons is found, an ‘untraced’ report will be filed.
  • However, if the court does not agree with the investigation report, it can order further investigation.


Try this question from CSP 2021:

Q.With reference to India, consider the following statements:

  1. Judicial custody means an accused is in the custody of the concerned magistrate and such accused is locked up in police station, not in jail.
  2. During judicial custody, the police officer in charge of the case is not allowed to interrogate the suspect without the approval of the court.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2


Post your answers here.
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