A First Information Report (FIR) is officially treated as the first piece of information transmitted to the police concerning commission of a major offence. Generally victims or witnesses of a serious crime initiate criminal proceedings against alleged criminals through filing of an FIR. An FIR is a very important document as it sets the process of criminal justice in motion.
It is only after the FIR is registered in the police station that the police takes up investigation of the case. Moreover, it is used in the subsequent trial process as an important documentary evidence. Anyone who knows about the commission of a cognisable offence can file an FIR and cognisable offences are those, for which police can arrest anyone without warrant and a list of these offences is given in the Code of Criminal Procedure1898.
How to file an FIR
Anyone can report the commission of a cognisable offence either orally or in writing to the police. Even a telephonic message can be treated as an FIR. In case of verbal complaint, the concerned police officer would write it down in a prescribed form and read it out before the complainant.
If there is any inconsistency between the verbal description and the written report, the concerned police officer would correct it accordingly. Finally, complainant has to sign at the end of the statement.
Alternatively, a complainant can submit a written application with sufficient detail of the offence before the duty officer to put it down into the prescribed form.
If the police officer refuses to receive the case the complainant can file his complaint before a magistrate. One can also make a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission if the police does nothing to enforce the law or does it in a biased and corrupt manner.
Who can file an FIR
Anyone who knows about the commission of a cognisable offence can file an FIR. It is not necessary that only the victim of the crime should file an FIR. A police officer who comes to know about a cognisable offence can file an FIR himself/herself.
You can file an FIR if:
1. You are the person against whom the offence has been committed
2. You know yourself about an offence which has been committed
3. You have seen the offence being committed
What should you mention in the FIR:
1. Your name and address
2. The date, time and location of the incident you are reporting
3. The true facts of the incident as they occurred
4. Names and descriptions of the persons involved in the incident
5. Relevant circumstances after the incident
6. Any previous linkage, history or threat to commit the offence
7. These all must be written legibly and clearly without any ambiguity. It is true that criminal proceedings has no time bar, however, a justification to this point makes the case stronger.
Things you should not do
1. Never file a false complaint or give wrong information to the police. You can be prosecuted under law for giving wrong
2. information or for misleading the police (Section 203, Penal Code 1860)
3. Never exaggerate or distort facts
4. Never make vague or unclear statements
Written By: Raisul Islam Sourav. He is a Senior Lecturer & Coordinator, Department of Law, Dhaka International University (DIU)