Friday, November 01, 2013

FIR basics

Advice - Rights and Laws, Nov '13
By Kaushik Gupta

Reader queries

When and how to file an FIR?
Anonymous, Kolkata

A First Information Report or an FIR can be lodged in case of a cognizable offence. In the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, there is the description of two kinds of offences: cognizable and non-cognizable. It is usually the more serious offences that are cognizable and in which the police can arrest an accused without a court issued warrant. You can check the list at

An FIR can be oral or written. If it is oral, then the police must write it down, read it out to you and make you sign it. If it is written, the police can still jot down the contents of it in their FIR book and should give you an acknowledgment of receipt of the same. The police, under Section 154(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, are duty bound to supply a free copy of the formal FIR to the maker.

Photo credit: Kaushik Gupta
When you are writing the FIR, make sure you give the specific details of ‘who, when, where and how’. That is, who committed the offence, when it was committed (date and time), where it was committed (the specific location), and how it was committed. Without these specifications the FIR will be vague and devoid of material particulars. If the details are not known, you must state why they are not known.

What to do if the police don’t take a complaint or act on it?
Anonymous, Diamond Harbour

If the police refuse to take your complaint and/or register an FIR, you can straightaway go to the nearest post office and send a copy of the written complaint with your signature in original by way of registered post with acknowledgement due card, more commonly known as AD Card. The complaint should be addressed to the Officer in Charge of the concerned police station. Mark a copy to the concerned Deputy Commissioner of Police, if within Kolkata, or to the Superintendent of Police, if in a particular district of Bengal.

If the police still do not act, then you have the right to approach a lawyer through whom you can file a complaint under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 before the concerned magistrate, who will pass a judicial order directing the Officer in Charge of the police station in question to draw up an FIR and initiate an inquiry.

If, after registration of the FIR, the police do not act, you can again approach the concerned magistrate and pray for a direction upon the Officer in Charge to submit a report regarding the status of investigation. You can, alternatively, file a case under Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 where you will have to produce the witnesses and lead evidence, if you have the details with you.

Kaushik Gupta is a lawyer by profession, a photographer by passion, and happy to answer your queries on legal matters around gender and sexuality. Write in your queries to, and they will be answered with due respect to confidentiality.

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