FIR - First Information Report

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What is an FIR?

An FIR (First Information Report), as the name suggests, is the first document providing information regarding the commission of a Cognizable offence created by the police; by recording information of the alleged crime. It is the first step that sets the criminal justice system in motion.

FIR is the document that is prepared by the police after verifying the facts of the complaint. The FIR may contain details of the crime and the alleged criminal.

Official Definition of an FIR:

While the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) does not specifically lay down a definition of the phrase. “First Information Report”, Section 154 (Section 173 of Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita) lays down the relevant details pertaining to the filing of an FIR:

Broadly, three essential elements may be identified in an FIR. According to Section 154 of the CrPC (Section 173 of BNSS), firstly, the information must deal with the commission of a cognizable offence. Next, it should have been given orally to the head of a police station. And lastly, it ought to be reduced to writing and signed by the informant, with its key points to be duly noted in a daily diary.

Before dealing with additional details pertinent to FIRs, a critical point to be noted is the fact that FIRs can only be filed in cases involving cognizable offences. Cognizable offences are offences where the police officer may, in accordance with the first schedule of Code of Criminal Procedure or any other law in force, arrest the accused without the necessity of a warrant.

Modifications under Bhartiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS)

The fundamental principles of Sections 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and Section 173 of the BNSS share common ground and gives statutory recognition to the following principles

  • Zero FIR: Section 173(1) of the BNSS allows the registration of an FIR for offences irrespective of the jurisdiction of a police station, whereby information may be given orally or by electronic communication to an officer in charge of any police station. However, the provision does not provide for transfer of the Zero FIR to the concerned police station having appropriate jurisdiction for investigation.
  • Electronic F.I.R (E-F.I.R): Section 173(1)(ii) of BNSS mandates the recording of E-F.I.R through electronic communication, to be signed within three days by the reporting individual.
  • Copy of FIR: . While Section 154(2) of the CrPC required copy of the information to be provided free of cost to the informant, Section 173(2) of the BNSS extends such provision of the FIR to informant or the victim.
  • Preliminary Enquiry : Section 173(3) of BNSS, stipulates that for cognizable offences punishable for three to seven years, the police officer in charge, with prior permission from an officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, can either conduct a preliminary enquiry within fourteen days to establish a prima facie case or proceed with the investigation when such a case exists.
  • Victim-Centric Improvements: Finally, Section 154(1) of CrPC, though allowing F.I.R recording at the victim's convenient place, initially omitted women victims of acid attacks. Section 173(1) addressed this oversight by extending provisions to include victims of acid attack.

Elements of an FIR

An FIR should contain the following details:

  • The name and details of the person lodging the FIR.
  • The location, date and time of occurrence of the incident.
  • Specific details of the event that transpired or the offence that had been committed.
  • The name of the accused, if known, or any details for identification of the accused.
This sample FIR form indicates the relevant details required for the filing of an FIR. Source-

Legal Provisions relating to FIR

Evidentiary Value of an FIR:

An FIR can be used for the corroboration of a witness under Section 157 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (Section 160 of Bharatiya Sakshya Sanhita (BSS). It can also be used for the contradiction of a witness under Section 145 of the Indian Evidence Act (Section 148 of BSS). Additionally, over the course of the trial, it may be used for establishment of the identity of the accused, eyewitnesses and the location of the crime under Section 9 of the Indian Evidence Act (Section 7 of BSS).

Remedies on refusal to register FIR:

Section 154(3) of the CrPC (Section 173 (4) of BNSS) provides for remedial measures on refusal by an officer to register an FIR; the information may be sent to and taken up by the Superintendent of Police. In case he believes that the information indicates the commission of a cognizable offence, he may investigate the matter himself or direct an investigation to be made by any subordinate police officer.

Upon the superintendent’s refusal to take up the matter, however, the aggrieved person may approach the magistrate, who is conferred with the power to order such investigation under Section 156(3) of the CrPC ( Section 175 (3) of the BNSS)[1].

Quashing of an FIR

Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Section 528 of the BNSS) confers the High Courts with the  powers to, among other things, quash an FIR or a criminal complaint. An FIR may be quashed if it is frivolous, falsely implicates the accused, does not make out a prime facie offence by the accused or involves a malafide intention in instituting the proceedings. The Court, in State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal[2], laid down the guidelines to be followed in the quashing of an FIR by any court, which include, aside from those above, when an express legal bar exists to the continuance of proceedings before the Court, where the allegations appear absurd or improbable, or when the allegations in the FIR only indicate a non-cognizable offence, requiring an order of a Magistrate for any investigation under Section 155(2) of the CrPC (section 174(2) of the BNSS).

Supply of the FIR and Police Report to the Accused:

While Section 154(2) of the CrPC (section 173(2) of the BNSS) required copy of the information to be provided free of cost to the informant, Section 173(2) of the BNSS extends such provision of the FIR to informant or the victim.

Under Section 207 of the CrPC (section 230 of the BNSS).,  in cases where the proceedings have been instituted on a police report, in addition to a copy of the police report and recorded statements, the Magistrate is required to furnish a copy of the First Information Report to the accused.

Special provisons for Women Victims

Section 154(1) of the CrPC (section 174(1) of the BNSS). provides for special procedures for FIR registration for offences against women. If such an offence is alleged, the recording of such information is to be carried out by a woman police officer or any other women officer. Additionally, on account of mental or physical disability of the victim, the FIR is to be recorded at the residence of the victim or a place of her choice, in the presence of a special interpreter and to be videographer. Failure to adhere to the guidelines is punishable under Section 166A of the Indian Penal Code.

FIR as defined under case laws

Zero FIR

A police station may register an FIR irrespective of jurisdictional area; however, the investigation will be taken up by the police station with the competent jurisdiction. The serial number for such FIRs are marked as zero and thus, such FIRs are known as “Zero FIRs”.[3] In the case of State of AP Vs Punati Ramulu and others, the court held that “Any lack of territorial jurisdiction should not have prevented the constable from recording information about the cognizable offence and forwarding the same to the police station having jurisdiction over the area in which the crime was said to have been committed.” In another decision rendered in Satvinder Kaur Vs Government of NCT, Delhi, the Supreme Court held that “even after investigation is over, if the Investigating Officer arrives at the conclusion that the cause of action for lodging FIR has not arisen within his territorial jurisdiction, then he is required to submit a report accordingly under Section 170 of the Criminal Procedure Code and to forward the case to the Magistrate is empowered to take cognizance of the offence.”

Preliminary Enquiry and Mandatory Registration of FIRs:

It has been established by the Supreme Court, in Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of UP[4], that “Registration of FIR is mandatory under Section 154 of the Code, if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation. If the information received does not disclose a cognizable offence but indicates the necessity for an inquiry, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted only to ascertain whether cognizable offence is disclosed or not.”

Thus, the police may carry out a preliminary inquiry only when, from the information provided, it is unclear whether the offence committed is cognizable or non-cognizable. The Constitutional Bench identified situations where a Preliminary Enquiry could be conducted within seven days. These include matrimonial disputes, family disputes, commercial offences, medical negligence cases, corruption cases, and instances of undue delay in F.I.R lodging, especially beyond three months. However, such an inquiry cannot be carried out to verify the veracity of the information received. The usage of the phrase ‘shall’ register an FIR affords no discretion to the police officer in the registration, merely requiring a prime facie commission of a cognizable offence.

Section 173(3) of BNSS modifies the position and stipulates that for cognizable offences punishable for three to seven years, the police officer in charge, with prior permission from an officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, can either conduct a preliminary enquiry within fourteen days to establish a prima facie case or proceed with the investigation when such a case exists. Thus, the scope of the preliminary enquiry was to ascertain whether the information reveals the commission of cognizable offence. However, as per the new provision, the threshold for conducting preliminary enquiry is of prima facie case.

Second FIR

Second FIR cannot be filed on the identical offence, to protect the accused against double jeopardy unless the case opens up a wider scope of investigation, or deals with different facts and circumstances[5].

Telephonic FIR

A telephonic message which is cryptic or unclear cannot constitute an FIR, however, may be noted as a general diary entry[6]. However, if the offence is clearly specified and all of the requisite details for an FIR are duly intimated, an FIR via a phone call may be accepted[7].

FIR as defined in official documents


The SOP issued by Bureau of Police Research & Development, Ministry of Home Affairs on Zero FIR and e-FIR guides all police officials, including SHOs, investigating officers, and administrative staff, on the proper procedures for registering and managing FIRs.

Key steps for Zero FIR:
  1. Approach any police station: A complainant can report to any police station, regardless of jurisdiction.
  2. Record the complaint: The SHO or officer on duty records the complaint as a Zero FIR if it falls outside their jurisdiction.
  3. Register the Zero FIR: After meeting legal requirements, the Zero FIR is registered, prefixed with "Zero". A copy is given to the informant free of cost.
  4. Forward to the correct jurisdiction: The Zero FIR is sent to the police station with jurisdiction over the incident.
  5. Re-register as a regular FIR: The receiving police station re-registers it as a regular FIR.
  6. Assign to an investigator: The SHO assigns the FIR to an investigating officer.
  7. Conduct the investigation: The investigation proceeds according to standard procedures.
  8. Provide updates: Regular updates are given to the complainant.
e-FIR Registration:
  1. Initiation: The complainant logs into the official police e-FIR portal, police website, or sends the complaint electronically. The complainant provides personal details, incident information, and any supporting documents. The electronic information is entered into the e-FIR register.
  2. Verification and Preliminary Enquiry: The e-FIR is forwarded to the investigation officer for initial verification. If the offence is punishable by 3 to 7 years, preliminary enquiry or immediate investigation is conducted with prior permission from a Deputy Superintendent of Police.
  3. Registration within 3 Days: The e-FIR must be signed by the complainant within three days to be officially recorded. Special provisions apply for offences against women and individuals with disabilities.
  4. Assignment: The SHO reviews the FIR and assigns it to an investigating officer.
  5. Investigation: The investigating officer conducts the investigation following standard procedures.

Advisory on no discrimination and compulsory registration of FIRs

Differences Between FIRs and General Diary Entries:

The General Diary (GD) ought to be duly distinguished from a First Information Report, as was established by the Court in Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of UP.  Under Section 44 of the Police Act,  1861, police officers are required to maintain a general diary, chronologically recording all transactions and events in a police station, including arrests, charges, seizures and all relevant details. While the substance of an FIR is also to be recorded in the general diary, a GD entry, an does not require any signature of the complainant, unlike an FIR which requires a signature. An FIR book is to be maintained simultaneously, which may provide a far more detailed account of the offence, while the GD entry may only contain the gist or the substance of the offence. The two are to be prepared simultaneously, and the GD entry must contain the appropriate FIR number too. However, as held in CBI v. Tapan Kumar Singh[8], a GD entry may be treated as an FIR if it discloses the commission of a cognizable offence , in the absence of a registered FIR.

Appearance in official databases


Various state governments have introduced e-FIR portals for the filing and electronic tracking of the status of FIRs. An e-FIR, as the name suggests, may be filed online without a physical visit to the police station. The table below indicates some of the websites through which an FIR may be filed:

An e-FIR may be filed via the state e-FIR portals, and based on the state, may be lodged for cases involving theft, of articles or motor vehicles, as the case may be, often found under the “citizen services” category.

For the Karnataka police website, e-lost reports may be filed for lost articles. Source:
On the website of the Delhi Police, FIRs may be filed under citizen services for stolen items or specifically, vehicles. Source:

e-Court FIR Search Filter-

The status of cases, on the e-Courts services website, may be accessed and filtered on the basis of the FIR number:

Applying filters and FIR numbers, the e-courts website provides the case status
Upon input of the above FIR details, the e-Courts services website displays key details regarding the case status.


FIRs lodged via the Central Bureau of Investigation and its various divisions, including the Anti-Corruption Bureau, may be accessed online via the CBI website, filtering by the branch and case number.


Data on FIRs


The National Crime Records Bureau gives data on  the total registration of FIRs, including eFIRs, under the Indian Penal Code and Special Local Laws across states:

Terms used for registered FIRs

The terms in the report namely ‘Cases Registered’, ‘Cases Reported’, ‘Number of Cases’, ‘Number of Crimes’, ‘Number of incidences’, ‘Incidences’ are interchangeably used to indicate the number of registered FIRs.[9]


  1. Sakiri Vasu v. State of UP (2008) 2 SCC 409.
  2. State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal 1992 Supp. (1) SCC 335.
  3. Neelu Shrivastava vs State & Ors 2021 SCC OnLine Del 5158
  4. Lalita kumari vs Govt of U.P. 2014 2 SCC 1.
  5. TT Antony v. State of Kerala (2001) 6 SCC 181.
  6. Ramsinh Bavaji Jadeja v. State of Gujarat 1994 SCC (2) 685.
  7. Manu Sharma v. NCT of Delhi (2010) 6 SCC 1.
  8. CBI v. Tapan Kumar Singh (2003) 6 SCC 175.
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