Supreme Court: The bench of AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has held that the true test of a valid FIR is only whether the information furnished provides reason to suspect the commission of an offence which the police officer concerned is empowered under Section 156(1) of the Criminal Code to investigate.
“The questions as to whether the report is true; whether it discloses full details regarding the manner of occurrence; whether the accused is named; or whether there is sufficient evidence to support the allegation are all matters which are alien to consideration of the question whether the report discloses commission of a cognisable offence.”
- FIR or the First Information Report, is neither defined in the Criminal Code nor is used therein, albeit it refers to the information relating to the commission of a cognisable offence. This information, if given orally to an officer in-charge of the police station, is mandated to be reduced in writing.
- The informant who lodges the report of the offence may not even know the name of the victim or the assailant or how the offence took place. Information to be recorded in writing need not be necessarily by an eye-witness, and hence, cannot be rejected merely because it is hearsay. Section 154 does not mandate nor is this requirement manifest from other provisions of the Criminal Code. Thus, at this stage, it is enough if the police officer on the information given suspects – though he may not be convinced or satisfied – that a cognisable offence has been committed.
- Section 154 of the Criminal Code, in unequivocal terms, mandates registration of FIR on receipt of all cognisable offences, subject to exceptions in which case a preliminary inquiry is required.
- There is a distinction between arrest of an accused person under Section 41 of the Criminal Code and registration of the FIR, which helps maintain delicate balance between interest of the society manifest in Section 154 of the Criminal Code, which directs registration of FIR in case of cognisable offences, and protection of individual liberty of those persons who have been named in the complaint.
- FIR is not an encyclopaedia disclosing all facts and details relating to the offence. It is not meant to be a detailed document containing chronicle of all intricate and minute details. FIR is not even considered to be a substantive piece of evidence and can be only used to corroborate or contradict the informant’s evidence in the court.
- Even if information does not furnish all details, it is for the investigating officer to find out those details during the course of investigation and collect necessary evidence. Thus, the information disclosing commission of a cognisable offence only sets in motion the investigating machinery with a view to collect necessary evidence, and thereafter, taking action in accordance with law.
- As per clauses (1) (b) and (2) of Section 157 of the Criminal Code, a police officer may foreclose an FIR before investigation if it appears to him that there is no sufficient ground to investigate. At the initial stage of the registration, the law mandates that the officer can start investigation when he has reason to suspect commission of offence.
- Requirements of Section 157 are higher than the requirements of Section 154 of the Criminal Code. Further, a police officer in a given case after investigation can file a final report under Section 173 of the Criminal Code seeking closure of the matter.
[Amish Devgan v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 994, decided on 07.12.2020]
 Lalita Kumari v. Government of Uttar Pradesh, (2014) 2 SCC 1
 Dharma Rama Bhagare v. State of Maharashtra, (1973) 1 SCC 537
 Superintendent of Police, CBI and Others v. Tapan Kumar Singh, (2003) 6 SCC 175