DailyPost 2403

First Information Report, FIR, is the most common abbreviation, known to everyone, regarding the criminal investigation, and the criminal justice system. Without getting into the legalese, it simply means that any information of a cognizable offence reported to the police, is brought down in writing and that becomes the gist of the FIR, with relevant columns of the details duly filled in and a unique number added to it, to monitor all activities related to the case. This is the initiation of a criminal case and which can possibly go up to the Supreme Court of India. Contrary, to the simplicity of its name and legal operation, mostly the de-facto operation, is one of the hottest quagmires of the criminal justice system.

FIR has become so iconic that it is used as word of general usage. The catch in this whole game is that if there is no FIR registered, it can be legally presumed that the offence has not taken place. Any act not brought on criminal investigation records, does not exist, that can be claimed safely and cannot be challenged in any court of law or before any authority. While the law does not allow for any discretion in this regard, discretion is what rules the roost. Any crime not seen in public view or blatantly of a physical nature, falls in the field of view called discretion.

Ask anyone who has gone through the exercise of getting a FIR registered will tell how easy it is? We can call it the elusive FIR. Senior officers in the police in their probation days are taught about the FIR and its complexities, inclusive of its elusive nature and at the end of more than three and half decades, they find it as elusive, when they retire from service. Free registration of FIR has been the proclaimed philosophy, and in spite of clear-cut guidelines of courts any number of times, it remains mired in teething problems which most to the times puts our governance and democracy to shame. It is a tool of power to be used in whichever manner it suits the best from a SHO of Police Station to the powers that be.

Naked power in a camouflaged democracy, is what be practiced in the justice for quite long. The end does not seem to be in sight. Each word of the legal terminology; Frist, Information and Report has been shattered into smithereens. A little elaboration will make it clear; power to register is also used as power not to register, even timing is worked out, the details of the case might not be the truest, and for sure the sections of law would always remain a matter of dispute. If wrong sections are used it would always be a matter of debate. Police looks for orders to register in case of sensitive cases, the cases are differently sensitive at different political levels. Suo motto powers can mean to be suo motto connivance. Stock manipulation to sexual harassment being in headlines consistently don’t end up even in the most basic legal step; registration of a FIR.

Sanjay Sahay

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