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FIR according to the old and new laws

opinionFIR according to the old and new laws

As the new criminal laws Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita, Bharatiya Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, take effect from 1 July, here is some information on FIRs under old and new laws.
A First Information Report (FIR) to the police as was under the earlier law and still remains valid. Accordingly:

  • Information was to be given in writing or orally to the officer in-charge of the police station.
  • Such information was to be written down and signed by the informant, and its key points are to be recorded in a daily diary.
    *If it was a crime against women, including 326A (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by acid), 326B (voluntarily throwing or attempting to throw acid), 354, 354A and 354B (sexual harassment), 354C (voyeurism), 354D (stalking), 376 (punishment for rape), 509 (sexual harassment by relative or through electronic mode), then the information is to be recorded by a woman officer.
    Sections of the above crimes now have a different number.
  • If the alleged victim under the aforementioned sections is in a temporarily or permanently physically or mentally disabled state, then information shall be recorded by the police officer at the residence of such a victim.
  • The judicial magistrate was to record the statement as soon as possible, and a copy of the information was to be given to the informant free of cost.
  • If any person is aggrieved by the refusal on the part of the officer in charge of a police station to register an FIR, she can send the complaint to the Superintendent of Police/DCP concerned.
    Apart from the above, here is more under the new law, Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Samhita (BNSS).
    Now there is a statutory recognition of “Zero FIR” through which an informant can give information orally or by electronic communication to an officer in-charge of a police station, irrespective of the area where the offence is committed.
  • Information can now be lodged through electronic communication (e-FIR) and the signature of the person giving such information has to be taken within three days before the e-FIR is taken on record.
  • A woman police officer is to record information in cases of crimes against women u/s 64, 65 (rape), 66 (causing death or resulting in persistent vegetative state of victim), 67 (sexual intercourse by husband upon his wife during separation or by a person in authority), 68 (sexual intercourse by a person in authority), 69 (sexual intercourse by employing deceitful means, etc), 70 (gang rape), 71 (repeat offenders), 74 (sexual harassment), 75 (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 76 (voyeurism), 77 (stalking), 78 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), 79 (dowry death) and 124 (wrongful restraint) of BNS; and information is to be recorded at the residence of such person if such person is temporarily or permanently mentally or physically disabled.
  • Preliminary enquiry has now been introduced for information relating to cognizable offence which is punishable for 3 years or more but less than 7 years. Officer in-charge of police station, with the permission of DSP or any officer higher than DSP, may, depending on the nature and gravity of offence, conduct such preliminary enquiry to ascertain prima facie case within 14 days.
  • Now, in case of aggrievance by refusal to register FIR, the aggrieved can, after failure on the part of SP/DCP to take appropriate actions, make an application to the magistrate.

WHAT DO THESE CHANGES MEAN FOR A COMMON PERSON?
While the existing provisions such as recording of information by a woman officer in cases of crimes against women, recording of information from the residence of a mentally or physically disabled victim remain, serving of a copy of FIR to the informant free of cost and appealing to the SP in case of grievance in redressal remain as it is.
Here are the additional options in the filing of an FIR under BNSS.
These are:

  • Zero FIR and e-FIR: Now the aggrieved may not have to be physically present, or be restricted to lodging an FIR orally or in written.
  • Jurisdiction of police stations is now no bar. A victim can provide information to a police station irrespective of its jurisdiction. He may give such information orally or by electronic communication to the officer in-charge.
  • Preliminary enquiry: To ascertain a prima facie case, and based on the nature and gravity, a police officer can with the permission of a DSP or higher ranked officer, proceed for a preliminary enquiry. However, in the case of any emergency, nothing stops him from immediate action as required to ensure justice.
  • This means that the FIR may not be instantly lodged. This provides a reflection time to the complaining parties, and verification time, avoiding unnecessary litigation thereby or anguish etc., due to falsehood, or exaggeration.
  • Additionally, the 14-day limit also bars the officer from unreasonably delaying the outcome of such a preliminary enquiry.
  • If any arrest is to be made, there is a requirement of prior permission of DSP.
    This reduces arbitrariness, and provides for higher supervision.
  • Lastly, now, apart from the course of appeal of writing to the SP in case of refusal by an officer to register an FIR, the aggrieved can also make an application to the magistrate even if he is dissatisfied with the intervention of the SP.
    FIR is a very vital documentation for investigation and the processes later to do justice to the case.
    Because this document is admissible and of very high evidentiary value, therefore, correct information available at the time of reporting be given to the police, in writing, orally or electronically, not cryptically.
  • A renowned IPS officer, Kiran Bedi was also the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry.
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