Feb 9, 2022

Unable to file an FIR due to police harassment? Here’s what to do

Malavika Rajkumar and Kadambari Agarwal

An FIR (First Information Report) is a document prepared by the police when they receive information about a crime or offence that has been committed. Typically, while filing an FIR, the police will ask multiple details regarding the complaint you have and give you a copy of the FIR to keep.

An FIR is integral as it is the written confirmation of police records on the basis of which the investigation and the arrests take place.

Where do you file the FIR?

You can file the FIR by going to the nearest police station. In 2013, the concept of “Zero FIR” was introduced in India whereby it is not a requirement for you to go to the police station in the area where the crime or incident took place. You can go to any police station to report the incident and they have to mandatorily record this and transfer it to the police station in the area/jurisdiction where the incident/crime took place. To find the nearest police station, you can download the ‘Indian Police at your call’ application. You can also file an FIR online. For example in Delhi, you can file an online FIR if you have lost your sim card or your phone has been snatched, etc.

Who can file an FIR?

You can file an FIR if you are the victim of a crime, if you know that a crime has taken place or is about to take place. If you cannot file it, anyone, including your relatives, friends, etc. can file the FIR on your behalf. It is not necessary that you must have all the information about the crime in order to file an FIR. However, it is important that you report everything you know to the police.

Filing the FIR

When you go to file an FIR, this is what happens:

  • You will be directed to the Duty Officer who may be a male or female police officer. For certain sexual crimes such as rape, stalking etc., it is mandatory for a woman police officer to record the details from you in the FIR.
  • You will be asked to write down the details of the incident/crime or explain it verbally to the police officer.
  • Initially, the police officer will make an entry in the Daily Diary or General Diary. The diary contains details of any kind of complaint being lodged at the police station. After this, an FIR is registered if the police believe there is substantial evidence or merit to your complaint.
  • If you already have a written complaint with you, please carry two copies and give them to the Duty Officer. Both will be stamped and one will be returned to you. The stamp bears a Daily Diary Number or DD No. and is proof that they received your complaint.
  • The details that you have written or narrated will be written down in the FIR and the police officer will read it out to you. Once you have verified the details, you will have to sign the FIR.
  • You will get a copy of the FIR for free. Keep a note of the FIR number so that you can request the same copy again if you lose or misplace it.

Remember that the details written down in the FIR cannot be changed. You, or someone on your behalf can only give additional information about the incident/crime, if you have any.

Here are six remedies in case the police refuse to file your FIR:

  • Approach the Superintendent of Police (SP) — You should make a complaint in writing, and send it to the SP of your district, by post. The SP will consider your complaint, and if he feels that your complaint reports a cognizable offence, he will direct the police to investigate your case or investigate it himself.
  • Approach the Metropolitan/Judicial Magistrate — With the help of a lawyer, you can make a “private complaint” in writing to the Metropolitan/Judicial Magistrate. The Magistrate will look into the complaint and may order the police to take necessary action. You should take this step only after approaching the police.
  • Go to Another Police Station — The law has provided the facility for Zero FIR, where you may go to any police station, close to you, and file an FIR. The police have to file your complaint, and then transfer it to the police station in whose jurisdiction the offence was committed.
  • Approach Other Forums — You can approach the National/State Human Rights Commission or National/State Women’s Commission to file a complaint. These forums have the power to investigate the case, and assist you in filing a complaint to the police.
  • File a Writ Petition in the High Court — With the help of a lawyer, you may also file a writ petition in the High Court of your state if the police officer refuses to take action or file your complaint. This will oblige the police officer(s) to show cause or reasons for not filing your complaint.
  • Informal Remedies — In addition to the remedies covered, you can also take the help of a lawyer or a friend or a relative, to file a complaint on your behalf.

Filing an FIR may be a daunting process for many. Sometimes, the police may refuse to file your complaint without giving any reason. This is why it is important for you to understand the importance of filing an FIR and knowing what your rights are so that you can insist on getting your FIR registered.

Malavika Rajkumar is the Content Lead and Kadambari Agarwal is the Research Assistant at Nyaaya, an initiative of Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, New Delhi. Views are personal.

Originally published at https://www.moneycontrol.com.

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