Can FIR May Be Considered as an EVIDENCE
An information recorded by a police officer either received by an aggrieved person or any other person to the commission of an alleged offence is First Information Report or hereinafter referred to as “FIR”. On this report if the offences falls under Section 154 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 the police commences its investigation.
SECTION 157 OF THE EVIDENCE ACT
Section 157 of Indian Evidence Act states that in order to corroborate the testimony of a witness, any former statement made by such a witness relating to the same fact, at or about the time when the offence took place, or before any authority legally competent to investigate the fact may be proved.
Section 145 of the Evidence Act provides that a witness may be crossed-examined as to previous statements made by him in writing or reduced into writing, and relevant to matters in question, without such writing being shown to him, or being proved; but if it is intended to contradict him by the writing, his attention must, before writing can be proved, be called to those parts of it which are to be used for the purpose of contradicting him.
FIR is not substantive piece of evidence, instead it can only be used to corroborate the information given by the informant under Section 157 of the Evidence Act, or to contradict information given by him under Section 145 of the Act. It relevant to mention that if any statement made to a police amounts to a confession, such a confession cannot be proved against a person accused an offence through F.I.R. However. Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act partially allows proof of confession made to a police officer by providing “When any fact is deposed to as discovered in consequence of information received from a person accused of any offence, in the custody of a police officer, so much of such information, whether it amounts to a confession or not, as relates distinctly to the fact thereby discovered, may be proved”.
If an accuse himself reports about the offence to the police, then the F.I.R cannot be used for corroborative and contradiction purposes. Further if the nature of the F.I.R discloses the confession it is again hindered by Section 25 of Evidence Act as it states that no confession made to a police officer can be proved as against a person accused of any offence. If F.I.R is non-confessional in nature it may be proved under Section 21 of Evidence Act. And lastly F.I.R could also show his conduct under Section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act.
The Supreme Court in Lalita Kumari vs State of U.P has stated that the first information report gives information of the commission of a cognizable crime. It may be given by the complainant or by any other person knowing about the commission of such offence and any information which is relating to the commission of a cognizable offence is required to be reduced to writing by the officer in charge of the police station and has to be signed by the person giving it even the minutest details are thereof is required to be entered into a book kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe. It is not required by law that the minutest details be recorded in the F.I.R lodged immediately after the occurrence
CASE LAW:- In Pandurang Chandrakant Mhatre v. State of Maharashtra 2009, The Hon’ble Supreme Court stated that “it is fairly well settled that first information report is not a substantive piece of evidence and it can be used only to discredit the testimony of the maker thereof and it cannot be utilised for contradicting or discrediting the testimony of other witnesses. Though the first information report is not expected to be encyclopaedia of events, but an information to the police to be First Information Report under Section 154(1) must contain some essential and relevant details of the incident. An FIR recorded without any loss of time is likely to be free from embroideries, exaggerations and without anybody intermeddling with it and polluting and adulterating the same with lies. The purpose of, FIR is to obtain the earliest account of a cognizable offence, before there is an opportunity for the circumstances to be forgotten and embellished. It is well settled law that FIR is not a substantive piece of evidence but can be used to corroborate or contradict the statement of the maker thereof. It is also equally established that trustworthiness of the prosecution story can also be judged from the FIR. Besides this, the first information report is relevant as it may be a part of the Res Geste”.
FIR, WHEN NON-CONFESSIONAL IN NATURE
1. For corroboration purposes: It cannot be ignored altogether and can be used to corroborate the statement of the eyewitnesses.
2. For contradicting the evidence of person giving the information.
3. For proving as an admission against the informer.
4. For refreshing informant’s memory.
5. For impeaching the credit of an informer.
6. For proving informant’s conduct.
7. For establishing identity of accused, witnesses, fixing spot time as relevant facts under Section 9, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872
FIR WHEN SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE
- FIR will become admissible under Section 32(1) of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 during declaration when a person deposing about the cause of his death had died.
- When the injuries are being caused in the presence of Station House officer in a police station
- When the informer who has written the FIR or read it, fails to recall memory those facts but is, sure that the facts were correctly represented in FIR at the time he wrote it or read it.
CASE LAW:- In Machchi Singh v. State of Punjab1983.The Hon’ble Supreme court observed, the statements made to the police are if three categories- a) A statement which has been recorded as an First Information Report b) statement recorded by the police in the course of investigation c) statement recorded by the police but not falling under the above (a) and (b) category.None of the above statements can be considered as substantive evidence as it is not made during trial, it is not given on oath, nor the test of cross- examination is conducted. The order of conviction is inter-alia based on the dying declaration of Mukhtiar Singh. He was fired at and injured soon after midnight in the early morning of August.
He was removed to hospital on that very day. His police statement (which has been subsequently treated as a dying declaration) was recorded on the 16th i.e. three days after the assault. He died on the 18th, two days later. The evidence shows that he was in fit condition to make a statement and his statement was truly and faithfully recorded. His statement has been considered to be genuine and true by the Sessions Court and the High Court. It is true that the dying declaration has not been recorded by a magistrate. But then the evidence shows that Mukhtiar Singh was making good recovery and having regard to the condition of his health, no danger to his life was apprehended. It was in this situation that a magistrate was not summoned. Thus, no fault can be legitimately found on this score. Besides, the only question of importance now is as regards the creditworthiness of the statement which has been recorded. Since this statement has been found to be genuine and true nothing can detract from its value. Also available is the evidence of Ujagar Singh and his daughter-in-law, Munibai. The evidence of these two witnesses lends full corroboration to the dying declaration of the victim, and has been rightly relied upon by the Sessions Court and the High Court. There is no reason to view the evidence doubtfully. The presence of these two witnesses in the household was natural. Their evidence shows that on hearing the report of gun they had concealed themselves behind a herd of cattle and had witnessed the incident from there. The Supreme Court had no reason to disagree with the view of the Sessions Court and the High Court that their evidence is reliable. There is no substance in the argument that the culprits could not have been identified as the light shed by the lantern was not adequate to enable identification. The finding of guilt is thus fully supported by evidence.
CONCLUSION:- Value of F.I.R though have no evidentiary value yet corroboration can be successfully done. Refreshing memory and corroboration play vital role when deciding the evidentiary value and reliability on the statement on the witness F.I.R and since it is the first information it consist of a lot of facts which can help deciding a case.