All you wanted to know about filing an FIR: a quick guide

All you wanted to know about filing an FIR: a quick guide


It’s always scary interacting with the police. Knowing your rights helps. This article explains the situations in which the police is required to register an FIR.

FIR is an acronym for ‘First Information Report’. An FIR is a report of a crime filed with the police to initiate the investigation process. However, an FIR cannot be registered for all crimes, and so it is important for one to know the crimes and circumstances in relation to which an FIR may be registered.


Filing an FIR can be scary

Offences for which you can file an FIR

Criminal offences are classified into two categories depending on the degree of seriousness: cognizable; and non cognizable.

Cognizable literally means to take note of. A crime is classified as cognizable if it is of a serious nature, e.g. murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, etc. In cases of cognizable offences, the police can arrest an accused or suspect without a warrant (i.e. without an order from a court).

Non cognizable offences are minor offences, e.g. defamation, intimidation, theft (Rabi pointed this mistake out) etc. In case of non cognizable offences, the police can neither investigate nor arrest the suspect for a crime without an order/ warrant from the court.

An FIR is filed only in cases of cognizable offences, i.e. crimes of a serious nature.Non cognizable offences may also be reported to police but the police will not file an FIR for these offences. Instead, they will register the complaint in the Daily Diary Report (DDR).

Whether an offence is cognizable or not can be found out from the 1st Schedule of Code of Criminal Procedure. As per the schedule, theft is a cognizable offence without any qualification.

Filing an FIR

When a crime of a serious nature occurs, it is natural that one would want to inform the police so that the matter can be investigated. In order to do so, it is necessary to file an FIR. How does one do this?

Who can file an FIR?

It is not necessary that only a victim of a crime can file an FIR in relation to it. The following persons may file an FIR:

1. the victim or any person on behalf of victim;

2. any person who has witnessed the crime or has heard of the crime. In case the person has only heard of the crime and wants to file an FIR, then he must mention the source from where he/she has heard of the crime; and

3. an officer in-charge of a police station.

So, if you are any of 1, 2 or 3 above, then go to the police station closest to the area where the crime has occurred and ask for the person-in-charge of the police station. When you have finished narrating the events surrounding the crime, if the person in- charge of the police station (not lower than the rank of head constable) is satisfied that the crime which took place is a cognizable offence and he is duty bound to register an FIR.

You may either give a written statement or make an oral statement to the officer in charge who will then write it down in FIR register. The officer in- charge is under an obligation to read over the statement written in the FIR register to you and then you must put your thumb impression or sign the FIR register.

Three carbon copies of an FIR are made, one copy each is sent to the Magistrate and the Superintendent of police and the third will be handed over to you. The original is retained, for record, in the police station.

Things one must consider while registering an FIR

There are a few things you should keep in mind if you are filing an FIR:

1. An FIR is recorded in first person, e.g. I was present on the scene of crime, I saw him taking out his gun.

2.The FIR should be registered immediately after the happening of crime. If there is any delay in registering an FIR, the reasons for the delay must be explained. Try to give a detailed description of the accused and other witnesses so that they can be easily identified.

3. Try to give as much information as possible about the scene of crime, e.g. the kind of weapon used, any physical damage caused to property, the date, time and place of the incident the question.

4. Ensure that you use simple language and not ambiguous, i.e., the meaning should be clear and obvious. Also make sure that you have not left out any relevant facts as FIR once registered cannot be modified again. Do not lie regarding any fact as it is a punishable offence under section 177 and 182 of Indian Penal Code.

In the FIR itself, make sure you mention:

1. the date and time of reporting of the FIR by you.

2. the date and time of the occurrence of the crime.

3. that a signed and stamped copy of the FIR is given to you.

The police makes three copies of an FIR. The original is always kept as record in the police station and one carbon copy of original FIR is handed over to the informant. This carbon copy is also stamped and signed by the officer who has registered the FIR. The person filing the FIR must sign on the original and the 3 copies of the FIR.

What if the police refuse to file an FIR?

The person in- charge of a police station cannot refuse to register an FIR. It does not matter whether or not the information given is genuine. It is the statutory duty of a police officer to register an FIR whenever any information pertains to ant cognizable offence is reported to him/her.

In case the person in charge of a police station fails to register your FIR, you can approach superintendent of police who will either himself or through any other officer get the FIR registered.

You may inform the Superintendent of such non registration via a written complaint which may be sent to the Superintendent of Police through post. Note: This is an effective method of ensuring that your plea is heard – do mention in your letter the name of the police officer who refused to file an FIR.

Reporting of non-cognizable offence

As mentioned above, a non cognizable offence can also be reported to the police. This is registered in the DDR (daily diary register). After the crime has been so recorded, a signed and stamped copy of the DDR will be handed over to you.

However, the police will not take any action on the matter without the direction of a magistrate. In case you would like the police to investigate a matter, you must obtain an order from the magistrate directing the police to investigate in the matter. Generally you will have to go to the appropriate court in whose jurisdiction the matter falls and obtain the permission from the appropriate magistrate (who is competent to hear the matter) and ask him to pass an order for police to investigate the matter.


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  1. What if the Police Officer says that the Crime happend in my area BUT you reside in so and so area and refuses to lodge an FIR and asks us to go to our residential police station do to.

    • Yeah that happens frequently.

      We don’t think there is much that can be done about that – they are correct in sending you to the right police station, except this whole thing takes ridiculous proportions (completely ignoring the situation).

      – Akosha team

    • There is a concept of “Zero-FIR”. It means that the FIR can be taken down in any police station/irrespective of place of incident/jurisdiction and can be transferred later-on to the appropriate police station. But the policemen will usuall deny knowledge of “zero-fir” and direct you to appropriate PS.

      • Hey Ashutosh – we haven’t heard of this concept. Can you tell us the relevant provision in CrPC or IPC or any other legislation? It would be very useful for all our readers.

        Akosha Team

      • U cant go for “Zero-FIR”. U can file “Zero-FIR” only if u stay in diff state and crime happ in diff state or long dist. place/city..

  2. So you mean to say theft is non-cognizable offense? So for eg my bro’s Laptop got stolen from Car and he needed an FIR as it was an office Laptop. In such case is Police obliged to file an FIR?

  3. Very Informative. This kind of article is very helpful to the normal people to keep the LAW perfect. Most of the people in india facing some problem while they went to a police station for some reason. Some Police Officers wont do thier job and make the people suffer. So it will be very help if you continue posting / replying answers to normal person like me.

  4. hey guys,
    some guys got drunk in my pub, refused to pay the bill, but eventually did after verbally abusing my bar tender n the waiter, on the way out the broke my glass entrance door. this happened around 10.30 pm and i filed an fir the next day. my bartender says he can recognize one guy if he sees him again. now what the police is saying to inform them if the guy comes to the pub again, which is very rare. the police didnt even visit the pub n analized the damage. ironically the police station is just 50 mtrs from my pub. there is no investigation and the fir has been put in some old file to rot…help me out bro

    • Hi Atish,

      Thank you for your comment but we are really sorry, we are not the right organization to address your problem. We are a consumer blog and Akosha is a consumer forum and cannot really help you with irregularities in investigation by police. You should take up this matter with the concerned higher authority.


  5. Hello , I want to know what If a person beats a person that he gets seriously injured (braking of bones), does this belong to cognizable or non cognizable case?

  6. Very good information. People of India are suffering lot due to the present situation of law and order in the country. Administration and judiciary is the worst and every person is under fear. Such articles will help people to understand law and procedure. But there is a need to support further by extending a service of a good and reasonable lawyer who can help to avail justice at low cost. My heartily thanks to the entire team members.

  7. SENIOR CITIZEN age 72 yrs old on 9/11/12 her house lock was broken and unknow person entred her house senior inspector dadar police station did not register the FIR and made senior lady sit for 6 hrs with out food and water at local worli koliwada beat mumbai senior inspector prakash patil invol;ved.

  8. Does a fraud come under category of Cognizable Offences? There are a few Online Traders like TIMTARA.COM who are receiving money but not supplying the goods ordered, despite false promises.
    Such cases fall under the CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT 1986, as Unfair Trade Practice. But the procedure is too long to get justice.

  9. i have already given complaint to the police station and i receive the fir also and those are i can send to mobile theft insurance office chennai but they can’t help me.
    please i hope you may help me