Starting October 3, The Morung Express is publishing a series, “101 Things You Wanted To Ask About the Police but Were Too Afraid To Ask,*” an easy guidebook published by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) on knowing the police better. The questions 60 in the series are given below:
What all must be put down in an FIR?
The FIR is your version of the facts as you know them or they have been told to you. It is always better if you know the facts first hand but it is not necessary that you yourself have seen the offence. Whichever it is, you must only give correct information. Never exaggerate the facts or make assumptions or implications Give the place, date and time of the occurrence. Carefully, describe the role of every person involved: where they were, what they were doing, the sequence of what was done by each person, any kind of injury or damage to property that has been done. Do not forget to mention the kinds of weapons involved. It is best to get all these facts and circumstances recorded as soon as possible. If there is some delay in recording a complaint, make sure the reason for delay is also written down.
How can I be sure that the police have correctly written what I told them?
Remember the FIR is your version of what you know. It is not the police’s version of anything. The police are just there to take it down accurately without adding anything or taking out anything. To make sure of this, the law actually requires the police officer to read the FIR out to you and it is only once you agree with what is written that you need to sign it. The police must also give you a true copy of it free of cost. The FIR is recorded in the FIR register and a copy goes to a senior and to the magistrate.
Are there special procedures for recording FIRs of women?
Yes, in cases of specific crimes against women. Recognising that it is not easy for a woman to go to a police station and register an FIR, the law now requires that when a woman complains about rape, gang rape, stalking, voyeurism, sexual harassment, intent to outrage modesty and/or acid attack, her FIR will be registered only by a woman police officer or any other woman officer. If the woman victim is mentally or physically disabled, she does not even have to go to the police station to record her complaint. The police instead will have to visit her at her home or any place of her choice to record the complaint. The police must also arrange for a special educator or counsellor as per the woman’s needs. The statement of such a woman must also be videographed.
What will happen if the police officer refuses to register such an FIR?
The police officer who does not register an FIR of a woman complaining of any sexual offence will now, if found guilty, be punished with imprisonment of six months to two years and will also have to pay a fine.
What about children who are victims of sexual abuse? Are there special procedures for the police to follow in these cases?
Yes, absolutely. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) includes all those child friendly procedures for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and trial of offences against children. As soon as a complaint is made, the juvenile police unit or the local police must record the statement of the child at his or her home or at a place of choice. The complaint must be recorded, preferably by a woman police officer not below the rank of Sub-Inspector. The police officer must not be in uniform while recording the statement of the child. The child can under no circumstances be detained in the police station in the night for any reason. The statement of the child must be recorded in a language that is understood by the child. If required the police must seek the assistance of an interpreter or translator or an expert as per the needs of the child. If the juvenile police unit or the local police feel that the child is in need of care or protection they must immediately arrange to send the child to a shelter home or a hospital.
Before doing so the police must record reasons in writing. If taken to a hospital the medical examination of the child must be conducted in the presence of the child’s parent or any other person who the child has trust or confidence in. If the victim is a girl child, the medical examination must be conducted by a woman doctor.
(To be contd…)
Source: *Written by Navaz Kotwal and Maja Daruwal, the contents of the book are reproduced here with permission.
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