Multiple FIRs | By Adv Hafiz Muhammad Azeem

69

Multiple FIRs

BRIEF legal introduction of FIR is that it is information given under section 154 CrPC to an officer incharge of a police station.

It is the First Information Report and it is known as FIR because of its nickname. Basically, it is the initial and the first information of a cognizable offence and it is recorded by an officer in charge of a police station.

It sets the criminal law in motion and marks the commencement of the investigation which ends up with the formation of opinion under Section 169 or 170 CrPC, as the case may be, and forwarding of a police report under Section 173 CrPC.

Furthermore, it is pretty much possible that more than one information is given to a police officer in charge of a police station in respect of the same incident.

And it often happens that more than one piece of information regarding the same incident is given to a police officer in charge of different police stations.

This is what is happening in Pakistan. It is available in the news, that multiple FIRs are being registered regarding the same incident in multiple police stations across the country.

The question is: Whether is it right to register multiple FIRs? In Pakistan and India, the issue of registration of multiple FIRs against one occurrence or incident, due to political or rivalry reasons, is quite normal.

Therefore, superior courts of both countries have time and again interpreted the correct application of law.

However, there is a difference between the two. In Pakistan, the landmark case is Mst.Sughran Bibi Vs the State.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan answers the question that whether a separate FIR could be registered for every new version of the same incident when commission of the relevant cognizable offence already stood reported to the police, and an FIR already stood registered in such regard?

It held that after entering the first information relating to commission of a cognizable offence in the prescribed book under rule 24.5 of the Police Rules, 1934, the matter became a ‘case’, and afterwards every step taken in the investigation was a step taken in that case.

The honourable court observed that under Police Rules, 1934 when a matter is reported to the police it is given an annual serial number and that number is used forever demonstrating that case in which it is given.

The court further held that it is not the matter how many numbers of different versions are received by the police in that case; how many numbers of different circumstances arise in that case; how many culprits are brought to the notice of the investigating agency.

All is that in one single case. And all such versions in that case regarding that same incident though brought into notice by different persons are to be recorded under S.161, CrPC in the same case.

The court concluded that no separate FIR is required to be registered for any new version in the same case and the same incident.

The landmark case laid down by the Supreme Court of India on the subject is T.T. Antony Vs the State of Kerala. The honourable court observed that though it is quite possible that multiple information reports are given to a police officer in charge of a police station in one incident; however, he is not bound to enter every such information in the book.

The first information noted in the station house diary by a police officer in charge of a police station is the First Information Report.

All other information reports after such noting will be called statements under section 161 and 162 of CrPC. And no such information or a statement can properly be called an FIR.

Furthermore, the court observed that investigation commences on the basis of entry of the First Information Report.

After completion of investigation the officer has to form an opinion under Section 169 or 170 of CrPC, as the case may be, and forward his report to the concerned Magistrate under Section 173 of CrPC.

Even more, after filing such a report for further investigation, information or material, the officer need not register a fresh FIR.

However, the decision in TT Antony’s case when came up for consideration before a three-judge Bench in Upkar Singh Vs Ved Prakash, the court observed, while distinguishing the case, that “if the law laid down by this Court in T.T. Antony case is to be accepted as holding that a second complaint in regard to the same incident filed as a counter-complaint is prohibited under the Code, then in our opinion, such conclusion would lead to serious consequences.

This will be clear from the hypothetical example given hereinbelow i.e. if in regard to a crime committed by the real accused he takes the first opportunity to lodge a false complaint and the same is registered by the jurisdictional police then the aggrieved victim of such crime will be precluded from lodging a complaint giving his version of the incident in question, consequently he will be deprived of his legitimate right to bring the real accused to book.

This cannot be the purport of the Code”. The Supreme Court of India differs with the Supreme Court of Pakistan on counter version cases.

Notwithstanding the above difference, registration of multiple FIRs in Pakistan against one offender regarding the same incident must be stopped.

It amounts to abuse of process of law and it is also against the law laid down by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

To conclude, in the words of the honorable Supreme Court of India, “under the scheme of the provisions of Sections 154, 155, 156,157, 162, 169, 170 and 173 of Cr.P.C.only the earliest or the first information in regard to the commission of a cognizable offence satisfies the requirements of Section 154 CrPC.

Thus, there can be no second FIR, and consequently there can be no fresh investigation on receipt of every subsequent information in respect of the same cognizable offence or the same occurrence or incident”.

It is high time that investigating agencies in Pakistan start paying attention to and abiding by these principles of law in matters of registration of FIR(s).

—The writer is an Assistant District Public Prosecutor and writes on various topics & teaches law.