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Being a victim to a crime is a demeaning position to be in, but facing that situation in an informed manner, can be the difference in adding to your stress or relieving it. Knowing about the First Information Report (FIR) in Pakistan, is one of the most important things when it comes to handling the aftermath of an incident, and this blog focuses on unravelling all you should know about the First Information Report.

To begin with, let’s understand what a First Information Report (FIR) is; the First Information Report (FIR) is a written document composed by the police when they first receive information about the commission of a cognizable offence. The FIR legally initiates the process of criminal justice in motion for reporting of a cognizable offence, this makes it the most important legal document in reporting a crime.

However, it is important to note that an FIR only pertains to a cognizable offence, as the police only have the authority to start an investigation (without requiring any court orders) for such cases. The difference between types of offences are as follows: Cognizable offences are serious offences, which usually carry the sentence of three years or more, these include: simple injury by a dangerous weapon, rape, attempt to rape and murder. Cognizable offences are offences where the Police can arrest the accused without warrant. Moreover, Non-cognizable offences cannot be investigated by the police without court orders, these include numerous petty offences and certain type of torts; In this case, the police cannot arrest the accused without a warrant issued by the concerned magistrate.

A First Information Report (FIR) will typically contain the following information: name of the person lodging the FIR, address of the person lodging the FIR, date, time and location of the incident being reported, accurate facts about the incident, use of weapons (if any), names and description of the person(s) involved in the incident, names of the witnesses (if any), and addresses of the witnesses (if any).

The time and place for filing an FIR is extremely important as when the situation arises, it is recommended to file an FIR as soon as possible after the commission of a cognizable offence. Any delay in lodging of the FIR can have a negative impact on the case unless the delay is reasonably explained. Legally, there is no deadline – per se – for filing an FIR, whenever one feels they have the information to lodge an FIR regarding a cognizable offense, they should do so. Moreover, you have two methods of filing an FIR: you may physically visit/call a police station or use online electronic FIR facilities. When physically going to or calling a police station, any police station will immediately register your FIR, however, it is recommended to visit or call the police station which has direct jurisdiction of the area where the crime was committed. Alternatively, online portals have been setup to receive complaints by every province in Pakistan, they are accessible through the official websites of provincial law enforcement agencies. These online portals are integrated with NADRA and Police Human Resource Management Information System among others to ensure data integrity across all systems.

Moving on to the procedure for filing and FIR, it is prescribed in Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, which highlights a number of fundamental procedures: Firstly, it requires that given a person chooses to administer information of an orally, the police must write it down. Secondly, it states that the person giving the information has the right to demand the police to read over the information recorded on the FIR. Furthermore, it requires the person giving the information to verify the recorded information and sign the document. Finally, it states that it is the right of the person giving information to obtain a copy of the FIR free of cost.

Once an FIR has been registered, your responsibility in reporting the crime is complete, and now it is up to the police to complete their responsibility in bringing justice. The police are legally required to immediately act and investigate the case, the process of investigation will include, but is not limited to, collecting evidence, questioning witnesses, inspecting the crime scene, forensic testing, recording statements and so on.

Dealing with crime isn’t easy but having the knowledge on how to make sure you have the best chances of being brought to justice is a favorable spot to be in, we hope by having read a guideline on the First Information Report (FIR), you are where you feel more confident about dealing with a tough situation!

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