Does a Phone Call made after Crime Constitute FIR?

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January 08, 2018

This interesting question whether phone calls made immediately after an incident constitutes FIR and whether call made purely for the reason to get Police to the scene of crime constitutes FIR was taken up by the Supreme Court in the renowned high-profile Jessica Lal case i.e. Sidhartha Vashisht @Manu Sharma v. State (NCT of Delhi)[1]. In the case three telephonic messages were received by the Police around 2.25 am on the night of incident i.e. 30.04.1999. Hence, the seminal issue was whether said telephonic messages be treated as FIR under Section 154 of CrPC . The provision enumerates requirements for information in cognizable cases i.e. lodging of FIR.

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In the case, the Supreme Court elaborately discussed the question as to what constitutes the First Information Report?

In this case, the Appellant had contended that three cryptic telephone messages were received by the Police on the night of incident and the same could not be treated as FIR but as a statement under Section 162 of CrPC.

In the aforesaid context, the Supreme Court in the case ruled out the possibility of cryptic telephonic messages to be treated as FIR and stated that cryptic telephonic messages could not be treated as FIR as their object is only to get the police to the scene of offence and not to register the FIR. The said intention can also be clearly culled out from a bare reading of Section 154 of CrPC which states that the information, if given orally, should be reduced in writing, read over to the Informant and a copy of the same be given free of cost to the Informant.

The Court in the case also categorically stated that cryptic telephonic messages not giving the particulars of the offence or accused are bereft of any details made to the Police only for the purpose of getting the Police at the scene of offence and not for the purpose of registering the FIR.

Thus, according to judicial pronouncements, a cryptic and anonymous oral message which does not in terms clearly specify a cognizable offence cannot be treated as FIR. The mere fact that this information was first in point of time does not by itself clothe it with the character of FIR[2].

Also read How to file a Police Complaint?

In the Jessica Lal case the Supreme Court also elucidated on the difference between information about the commission of a cognizable offence given “in person at the Police Station” and given “on telephone”. The Court stated that information about the commission of cognizable offence “given in person at the Police Station” and the information about commission of cognizable offence “given on telephone” have forever been treated by this Court on different pedestals. The rationale for the said differential treatment to the two situations is, that the information given by any individual on telephone to the Police is not for the purpose of lodging a FIR, but rather to request the Police to reach the place of occurrence; whereas the information about the commission of offence given in person by a witness or anybody else to the Police is for the purpose of lodging a FIR.

Hence, the law as settled by the Supreme Court is that a cryptic telephone message of commission of a cognizable offence cannot be treated as FIR under the Code and that merely because the information given on phone was prior in time would not mean that the same would be treated as the FIR. That a cryptic message given on telephone by somebody who does not disclose his identity may not satisfy the requirement of Section 154 of CrPC[3].

Key Takeaways

  • Phone calls made immediately after an incident to the Police constitutes an FIR only when they are not vague and cryptic
  • Calls purely for the reason of getting Police to the scene of crime do not necessarily constitute FIR

 

 

[1] (2010)6SCC1

[2] Tapinder Singh v. State of Punjab, (1970)2 SCC 113

[3] Ramesh Baburao Devaskar and Ors. v. State of Maharashtra, (2007)13 SCC 501