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This article is written by Esha Gupta, an intern under Legal Vidhiya


This article delves into the proposed amendment to Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) by the Twenty-second Law Commission, focusing on enabling online Registration of First Information Reports (FIRs). Section 154, which addresses initiating criminal proceedings by submitting information on a cognizable offense, forms the cornerstone of criminal justice. The absence of a formal definition for “FIR” in the Code highlights its dynamic nature as an oral account of an alleged offense provided to the police promptly. The amendment’s genesis lies in the 2018 directive from the Union Home Ministry, tasking the Law Commission with exploring the feasibility of incorporating online FIR registration. This article explores the various aspects of including amendments proposed by the Law Commission into CrPC.

Keywords: – Code of Criminal Procedure, Law Commission, First Information Report, Cognizable Offence, Amendment, Online Registration


The First Information Report (FIR), about the initial information of a cognizable offense provided to the police station’s officer in charge, falls under Section 154 in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC). Although the term “FIR” lacks a specific definition in the Code, it denotes oral information about the commission of a cognizable offense presented to the police promptly. The primary purpose of an FIR is not to provide exhaustive details but to initiate the criminal justice system. The information shared with the police officer for case registration is expected to be accurate and truthful.

The FIR holds crucial significance for both the prosecution and the defense, serving as the foundational document for a case. A weak foundation jeopardizes the prosecution’s case, highlighting the FIR’s pivotal role.

Police investigations represent a critical facet of law enforcement duties. The objective of an investigation is to amass evidence and apprehend the perpetrator. Provisions concerning police investigations are outlined in Sections 154 to 176 of Chapter XII within the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973, titled “Information to Police and Their Power of Investigation.”

Relevant proposal related to FIR

Section 154 CrPC

Recording information under Section 154, commonly known as the First Information Report (FIR), involves specific regulations governing the reporting of cognizable offenses. When information is orally provided to the police officer in charge of a station, the official must document it in writing. Subsequently, the informant is required to review and sign the written account. This recorded information is then entered into an officially sanctioned “book of records” by the state administration. The informant is entitled to receive a complimentary copy of the recorded information.

In cases where the officer in charge declines to record the information, the aggrieved party can forward the details to the Superintendent of Police. If the Superintendent of Police determines that a cognizable offense has occurred, they may personally conduct the investigation or delegate the task to a subordinate police officer. The commissioned officer possesses the same authority as the officer in charge of the police station concerning the relevant offense.

Additionally, for statements related to offenses outlined in Sections 326-A, 326-B, 354, 354-A to 354-D, 376, 376-A to 376-E, or 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, a woman police officer or any woman officer is mandated to record the statement made by a woman, this measure is taken in cases where these offenses are alleged to have been committed or attempted.

Evolution of provision of FIR under the Code of Criminal Procedure

The historical evolution of Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure from 1861 to 2013 reveals distinct stages of development. Initially introduced in the Code of Criminal Procedure in 1861, it mandated that every complaint to an officer in charge of a police station be in writing, signed, sealed, or marked by the complainant, with its substance recorded in a prescribed book. Subsequent revisions in 1872 and 1882 refined the process, emphasizing the reduction of oral information to writing, signature by the informant, and entry into a designated book as per the form prescribed by the Local Government.

In 1898, the Code of Criminal Procedure further articulated the requirement for information on cognizable offenses to be reduced to writing, read over to the informant, signed by the informant, and entered in a prescribed book. Post-independence, the Code underwent significant restructuring in 1973, and Section 154 was amended in 2013. The current provision emphasizes that all information related to a cognizable offense, whether given orally or in writing, must be reduced to writing, read over to the informant, signed by the person giving it, and entered into a book in the form prescribed by the State Government.

Specific provisions were introduced for cases involving women complainants or persons with disabilities, ensuring recordings are made by designated officers under specified conditions, with video documentation in certain situations. The provision also mandates that a copy of the recorded information be provided promptly and free of cost to the informant. In cases of refusal by the officer in charge of a police station to record information, the aggrieved person can send the substance of the information in writing to the Superintendent of Police, who, if satisfied, can initiate an investigation. This investigation may be conducted by the Superintendent of Police or by a subordinate police officer with the delegated powers of the officer in charge of the police station.

Advantage and Importance of Section 154

  • Registering a First Information Report (FIR) serves as the initial step in providing “access to justice” for a victim, enabling them to formally bring a cognizable crime to the attention of the authorities.
  • FIR registration plays a crucial role in upholding the “Rule of Law” by allowing ordinary individuals to report the commission of a cognizable crime to the State, ensuring that the legal system is aware of such incidents.
  • The Registration of an FIR not only contributes to swift investigations but can also aid in preventing crimes. In both scenarios, it reinforces the framework of law and order.
  • FIR registration reduces the manipulation of criminal cases, minimizing instances of manipulating the timing of FIRs, such as “ante-dates” or deliberately delayed filing. This enhances the integrity of the criminal justice process.

Cognizable vs non-cognizable

“Cognizable Offence” refers to a criminal offense for which a Police Officer, following the guidelines outlined in the First Schedule or any other applicable law, is authorized to arrest without a warrant. In simple terms, it denotes a category of offenses where law enforcement has the power to apprehend the accused without obtaining a warrant beforehand.

On the other hand, a “Non-Cognizable Offence” pertains to a criminal offense for which a Police Officer lacks the authority to arrest without a warrant. A “Non-Cognizable Case” refers to a specific legal situation where the police officer is not empowered to arrest individuals involved in the offense without obtaining a warrant from the appropriate judicial authority (Lama, 2023).

Case Laws on Registration FIR

Lalita Kumari Vs State of UP, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1410 OF 2011

Hon’ble Apex Court, in view of the same, stated that:

1.) It is mandatory to file the FIR u/s 154 of the Code if the information discloses the commission of a cognizable crime and no preliminary investigation is permissible in such a case. If the information does not reveal a cognizable offense but suggests the need for an investigation, a formal investigation will be undertaken.

2.) If the investigation reveals a cognizable offense, the FIR must be reported. If this is not the case, a copy of the entry of the closure must be sent to the first informant immediately and no longer than one week.

3.) Exceptions under which preliminary injury can be made before registration of FIR

Matrimonial disputes/Family disputes

Commercial offenses

Medical Negligence cases

Corruption cases

Cases where there is an abnormal delay in initiating criminal prosecution.

These are only illustrative and not exhaustive.

4.) The conclusion of the preliminary investigation shall not exceed 7 days and all records relating thereto shall be reported in the General Diary, which shall be kept in the police station.

Proposed Amendment

The 22nd Law Commission examined the legal aspects surrounding the online Registration of First Information Reports (FIRs) in India (News, 2023). This comprehensive study delved into the evolution and functioning of online FIR registration, scrutinizing its development in the digital age. The Commission meticulously investigated the historical context of FIR registration, considering both colonial and post-independence eras, and considered significant legal pronouncements from the Hon’ble Supreme Court and High Courts. Collaborative efforts were made with key entities involved in policing reforms, including consultations with the National Crime Records Bureau and the Bureau of Police Research & Development. Additionally, extensive discussions were held with experts, academicians, advocates, and senior police officers.

The findings of this examination were consolidated in Report No. 282, titled “Amendment in Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, for Enabling Online Registration of FIR,” which was submitted to the Ministry of Law & Justice, Department of Legal Affairs, on September 27, 2023. The Commission advocates for a phased implementation of e-FIR Registration, starting with offenses carrying a punishment of up to three years of imprisonment.

In e-FIRs, complainants are relieved from the necessity of physically visiting a police station. Instead, they can register their complaints conveniently through a mobile app or the police’s online network. However, it’s essential to note that an ‘e-FIR’ does not automatically translate into a registered FIR; the complainant must physically sign a copy of the e-FIR within 72 hours to formalize the complaint (PIB, 2023).

The introduction of e-FIRs commenced in 2009 with the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS), initially implemented in Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. These states restricted e-FIRs to non-heinous cases like theft, lost items, and vehicle thefts. The Commission now recommends extending this digital facility to other states and broadening its scope to encompass various other criminal offenses.

Various recommendations of the Law Commission

A.    Permitting e-FIR Registration for Unknown Accused in Cognizable Offences

Embracing the Digital India initiative, the Commission recommends allowing e-FIR Registration for all cognizable offenses when the identity of the accused is unknown, aligning with Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC).

B.    Phased Implementation of e-FIR for Known Accused in Lesser Punishable Offences

In a phased manner, the Commission suggests enabling e-FIR Registration for known accused individuals in cognizable offenses where the punishment, as per the Indian Penal Code, 1860, is up to three years. This approach ensures a smooth transition without disrupting procedures for serious offenses.

C.    Empowering States to Expand e-FIR Registration for Future Offences

The Commission proposes that states have the authority to extend the list of offenses eligible for e-FIR Registration based on the effectiveness of the current system (Das, 2023).

D.    Limited Application of e-FIR Registration

Acknowledging the need for caution, the Commission advises against universal implementation of e-FIR Registration due to potential investigative burdens. As mandated by the Supreme Court, preliminary inquiries should continue in specific cases like matrimonial disputes and commercial offenses.

E.    e-Complaints for Non-Cognizable Offences

Registration of e-complaints is recommended for all non-cognizable offenses, aligning with Section 155 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and maintaining consistency with current practices in all States/UTs.

F.     Verification and Minimum Punishment for False Information

To prevent misuse, the Commission proposes verifying complainants through e-authentication techniques and mandating the submission of valid ID proof. False Registration of e-complaints or e-FIRs should incur a minimum punishment of imprisonment and a fine.

G.    Ensuring Privacy in e-FIR Registration

The privacy of all parties involved in e-FIR Registration must be safeguarded until the complainant signs the e-FIR. Stringent measures to delete unverified information and protect the privacy of sexual offense victims are essential.

H.    Capacity Building for Successful Implementation

Recognizing the Importance of capacity building, the Commission recommends inclusive training programs covering general computer awareness and specific CCTNS-related training at the police station level.

I.      Mass Awareness and Continuous Improvement

To promote awareness, the Commission suggests widespread dissemination of information through government websites, workshops, webinars, advertisements, and language-specific resources. Continuous improvement and updates to the system should be communicated to the public.

What is the Need for Amendment?

In the era of rapid technological advancements, communication methods have evolved significantly. Clinging to an outdated system for registering First Information Reports (FIRs) does not align with the aspirations of a nation fervently pursuing criminal justice reforms. Beyond the technological allure, e-FIRs offer practical advantages (Report, 2023).

In numerous instances, victims find it impractical to visit a police station due to security or infrastructural constraints. The introduction of e-FIRs proves to be a blessing for such individuals who are traumatized and unable to access traditional channels. Filing e-FIRs also addresses the issue of police officers hesitating to register FIRs for minor offenses, sometimes under pressure from politically influential individuals.

With e-FIRs, the police must acknowledge the complaint as the system automatically generates receipts. This ensures a nearly cost-free registration of crimes, preventing potential alterations to the complaint’s contents, particularly in cases involving well-connected accused individuals. E-FIRs contribute to resolving the persistent problem of delayed FIR registrations, allowing citizens to report crimes in real-time and saving valuable administrative time for case resolution (Hindu, 2023).

While concerns about potential misuse of this provision exist, the Commission has incorporated safeguards to protect falsely accused individuals in e-FIRs. The Supreme Court’s decision in Arnesh Kumar v/s State of Bihar emphasizes that police cannot arrest a person solely based on charges of a cognizable and non-bailable offense; reasonable satisfaction of the allegations’ authenticity is required before an arrest. This serves as a safeguard against arbitrary arrests. Moreover, to maintain the privacy of the involved parties, the identities of suspects will remain confidential until the complainant signs the e-FIR.

Addressing concerns of “harassment FIRs,” the Commission has proposed an amendment under Section 182, suggesting imprisonment of up to two years or a fine of up to ₹10,000 for those misusing the e-FIR facility to file false reports.

COUNTERVIEW: Physical police work is essential

India currently has just over 13,000 police stations, with 628 lacking a landline and 285 operating without a wireless connection. These infrastructural deficiencies constrain the effectiveness of any online facility. Even with robust infrastructure, digitalization only automatically addresses issues of police misconduct. Recent revelations highlighted a case in Gujarat where authorities detained an individual for an additional three years, citing an inability to open a court-sent release order email.

Conversely, an ordinary citizen may not possess the legal knowledge required, potentially creating a substantial investigative burden for the police if e-FIR Registration becomes universal. Allowing e-FIRs in all cases may impede the police’s ability to conduct preliminary inquiries in suitable situations. The ease of filing ‘Harassment FIRs’ is also a concern with e-FIRs, as complainants, often guided by legal experts, may exaggerate details to maximize discomfort for the accused. Police, based on experience, may downplay complainants’ statements, a discretion that could be lost in the context of e-FIRs (Service, 2023).

Engaging with a police officer is valuable in solving certain crimes, particularly blind cases, where the initial ‘golden’ hours are crucial. E-FIRs introduce a 72-hour delay before signing, impacting the immediacy of investigations. Any pre-FIR registration investigation won’t align with the spirit of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Additionally, despite requiring designated investigating officers to contact e-FIR filers, many have reported a need for follow-up.

Notably, the Commission’s report does not use the ‘e-authentication technique or digital signature’ as defined in the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, for signing complaints. While such methods are widely employed in other government offices, their absence in e-FIRs renders the electronic record legally akin to an unsigned complaint at the current stage.


The recommendations the 22nd Law Commission put forth regarding the amendment of Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, for enabling online Registration of FIRs mark a significant stride towards aligning legal processes with the digital age. By endorsing the phased implementation of e-FIRs, the Commission recognizes the transformative potential of technology in enhancing accessibility to justice and upholding the rule of law. The emphasis on privacy protection, stringent verification measures, and minimum penalties for false information demonstrate a conscientious effort to balance innovation with safeguards against potential misuse. The Commission’s approach, allowing e-FIR Registration for known and unknown accused in specific categories of offenses, reflects a nuanced understanding of the evolving landscape of criminal justice. Moreover, the recommendation for states to expand the list of offenses eligible for e-FIRs showcases a forward-thinking stance, allowing flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. While addressing concerns about investigative burdens and the necessity of preliminary inquiries, the Commission underscores the need for continuous capacity building and mass awareness programs. In envisioning a seamless integration of technology into the criminal justice system, these recommendations pave the way for a more efficient, transparent, and accessible legal framework, aligning with the broader objectives of Digital India and fostering public trust in the legal system.


  • Das, A., 2023. Law Commission Recommends Allowing E-FIR Registration In Certain Cases. [Online] Available at: https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/supreme-court-directs-nalsa-to-prepare-scheme-for-implementation-of-amended-mv-act-and-rules-244371?infinitescroll=1 [Accessed December 10, 2023].
  • Hindu, T., 2023. Move towards e-FIR, but with caution. [Online] Available at: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/move-towards-e-fir-but-with-caution/article67512989.ece [Accessed December 11, 2023].
  • Lama, P., 2023. Law commission backs phased e-FIR roll-out. [Online] Available at: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/law-commission-backs-phased-e-fir-rollout-101696013747721.html [Accessed December 10, 2023].
  • News, D., 2023. 22nd Law Commission recommends online FIR registration amendment. [Online] Available at: https://ddnews.gov.in/national/22nd-law-commission-recommends-online-fir-registration-amendment#:~:text=This%20approach%20aims%20to%20streamline,FIRs%20by%20leveraging%20digital%20technology. [Accessed December 13, 2023].
  • PIB, 2023. “Amendment in Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, for Enabling Online Registration of FIR”. [Online] Available at: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1962238 [Accessed December 12, 2023].
  • Report, L. C., 2023. AMENDMENT IN SECTION I54 OF THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE. 1973 FOR ENABLING ONLINE REGISTRATION OF FIR. [Online] Available at: https://cdnbbsr.s3waas.gov.in/s3ca0daec69b5adc880fb464895726dbdf/uploads/2023/09/202309291744842452.pdf [Accessed December 12, 2023].
  • Service, E. N., 2023. The law panel favors enabling e-FIRs to tackle delay. [Online] Available at: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/law-panel-favours-enabling-of-e-firs-to-tackle-delay-8962299/ [Accessed December 11, 2023].

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