The First Information Report is in fact the information that is received first in point of time, which is either given in writing or is reduced to writing. It is not the substance of it, which is to be entered in the diary prescribed by the State Government. The term General Diary (also called as Station Diary or Daily Diary in some States) is maintained under the provisions of Section 44 of the Police Act, 1861 in the States to which it applies, or under the respective provisions of the Police Act(s) applicable to a State or under the Police Manual of a State, as the case may be. Section 44 of the Police Act, 1861 is reproduced below: –
44. Police-officers to keep diary
It shall be the duty of every officer in charge of a police-station to keep a general diary in such form as shall, from time to time, be prescribed by the State Government and to record therein all complaints and charged preferred, the names of all persons arrested, the names of the complainants, the offences charged against them, the weapons or property that shall have been taken from their possession or otherwise, and the names of the witnesses who shall have been examined. The Magistrate of the district shall be at liberty to call for any inspect such diary.
It is pertinent to note that during the year 1861, when the aforesaid Police Act, 1861 was passed, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1861 was also passed. Section 139 of that Code dealt with registration of FIR and this Section is also referred to the word diary, as can be seen from the language of this Section, as reproduced below: –
139. Every complaint or information preferred to an officer in charge of a Police Station, shall be reduced into writing, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a diary to be kept by such officer, in such form as shall be prescribed by the local government. Thus, Police Act, 1861 and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1861, both of which were passed in the same year, used the same word diary.
However, in the year 1872, a new Code came to be passed which was called the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1872. Section 112 of the Code dealt with the issue of registration of FIR and is reproduced below: –
112. Every complaint preferred to an officer in charge of a Police station shall be reduced into writing, and shall be signed, sealed, or marked by the person making it; and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in the form prescribed by the Local Government.
It is, thus, clear that in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1872, a departure was made and the word book was used in place of diary. The word book clearly referred to FIR book to be maintained under the Code for registration of FIRs.
The question that whether the FIR is to be recorded in the FIR Book or in General Diary, is no more res integra. This issue has already been decided authoritatively by the Court.
In Madhu Bala vs. Suresh Kumar (1997) 8 SCC 476, the Court held that FIR must be registered in the FIR Register which shall be a book consisting of 200 pages. It is true that the substance of the information is also to be mentioned in the Daily diary (or the general diary). But, the basic requirement is to register the FIR in the FIR Book or Register.
It is thus clear that registration of FIR is to be done in a book called FIR book or FIR Register. Of course, in addition, the gist of the FIR or the substance of the FIR may also be mentioned simultaneously in the General Diary as mandated in the respective Police Act or Rules, as the case may be, under the relevant State provisions.
The General Diary is a record of all important transactions/events taking place in a police station, including departure and arrival of police staff, handing over or taking over of charge, arrest of a person, details of law and order duties, visit of senior officers etc. It is in this context that gist or substance of each FIR being registered in the police station is also mentioned in the General Diary since registration of FIR also happens to be a very important event in the police station.
Since General Diary is a record that is maintained chronologically on day-to-day basis (on each day, starting with new number 1), the General Diary entry reference is also mentioned simultaneously in the FIR Book, while FIR number is mentioned in the General Diary entry since both of these are prepared simultaneously
It is relevant to point out that FIR Book is maintained with its number given on an annual basis. This means that each FIR has a unique annual number given to it. This is on similar lines as the Case Numbers given in courts. Due to this reason, it is possible to keep a strict control and track over the registration of FIRs by the supervisory police officers and by the courts, wherever necessary. Copy of each FIR is sent to the superior officers and to the concerned Judicial Magistrate.
On the other hand, General Diary contains a huge number of other details of the proceedings of each day. Copy of General Diary is not sent to the Judicial Magistrate having jurisdiction over the police station, though its copy is sent to a superior police officer. Thus, it is not possible to keep strict control of each and every FIR recorded in the General Diary by superior police officers and/or the court in view of enormous amount of other details mentioned therein and the numbers changing every day.
The signature of the complainant is obtained in the FIR Book as and when the complaint is given to the police station. On the other hand, there is no such requirement of obtaining signature of the complainant in the general diary. Moreover, at times, the complaint given may consist of large number of pages, in which case it is only the gist of the complaint which is to be recorded in the General Diary and not the full complaint. This does not fit in with the suggestion that what is recorded in General Diary should be considered to be the fulfillment/compliance of the requirement of Section 154 of registration of FIR. In fact, the usual practice is to record the complete complaint in the FIR book (or annex it with the FIR form) but record only about one or two paragraphs (gist of the information) in the General Diary.
FIR is to be recorded in the FIR Book, as mandated under Section 154 of the Code, and it is not correct to state that information will be first recorded in the General Diary and only after preliminary inquiry, if required, the information will be registered as FIR.
However, this Court in CBI vs. Tapan Kumar Singh (2003) 6 SCC 175, held that a GD entry may be treated as First information in an appropriate case, where it discloses the commission of a cognizable offence. It was held as under:
It is the correctness of this finding which is assailed before us by the appellants. They contend that the information recorded in the GD entry does disclose the commission of a cognizable offence. They submitted that even if their contention, that after recording the GD entry only a preliminary inquiry was made, is not accepted, they are still entitled to sustain the legality of the investigation on the basis that the GD entry may be treated as a first information report, since it disclosed the commission of a cognizable offence.
It is thus unequivocally clear that registration of FIR is mandatory and also that it is to be recorded in the FIR Book by giving a unique annual number to each FIR to enable strict tracking of each and every registered FIR by the superior police officers as well as by the competent court to which copies of each FIR are required to be sent.
Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of UP. (2013)