ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday ruled that the second First Information Report is not to be lodged for any new version of the same incident brought to the notice of the investigating officer during investigation of the case.

The court made all these declarations and observations in its judgment in Human Rights Case No 10842-P of 2018 (Regarding registration of second FIR in respect of a police encounter wherein the petitioner’s (Sughran Bibi) son namely Mohsin Ali was killed by local police).

The case was heard by a seven-member larger bench comprising Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah. The larger bench was constituted to put the controversy of first, second and third FIRs at rest through an authoritative judgment on the subject.

The issue of FIRs was cropped up before the apex court through the petition of Sughran Bibi. The verdict authored by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa observed that the occurrence in the present case (Sughran Bibi’s case) had taken place more than a decade ago and the trial court is seized of the trial of this case for the last many years but unfortunately no significant progress has been made by the trial court in the trial of the case so far.

“The delay caused and the apathy displayed in the matter has been found by us to be shocking, to say the least”, the court maintained. The court directed the trial court to conclude the trial of this case within the next four months without failure and then submit a report before the apex court registrar for the judges’ perusal in the chambers. 

In its judgment, the apex court held that ordinarily no person is to be arrested directly only because he has been nominated as an accused person in an FIR or in any other version of the incident brought to the notice of the investigating officer (IO) by any person until the IO feels satisfied that sufficient justification exists for his arrest and for such justification he is to be guided by the relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C), 1898 and the Police Rules, 1934.

It explained that according to the relevant provisions of the said Code and the Rules, a suspect is not to be arrested straightaway or as a matter of course and, unless the situation on the ground so warrants, the arrest is to be deferred till such time that sufficient material or evidence becomes available on the record of investigation prima facie satisfying the investigating officer regarding correctness of the allegations levelled against such suspect or regarding his involvement in the crime in issue.

It also declared: “Upon conclusion of the investigation the report to be submitted under section 173, Cr.P.C is to be based upon the actual facts discovered during the investigation irrespective of the version of the incident advanced by the first informant or any other version brought to the notice of the investigating officer by any other person.”

The court declared that according to section 154, Cr.P.C. an FIR is only the first information to the local police about commission of a cognizable offence. For instance, an information received from any source that a murder has been committed in such and such village is to be a valid and sufficient basis for registration of an FIR in that regard.

 It continued that the information received by the local police about commission of a cognizable offence also contains a version as to how the relevant offence was committed, by whom it was committed and in which background it was committed then that version of the incident is only the version of the informant and nothing more and such version is not to be unreservedly accepted by the IO as the truth or the whole truth.

The court held that upon registration of an FIR a criminal “case” comes into existence and that case is to be assigned a number and such case carries the same number till the final decision of the matter.

It said that during the investigation conducted after registration of an FIR the investigating officer may record any number of versions of the same incident brought to his notice by different persons which versions are to be recorded by him under section 161, Cr.P.C. in the same case.

The court observed that during the investigation, the investigating officer is obliged to investigate the matter from all possible angles while keeping in view all the versions of the incident brought to his notice and, as required by Rule 25.2(3) of the Police Rules, 1934.

It noted that it is the duty of an investigating officer to find out the truth of the matter under investigation and his object shall be to discover the actual facts of the case and to arrest the real offender or offenders. “He shall not commit himself prematurely to any view of the facts for or against any person”, the court observed.

The court asked its office to send copies of this judgment to the Inspectors-General of Police of all the provinces and the Islamabad Capital Territory, besides directing them to apprise all the Station House Officers of all the Police Stations in the country of the law declared by the apex court through the present judgment in Human Rights Case No. 10842-P of 2018 46 and to make sure that the law so declared is followed in letter and spirit.

The court noted that if the first information to the police reporting commission of a cognizable offence under section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 is called an FIR then through the same logic the second information to the police in respect of commission of the same offence ought to be called an SIR and the third information regarding commission of the same offence may be called a TIR but there is no provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure for an SIR or a TIR.