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First Information Report (FIR), Media and the making of an Informational Universe

This article has three sections. In the first, the conceptual and pedagogical reflections have been shared from the research study titled, “First Information Report (FIR) and Media: Informational Universe of Crime and Violence in Contemporary India”. In the second section, broad findings from the study have been shared. And the third section engages with further scope of research.


First Information Report (FIR) and Media are the two connecting points through which in the research study, the ‘Informational Universe’ of crime and violence in contemporary India has been studied. FIR, as it is proposed in the work, while being at the core of the reporting of crime, begins a process of information regarding the nature and pattern of crime for different institutions; media, and the public. FIR is, thus, at the centre of the knowledge society unfolding the information about an incidence of crime that comes up to the institutional context and the media. The research study suggests that studying its location in the changing contexts may help us to understand the changes in the way FIR, an institutional report, is accorded its place in the informational universe constituted with communication and media linkages.

We understand that as a crucial institutional report, FIR becomes an important document within the department of the criminal justice system. Lisa Gitelman (2014), a media historian, has worked extensively on how the circulation of papers builds institutional knowledge, and their archival documentation builds communication across inter and intra generations. These documents 'embrace the subject' and are essential instruments of ‘systematic knowledge’ in the universe of crime and violence for the bureaucracy, administration, and the public (Riles 2006; 5). They are situated at important junctures and become integral source to reflecting their thoughts, and building the social order (Hayes & Luther 2018; 4-5). Although it is while studying the criminal records in the archives, and the police station that we understand how the generation, circulation and purpose of documents are rooted in 'social necessity'.

Gitelman’s description of documents as 'instruments of bureaucracy enhancing systematic knowledge' help us situate FIR in the universe of the criminal justice system. Since, FIR too records a statement about the manifold of a (crime/criminal) phenomena and leads the police to investigate and prepare important evidencing for the