FIR known as First-Hand Report is an initial report in form of a written document prepared by police officers when they receive information about the commission of an offense which is cognizable in nature. This means the police officer can suo moto take an action on an offense without prior approval from the court. This report has a serial number, date/time/place of occurrence, contents etc. of the offense that has been committed. The information under FIR may be given orally or in writing but it needs to be recorded as per Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The jurisdictional aspect is of great importance when filling an FIR report as every police station has specific jurisdiction under them for which they can take up the investigation after the filling of the report. In a CASE the Supreme Court was of the view that if a police officer evades his duty of registering an FIR upon receiving information about a cognizable offence, then disciplinary action can be taken against him. Now, it is only after the registration of FIR the police will take up the action of investigation of the case hence it sets the process of criminal justice in motion. Any person can register FIR only after the commission of the cognizable offence be it: the victim, a family member, witness of offence, police officer, a person who committed the offence or any person who knew about the offence, order of the magistrate.
The idea of zero FIR came after the Nirbhaya instance of December 2012, On January 18, 2013, after solid dissents by the natives. The arrangement of Zero FIR came up as a proposal in the Justice Verma Committee Report in the new Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 after the shocking Nirbhaya instance of December 2012. The provision says that a ZERO FIR can be recorded in any Police station, regardless of any sort of jurisdictional zone. The fundamental examination will happen on the jurisdictional police station. The case will be enlisted with the sequential number zero then the case will be transferred to the particular police station. It’s beneficial for a serious and heinous crime. This provision is for everyone. The sanctity of the legal process under zero FIR remains the same as that of the original FIR. The zero F.I.R. will be later exchanged to the proper Police Station.
The main issue that pops up is that people are not much aware and the police officials deny to register Zero FIR. They tell the victim and his/her family to approach the police station that has a jurisdictional aspect to take up the cognizance of that offence. Section 166A of the Indian Penal Code states that if a police officer refuses to register FIR (related to offences against women) can be punished with imprisonment up to 1 year or fine or both. Section 460 of the CrPC lays down a list of irregularities which do not vitiate legal proceedings. Clause (e) states that even though the Magistrate may not be empowered by the law to take cognizance of an offence but he still does so under Section 190 (a) or (b), it would not prove to be frivolous. These sections essentially constitute the legal basis of a Zero FIR as of today, since no explicit provisions have been added to the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Filling of Zero FIR is just like filling a regular FIR, just that there is no jurisdictional touch to it. Like all regular FIRs, a Zero FIR can be filed in accordance with the below-mentioned checklist.
- Recording of statements by the police officer in writing.
- All details, without any speculation or assumption, should be provided to the police during the statement.
- Make the statement official by signing the register.
- Get a duplicate of your complaint and request for the identification number or Roll if not provided.
Why do we need the concept of Zero FIR? The answer to it lies when we look around and see a growth in crimes against women and how they have to struggle seeking legal assistance. The concept of Zero FIR is “Jurisdiction-Free” introduced to avoid delay in filling crimes that adversely affect the victims. Heinous crimes like rape, murder enquire immediate action and hence it is important that after a zero FIR has been lodged immediately the investigation should be a start and initial action should be taken. Zero FIR allows the officials to pen down initial action so taken by them rather than trying to find out what must have happened initially.
In the case of Satvinder Kaur vs. State (Government of NCT Delhi), The complainant against the order of the High Court had appealed in the Supreme Court where the High Court had quashed the FIR which was filed at Delhi Police Station by the complainant. The Supreme Court held that police can investigate the case which does not fall under their jurisdiction.
In the case of Bimla Rawal and Ors. Vs. State (NCT of Delhi) and Anr, despite the fact that all incidents occurred in Mumbai, an FIR was lodged in Delhi. Writ Petition was filed in Supreme Court regarding the mala-fide intentions of police succumbing under the pressure of the opposite party. Supreme Court quashed the FIR which was filed at Delhi and ordered to file a fresh FIR in Mumbai. In this case, the police misused the power of filing a Zero FIR at the behest of the opposite party.
In the case of Asaram Bapu Case, Zero FIR was filed, the complaint about the crime committed in Jodhpur was lodged in Delhi by a minor girl who hailed from UP. Delhi Police then booked Asaram under the charges of rape and wrongful confinement. The case was later transferred to Jodhpur police, where the actual crime took place.
Can a party take undue advantage of filing a Zero FIR?
Yes, a party can exploit the provisions of Zero FIR. The primary reason that can prompt undue advantage if there should arise an occurrence of Zero FIR is that result of criminal case mostly relies upon the preliminary investigation carried out at the beginning of the case. Transferring the FIR at the later stage may unfavorably influence the case as the contrary party may file an FIR at its preferred Police Station and by getting the investigation report made to support them.
Another drawback of recording a Zero FIR is that Police Station not having territorial jurisdiction over the case, may hold up the FIR for the fulfillment of the complainant, however, may promptly transfer the FIR to the concerned Police Station without making any preliminary inquiry in the case.
- Today offences against women have increased tremendously. Ever 1.7 minutes an assault is committed in this nation and abusive behavior at home done in every 4.4 minutes. Zero FIR is like a boon to women.
- Zero FIR in an extraordinary capacity is advantageous to people traveling via railways. any person who has been a victim to any offence on the rail can approach the nearest police station and file zero FIR.
- Certain grave wrongdoings like accident, murder, and assault that require prompt action from the concerned experts and to gather evidentiary confirmation from the gathering and place like samples, deposition from the eyewitnesses and circumstantial pieces of evidence. A Zero FIR helps to take into account of this prelim action regardless of deciding the territorial limits of the crime.
Corruption is like a toxic air but having basic know-how and some small presence of mind can make a huge difference. Everybody ought to know about Zero FIR in order to on the off chance that you are not ready to go someplace to record an FIR, you can document ZERO FIR in non-jurisdictional police headquarters. This Zero FIR is totally gender neutral in nature. It is a small step towards increasing accessibility to the criminal justice system.