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Aishwarya Sudhir (B.A.ll.b(H) 4th yr) Central University of South Bihar
It’s been long since the concept of Zero FIR has been evolved, and several articles have been published on this concept. If recalled the same was also explained and dealt in the very famous movie “PINK”. Hence, instead of talking about what the concept is, I would like to express it in a bit different context, through my words against the misuse of power that is given to us and the loop holes in executing them.
What is FIR? FIR is the first information report about the crime or incident that took place. FIR gets lodged in the station which comes under the territorial jurisdiction where that incident/ crime has taken place. FIR is a very important document and record because it puts up the case for motion. It can be recorded in oral or written with the signatures of the Police official recording it and the complainant.
Now coming to the concept of Zero FIR, it is same as the FIR with the only basic difference that no territorial jurisdiction is defined for filling zero FIR. It can be lodged in any of the police station, irrespective of the jurisdiction of the crime scene. Zero FIR is basically designed for the ease of the victim.
Legality of zero FIR
The provision of Zero FIR was introduced in the recommendation of Justice Verma Committee Report in the new Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, devised after the December 2012 Delhi gang rape of a 23-year-old girl in the territory.
However, policemen by and large deny knowing about provisions of “Zero FIR” and direct the complainant to Police Station having jurisdiction but Clause (e) of Section 460 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) says that if any Magistrate not empowered by laws to call for cognizance of an offence positioned in section 190 (a) or (b) erroneously but in good faith does take cognizance, the proceeding minutes will not be set aside merely on the grounds of not being empowered for same. If at the time of initiation of FIR, it looks evident that the crime was committed outside the jurisdiction of the concerned police station, then the police must be appropriately ordered to register a Zero FIR, and ensure that the FIR is transferred to the jurisdictional police station. If there is a failure in compiling with the instruction of FIR registration on the acknowledgement of information about the offence, it will invite prosecution of the police officer under section 166A which provides a rigorous imprisonment of six months is extended upto two years. This evasion of responsibility may invite the departmental action for the police officer.
Need of Zero F.I.R.
Incidents like accident, murder, and rape require immediate action from the concerned authorities and rush to take samples, getting information from eye witnesses and getting circumstantial details. And delay in investigation can distort the witnesses. A zero F.I.R. helps to take immediate actions regardless of the territory where the crime or offence has taken place.
- As per the static report, there is a crime committed against women in every 1.7 minutes, and rape is committed within every 16 minutes recorded in this country and domestic violence done in every 4.4 minutes against every girl.
- Zero FIR is provided as a right to women which she can exercise as required. Zero FIR in case of any such heinous crime done against women in any place or at any moment acts as a remedy in the hands of the women.
Zero FIR is also a great power to the passengers on rail journey for a direction in making the travel safe and hassles free for the millions of passengers on the frequent journey. So, as per the requirement, the victim can file the case against theft in the place that is nearest to their approach while traveling.
- Certain grave crimes like an accident, murder, and rape that require immediate action from the concerned authorities and to collect evidentiary proof from the party and place like samples, deposition from the eye witnesses and circumstantial evidence. A Zero FIR helps take into account of this prelim action regardless of deciding the territorial limits of the crime.
Undue advantage of Zero FIR
Despite of all the benefits of Zero FIR, there are circumstances where the concept has been misused and the Victim had got to suffer. It could be that the facts have been manipulated by either of the party in their own interest with the help of Police, out of relationship/ financial benefits.
In the case of Bimla Rawal and Ors. Vs. State (NCT of Delhi) and Anr, FIR was lodged in Delhi, despite the fact that all incidents occurred in Mumbai. Writ Petition was filed in Supreme Court regarding the mala fide intentions of police succumbing under the pressure of opposite party. Supreme Court quashed the FIR 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.
The Zero F.I.R. looks like a great concept in seeking a way to ameliorate criminal justice in a preliminary stage and deciding on the gulp of truth. As I have named my article as “Zero FIR Boon and Curse”. The Concept can be a Boon for us if it is monitored properly and there is awareness within the Society. This can be monitored if a committee is formed which also includes an ordinary citizen for scrutinizing the whole FIR instituting process with the extended support of Government and Police.