Indian Penal CodeJudicial ExamLegal Notes

Concept of FIR and Zero FIR

 

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Introduction

The term F.I.R. (First Information Report) is a technical description of the report made out under Sec. 154, giving the first information of a cognizable crime to the officer in charge of a police. All information given to police before investigation is started may amount to first information within the scope of this section.

Sec. 154 provides that every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an Officer-in-charge of a Police Station, must be reduced in writing by him, and read over to the informant. The information should also be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof must be entered in the book which is to be kept by such Officer in the prescribed form. A copy of the information recorded, as above, is also to be given to the informant free of cost.

 

Object of F.I.R.

The principal object of the F.I.R., from the stand-point of the informant, is to set the criminal law in motion, and from the viewpoint of the investigation authorities, is to obtain information about the alleged criminal activity, so as to be able to take the appropriate steps for tracing and bringing the guilty person behind the bars.

Use and Evidentary value of F.I.R.

The F.I.R. can be put in evidence when the informant is examined, if it is desirable to do so. It is not piece of substantive evidence, and can be used only for the limited purpose, like corroborating or contradicting the maker thereof, or to show that the implication of the accused was not an after-thought. It can be used for testing the truth of the prosecution story. The value of F.I.R. varies depending on whether it is based on information given by the complainant or eye-witness to the crime or a mere stranger.

Concept of Zero F.I.R.

When a cognizable offence is reported, the police officer registering the case forthwith starts the investigation, if it is committed in his jurisdiction. If it is not committed in his jurisdiction, he registers the F.I.R. under number 00 and sends it to the police station, where the offence was committed for further investigation. Such F.I.R. is called as zero F.I.R. Zero FIR can be filed in any police station regardless of the place of incidence or jurisdiction. What  distinguishes Zero F.I.R. from Ordinary F.I.R. is that in the latter, F.I.R. is registered by a serial number in police station but in the former one an F.I.R. is instituted at any Police Station other than the jurisdictional Police Station concerned, that is the place where incident took place, and such an F.I.R. is registered but not numbered.

The provision of Zero F.I.R. was introduced in the recommendation in 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[1]. It is for the convenience of the victim that instead of making the victim run from pillar to post, the police officer, where the victim approaches as per his convenience, the case is recorded and police officer sends it to the concerned police station.

The police officers deny to acknowledge a Zero F.I.R. and also try to convince the victim and his family to approach the concerned police station for registering the FIR rather than trying to help them. According to Section 166A of the Indian Penal Code added by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, a police officer refusing to register FIRs related to certain offences against women (such as rape, molestation, etc.) can be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with a fine or with both. A Police Officer refusing to enter in the Diary a report made to him about the commission of an offence, and instead making an entry which is totally different from the information given, would be guilty under Sec. 177 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Impact of Zero F.I.R.

In the famous Asaram Bapu Rape case, the report against the self-proclaimed Goodman Asaram Bapu was booked under Zero F.I.R. The complaint about the crime committed in Jodhpur, Rajasthan was lodged at Kamla Market Police Station, Delhi by a minor girl who hailed from UP. On August 21 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.

Judicial Pronouncements

In the case of Satvinder Kaur vs. State (Government of NCT Delhi), the complainant had appealed in the Supreme Court against the order of the High Court, where the High Court had quashed the FIR 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, F.I.R. 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 F.I.R. filed at Delhi and ordered to file a fresh F.I.R. in Mumbai. In this case the police misused the power of filing a Zero F.I.R. at the behest of the opposite party.

Conclusion

At the outset, the concept Zero F.I.R. is a laudable effort for ensuring that the procedure of investigation in motion starts without wasting much time. Zero F.I.R. is a free jurisdiction F.I.R., introduced in order to avoid the delay in filing the crime that adversely impacts the victim. There is a need for a monitoring system to prevent the officers from misusing their powers or not performing their duties, thereby, making justice accessible to all.

References

  • Sharma Bhawna, ZERO FIR: AN UNDISCOVERED RIGHT FOR THE LEGAL PROTECTION OF WOMEN, Droit Penale: Indian Law Journal on Crime and Criminology, Vol. 1, Issue 1.
  • Jhabvala H. Noshirvan , THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, C. Jamnadas & Co., 2017

[1] Mukesh & Anr vs. State for NCT of Delhi & Ors, (2013) 2 SCC 587

By Harshit Sharma

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