THE CONCEPT OF ZERO FIR

INTRODUCTION

Most of us are well known for the term FIR. It is the first step taken to fight against a crime. An FIR can be filed by the victim, or family members, or relatives, or anyone who was completely aware of the incident happened. The person who files the FIR is known as the informant. One can file an FIR under Section 154 of CrPC[1] for Cognizable offences and Section 155 of CrPC[2] for non-cognizable offences. The procedure for filing FIR and Zero FIR is the same but unlike FIR, Zero FIR can be filed anywhere irrespective of the place where the incident happened. 

HOW IT WAS INTRODUCED?

A jurisdiction-free FIR has been established as a result of the Zero FIR concept. An idea like this was proposed in 2013 based on the Justice Verma Committee’s recommendations. It was in the aftermath of the December 2012 Delhi gang-rape case. The heinousness of the crime shook the country to its core. The countrywide rallies pushed lawmakers to reconsider the status of the criminal justice system at the time. The Criminal Amendment Act of 2013 was enacted as a result of the Justice Verma Committee’s recommendations.[3] The system had many notable modifications as a result of this amendment. Zero FIR was one of these concepts.

ADVANTAGES OF THE ZERO FIR

  • Due to the introduction of Zero FIR, the police now have the option to claim that they have no jurisdiction to accept the FIR.
  • We believe that “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”. In some cases, such as sexual assault, road accidents, etc., if the filing of FIR is late, there may be chances for the manipulation of facts and evidence. Zero FIR can be considered as a solution to this issue.
  • There would not be any unnecessary delays in the investigation if one files Zero FIR.
  • To allow the case to move forward quickly.

PROCEDURE TO FILE A ZERO FIR

  • The informant should go to the nearest Police Station and can give the information about the offence that took place either orally or by a written statement.
  • If the statement is given by the informant orally then it should be noted down by one of the police staff and should be read in front of the informant and take a signature of him.
  • A copy of the should be provided to the informant at no cost
  • For the offences specifically mentioned under Section 154(1) of CrPC[4], A women police officer should collect information from the informant
  • If the police who are charged refuse to register the FIR, then the Informant can approach the SP regarding the same. The SP either orders the respective police officer to register the FIR or he himself registers that FIR directly
  • If the response of the SP is not satisfactory then one can approach the magistrate regarding the same,
  • After the FIR got registered, the police station will send this FIR to another police station that has jurisdiction, without any delay.

In accordance with Section 166A clause (c), “if any public servant fails to record any information given to him under sub-section (1) of section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), in relation to cognizable offence shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to two years, and shall also be liable to fine.”[5]

CASE LAWS

 In the case of State of Andhra Pradesh v. Punati Ramulu and Ors.,[6] to report a crime concerning the murder of his nephew, the informant went to the nearest police station and informed the same to a constable. The constable refused to register the FIR saying that the incident of crime happened in a place that does not into this police station’s jurisdiction. The honourable court, in this case, found that the police officer breached his duty by failing to register the FIR. He is bound to register and send it to the respective police station which has jurisdiction. The court, in this case, held that the police constable is liable under section 166A(c) of the Indian Penal Code.

In the case of Asharam Bapu v. State,[7] it was alleged that Saint Asharam raped a 16-year minor girl and wrongfully confined her in his ashram. The said crime took place in Jodhpur. A zero FIR was filed by the father of the minor girl on behalf of the victim in the Delhi police station. This FIR was sent to the Jodhpur police station promptly for further investigation.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS ON ZERO FIR

The concept of Zero FIR is absolutely helpful in cases like rape, sexual harassment, etc., In these cases, the evidence collected immediately plays a major role. And evidence can be collected only when the FIR gets filed. Delay in the registration of FIR may give scope for the manipulation of evidence. Zero provides the informant with a shortcut, so that time will not be wasted to have knowledge about which police station have the jurisdiction. This makes it impossible for the offender to flee. 

Zero FIR is also useful when the crime happened when the person is on the journey. So that he can approach the nearest police station, register an FIR and this will be sent to the police station which has jurisdiction. The concept of Zero FIR is appreciable. But it will succeed only when the police officers and citizens are well aware of this concept.

CONCLUSION

So, we can conclude that a zero FIR is a jurisdictionally free FIR. It guarantees that those who know the commission of a crime are properly heard and are sent back due to the cause that the police station has no jurisdiction. It also assures that a police officer does all necessary to make sure that the victims of the alleged crime receive justice. The Zero FIR notion is a great resource for women in the nation who are victims of crimes such as sexual harassment and rape. This permits the recording of evidence in matters which require quick police response. However, most police officers are unaware of this and continue to refuse to register an FIR in such a situation based on jurisdiction. Such officials must be taught such concepts, legislations and state governments should take this responsibility. 

Author(s) Name: Kethana Tamminaina (Student, Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Visakhapatnam)

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References:

[1]  Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 154

[2]  Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 155

[3]  Dr Bhavana Sharma, ‘Zero FIR: an undiscovered right for the legal protection of women’, (2017) 1(1) Droit penale < https://lawtimesjournal.in/what-is-a-zero-fir-what-is-the-procedure-to-file-a-zero-fir/> accessed 22 July 2021

[4] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, s 154(1)

[5] Indian Penal Code 1860, s 166A(c)

[6] State of Andhra Pradesh v Punati Ramulu and Ors. AIR 1993 SC 2644

[7] Asharam Bapu v State AIR 2009 SC 2422

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