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Zero FIR : An Alternative To The Delayed Filling Of A Crime In A Police Station

Many of us are familiar with the term 'FIR', while some may not even be aware of the concept of 'ZERO FIR'. Filing an FIR in a police station has become a widespread practice in recent times, where the police's action is either delayed or the investigation is not conducted appropriately. In such a scenario, the police may deny the lodging of an FIR by informing the individual that the offence is not in their jurisdiction and requesting the individual to travel to another Police Station. This, in turn, results in the delay of the FIR, leading to the loss of essential information and evidence. This is where the concept of 'ZERO FIR' is applicable.

In recent times, in Manipur violent episodes, about 30% of the FIRs were "zero FIRs" submitted by the police on their own initiative, regardless of the jurisdiction.

What is FIR?

First Information Report (FIR) is a word used by police to refer to information recorded under section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) 1973, which is not specified in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), or any other law.

What is Cognizable Offence?
A cognizable offence is one for which a police officer may arrest without a warrant in line with the CrPC's 1st schedule or any other currently in effect statute.

The First Schedule states that "cognizable" is a term used to indicate that a law enforcement officer may arrest without a warrant, while "non-cognizable" term used to indicate that a police officer shall not arrest without a warrant.

What is ZERO FIR?

The ZERO FIR is a process by which the victims lodge an FIR at any relevant police station, regardless of the locality in which the offence was committed. Subsequently, the ZERO FIR is sent to the relevant police station in the vicinity of the offence and the investigation of the case is conducted by the station.

A Zero FIR can be registered at any police station, unlike an FIR which is limited to the jurisdiction of the police station where the offence was committed. Whereas FIRs are serial numbered assigned to FIRs, ZERO FIRs are given the number 0. Hence the name.

A Zero FIR is a relatively new concept. Following the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape Case, the Justice Verma Committee made a recommendation that led to its introduction. The introduction of a zero FIR had the dual goals of requiring rapid police action and preventing them from relying on the legal fallacy of lack of jurisdiction.

Need of ZERO FIR?

The answer to this question can be found in the increasing number of crimes against women and the difficulties they face in obtaining legal aid. Zero FIR is a form of JURISDICTION FREE FIR introduced to prevent delays in the completion of crimes that have a negative impact on the victims. Unjustifiable crimes such as rape and murder necessitate immediate action and after lodging a ZERO FIR, the investigation should be initiated and initial steps taken. ZERO FIR enables the officials to write down the initials steps taken by them instead of attempting to ascertain what should have been done initially.

In the case of Satvinder Kaur vs. state (Government of NCT Delhi), the complainant challenged the decision of the High Court to dismiss the FIR submitted to the Supreme Court at the Delhi police station. The Supreme Court ruled that the police could examine a matter even if it was outside their jurisdiction.

In the Asaram Bapu Case, Zero FIR was registered in Delhi based on a complaint filed by a minor girl who hailed from U.P and a crime committed in Jodhpur. The Delhi Police subsequently booked Asaram on the charge of rape and wrongful confinement. Subsequently, the matter was transferred to the Jodhpur police station, the venue of the crime.

How to apply for ZERO FIR?

A zero FIR may be filed, just like other FIRs, by section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. When you file an FIR, the offence should be cognizable.
  1. Both written and verbal submissions of the information are acceptable.
  2. The information must sign whatever is written down. If it is spoken, it needs to be put on paper and read to the informant.
  3. The informant ought to receive a free copy of the FIR.
  4. A video graph can be created using the data.
  5. According to section 164(5A), the statement would be recorded by the magistrate.

Legal provisions related to ZERO FIR

Although the filing of ZERO FIR is not expressly permitted under the criminal procedure code, over time, parliamentary cases law and legal provisions have developed to make it possible.

According to subsection (c) of the recently amended section 166A, which was added to the IPC on the recommendation of the Justice Verma Committee, any public servant who fails to record any information given to him under section 154(1) CrPC,1973, involving a cognizable offence, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than six months but which may extend to two years, in addition to being liable to a fine.

A defence against anomalies that can taint the criminal proceeding is provided in section 460 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The magistrate may take cognizance of an offence under section 190 of the code outside of his jurisdiction under subsection (e), and such action shall not be void for any reason.

Objectives of an FIR

The quickest and least complicated approach to file a complaint is through a Zero FIR.
  1. To prevent delays or other interruptions of any type.
  2. To ensure the investigation is carried out correctly.
  3. To compel the police to use their authority.
  4. To allow the matter to move quickly.
  5. Appropriate jurisdiction is established promptly following the filing of the FIR.

ZERO FIR guarantees immediate action and accessible justice. This discussion makes it evident that the police can't refuse to register an FIR. Unfortunately, in most of the country, people are unaware that ZERO FIR exists. Awareness is the key. Refusing to register an FIR is an act of negligence by the police officer, which is prohibited by law. The police are the custodians of law and order within a city. Police are the saviours of the common people. A dialogue between the police and the general public is necessary. Those who fail to discharge their duties and refuse to register the FIR must be dealt with severely.

"Silence is Ignorance, Ignorance is Crime, Say yes to Justice" Know your rights, citizens!

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