File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Zero FIR: Utility and Challenges

The legal provision known as Zero FIR is of great importance in India as it works towards expediting the process of reporting and investigating crimes. Its purpose is to allow for the registration of an FIR at any police station, regardless of where the crime took place. This was implemented in 2013 as an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), with the aim of providing victims with quick and efficient access to justice and creating a more effective system for addressing criminal offenses. The purpose of a Zero FIR is also to protect against the destruction or manipulation of evidence and witnesses, which may happen if there is a delay in reporting the incident.

The concept of Zero FIR was implemented in India to allow for the filing of an FIR (First Information Report) at any police station, regardless of the location of the incident or jurisdiction. This is beneficial in situations where the crime took place in one jurisdiction, but the victim reports it to a police station in another jurisdiction. The reporting police station files a Zero FIR and transfers it to the relevant police station for necessary action and investigation. This mechanism ensures swift action and eliminates any delays in beginning the investigative process.

The concept of a Zero FIR was introduced on the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee after the tragic Nirbhaya gang rape case in 2012. This development serves to legally compel police officers to promptly take action on complaints, eliminating the loophole of jurisdictional excuses.

To file a Zero FIR, one can simply visit the nearest police station and provide details of the incident, either orally or in writing. It is important to note that anyone can file an FIR, regardless of whether they were directly affected by the crime or just witnessed it.

Objective of Zero FIR:

The primary objective of Zero FIR is to streamline the reporting and investigation processes for crimes, particularly in situations where the victim is far from the scene or during emergency situations. It can be initiated for various criminal offenses, ranging from minor incidents like theft and harassment to more serious offenses such as assault, kidnapping, and even terrorism.

The introduction of Zero FIR was a significant milestone in India's criminal justice system, aiming to address the challenges caused by jurisdictional limitations. Previously, incidents occurring outside a police station's jurisdiction often faced delays or were disregarded, potentially leading to injustice for victims.

Once registered, the police station where the Zero FIR was filed promptly notifies the jurisdictional police station where the crime occurred. The originating police station then transfers the case to the appropriate jurisdiction within a designated timeframe, typically within 24 hours.

Difference between FIR and Zero FIR:

The sole contrast between FIR and Zero FIR lies in the fact that an FIR is filed in the Police Station within whose jurisdiction the incident occurred, while a Zero FIR can be lodged in any Police Station regardless of the location of the incident.

In contrast to a typical FIR, which is limited by geographical boundaries, a zero FIR has the ability to be filed at any police station, regardless of where the crime took place. While regular FIRs are given sequential numbers, Zero FIRs are labelled with a '0', hence the name. Upon filing a Zero FIR, the initial police station must transfer the complaint to the appropriate jurisdiction for further investigation. Once the Zero FIR is transferred, the receiving station proceeds to file a new FIR assigning it a serial number and initiates further investigation, converting it into a traditional FIR.

Why is it called Zero FIR:

This provision is named 'Zero' because it has no restrictions based on jurisdiction and can be lodged without delay. The concept of 'Zero FIR' is derived from the custom of giving a serial number of 'zero' to the First Information Report (FIR) when it is first filed at any police station, regardless of whether it falls under the jurisdiction of that station or not. This allows for immediate registration of the FIR, without delay for determining the appropriate jurisdiction of the crime. The term 'Zero FIR' highlights the prompt initiation of the FIR, regardless of the crime's location or jurisdiction, to ensure swift response and investigation.

Legal Provisions:
The Criminal Law Amendment Act of 2013, following the infamous Nirbhaya Case, incorporated Section 166-A into the Indian Penal Code. This section specifies that a police officer can face rigorous imprisonment for a period of six months to two years if they refuse to register an FIR in crimes involving women. These crimes include those punishable under Sections 326 A, 326 B, 354, 354 B, 370, 370-A, 376, 376-A to E, and 509 of the IPC. Additionally, any police officer who refuses to register an FIR in a cognizable offence can also face prosecution and disciplinary action.

An FIR is a written complaint filed by a police officer upon being informed about the occurrence of a serious crime, also known as a Cognizable Offence. According to Section 156 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, no objections can be raised against a police officer's actions in investigating a case on the basis of lack of territorial jurisdiction. However, despite this legal provision, many police officers refuse to register FIRs due to their lack of jurisdiction over the location where the crime took place.

The Ministry of Home Affairs also released an advisory on 10.05.2013 (No. 15011/ 35/ 2013-SC/ST-W) regarding the mandatory registration of FIR regardless of territorial jurisdiction and the implementation of Zero FIR.

Various decisions of the Supreme Court and High Courts have also backed the implementation of the Zero FIR system. For example, in the case of Lalita Kumari vs Govt. of UP (2014), the Supreme Court stated that the filing of an FIR is compulsory when the information suggests the occurrence of a cognizable offence. Similarly, in the case of Satvinder Kaur vs State (1999), the Delhi High Court ruled that a woman has the right to file her complaint from any location, even if it is not where the offence took place.

The Magistrate does not have the authority to order the officer-in-charge of a police station within its territorial jurisdiction to file a Zero FIR and then transfer it to a police station outside of its territorial jurisdiction for the purpose of conducting an investigation into the crime.

Individuals filing a Zero FIR are entitled to receive a copy of the FIR, ensuring transparency and enabling them to monitor the progress of the investigation. Legally, Zero FIR holds the same weight as a regular FIR and is admissible as evidence in court proceedings.

Utility of Zero FIR:

Zero FIR is particularly crucial in cases of crimes against women, providing immediate recourse and protecting the victim's interests. For travellers or tourists who encounter crime outside their native jurisdiction, Zero FIR is invaluable in eliminating barriers in reporting offenses and ensuring timely intervention.

Zero FIR plays a crucial role in expediting justice, especially in emergencies or when victims are in distress and unable to reach the appropriate police jurisdiction. To file a Zero FIR, individuals simply need to visit the nearest police station and request FIR registration without being restricted by territorial boundaries.

Action on Zero FIR:

It should be noted that the act of filing a Zero FIR does not imply that the filing officer cannot take action against an accused individual who falls within the jurisdiction of the police station where the Zero FIR was registered. In such situations, the police officer has the option to detain the accused to prevent them from interfering with or fleeing the legal process, and subsequently hand them over to the appropriate Magistrate as stated in Section 170 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. If the victim needs any immediate medical attention, the police officer receiving the Zero FIR should also arrange the same.

Examples of Zero FIR:
  1. In a hit-and-run accident, if the victim reports the incident at a police station in a different city from where it occurred, a Zero FIR would be registered and subsequently transferred to the relevant jurisdiction for further investigation.
  2. If someone experiences sexual harassment or assault while traveling and reports it at a railway station or bus terminal in a different jurisdiction, a Zero FIR would be registered before being transferred to the appropriate jurisdiction.
  3. In cases of theft or robbery, if the victim reports the incident at a police station along their route rather than at the location of the crime, a Zero FIR would be registered to begin the investigation before being transferred to the actual jurisdiction.
  4. In cases of domestic violence, if the victim seeks help at a nearby police station, a Zero FIR can be registered even if the incident occurred in a different jurisdiction, ensuring immediate protection for the victim and later transferring the case for further action.

Zero FIR Challenges and Misuse:

The effectiveness of Zero FIR is hindered by various difficulties. One major issue is the lack of public knowledge about its presence and advantages, resulting in its underutilization. Moreover, the transfer of Zero FIRs to the correct jurisdiction can be delayed, obstructing investigations. This system also imposes extra responsibility on police stations, as they have to handle cases outside their area, which can lead to delays and a backlog.

The inconsistent application of Zero FIR among different states and jurisdictions adds to the complexity, emphasizing the importance of educating the public, streamlining procedures, and promoting better communication among law enforcement agencies to optimize the impact of Zero FIR.

Further, the system is susceptible to abuse, as false or frivolous complaints can overwhelm police resources. Moreover, administrative challenges arise from coordinating the transfer of cases between multiple police stations, causing confusion and delaying investigations. Zero FIRs are generally limited to cognizable offenses, though they may not be appropriate in situations involving non-cognizable offenses.

The monitoring and pursuit of transferred cases can prove difficult, possibly impacting both accountability and the resolution of the case. The maintenance and organization of records and the tracking of Zero FIRs can be strenuous, resulting in challenges with data management. Therefore, while Zero FIRs may address certain flaws in the criminal justice system, careful consideration and management are crucial to minimize these drawbacks and ensure their successful implementation.

The implementation of Zero FIR in India plays a crucial role in the legal system by removing geographical limitations and empowering people to report crimes promptly. This practice ensures prompt action and investigation, regardless of the location of the offence, thus promoting accessibility to justice and expediting the resolution of criminal cases.

This provision not only enables citizens to exercise their rights but also empowers law enforcement to respond efficiently, ultimately leading to the development of a more secure and equitable society. The primary objective of a Zero FIR is to spare the victim from the hassle of seeking multiple police stations to register a complaint. This provision aims to provide the victim with immediate relief, ensuring that necessary measures are taken after the FIR is lodged.

Written By: Md.Imran Wahab, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly