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India's Justice System: The Human Approach of Zero FIR

In every developing society incidences of crimes cannot be avoided. After occurrences of crime the next step is to bring law in action and report the crime in police station. The police used to register the simple report for the non-cognizable offences and FIR for the cognizable offences i.e. offences that are serious in nature. The Indian legal landscape has undergone a significant transformation and measures are being taken to enhance the efficiency of the justice system. Among these, the concept of Zero FIR emerges as the advancement that bridges the gap between law enforcement and legal proceedings.

Understanding the FIR

Before diving into Zero FIR, it's essential to know the role of the First Information Report or FIR in India's criminal justice system. FIR is covered under SEC. 154 of code of criminal procedure, 1973. It is the written report filed with the police to give information to them about the commission of a cognizable offences. Cognizable offences are serious crimes such as robbery, rape, murder etc. For which police has to take immediate action without any issues of warrant. FIR plays important role in initiating criminal proceeding and investigation

What is Zero FIR?

The concept of Zero FIR is a significant innovation introduced within the FIR (First Information Report) system. This system falls under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which provides the legal framework for reporting crimes in India. The primary objective of Zero FIR is to ensure that no time is wasted in reporting and investigating crimes, particularly those occurring in different jurisdictions.

In essence, Zero FIR is a type of FIR that can be filed at any police station, regardless of where the crime occurred or where the information was initially reported. This means that a victim can report a crime at any police station, regardless of the location where the crime took place. This concept is particularly important in situations where a victim may have been forced to travel to a different jurisdiction to report the crime.

The Zero FIR system was introduced to ensure that victims do not face any unnecessary delays in registering a complaint when it is reported in a jurisdiction other than where it took place. This is because, in many cases, victims may not be aware of the jurisdiction where the crime occurred, or they may not be able to reach the appropriate police station due to various reasons. The Zero FIR system eliminates these barriers, ensuring that victims can report crimes and have them investigated promptly.

The concept of Zero FIR gained significant attention following the Nirbhaya Rape Case, which took place in Delhi in 2012. In this case, the victim was brutally assaulted and raped in a moving bus. The incident led to widespread protests across India, with people demanding stricter laws to deal with crimes against women. The Justice Verma Committee, which was set up to recommend amendments to criminal law in India, recommended the insertion of the Zero FIR system as part of its report.

The Zero FIR system is a crucial innovation within the FIR system that aims to ensure prompt reporting and investigation of crimes, particularly those occurring in different jurisdictions. The system has been instrumental in ensuring that victims can report crimes without any unnecessary delays, and it has played a significant role in enhancing the safety and security of people in India.

Objective of Zero FIR:

  • Preventing delay in action: Zero FIR aims to eliminate delays in the criminal proceeding. Zero FIR allows immediate reporting, which can be crucial in case involving apprehending suspects.
  • Access to Justice: Zero FIR ensures that every individual regardless of their location has access to criminal justice system. It enables victims or witnesses to seek justice without the hindrances of jurisdiction limitation.
  • Enhancing Accountability: It enhances the accountability within the police force. It is responsibility of the police to ensure that the case is transferred to appropriate jurisdiction. The accountability ensures that the cases are not delayed.
  • Timely Jurisdiction is to be taken after the registration of FIR: Timely jurisdiction is to be taken zero FIR filed should be transferred to the appropriate jurisdiction immediately after the register of FIR.

How to Register FIR / Zero FIR:

  1. Visit the near Police station: Go to the nearest police station where the incident occur or the police station where the information is given.
  2. Providing Information: The specific information is to be provided to the duty officer about the incident including-
    • Date and Time of incident
    • Location of the incident
    • Description of the incident
    • Names and description of the people involved

      And all other information related to the incident.
  3. Statement Recording: The police will record the statement in written. After recording of statement i.e. registering of FIR the free copy of FIR would be given to the person by whom the statement was given. Every FIR has a unique registration number.
  4. FIR or Zero FIR: A regular FIR is been written by the police officer if the incident occur in the same jurisdiction that of Police station. And if not in the same jurisdiction then Zero FIR would be registered.

Who can register Zero FIR?

The FIR can be filed by any person having the full knowledge of facts relating to the incident, it can also be filed by the victim himself or friend or family member of the victim.

Case Law:

Kirti Vashisht v/s State And Ors

It was stated that even if the information to be registered as FIR where the incident took place which is out of the jurisdictional area of the police station, the police is still obliged to take the information and register it as zero FIR.

The concept of Zero FIR is based on the principle of prompt reporting of crimes, irrespective of where the crime has taken place. It allows the victim to report the crime at any police station, irrespective of the location of the crime. The police station receiving the complaint has to register the FIR immediately, without any delay, and initiate the investigation process. This concept has proved to be an effective tool in ensuring that the victim receives immediate assistance and the perpetrator is brought to justice.

However, despite the benefits of Zero FIR, there are certain challenges that need to be addressed to make it more effective. One of the major challenges is the lack of awareness among the general public about the concept of Zero FIR. Many people are still unaware of their rights and continue to believe that they have to report the crime at the police station where the crime has taken place. It is imperative that efforts be made to raise awareness about the concept of Zero FIR and its benefits.

Another challenge is the lack of responsiveness of the police in registering the FIR. Many times, the police refuse to register the FIR citing jurisdictional issues or lack of evidence. This delays the investigation process and denies justice to the victim. The police need to be sensitized about the importance of Zero FIR and the need to register the FIR promptly.

Furthermore, the transfer process of the FIR from one police station to another needs to be streamlined. There have been instances where the FIR has not been transferred promptly, and this has led to delays in the investigation process. The transfer process needs to be made more efficient to ensure that the investigation is not hampered due to bureaucratic delays.

In conclusion, the concept of Zero FIR has brought about a significant improvement in the access to justice for the victims of crimes. However, there is a need to raise awareness about the concept and address the challenges to make it more effective. The police need to be sensitized about the importance of Zero FIR, and efforts need to be made to streamline the transfer process to ensure that justice is not delayed.

Written By: Rajat Balana, Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies (MAIMS)

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