First, we will understand the term FIR, it stands for First Information Report and every FIR has serial no., date of occurrence, time of occurrence, place of occurrence, contents of complaint etc. It is lodged because of the commission of cognizable offence (an offence in which police can take suo moto action and no prior approval from the court is required).
Every police station has a jurisdictional area for which they can take up the investigation if the commission of cognizable offence area found under their jurisdiction.
For Example – Suppose my phone is theft at Bus stand of Lal Quila, Delhi then the police station who’s under Lal Quila come will lodge my FIR and investigate it.
But in the concept of Zero FIR, any police station can register FIR irrespective of jurisdictional area but the investigation of the case will be taken up by the police in which place of occurrence reported in FIR. The police station registers the zero FIR marking it serial no. zero (0) and transfer to the competent jurisdictional area police station which can carry out the investigation on the said case.
Take a famous example of Aasaram Bapu Rape case, In the FIR, the place of occurrence of an offence falls under the jurisdiction of Jodhpur, Rajasthan but the Police Station Kamla Market, Delhi registered the FIR, then transferred it to Jodhpur, for further investigation. Then Jodhpur police took up the investigation.
The sanctity of legal process remains the same in zero FIR. It is very helpful for people as they facilitate them by not allowing to make rounds of different police station for lodging the FIR.
DEFINITION OF ZERO FIR
A FIR that can be filed at any police station irrespective of the place of crime and area of jurisdiction is referred to as a Zero FIR. The FIR that is registered at the police station regardless of place of incidence or jurisdiction will later be transferred to the police station that has competent jurisdiction upon conducting preliminary investigation.
The police cannot claim ‘lack of jurisdiction’ to register a FIR and they are also urged to conduct a prelude investigation despite lack of jurisdiction. This is done in order to ensure that the evidence in certain cases involving offences of Sexual abuse or Road accidents is collected at the right time and isn’t lost. Protection of evidence from manipulation and corruption is extremely vital in such situations, therefore the concept of Zero FIR becomes beneficial. Crimes like murder, rape and accidents require immediate action from the concerned police authorities so that they take appropriate samples, eye witnesses and other circumstantial details. Zero FIR allows the authorities to pen down the initial action taken rather than trying to figure out what had happened at the crime scene initially.
ORIGIN OF ZERO FIR
The notion of Zero FIR is to institute a jurisdiction free FIR. It was introduced by the recommendation of the Justice Verma Committee in the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 after the ghastly Delhi rape case. The Amendment was passed by the Lok Sabha on 19 March, 2013 and by the Rajya Sabha on 21 March, 2013 and received the President’s assent on 2 April, 2013 and is deemed to have come into force from the 3rd day of February, 2013.The 2012 Rape case led to several legal consequences through the Criminal Law Amendment, one of which was the concept of Zero FIR.
No police officer can refuse to register a FIR, if the offence being reported occurred outside their police station’s jurisdiction. They are bound to register the FIR (this is called a zero FIR) and forward it to the concerned police station.
There is no explicit provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure to accommodate Zero FIR.
- However, Section 460 of the Code talks about ‘Irregularities which do not vitiate proceedings’, Clause (e) of the section states that If any Magistrate is not empowered by law to take cognizance of an offence under clause (a) or clause (b) of sub- section (1) of section 190 and takes a cognizance of the offence irrespective of this, such a proceeding shall not be set aside merely on the ground that the Magistrate did not have jurisdiction to entertain the same.
- Under clause (c) of section 166A of Indian Penal Code, 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, 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.
HOW TO FILE A ZERO FIR
It is very simple to file a Zero FIR and is filed just like any other FIR. It can be filed by complying with the provisions of Section 154 of the Code.
- If the information is given orally, it should be reduced to writing.
- If it is in writing, it shall be signed by the Informant.
- The information shall be read over to the Informant so it can be verified.
- It shall then be recorded in the ‘station house diary’ or ‘case diary’ as prescribed by the State government.
- The copy of the information as taken down in writing shall be given to the Informant free of cost.
Also, Zero FIRs may be registered on the basis of a woman’s statement at any police station irrespective of jurisdiction. This means women can file a FIR at any police station and the complaint is required to be registered on the basis of the woman’s complaint verbatim.
Zero FIR is therefore a free jurisdictional FIR. It ensures that persons with information regarding commission of a cognizable offence are sufficiently heard and are not turned down with the excuse of ‘lack of jurisdiction’. It also ensures that everything possible is sufficiently done by a Police officer towards securing justice for the victims of the alleged offence. No complaint can be dismissed merely on the ground of a police station not being within the jurisdictional limits of the place of commission of an offence. This secures collection of evidence in cases where immediate attention by the police is required.
Author: Shivam Bansal,
Symbiosis law School, Noida - 2nd Year