What is Zero FIR

The concept of zero FIR is new. It refers to a FIR that is registered irrespective of the area where the offence is committed.The provision of Zero FIR came up as recommendation in Justice Verma Committee Report in the new Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, devised after the December 2012 gang rape of a 23-year-old girl in the territory.[1]

It means that a FIR can be filed in any police station (i.e. Irrespective of place of incident/jurisdiction) and the same can be later transferred to the appropriate police station having competent jurisdiction after investigation and filing with a magistrate.

Legal provisions for Zero FIR

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 [vii] 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.

Landmark Judgments

The Apex court in Lalita Kumari v. Government of U.P.[2] observed that it is mandatory to register a FIR under Section 154 if the complaint is related to a cognizable offence.

In State of Andhra Pradesh v. Punati Ramulu and Others[3] where the constable refused to lodge the FIR by the informant who was the nephew of the deceased and an eye witness of the crime on the grounds of jurisdictional limitations, the court observed the failure of duty of the police constable and emphasized on his legal obligation to record the information and then transfer it to the competent police station.

In Kirti v. State[4], the court directed the Commissioner of Delhi police to furnish a standing order to every police station in the National Capital Territory of Delhi to accept all and any information they receive which discloses the occurrence of a cognizable offence even if police station is incompetent on grounds of jurisdictional limitation and thereafter transfer the case to the competent police station.

Conclusion

The concept of Zero FIR is a beneficial tool for the women of the country against crimes like sexual harassment and rape. However, the fact that most of the police officials are not aware of it and still deny registration of a FIR in such a case on grounds of jurisdiction. Such officers must be educated with regard to such a law and it is the responsibility of the respective state governments. 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.

References:

1. J. J. S. Verma Committee, Report of the Committee on Amendments to criminal law (January 23, 2013).
2. (2014) 2 SCC 1 (India).
3. AIR 1993 SC 2644 (India).
4. Crl. M.C. 5933/2019 and Crl. M.A. 40833/2019, Delhi High Court, decided on November 29, 2019.

About the author –
This article is written by Shreyansh Sharma, 2nd Year student of LL.B at Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara

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