First Information Report (FIR) is the first document prepared in criminal proceedings. FIR is a document that puts on record the victim’s perspective of how the offence took place. FIR acts as a tool on which police authorities' base and starts their investigations. Section 154(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, states that an FIR can be registered only in cognizable offences. Cognizable offences are those offences in which a police officer can arrest an accused without a warrant.
As per the concept, Zero FIR is an FIR that can be filed in any police station irrespective of the place of the incident and the jurisdiction of the police station. The FIR can be later transferred to the police station having. A serial number registers FIR in the police station. However, a zero FIR can be filed at any Police Station other than the jurisdictional Police Station concerned, other than the location where the offence was committed, and such an FIR is registered but not numbered. Such an unnumbered FIR is then transferred to the concerned Police Station where it gets numbered and further acted upon. Hence those FIR's are known to be Zero FIR.
The police officers who fail to comply with the registration of Zero FIR may invite prosecution under Section 166A of IPC and also departmental action.
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.
However, policemen, by and large, deny knowing about provisions of "Zero FIR" and direct the complainant to the Police Station having jurisdiction. However, Clause (e) of Section 460 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) says that if any Magistrate not empowered by-laws to call for cognizance of an offence positioned in section 190 (a) or (b) erroneously but in good faith does take cognizance, the proceeding minutes will not be set aside merely on the grounds of not being empowered for same. Suppose at the time of initiation of FIR; it looks certain that the crime was committed outside the jurisdiction of the concerned police station. In that case, the police must be appropriately ordered to register a Zero FIR and ensure that the FIR is transferred to the jurisdictional police station. If there is a failure in complying with the instruction of FIR registration on the acknowledgement of the information about the offence, it will invite prosecution of the police officer under section 166A which results in rigorous imprisonment of six months and can be extended up to two years. This evasion of responsibility may invite the departmental action for the police officer.
The Centre has asked all the states to make amendments in the state laws in light of the registration of the Zero FIR on receipt of complaint or information about a crime without getting into any scuffle related to the jurisdiction. This amendment empowers the police to register the complaint acknowledged in a police station other than the jurisdictional police station where crime has been committed. The concept of Zero FIR is a free jurisdiction FIR, brought up to avoid the delay in filing the crime and to avoid wastage of time that negatively impacts the victim and gives a free way to offenders giving them a chance to flee. The police station where the Zero FIR is filed is required to make some prior investigation into the case before transferring it to the jurisdictional Police Station.
While going through the upper hand, the ZERO FIR looks like a great concept in seeking criminal justice at a preliminary stage and deciding on the truth. But it requires a third eye to monitor the procedure. A committee which will simultaneously supervise the process which will include at least an ordinary citizen to scrutinize the whole FIR instituting process will best serve the purpose.
The biggest drawback is in the basic concept of the Zero FIR provision, i.e., for say a crime occurs in a place and reported in another jurisdiction. If there is certain cooperation between the police staff of the station where the FIR was instituted and the offender, then the whole root of the provision collapses.
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