Zero FIR
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This article is written by Moumita Mondal, pursuing a Certificate Course in Advanced Criminal Litigation and Trial Advocacy from LawSikho.

Introduction 

We all are aware of the term ‘FIR’ whereas the term zero FIR is unheard of by many people. Filing FIR in Police Station has become a common practice these days where the action usually taken by the police are delayed or the police don’t take up the investigation properly. In zero FIR, the action is not delayed.  In the recent gangrape case of Hyderabad, an FIR was lodged by the victim’s parents where police delayed to take the jurisdiction and so the parents were made to run from one police station to another.

Suppose if a situation arises where you went to the police station to lodge an FIR and the police deny by telling you that the offence committed is not within their local area and suggests you go to another police station in whose local area, the offence has been committed and therefore consequently leads to the delay of FIR resulting the loss of the suspicions and facts.

Thus, this article will help the readers to understand the aspect of filing a zero FIR without any difficulties.

What is Zero FIR

Zero FIR is much relatable to the FIR which is filed physically in the Police Station. The only difference between the FIR and the Zero FIR is that FIR is lodged as a complaint by the informant where the incident has occurred in the area in which the police station has the jurisdiction to conduct an investigation whereas a Zero FIR can be lodged in any police station irrespective of the incident happening anywhere.

Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 says that whenever an informant comes to the police station and submits his complaint, the information is converted into writing by the police officer and therefore keeps the record registered in the book as per the direction of the State Government. The informant is also given a copy of the FIR which is free of cost. FIR is registered when the offence committed is cognizable in nature.

Meaning of Zero FIR

The concept of zero FIR was mainly propounded to be inserted in the Criminal Law Amendment by Justice Verma’s Committee after the incident of the Nirbhaya Rape Case. The term ‘ FIR’ stands for First Information report which is filed before the police by the person approached to file the information. The Criminal Procedure has not mentioned the definition of the term ‘FIR’.  Zero Fir is the mode of lodging FIR in any police station irrespective of the offense committed in that area or any other area. There is no restriction over the informant to lodge zero FIR. In Zero FIR, the police officer is bound to take the complaint lodged by the Informant and therefore transfers over to another police station in whose jurisdiction of that area the offence has occurred.

Objective of a Zero FIR

As we all know, Zero FIR is a more efficient and effective way without facing any hassles and inconvenience while registering FIR in the police station.

The purpose of filing a zero FIR is as follows:

  • To avoid delay and any other kind of disruptions.
  • To make police bound to take the jurisdiction.
  • Timely jurisdiction to be taken immediately after the registration of the FIR.
  • To make sure that the investigation is done properly.
  • To enable the case to proceed fast.

How to register an FIR/ Zero FIR

Before filing an FIR, it is important to know whether the offence is cognizable or non-cognizable. The cognizable offence is serious in nature such as Rape, Robbery, Murder, Theft, etc. And in non-cognizable offences, the information is reported to the magistrate through a complaint. Some of the examples of non-cognizable offences are Forgery, Defamation, and Public Nuisances.

FIR is registered in cognizable offence whereas if the offence is non-cognizable in nature, then the matter is reported to the magistrate. Even if the offence is non-cognizable, the police will still take and keep the information in the book which is termed as ‘General Diary’.

The steps upon which the FIR is registered are as follows:

  1. The nature of the offence must be cognizable.
  2. The information can be submitted in written whereas the information is given orally by the informant, then it must be reduced into writing and read over to the Informant. It is therefore signed by the informant and registered in the book as the direction of the State Government.
  3. The copy of the FIR is given free of cost to the informant.
  4. According to 154 (1) of the Code of the Criminal Procedure,1973 -Whereas if the information is given by the women under section 326A, section 326B, section 354, section 354A, section 354B, section 354C, section 354D, section 376,{section 376A, section 376A, section 376AB, section 376E or section 509 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) is committed or attempted, then the women police officer or women officer will register such information. 
  •  It is also provided further that the information pertaining to section 326A, section 326B, section 354, section 354A, section 354B, section 354C, section 354D, section 376,{section 376A, section 376A, section 376AB, section 376E or section 509 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) given by such person who is temporarily or physically disabled, then the police officer shall record in the suitable place of the person in the presence of the interpreter or a special educator.
  • The entire information is video graphed.
  • The statement of that person is recorded by the magistrate under clause (a) of sub-section (5A) of section 164.

Who can register a Zero FIR

An FIR can be registered by the victim himself, a family or a relative, or any other person who knows the facts relating to the incident can also file on behalf of the victim.

Is zero FIR mandatory to be registered by the police

FIRs are generally filed in the police station. There are some instances that FIR was filed through email and telephonic means of communication whereas nowadays online FIR is also prevalent. 

Unlike FIR, the zero FIR ensures that the police files the FIR and avoids any other difficulty while lodging a complaint. The advantage of zero FIR is that it avoids any kind of uncertain consumption of time and it also enables the police to conduct the investigation in a speedy manner. The process of registering an FIR is much related to the registration of a zero FIR. While registering the zero FIR, the police officer records the statement of the person and also records all necessary information and a duplicate copy is given to the person without any cost. If the police officer denies even to register a Zero FIR, then the aggrieved person can write to the Superintendent of the Police, and still, if it doesn’t work, then he can send a complaint to the magistrate through an advocate. 

Case Laws

  • In Kirti Vashisht vs. State & 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 and thereafter, transfer to the particular police station.
  • In State vs. Harnam Singh, Harnam Singh along with 3 men kidnaps a girl in school uniform. Later, upon receiving the information, both were taken to the police station situated at Parliament Street where zero FIR was registered and a subsequent medical examination was done and taken to the Police Station at Tilak Nagar where the duty officer was given a copy of FIR.
  • In State vs. Satish Kumar, an army man in uniform was brought in an unconscious state to the duty officer. After regaining consciousness, he stated in his statement that he became unconscious after drinking the mango juice given by a 25 years old man at Railway Station, and also he finds his luggage missing. So, a zero FIR was lodged at Itarsi Station and reported the information to the RPF Delhi and thereafter, requested to transfer the case to New Delhi.

Conclusion

Zero FIR is the easiest way to get the complaint registered in the Police Station. If the crime has occurred outside of the jurisdiction of the police station, still the police are obliged to register the FIR as zero FIR. Technology is emerging so fast that online FIR is also enabled by some of the States whereas the FIR status could also be checked virtually.

Earlier, the police usually denied taking FIR but the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Lalita Kumari vs. the State of U.P has held that any information which amounts to cognizable offense is mandatory to be registered as FIR by the Police as such no further inquiry is necessary.

“Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” which means if the person doesn’t seek legal assistance timely then there is no ray to justice and thus amounting to a loss of the essence of the case. In Hathras rape case 2020, a 19 years old Dalit woman was gang-raped and brutally tortured in the field. After the incident, the victim’s brother went to lodge a complaint at a police station where the police delayed registering the FIR against the accused belonging from the upper caste. After regaining the consciousness, the victim called her family and her statement was recorded. She was medically examined but the doctors stated that no sexual assault was committed and no such traces were found.  

So, an FIR can be filed by the victim or any other person on behalf of the victim having knowledge related to the facts and circumstances of the incident that occurred. 

Therefore, an FIR should be registered immediately after the offence has been committed to prevent the loss of facts and evidence. 

References


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