Ever
since it was reported that the police refused to register a FIR citing
jurisdictional issues, in the case of the veterinary doctor who was raped &
killed in Hyderabad, a message about the ‘Zero FIR’ provision has gone viral on
social media. But what exactly is ‘Zero FIR’?

Numerous incidents
of rape were reported across the country in the previous week alone. NCRB’s 2017
Crime in India report
revealed that around 32,559
cases of rape were registered in India in 2017. In other words, four rape cases
were reported every hour.

On 27 November
2019, a veterinary doctor was gang raped and murdered in Hyderabad. This
gruesome incident shook the entire nation. The four alleged perpetrators were
arrested the next day. At the same time, three policemen were also suspended as
they did not register the FIR of missing person when the victim’s family had
brought it to the notice of the nearest police station. Media reports
suggest that the police did not register the FIR claiming it was outside their
jurisdiction. It is in this context that a viral message about ‘Zero FIR’ is
floating across social media. But what is ‘Zero FIR’?

What is FIR?

FIR is the
abbreviation for First Information Report which is prepared by the police based
on a complaint or available information in the case of cognizable offences. The
information or the complaint is provided by an informant as per Section 154 of
the Code
of Criminal Procedure
. The informant can be
anyone, the victim, relatives, witness or a bystander. This helps the police take
immediate steps to register & investigate the crime. Here is an explainer
video
on understanding FIR.

What is Zero FIR?

Following the gruesome
Nirbhaya incident in Delhi in December 2012, the then government set up Justice
Verma Committee
to recommend amendments
to the Criminal Law. Based on the committee’s
report
, the Home Ministry, on 10
May 2013
, issued an advisory
to all states
and union territories
asking the police to register Zero FIR if an informant comes with the details
of a cognizable crime irrespective of the jurisdiction. This is to help
initiate investigation at the earliest. Otherwise, a lot of time is lost in
going from one police station to another, with adverse effect on victim and
also gives an opportunity to the offender to escape. Cognizable crimes/offences
are those which do not require an order from magistrate, and which requires the
police to take immediate action on receipt of complaint or information.

Zero FIR_What is Zero FIR

Zero FIR is a FIR
lodged in any police station irrespective of the location of incidence or
jurisdiction. The FIR is later transferred to the jurisdictional police station.
In 2007,  in a writ Petition, Bimla
Rawal and Ors Vs NCT of Delhi
,
the Delhi High Court directed the police to transfer the case immediately to
the police station in-charge of the jurisdiction where the incident took place.
The Delhi police had not filed ‘Zero FIR’ in spite of evidence at the time of
reporting the incident that took place in Mumbai.  

Refusal to file
Zero FIR will result in the prosecution of the police officers. Advisories were
also issued to states in 2014 and 2015.

Zero FIR_Advisory about refusing Zero FIR

How to file a Zero FIR?

The procedure to
file a ‘Zero FIR’ is similar to that of an ordinary FIR. The variation is in
the serial number. The case will be entered with the serial number ‘0’ until
the FIR is transferred to the respective police station. The procedure to lodge
a FIR is given in Section 154 of the CrPC. In the case of cognizable crimes,
the officer in charge of the police station need not get the permission of the
Magistrate to start investigation. The following are some of the other things
to be kept in mind.

  • If the information is
    given orally, the police must reduce it to writing
  • The informant also has
    the right to read it, in order to ensure that the details entered is correct
  • Upon recording the
    information, it is mandatory that the informant signs the FIR after verifying
  • A copy of the same should
    be provided to the informant
  • Details such as name and
    address of the informant is taken
  • The date, time and
    location of incident is also recorded
  • Details such as name and
    description of those involved in the incident can also be given
  • In case of female informants,
    a female officer must be the one recording the details
  • Orders
    have also been issued that prompt actions should be taken in the case of
    offences against women.

However, lodging a
false complaint is a punishable offence under the Indian Penal Code.

What will happen if the police refuse to lodge the
FIR?

If the police
officer in charge of the station refuses to file the FIR, the informant has the
right to write to the Superintendent of Police directly following which the SP
either starts investigation or direct some other official to take the necessary
action.

Disciplinary
action will be taken against the officer who refused to lodge the FIR. Erring
officers are liable to serve up to two years’ imprisonment in addition to a
penalty. In the Writ Petition in 2008, Lalita
Kumar Vs. state of Uttar Pradesh and others
,
the Supreme Court had addressed the issue of mandatory registration of FIRs by
the police.

Zero FIR was filed in the Asaram Bapu case

The infamous
Asaram Bapu case in which the self-proclaimed godman was arrested in 2013 for
raping a minor girl in Jodhpur, Rajasthan is an instance where the Zero FIR was
used. The parents of the victim filed Zero FIR against the perpetrator in
Delhi, according
to reports
.

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