ZERO FIR – An Undiscovered Right

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The movie ‘Pink’ has created many speculations in the minds of Indians especially women regarding the concept of Zero FIR. So what is Zero FIR? According to Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1953, a police officer is duty bound to register an FIR of any cognizable offence committed irrespective of the place or jurisdiction in which the offence was committed. The concerned police officer shall register the FIR under serial number 00 and send it to the concerned police station where the offence was committed for further investigation.

The sole purpose of Zero FIR is to reduce the inconvenience caused to the victim by running pillar to pillar for filling his FIR. In such circumstances, the police officer will have to register the victim’s FIR and transfer the case to the concerned police station. However, it must be noted that the investigation will be only taken up by the police station where the offence was committed.

This provision of law was introduced in the recommendation of the Justice Verma Committee in the new Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 after the horrific Delhi Rape case.

Now what is more shocking is that the police officers deny to acknowledge a Zero FIR and also try to convince the victim and his family to approach the concerned police station for registering the FIR rather than trying to help them. Many of us do not know that according to Section 166A of the Indian Penal Code added by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, a police officer refusing to register FIRs related to certain offences against women (such as rape, molestation, etc.) can be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with a fine or with both.

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Lalita Kumari Vs. Govt. of UP and Others [(2008) 7 SCC 164] has issued the following guidelines:-
a) The registration of FIR is mandatory under section 154 of CrPC, if the information discloses commission of a cognizance offence.
b) The police officer cannot avoid his duty of registering offence if cognizable offence is disclosed. Action must be taken against erring officers who do not register the FIR if information received by him discloses a cognizable offence.
c) Action must be taken against erring officers who do not register the FIR if information received by him discloses a cognizable offence.

The Supreme Court in Bimla Rawal and Others Vs. State (NCT of Delhi) and Another [ 2008 II AD Delhi 188 ]has held:-

“It is clear that the law is that police can register an FIR of commission of a cognizable crime but after registration of FIR, if on scrutiny or investigation, it is found that crime was not committed within the jurisdiction of that Police Station but was committed within the jurisdiction of some other Police Station, the FIR should be transferred to that Police Station. However, if at the time of registration of FIR itself, it is apparent on the face of it that crime was committed outside the jurisdiction of the Police Station, the Police after registration of FIR should transfer the FIR to that Police Station for investigation. Normally a ‘Zero’ FIR is registered by Police in such cases and after registration of FIR, the FIR is transferred to the concerned Police Station.”

With the increasing number of offences committed against women, the shield of Zero FIR has surely come as a relief. Has it? Every now and then we come across newspaper articles stating that the police officer refused to file an FIR and harassed the victim.

After sexual assault on a woman, the woman faces the real assault by the police. The protector becomes the assaulter. Only when a senior officer intervenes than such complaints or FIRs are registered and investigated upon. How do we stop such incidents? If all complaints on women-related offences were to be filed by senior most officers then why do we have a police station in every area? Even 3 years after the new Criminal Law (Amendment) Act was passed in 2013, many police officers fail to recognize Zero FIR and instead continue to dodge their responsibility on others.

Amitabh Bachchan starrer ‘Pink’ has awakened the minds of many people. Also how we are not aware of our right and continue to be suppressed and intimidated by the police officers. We hope that the message of PINK reaches every individual and no one is bullied by any police officer.

We are not here to judge every police officer, but at majority times such incidents happen. It is very easy to manipulate a vulnerable person. Stop being one. Do not let any police officer to tell you which type of offence should be reported and which not. They will say something like once an FIR is filed, it will not be taken back and it will result in a long legal procedure. These are their key words.


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