What exactly is FIR?
It is the information about the happening of the cognizable offense which is given to the Police officer. It is termed as 'First Information', and report of information will mean 'First Information Report'. It is considered one of the important documents as it is against the cognizable offense which processes the criminal case. After the registration of FIR, the investigation of the criminal case is taken up.
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.
General Information about FIR:
The person who is a victim or witness of the case or who has the knowledge of the case can lodge an FIR. Under section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 the procedure for filing an FIR is mentioned. If the person gives the information about the incident orally then the police have to write it down on the register which should be signed by him or her.The FIR can be filed in any police station or in the nearest police station where the offense was committed. The person who is giving the information have to mention the following: Person's name and Address who is giving the informationDate, Time, and Location of the incident The details of the incidentName and description of the people who were involved in the incident.It is not necessary that an FIR can only be lodged by presenting physically before the Police rather it can also be lodged through Phone and E-Mail.The person is filing an FIR can demand a copy of FIR from the Police for free of cost.Sometimes in some of the circumstances, after registering an FIR also the Police do not investigate it is because:The crime is not heinous in nature.The police do not have sufficient ground to investigate the case.The reason for not investigating the case shall be recorded.Apart from FIR, there is also the concept of ZERO FIR.
what is zero FIR?
Any person who has information as regards the commission of an offense may give such a piece of information to the police. This information being communicated is the First Information Report or FIR. The person communicating such information is the informant. The term “FIR” has not been defined anywhere in the statutes. But, sections 154 and 155 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 bear the ethos of the concept of FIR for both cognizable and non-cognizable offenses respectively. An FIR kickstarts the criminal justice system. It sets the proceedings into motion. FIR holds a far greater evidentiary value as compared to any other statement. And yet, it is not treated as a substantive piece of evidence. It can only be used for corroboration.
The concept of zero FIR is fairly new. It refers to such an FIR that is registered irrespective of the area where the offense has been committed. The police can no longer claim that they have no jurisdiction. With the introduction of the concept of zero FIR, they would have no other choice but to lodge that FIR. Such an FIR is then later transferred to the police station that has the actual jurisdiction so that the investigation can begin.
Why was it introduced? The notion of Zero FIR has led to the establishment of a jurisdiction free FIR. It was on the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee of 2013 that such a concept was brought forth. It was in the aftermath of the brutal Delhi gang rape case of December 2012.The brutality of this offense shook the nation to its core. The nationwide protests forced legislators to rethink the situation of the then-existing criminal justice system. It was the Justice Verma Committee’s recommendations that led to the criminal Amendment Act, 2013. This amendment brought several noteworthy changes in the system. One such concept was that of zero FIR.
The police can no longer claim ‘lack of jurisdiction’ when approached by an informant. The Supreme Court’s mandate in Lalita Kumari v Government of Uttar Pradesh [2008 (11) SCALE 154] clarified that the registration of FIR is mandatory. This position was further strengthened with the introduction of zero FIR.
The concept of zero FIR was introduced to ensure that the evidence in certain cases such as those that involve sexual offenses or road accidents is collected without losing precious time. It is extremely important to maintain the sanctity of the evidence collected. It has to be protected against manipulation and corruption. Zero FIR becomes beneficial in cases where immediate action is necessary. It allows the police to begin a timely investigation.
In the case of Kirti Vashisht v State & Others (2019), the Delhi High Court made the following observation:
“As per section 154 CrPC, if any information relating to the commission of a cognizable offense is received by any police station, the said police station is duty-bound to register the FIR. However, if the crime has not occurred in the jurisdiction of the said police station, then after registering the zero FIR, the same has to be transferred to the concerned police station for investigation, where the offense has been committed […] A zero FIR can be filed in any police station by the victim, irrespective of their residence or the place of occurrence of crime.”
Therefore, now no police officer can refuse to register an FIR even if the commission of the offense was outside that police station’s jurisdiction. The officer-in-charge of that police station is bound to register that FIR.
In the general scheme of things, FIR is registered alongside a serial number. But a zero FIR does not bear a serial number. Instead, it assigned the numeral “0”. This is how this FIR received its name.
A zero FIR can be filed at any police station irrespective of jurisdiction.
Filing of such FIR is mandatory and no one can deny its registration.
It is lodged under the serial number “0” and hence, its name.
Such an FIR is later transferred to the police station that has the actual jurisdiction.
If the officer-in-charge of the police station refuses to record the information, then that person can take his case to the Superintendent of Police (SP). He can either direct the lodging of the FIR or register it himself and initiate the investigations.
The jurisdiction is not disturbed. The police station within whose borders the offense was committed will have sole jurisdiction. The police station where zero FIR is filed is responsible only for its filing and its transfer.
It must not be confused with the multiple jurisdictions. In such a case, parts of crime are committed in different areas and all the police stations involved have jurisdiction. They can file the FIR anywhere amongst themselves without worrying about its transfer.
It was introduced to protect the informant and the victim against technicalities. Zero FIR takes away the concept of jurisdiction to allow for smooth initiation of proceedings.
It ensures that justice is neither delayed nor denied.
Zero FIR is the new concept introduced as a type of FIR in police station. Now another common question that would arise is what is Zero FIR?
Nirbhaya's case has given rise to different amendments in the history of our judiciary and added to zero fir as a types of FIR in police station. This type of FIR has been shown in the movie 'pink'.Now people are atleast aware of what is zero FIR?
Zero FIR is a type of FIR in which the investigation can take place without taking time and help in fast justice. This is the type of FIR which can be filed in any Police station.
It is irrespective of any kind of jurisdictional area but the main investigation will take place on the jurisdictional police station. The case is registered with the serial number zero then the case is transferred to the respective police station. It is beneficial for the serious and heinous crime. So zero type is the type of FIR found in police station which would reduce the burden to find the right police station and remove the denial of justice
In Kanchikacherla of Andhra Pradesh, a ‘Zero FIR’ was registered for a missing boy and he was found within 24 hours after the investigation was taken up.
Zero FIR’s were registered earlier as well but this was the first case in which it was done for “quick action”.
It means that an FIR can be filed in any police station, irrespective of the jurisdictional limitations and location of the incident.
The respective police station takes in the FIR and marks it as a zero FIR by giving it serial number zero and immediately transfer the documents over to the concerned jurisdiction.
It was initially highlighted after the Nirbhaya Case, 2012.
Zero FIRs may be registered on the basis of a woman’s statement at any police station irrespective of jurisdiction. This means women can file an FIR at any police station and the complaint is required to be registered on the basis of the woman’s complaint verbatim.
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.
Legal provisions regarding it
FIR has not been expressly dealt with in CrPC. However, section 154 directly deals with it. It lays down provisions regarding information in cognizable cases. In other words, it deals with the registration of FIR in cognizable cases. Similarly, section 155 deals with the registration of FIR in non-cognizable cases. There is no direct or indirect provision in the CrPC regarding zero FIR. However, its legal basis can be found in section 460 and section 190.
Section 460 of the Code talks about irregularities which do not vitiate proceedings. Clause (e) of this section states that if any Magistrate who is not empowered by law to take cognizance of an offense under clause (a) or clause (b) of subsection (1) of section 190 but takes cognizance erroneously and in good faith, such proceedings shall not be set aside merely because he lacked such power. Section 190 talks of cognizance of offenses by Magistrate. Apart from these sections, sub-section (c) of section 166A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 lays down punishment for a public servant who refuses to record any information given to him under sub-section (1) of section 154 of CrPC.
Zero FIR becomes particularly important in sensitive cases where the reporting of the crime must be done as soon as possible. This ensures a timely action and a swift delivery of justice. For instance, in cases of rape and sexual assault, the collection of evidence through physical examination is a top priority. Such a collection can be only done after the filing of FIR. This is because these pieces of evidence are crucial in these types of cases and it becomes necessary to protect them from corruption or deterioration. Further, in homicide cases, especially the heinous ones, the perpetrator must be caught quickly to prevent him from absconding. Again, to catch him and to initiate proceedings into the matter, an FIR has to be lodged first.
Investigation and evidence collection can only happen once the FIR is duly registered. Zero FIR prevents the waste of time of the informant by providing a short cut. The informant no longer needs to worry about the jurisdiction of the police station. No one can send him away for a lack of jurisdiction. Zero FIR makes it possible for any police station across India to register an FIR irrespective of the place of commission of the offense. It also becomes an important tool when an offense committed during traveling. The victim, in such a situation, can reach out to the nearest police station on route their journey and lodge a Zero FIR. It would become the responsibility of that police station to send the zero FIR in question to the appropriate police station. As good as the reform sounds on paper, its execution in the field remains dicey. Firstly, the police itself is not aware of the reforms despite the amendments in the CrPC and the issuance of multiple guidelines. There have been countless instances where the police officers out of ignorance have turned the victim away, citing lack of territorial jurisdiction. The most recent example of police officers refusing to file an FIR is that of the Hyderabad rape case. The victim’s parents were turned away from their nearest police station when they went to file an F.I.R against the perpetrators citing lack of territorial jurisdiction as the reason.
Secondly, the citizens themselves are not aware of their legal rights. They are not aware that now they can lodge a zero FIR across any police station in India. Even six years after the 2013 Amendment that made lodging of a zero FIR to be a statutory duty, the police across the county, both the police and the police officials and the citizens are struggling to get a grasp of this concept. Not only this, despite several strict guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs, mandating the concerned departments to compulsorily register zero FIRs, but ignorance also prevails at large especially at the grassroots levels.
The legal right of lodging a Zero F.I.R is a very noble one. It inspires confidence in the minds of the general public that upon any wrongdoing, their voices will be heard and not muffled by procedural technicalities of law. However, due to certain maladies like the ignorance of the law as well as intentional abuse, the confidence and trust in the legal system are at stake. For law and order to exist, the maintenance of public confidence and trust in the country’s justice system is a must. Where landmark judgments, amendment acts, and even the strict guidelines by the Ministry of Home Affairs have remained inefficient, steps should be taken by the government to compulsorily ensure that the citizens, as well as the functionaries of the justice system, are aware of the concept of zero FIR.
Though there have been cases of abuse of the reform, it cannot be used as an excuse to dissolve it. Instead, the need of the hour is to fix responsibility right from the lower rungs of the criminal justice administration. The criminal justice system remains riddled with many problems. As appreciable as these reforms are, without proper implementation measures in place, they remain of no use to the victim or the perpetrator.