The case of Nirbhaya led to many reforms to our current legal framework and Zero FIR was one of them. This vital provision has contributed to the freedom to file a FIR from anywhere and has become a step in legal history, but people are still not aware of this right, and it was only the 'Pink' movie that led to people's understanding of what the 'Zero FIR' is. In our country, the capital itself is considered to be one of the most dangerous cities in which to live. There have been numerous demonstrations around the world against the state of law and order. Post that, the governing body came up with provisions to set a motion for justice in favor of the victim.
Zero FIR is similar to any other FIR but the sole difference is that in zero FIR there is provision for filing it despite the jurisdiction, any person who has knowledge of the commission of an offense may provide such information to the police. This information is referred to as the FIR (First Information Report) which is information on the commission of a recognized crime communicated to the police officer and the individual providing the information is known as the Informant. The evidentiary value of the FIR is much greater than that of any other statement reported by the police during the investigation. The provisions for the registration of the FIR are laid down in Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
ORIGIN OF THE CONCEPT OF ZERO FIR
The definition of Zero FIR is to set up a free FIR jurisdiction. It was introduced by the recommendation of the Justice Verma Committee in the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013 following the gruesome Delhi rape case. The amendment was adopted by Lok Sabha on 19 March 2013 and Rajya Sabha on 21 March 2013 and obtained the President's assent on 2 April 2013 and is deemed to have entered into force on 3 February 2013.
WHAT IS ZERO FIR?
The FIR, which may be filed at any police station, irrespective of the place of crime and the area of jurisdiction, is referred to as the Zero FIR. The FIR, which is reported at the police station, irrespective of the place of occurrence or jurisdiction, will later be moved to the police station which has jurisdiction when performing the preliminary investigation. The police cannot assert 'lack of jurisdiction' to file the FIR and are therefore advised to conduct a pre-trial inquiry despite a lack of jurisdiction. This is intended to ensure that information in any cases of sexual assault or road accidents is obtained at the right time and is not lost or destroyed.
Protection of data from coercion and corruption is crucial in such cases, and thus the Zero FIR principle is advantageous. Crimes such as murder, rape and incidents need urgent action by the police authorities concerned to take relevant samples, eye witnesses and other circumstantial information. Zero FIR helps the police to take the initial steps rather than try to find out what happened at the scene of the crime.
In the case of Kirti Vashisht v. State & Ors., the High Court of Delhi observed as follows:
"As per section 154 of the Cr.P.C., if any information relating to the commission of an offense is obtained by any Police Station, that Police Station shall be obliged to report the FIR. However, if the crime has not happened within the jurisdiction of the said Police Station, then after the 'Zero FIR' has been reported, the same must be transferred to the Police Station concerned for investigation where the crime has been committed... Zero FIR can be lodged by the victim at any police station, irrespective of their place of residence or the location of the crime."
LEGAL PROVISIONS APPLICABLE FOR ZERO FIR
There is no clear clause in the Criminal Procedure Code to accommodate Zero FIR. However, Section 460 of the Code applies to 'Irregularities which do not vitiate proceedings,' and Clause (e) of that section provides that, where a Magistrate is not constitutionally allowed to recognize an offense under clause (a) or (b) of sub section (1) of Section 190 and to recognize an offense irrespective of that, such proceedings shall not be set aside solely on the ground that the Magistrate did not have jurisdiction to entertain the same.
PROCEDURE TO FILE ZERO FIR
A Zero FIR is filed just like every other FIR file. It must be filed in compliance with the provisions of Section 154 of the Code.
• If the information is given orally, it should be reduced to written form.
• If it is written, it shall be signed by the informant.
• The details shall be read to the informant so that it can be checked.
• It shall then be reported in the 'station house diary' or 'case diary' as specified by the Government of the State.
• The informant shall be issued with a copy of the information in writing free of charge.
CONCLUSIONZero FIR is however a free jurisdiction FIR. It ensures that individuals with knowledge on the commission of a cognizable crime are properly heard and are not turned down on the grounds of 'lack of jurisdiction.' It also means that the police officer does everything best to ensure justice for the victims of the suspected crime. No case may be dismissed solely on the basis that the police station is not under the jurisdiction of the place of commission of the offence. This guarantees that evidence is gathered in situations where urgent action is needed by the police.
Zero FIR: ASSERT YOUR RIGHT! SAFECITY, https://safecity.in/zero-fir-assert-your-right/ (last visited Feb 6, 2021)