“There is a concept of “Zero-FIR”. It means that a FIR can be filed in any police station (i.e.: irrespective of place of incident/jurisdiction) and the same can be later transferred to the appropriate Police Station. However policemen usually deny knowing about “Zero FIR” and direct the complainant to concerned Police Station.”
Since we were not aware of this concept, we asked Ashutosh to elaborate on the topic and he happily obliged us by sending emails containing various judgments explaining the concept of Zero FIR.
Concept of Zero FIR: Explained
empowers police to proceed with a case where FIR has been filed within the territorial jurisdiction of a particular Police Station where the incident occurred.
So what about FIRs which fall outside the territorial jurisdiction of a particular Police Station?
Looking at the provisions of Criminal Procedure Code, if FIR is not filed within territorial jurisdiction of a concerned Police Station, the Station House-in-Charge (SHO) of that particular Police Station cannot proceed with further investigation of the case and the FIR should be filed with a Police Station which has territorial jurisdiction to act over the case. But practically it is not always possible to adhere to the exact wordings of Criminal Procedure Code
For example: If a person visits Police Station informing the police that his friend was murdered on the road (cognizable offence). Incidences like this require immediate action on part of the police (like collecting samples, getting information from eye witnesses, etc.); in such a situation police cannot excuse themselves saying that the case does not fall within their jurisdiction. This will hamper the very objective of the police force that is ‘to maintain law and order’. But at the same time it is mandatory to adhere to statutory regulations, so after investigation is over, if the Investigating Officer arrives at the conclusion that the cause of action for lodging the FIR has not arisen within his territorial jurisdiction, then he is required to submit a report and forward the case to the Magistrate empowered to take cognizance of the offence and must also submit all the materials including copy of FIR, collected sample of evidence and detailed report of the inquiry done till the date the case is transferred to the concerned Police Station.
In the case of Stavanger Kaur vs. State (Government of NCT Delhi), The complainant had appealed in the Supreme Court against the order of the High Court, where the High Court had quashed the FIR filed at Delhi Police Station by the complainant. The Supreme Court held that, Police can investigate the case, which does not fall under their jurisdiction.
Let us look at another case. In the case of Bimla Rawal and Ors. v State (NCT of Delhi) and Anr, FIR was lodged in Delhi, despite the fact that all incidents occurred in Mumbai. Writ Petition was filed in Supreme Court regarding the mala fide intentions of police succumbing under the pressure of opposite party. Supreme Court quashed the FIR filed at Delhi and ordered to file a fresh FIR in Mumbai. In this case the police misused the power of filing a Zero FIR at the behest of the opposite party.
Can a party take undue advantage of filing a Zero FIR?
Yes a party can exploit the provisions of Zero FIR. The main reason that can lead to undue advantage in case of Zero FIR is that outcome of criminal case mainly depends on the preliminary investigation carried out at the beginning of the case. Transferring the FIR at the later stage may adversely affect the case as the opposite party may file an FIR at the Police Station of its choice and by getting the investigation report made in their favor.
Other drawback of filing a Zero FIR is that Police Station not having territorial jurisdiction over the case, may lodge the FIR for satisfaction of the complainant, but may immediately transfer the FIR to the concerned Police Station without making any preliminary inquiry in the case.
What happens where there are multiple territorial jurisdictions?
Example: A woman is mentally harassed for dowry in Delhi (place where she stayed with her husband and in-laws) and is also physically tortured at Mumbai (where her parents stay) where she finally succumbed to death.
This is an instance of continuing offence. There is provision under Criminal Procedure Code which expands the horizon of territorial jurisdiction where FIR can be lodged at both the places i.e. either at Mumbai or at Delhi. The concept of continuing offence is different from that of Zero FIR because in the case of continuing offence, there is no need of transferring the FIR from one place to another place as the alleged offence took place at both the places unlike in the case of Zero FIR.
Many thanks to Sushil Dutt Pandey, student of National Law School of India University and an intern at Akosha, for preliminary research and draft of the article.
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