What is Zero F.I.R ?
In all legal matters the jurisdiction plays an important role in administering the justice as the jurisdiction decides the competent court and authorities who will take the case into trial. The F.I.R i.e. First Information Report is the primary paperwork filled by the investigating officer in order to chalk down the details of the crime, criminals, evidence and witnesses and the same is further used in the court to frame charges, hence a charge which is not mentioned in the F.I.R cannot be charged on the accused. But in the current time of rising crimes against women & cyber crimes, deciding the jurisdiction of crime has been a challenge for the authorities and the courts and hence the concept of Zero F.I.R was adopted. A Zero F.I.R is one which can be registered on the basis of a woman’s complaint at any police station, irrespective of jurisdiction. This means women can file an F.I.R at any police station and the complaint is required to be registered on the basis of the woman’s complaint verbatim. This action is a huge improvement in fighting any untoward crime toward women and children, but sadly many of us are unaware of such a powerful weapon.
What led to Zero F.I.R ?
The provision of Zero F.I.R came up as a recommendation in the Justice Verma Committee Report in the new Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. Amended Section 154, CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) authorised that, if a woman victim of an acid attack, assaulted with intent to outrage her modesty, sexual harassment, disrobing, voyeurism, stalking, rape, or so called eve-teasing reports such offence, the F.I.R has to be recorded by a woman police officer or any woman officer. Again, if a victim of any of the above mentioned offenses (except acid attacks) is temporarily or permanently mentally or physically disabled, then the FIR has to be recorded at her residence or a place of her choice, in the presence of an interpreter or special educator. The recording has to be video-graphed.
Statistically in India, for every 1.7 minutes a crime is committed against women and rape is committed within every 16 minutes and domestic violence done in every 4.4 minutes against every girl/women. Zero F.I.R is introduced as a right to women, which she can exercise as required to shield and safeguard themselves. In cases of any heinous crime done against in any place or at any moment, Zero F.I.R acts as a remedy in the hands of the women of our society.
How to file a Zero F.I.R ?
The procedure to file a Zero F.I.R is the same as a regular F.I.R . Instead of giving an F.I.R number which is registered with the police station, the police will number the F.I.R as ‘0.’ Once it is transferred to the police station with jurisdiction, it will be assigned a number. This has been a boon for the women and children in India, and is certainly an example of how the laws and procedures are changing in regard to the requirements of the society at large. Zero F.I.R has been a game changer in for the women as this has allowed the police stations to share the information with the competent police station efficiently and thus helping in faster investigation and apprehension of the criminals, and hence this has allowed a lot of victims to come out and report as they were earlier silent or scared to come out as the accused was in a different jurisdiction. As quoted by the Joint Director, National Crime Records Bureau Sanjay Mathur in the 2nd National Conference of State Cyber Nodal Officers “A 100% or Zero F.I.Rs across India are registered and investigated to the complete extent and have helped in apprehension of various criminals and so the police now encourages women to file Zero F.I.R in case of any mishappening.
Author: Mr. Abhishek Singh, Research Associate, CyberPeace Foundation