Question: Discuss the concept of Zero FIR (First Information Report) in the Indian criminal justice system. (150 words)
The term first information report (FIR) is not defined in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, or in any other law, but in police regulations or rules, information recorded under Section 154 of CrPC is known as First Information Report (FIR).
When a police station receives a complaint regarding an alleged offence that has been committed in the jurisdiction of another police station, it registers an FIR and then transfers it to the relevant police station for further investigation. This is called a Zero FIR. No regular FIR number is given. After receiving the Zero FIR, the revenant police station registers a fresh FIR and starts the investigation.
Advantages of Zero FIR:
- Swift Action:
- Immediate registration of complaints ensures prompt response from law enforcement agencies.
- Prevents delay in initiating investigations, preserving crucial evidence.
- Inter-State Crimes:
- Enables filing of FIR regardless of the location of the incident.
- Facilitates coordination between police forces of different states in cases of cross-border crimes.
- Protection for Victims and Witnesses:
- Allows timely intervention to ensure the safety of victims and witnesses.
- Encourages reporting of crimes without fear of jurisdictional constraints.
- Accessibility to Justice:
- Ensures equal access to justice for all citizens, irrespective of their location.
Criticism of Zero FIR:
- Potential for Misuse:
- Possibility of false or multiple FIRs filed in different jurisdictions to manipulate the legal process.
- Can lead to unnecessary workload for police departments.
- Jurisdictional Complexities:
- May result in confusion and delays during the transfer of cases to the appropriate jurisdiction.
- Could cause clashes between police units from different regions.
- Political Influence:
- Risk of influential individuals using Zero FIRs for personal or political gain.
- May compromise the impartiality of investigations.
- Balancing Act:
- Need for timely action and protection versus guarding against misuse.
- Monitoring and Accountability:
- Regular evaluation and oversight to ensure the proper use of Zero FIR provision.
- Enhancing Efficiency:
- Utilizing technology to facilitate smooth transfer of cases between jurisdictions.
- Overall Benefit:
- When implemented judiciously, Zero FIR contributes to a more effective and accessible criminal justice system in India.