Delhi High Court: Subramonium Prasad, J., expressed that,
“…it is unfortunate that institutions that are supposed to protect the life and liberty of common citizens are quick to shirk their responsibilities.”
Petitioner filed an FIR disclosing an allegation of sexual assault against her that has taken place from 2008 to 2019 at various places.
In view of the above, the petitioner registered a complaint regarding the crime of fraud, forgery and conspiracy towards forging marriage certificates, committing rape, getting an abortion done by the accused who forced the petitioner to ingest poisonous products and attempted murder.
When the petitioner used to live with her parents, one of the accused forcefully initiated a physical relationship with her, initially on account of their familiar relationship, the petitioner did not take any legal action against him. However, despite knowing that the petitioner was his sister, the accused tortured her physically, mentally and ruined her entire career.
Accused even raped the petitioner when the mother of the accused went to live at the petitioner’s Kanpur residence.
It is stated that when the Petitioner insisted on registering a police complaint against the accused and his family, then accused, and brother of accused, with the help of their sister, poured kerosene on the Petitioner and set her on fire. However, on realizing that the said act could lead to the petitioner’s death, they put off the fire.
Further, it was stated accused persons threatened the Petitioner and told her that she would have to remain as mistress/wife of the accused forever and would have to satisfy his lust.
In view of the above circumstances, the petitioner was unable to register a complaint. Later in the year 2011, when petitioner started living alone, accused started telling people that she was his wife. Further, he consistently raped the petitioner and threatened her with a revolver and a knife. On petitioner becoming pregnant, she was forcible made to ingest abortion pills and her foetus was aborted.
Accused took the petitioner to Arya Samaj Mandir and forged documents to showcase that he and the petitioner were married.
He used to keep the petitioner as a hostage at their rented house to satisfy his lust. In the year 2013, the petitioner again got pregnant, and Ajay forcefully made the petitioner abort the child by giving her medicines.
In the year 2013, when the petitioner father came to know of the above-stated, he died of shock and during that time, Ajay with the help of his wife took the petitioner to Kanpur and raped her while his wife made a video of the same.
Petitioner believed that her life is in complete danger and which is why she approached the Police Station GTB Enclave for registration of an FIR under the appropriate provisions of the Penal Code, 1860 against the four accused.
Since the Police denied registering the complaint, she moved to the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate by way of an application under Section 156 (3) CrPC.
Metropolitan Magistrate directed the SHO to file an action report as a result of which petitioner was taken for a medical examination. After this, an FIR under Sections 354, 376, 506 IPC was registered.
The case was registered vide ‘Zero FIR’ and the investigation had been transferred to Police Station Indrapuram, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh.
Despite the admission that one incidence had occurred within the jurisdiction of GTB Enclave, Respondents 2 and 3 transferred the case to Respondents 4 and 5. It was stated that subsequently, the Petitioner moved an application before the Metropolitan Magistrate concerned on 12-09-2019 referring to the applicability of Section 178(d) CrPC seeking action for intentional non-registration of FIR and also calling for an explanation for unlawful transfer of the investigation despite having jurisdiction over the matter.
Further, despite another application preferred by the petitioner seeking preservation of evidence and recording of the statement of the prosecutrix, Police Station GTB did not make any endeavour to collect the evidence, preserve it or take the statement of the petitioner, and rather chose to transfer the matter to respondents 2 and 5.
Metropolitan Magistrate vide Order dated 12-09-2019 called for the report from DCP Shahdara seeking an explanation for the transfer of the investigation despite admission that one incident had taken place within the jurisdiction of Police Station GTB Enclave. Further, t was submitted by DCP Shahdara that during the medical examination, the Petitioner had disclosed that the sexual intercourse had taken place in Indrapuram, Ghaziabad, U.P., and that an FIR had already been registered at Police Station Indrapuram on 12.09.2019 under Sections 354, 376, 506 IPC.
Petitioner approached this court since her grievance have remained unsolved and she has been subjected to a lot of threats from the accused.
Analysis, Law and Decision
What constitutes ‘Zero FIR’?
As per Section 154 CrPC, if any information relating to the commission of any cognizable offence is received by a Police Station, the police is duty-bound to register the FIR.
However, if the crime does not occur within the jurisdiction of the said police station, then the registration of the ‘Zero FIR’, same has to be transferred to the Police Station concerned where the offence has indeed been committed.
Hence, the place of crime and jurisdiction of the police station becomes irrelevant when a cognizable offence is disclosed, and the police station is obligated to instantly transfer the pertinent documents over to the police station vested with the jurisdiction which numbers the FIR and begins the investigation.
Difference between FIR and Zero FIR
The bench noted that the only difference between FIR and Zero FIR is that an FIR is registered where the incident had occurred within the jurisdiction of a particular Police Station, and a Zero FIR can be lodged at any Police Station irrespective of where the incident has taken place.
Motive of Zero FIR is to provide quick redressal to the victim so that timely action can be taken after registration of the FIR.
In the present matter, one of the incidents of forceful sexual assaults had taken place in the GTB Enclave area.
The Police Station GTB Enclave was obligated to register an FIR and not a “Zero FIR”, and not delve into whether the Petitioner resided in the city or what was the specific time, date and place of the alleged incident.
High Court remarked that,
By embarking on the journey of trying to get the investigation transferred to Ghaziabad, U.P., Police Station GTB Enclave has displayed a failure in dispensation of their obligation to take into account the seriousness and gravity of the offence that has been disclosed by the Petitioner in the complaint.
“…mere disclosure that one of the incidents had taken place within the vicinity of Police Station GTB Enclave was sufficient for an FIR to be registered at that Police Station, and not a Zero FIR as was done in the instance case.”
Under Section 482 CrPC, the High Court has inherent power to take the necessary action as sought for in the present petition and direct for the registration of the FIR at PS GTB Enclave.
High Court directed respondents to register a regular FIR instead of a zero FIR and conduct an investigation. [X v. State, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 5158, decided on 30-11-2021]
Advocates before the Court:
For the Petitioner: Mr R.N. Dubey, Mr Vinay Sharma, Advocates
For the Respondents: Ms Richa Kapoor, ASC for the State with Ms Shivani Sharma and Ms Surabhi Katyal, Advocates Inspector Arun Kumar, SHO/P.S. GTB Enclave.