No police station in Kerala can refuse complaints citing station jurisdictional limits, and police officers are mandated to lodge FIRs, even if the crime does not fall within their territorial jurisdiction, the DGP has said in a circular to all police district headquarters.
On Monday, state DGP Loknath Behera released a circular which stated that First Information Reports can henceforth be lodged in any police station across Kerala, and that it was not necessary for complainants to report a crime only at the concerned station which holds territorial jurisdiction. Zero FIRs are especially useful with regard to crimes that happen inside moving buses and trains, the circular added.
"Complainants can now approach any police station regardless of station limits. Those who are subjected to crimes in moving buses or trains can directly file their complaints in the police station where they alight," according to the new circular.
After lodging FIRs for crimes outside of their jurisdiction, the officers in charge are then required to transfer these cases to the concerned police stations for further investigations. The circular stated that strict departmental action would be taken against officers who fail to comply with these instructions. However, it is to be noted that that Supreme Court asked for Zero FIRs in 2013, and Kerala, like many other states, has not successfully implemented it in all these years.
While issuing these directives Behera extensively cited the 2013 Supreme Court judgement in the Lalita Kumari vs Government of Uttar Pradesh case where a 5-judge bench constitution bench ruled that registration of FIR is mandatory by a police officer under section 154 of the CrPC if the information discloses commission of a cognisance offence. The judgement also made it clear that if the information relayed by the complainant did not disclose commission of a cognisance offence, a preliminary inquiry maybe conducted to ascertain whether a cognisable offence has been disclosed.
It was the Justice Verma committee formed after Nirbhaya rape that first suggested concept of a Zero FIR. In October 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory to chief secretaries of all states and union territories, to instruct the departments concerned to compulsorily register FIRs. This was the third such advisory but most states were not following it.
Recently, following outrage after the gang rape and murder of Disha*, a veterinarian in Hyderabad, the Telangana police announced that they would use Zero FIRs. Kerala too has not implemented it, though the Supreme Court judgment came in 2013.