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Context: Almost 30% of arson, violence FIRs in Manipur over the last two months have been zero FIRs.
- Unlike an FIR, which is restricted by jurisdiction, a zero FIR can be filed in any police station, regardless of whether the offence was committed under the jurisdiction of that particular police station.
- Whereas FIRs have serial numbers assigned to them, zero FIRs are assigned the number '0'.
- After a police station registers a zero FIR, it has to transfer the complaint to a police station that has the jurisdiction to investigate the alleged offence.
- Once a zero FIR is transferred, the police station with the appropriate jurisdiction assigns it a serial number, thereby converting it into a regular FIR.
- The concept of a zero FIR is relatively new and was introduced on the recommendation of the Justice Verma Committee in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya gang rape case in 2012.
- It is aimed to put a legal obligation on police to take quick action and prevent them from using the excuse of the absence of jurisdiction.
Zero FIRs in Manipur
- It has been reported that almost a third of the 5,960 cases of arson and violence registered over the last 56 days were ‘zero FIRs’ filed by police irrespective of jurisdiction.
- These were filed suo motu by police and invoked sections relevant to arson, violence, murder, looking for weapons and more.
- On average, more than 100 cases were filed every day as Zero FIR.
Reason for zero FIRs in Manipur
- This is partly because people could not safely travel to the valley to file cases.
- Since the members of the community are unable to travel to the valley areas to file their cases, they have been pursuing zero FIRs in Delhi, Aizawl in Mizoram and Guwahati in Assam.
Reason for Manipur violence
- The dispute is a result of long-standing demand by the Meitei people for a Scheduled Tribe status under the Indian Constitution, which would give them privileges comparable to the tribal communities such as Kukis.
- The tribal communities protested the Meitei demand and Meteis launched campaigns which led to clashes between the two communities.
- Representatives of Meitei sides allege that the Central Government’s promises to them have not been kept.
Impacts of the violence
- Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code was invoked. The Indian troops were given "shoot on sight" orders to enforce the curfew in "extreme cases.
- Ethnic violence has left almost 200 people dead and over 60,000 displaced.
- Internet services remain suspended and Education, business and government services have been impacted.
- Meanwhile, close to 12,000 people have fled Manipur and taken shelter in the neighbouring state, Mizoram.
- Assam and Nagaland have sheltered 3,000 people from Manipur.
The government has said that a panel led by a retired Chief Justice will investigate the violence, and a peace committee will be established under the Governor and security advisor Kuldeep Singh, along with members of civil society. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will probe six cases related to conspiracy in the violence, ensuring a neutral investigation to uncover the root causes. Both central and state governments along with civil societies must come tougher to arrive at an amicable solution to end the violence.
Consider the following statements about “Zero FIR”