It's common for a police station to send victims away and not register a crime that is out of its jurisdiction, though they are supposed to file a 'zero FIR' in such cases, said retired police officers, referring to the treatment meted out to 19-year-old Gazala Shaikh, who had to go to three stations before her complaint against the abusive bus conductor was finally registered.
As per the police manual, a police station that a victim first approaches must take cognisance of a complaint, irrespective of jurisdiction. In such cases, the police are required to register a 'zero FIR', take steps that are urgently required and then transfer the case to the relevant police station, which would further investigate the matter.
YP Singh, former IPS officer-turned-lawyer, said: there are two main reasons for a zero FIR: it makes the process more convenient for the complainant; and the investigation is not hampered because of a time gap between the incident and a formal FIR being registered.
"But the police are very reluctant to file a zero FIR and try pushing the work to other police stations," Singh said.
Former police commissioner MN Singh said an apathetic, indifferent attitude is "ingrained in the minds of the police personnel". "The only way out is to take serious disciplinary action against policemen doing this," he said.
Sometimes, the police are reluctant to even registering a crime in their jurisdiction and prefer to hush up the matter, the former police chief said.
Ambadas Pote, Mumbai police spokesperson and deputy commissioner of police, said: "We have given standing instructions to police stations to register complaints without getting into jurisdictional fights." What can a victim do if a police station refuses to file an FIR?
Pote said: "They can call the zonal deputy commissioner, whose landline number is present at the police station and let him know that the police station is refusing to file an FIR."