Days after Delhi Police registered a ‘Zero FIR’ against an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer from Jharkhand, based on a complaint by a Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) Member of Parliament, the State police said it was yet to receive a physical copy of the FIR and yet to re-register the case in its police station.
BJP MP Nishikant Dubey on September 3 filed a complaint against Deoghar Deputy Commissioner Manjunath Bhajantri and others. The MP alleged that there was a conspiracy to kill him at the Deoghar airport and he was obstructed from performing his duties as a member of a committee constituted by the Union government’s Ministry of Civil Aviation.
The Zero FIR was registered by Delhi Police a day after the Deogarh police booked nine persons, including Mr. Dubey and BJP MP Manoj Tiwari, for allegedly forcibly entering the Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower to obtain take-off clearance for their chartered plane as flight operations are not permitted in the evening at Deogarh airport. Deogarh police had said that the two sons of Mr. Dubey also forced their way to the ATC, a restricted zone. Mr. Dubey and Mr. Bhajantri also had a spat on Twitter on the issue.
The FIR invokes various sections of the Indian Penal Code such as 124A (sedition), 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 448 (house-trespass), 201 (Causing disappearance of evidence of offence), 506 (criminal intimidation) 120B (criminal conspiracy) and Section 7 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923.
Subhash Chandra Jat, Superintendent of Police, Deoghar, told The Hindu, “We are yet to receive a hard copy of the FIR from Delhi Police. Only after we get the copy, can we register a case.”
Delhi Police PRO Suman Nalwa said: “Whenever a zero FIR is lodged with the Delhi Police, we forward it to the respective State for carrying out the investigation as per the standard protocols without wasting any time.”
Zero FIR is registered irrespective of territorial jurisdiction in cases of cognisable offences. A Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) advisory to States in 2013 said that “at the time of registration of FIR, it becomes apparent that the crime was committed outside the jurisdiction of the police station, the police should be appropriately instructed to register a ‘Zero’ FIR, ensure that the FIR is transferred to the concerned police station u/s 170 of the Cr.P.C.”
It should be clearly stated that the delay over the determination of the jurisdiction leads to avoidable wastage of time, which impacts the victim and also leads to offenders getting an opportunity to slip from the clutches of the law, the advisory stated.
It added that failure to register a case in case of cognisable offence will invite prosecution of the police officer under section 166 IPC (public servant disobeying direction under law) or departmental action or both.
Former IAS officer Sanjeev Gupta said on Twitter, “Never seen anything so bizarre & blatant! Sedition case against an IAS officer for doing his duty?”
Mr. Gupta said that Mr. Bhajantri held a meeting in the airport lounge the next day and visited related areas after taking proper security pass.
(With inputs from Arnabjit Sur)