Excepts sensitive cases pertaining to sexual offences, insurgency, terrorism
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed all States and Union Territories to upload the FIRs except those pertaining to sensitive matters like sexual offences, insurgency, terrorism, and offences under POCSO Act (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) 2012 on their websites within 24 hours of registration at police stations.
A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan, however, extended the time up to 72 hours for uploading of the FIRs for those states which are located in difficult terrains where internet connectivity is poor.
“The copies of the FIRs, unless the offence is sensitive in nature, like sexual offences, offences
pertaining to insurgency, terrorism and of that category, offences under POCSO Act and such other offences, should be uploaded on the police website, and if there is no such website, on the official website of the State Government, within twenty-four hours of the registration of the First Information Report so that the accused or any person connected with the same can download the FIR and file appropriate application before the Court as per law for redressal of his grievances,” the court said.
It also clarified here that in case there is connectivity problems due to geographical location or there is some other unavoidable difficulty, the time can be extended up to forty-eight hours.
“The 48 hours can be extended maximum up to 72 hours and it is only relatable to connectivity problems due to geographical location.”
Initially, it was suggested during the hearing that the states be allowed to upload FIRs on websites within 48 hours. However, the court later fixed the time limit at 24 hours.
It said that the word ‘sensitive’ apart from the other aspects which may be thought of being sensitive by the competent authority as stated would also include concept of privacy regard being had to the nature of the FIR. “The examples given with regard to the sensitive cases are absolutely illustrative and are not exhaustive.”
In case a copy of the FIR is not provided on the ground of sensitive nature of the case, the court said that aggrieved person, after disclosing his identity, can submit a representation to the Superintendent of Police or any person holding the equivalent post in the State.
“The Superintendent of Police shall constitute a committee of three officers which shall deal with the said grievance. As far as the Metropolitan cities are concerned, where Commissioner is there, if a representation is submitted to the Commissioner of Police who shall constitute a committee of three officers. The committee so constituted shall deal with the grievance within three days from the date of receipt of the representation and communicate it to the grieved person.”
The apex court said that the decision not to upload the copy of the FIR on the website shall not be taken by an officer below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police or any person holding equivalent post. “In case, the States where District Magistrate has a role, he may also assume the said authority. A decision taken by the concerned police officer or the District Magistrate shall be duly communicated to the concerned jurisdictional Magistrate.”
The bench also made it clear that the accused cannot take benefit before the courts of law of the fact that FIRs lodged against them have not been uploaded on the website.
“If an FIR is not uploaded, needless to say, it shall not enure per se a ground to obtain the benefit under Section 438 of the Cr.P.C,” the court said.
The direction came on a PIL filed by Youth Lawyers Association of India on the issue. The PIL referred to a decision passed by the Delhi High Court in which the city police was directed to upload the FIRs on its website within 24 hours of being registered.
The apex court agreed to the directions of the HC with certain modifications.