Shimla: Flagging the plea of a 70 year old retired assistant commissioner of excise & taxation department, who is too scared to go to a police station where a FIR has been registered against him, because the complainant happens to be the Superintendent Police (SP) of the district, the Himachal Pradesh High Court today issued directions that FIRs unless considered ‘sensitive in nature’ should be uploaded on HP Police website with 24 hours of lodging it.
On hearing the Criminal MMO for the petitioner presented by advocates YPS Dhaulta and Bhim Raj Sharma, Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan after recording that, “indisputably, for the present, there is no provision for providing First Information Report under the codified limit, but then liberty of an individual is inextricably linked with his right to be aware how he has been booked, under which law and what are the allegations set out against him”; set out to question “Is not the copy of FIR a public document?”
Citing various judgments which include Munna Singh Vs State of Mp 1989, which opined that FIR is not a privilege document under Evidence Act; the Sardar Dapinder Singh Bath Vs State of West Bengal 2007 order that held that as soon an FIR is registered, it become a public document and member of the public are entitled to have a certified copy thereof; Justice Chauhan concluded that an FIR is a public document.
In seeking an quashment of FIR 154 – 2014 dated 29.11.2014 at Police Station Shimla East, the 70 year old petitioner let the court know that he was too scared to go to the police station for fear of being arrested as the complainant in none other than the SP Shimla in the case. An application for a copy of the FIR has been sought under RTI but in the RTI Act, 30 days is the outer limit for supplying the information.
Making a reference to the case Cr Nol 468 of 2010 – Court of its own motion Vs State Writ Petition, where the division bench recorded the Dhanpat Singh V Emperor AIR 1917 Patna 625 order as “It is vitally necessary that an accused person be granted a copy of the FIR at the earlier possible state in order that he may get the benefit of legal advice. To put difficulties in the way of his obtaining such a copy is only creating a temptation in the way of the officers who are in possession of the originals.”
Making a reference to a Delhi High Court division bench order which after holding that “the accused is entitled to receive a copy of FIR even from the police, since FIR was a public document”, had directed the police to make the contentious FIR Copy available to the accused in the case.
More importantly the Delhi High Court had directed the police to upload the copies of FIR on the official website of the police. This landmark judgment was followed by Punjab & Haryana High Court which directed the police to upload all FIRs on its official website from 1st July, 20113.
After directing the police to make the FIR copy available to the accused in the case at the earliest, Justice Tarlok Chauhan directed chief secretary and DGP Himachal that directions for uploading of FIR on HP Police Website be given effect from Republic Day 2015. (26.1.2015); and a compliance report be placed before the court by 30.1.2015.
The copies of FIR (unless reasons recorded regard being had to the nature of the offence that the same is sensitive in nature), should be uploaded on the HP Police website within 24 hours of lodging, the court directed.
A decision not to upload a ‘sensitive FIR’ shall not be taken by an officer below the rank of DySP, directed the judge.