NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the police in all states and Union Territories (UTs) to upload first information reports (FIRs) on their websites within 24 hours of their registration.
If the police have no website, the FIRs have to be published on the official website of the respective State government.
The order comes into operation on November 15.
The decree is meant to facilitate accused persons, or any other party to a dispute, to download the document and approach the courts for appropriate legal remedy, if any.
However, certain cases are exempt from this order. They include cases relating to insurgency, terrorism and sexual offences including those lodged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Judges Dipak Misra and C Nagappan said this was only an illustrative list of exemptions. There could be others.
Further, the judges set down fine print by which the FIR deadline of 24 hours could be extendable: if connectivity is a problem, 48 hours, and if geographic location too is a difficulty, then 72 hours maximum.
This verdict was the result of a public interest litigation filed by the Youth Lawyers Association of India.
The lawyers collective wanted a Delhi High Court order stipulating the 24-hour deadline to be applicable to all other states.
Counsel for several states submitted their points of view on the mandated FIR deadline. Odisha expressed the worry that if FIRs are uploaded, accused persons may flee the jurisdiction of the police precinct in which they were booked.
To this, judge Nagappan retorted, “You don’t want the accused to know about the FIR? You want to hide it from him? Always your police machinery is colluding.”
Additional solicitor-general Tusar Mehta expressed the apprehension that some accused may hence collude with the police and ensure that FIRs do not get uploaded at all.
To this, the judges said, “If an FIR is not uploaded, needless to say, it shall not enure (a legal term meaning ‘give effect to’) per se a ground to obtain benefit under Section 438 (provision for bail) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).”