Kerala High Court: While holding that the copy of FIR must be uploaded on the website of the Police Station and should be made available to the accused immediately on the registration of FIR, a division bench of Ashok Bhushan CJ. and A.M. Shaffique J. disposed of a writ petition filed by the petitioner who could not obtain the copy of the FIR at time to defend himself on the allegations under Section 498A of the Penal Code at the instance of his wife.

In the instance case, G.K. Kumar, learned Counsel for the petitioner contended that in the absence of the copy of the FIR, the very right of the accused to get himself defended cannot be fulfilled, since he is not in a position to know the nature of the allegations so that he may approach the appropriate forum for getting his right and liberty protected. The Counsel further contended that recording of FIR is an official act of a public official in discharge of his official duties and hence is a “public document” and in view of the Right to Information Act, 2005 all the public officers are under obligation to put all information recorded in the public domain. Girija Gopal, learned Counsel for the respondent contended that FIR is covered by the exemption provided under Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act, 2005 which need not be disclosed to the public till investigation is completed.

The Court observed that for meaningful exercise of the right given to the accused under Section 438 of the CrPC, a person who is accused of a cognizable offence by registration of the FIR at the police station cannot be denied the right to know the contents of FIR to enable him to defend himself and take such steps as provided under law. Accordingly, the Court directed that “the accused can make an application to the police station concerned or office of the Superintendent of Police or the court of concerned Magistrate for a copy of FIR and the same is required to be provided to him immediately within 48 hours”. The Court further held that FIR is a “public document” and hence copy of FIR has also to be made available on an application filed under the RTI Act, 2005 unless it is covered by any of the exemptions under Section 8 of the said Act. The Court also directed the State to take decision as to which category of FIRs has to be uploaded on the website of the concerned Police Station for information to all and to permit easy access to those who are concerned with the crime registered. [Jiju Lukose v. State of Kerala, decided on 30-11-2015]

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