Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Vineet Saran and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ has held that no person is entitled to a copy of statement recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 till the appropriate orders are passed by the court after the charge-sheet is filed.

“The right to receive a copy of such statement will arise only after cognizance is taken and at the stage contemplated by Sections 207 and 208 of the Code and not before.”


BACKGROUND OF THE CASE


The Court was hearing the case where

  • the father of the Appellant lodged a Complaint that he had seen a video of the Appellant on her Facebook account alleging that Swami Chinmayanand and some others had sexually exploited the Appellant and many other girls; that the Appellant was not contactable; that he was apprehending danger to the Appellant; and that prompt action be taken in the matter.
  • The said Facebook video having gone viral, letters were written to the Supreme Court by some advocates whereafter Suo Motu Writ Petition was registered. On 30.08.2019 it was reported that the Appellant was found in District Dausa of State of Rajasthan whereafter the Supreme Court recorded the statement of the Appellant that she did not intend to go back to Uttar Pradesh but would meet her parents in Delhi. Certain directions were therefore passed.
  • In its Order dated 02.09.2019, this Court directed the Chief Secretary, State of Uttar Pradesh, to constitute a Special Team to enquire into the grievances expressed by Miss “A” and insofar as the apprehension expressed by the parents of Miss “A”. It also directed the Chief Secretary, State of Uttar Pradesh, to direct the Superintendent of Police of the concerned district, namely, Shahjahanpur, to afford protection to the parents and family members of the girl on assessing the threat perception.
  • On 20.09.2019, Swamy Chinmayanand was arrested and his application for bail was rejected by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Shahjahanpur on 23.09.2019.
  • In November 2019, the High Court directed that trial court to provide a certified copy of the statement of victim recorded under Section 164 Cr.P.C. to the applicant subject to payment of usual charges.
  • Before the Appellant could challenge the decision of the High Court, by filing the instant Special Leave Petition on 13.11.2019, a copy of her statement recorded under Section 164 of the Code was made over to the accused.

WHAT THE COURT SAID


The Supreme Court noticed that the High Court completely erred in appreciating the directions issued by this Court, especially in a matter where the offences alleged against accused are of sexual exploitation.

“In such matters utmost confidentiality is required to be maintained. In our view, the High Court completely failed in that behalf.”

Explaining the Scheme of the relevant provisions of CrPC, the Court said that after the conclusion of the investigation, an appropriate report under Section 173 of the Code is to be filed by the police giving information as required by Section 173.

In terms of Section 190 of the Code, the concerned Magistrate may take cognizance of any offence inter alia upon a police report. At the stage of exercise of power under Section 190 of the Code, the Magistrate may deem fit that the matter requires further investigation on certain aspects/issues and may pass appropriate direction. It is only after taking of the cognizance and issuance of process that the accused is entitled, in terms of Sections 207 and 208 of the Code, to copies of the documents referred to in said provisions.

The filing of the charge-sheet by itself, does not entitle an accused to copies of any of the relevant documents including statement under Section 164 of the Code, unless the stages indicated above are undertaken. Thus, merely because the charge-sheet was filed by the time the High Court had passed the order in the present matter, did not entitle the accused to a copy of the statement under Section 164 of the Code.

Though, a copy of the statement recorded under Section 164 of the Code was made over to the accused, the Court set aside the order passed by the High Court and held that

“… under no circumstances copies of statements recorded under Section 164 of the Code can be furnished till appropriate orders are passed by the Court after taking cognizance in the matter.”

[Miss ‘A’ v. State of Uttar Pradesh,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 817, decided on 08.10.2020]

IDIA

Vaibhavi is a first-year B.A. LL.B (Hons.) student at Gujarat National Law University, who’s raring to show the world what she can do!

Vaibhavi’s Story in her own words

Hello. My name is Vaibhavi Rajendra Pedhavi. I belong to Nandaipada, a small village in the small town of Alibag, which is located in the coastal region of Maharashtra. Alibag is also known as mini Goa for its beauty and clean beaches. My father owns a small electronics store and he also does farming to help the family. My mother is a housewife. My parents were determined to teach their daughters well, no matter how much trouble they would face. Since childhood, I used to read storybooks on great leaders. When I came to know that Lokamanya Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi and many of the leaders were lawyers, I saw law as a profession with great respect. When I was in school, I used to read a lot of Marathi books. I was also interested in classical music. I represented my school in many elocution competitions as well.

I also loved to read newspapers during my school years. Since newspapers were not available at my home, I used to go to my uncle’s house to read them. By reading books and newspapers, I was gradually becoming aware of the wrongs in society. As well as I understood the gap between urban and rural areas. The concepts of ‘India’ and ‘Bharat’ were completely different from one another. In my village, people are struggling for one meal in a day and on the other hand tourists who used to come to visit and enjoy at Alibag used to waste a lot of food even without thinking. These factors motivated me to work towards positive social changes in society.

Incident that triggered her to pursue Law

When I was in tenth grade, an event happened which completely changed my life. As we are Kolis (fishermen), our main occupation has been fishing since a long time. Even my great-grandfather, grandfather and still my many relatives are doing this business for their livelihood. My uncle was also a fisherman. Yes, I am saying ‘was’. In 2016, a tragic accident happened in a boat and he died on the spot on the boat. His son was only 7 years old at that time and suddenly all the responsibilities of his son came to my aunt.

Since no one in our family was aware of the government procedures in such circumstances, we could not approach anywhere. And at this moment I realized the importance of law and of a good education. After scoring good marks in class 10, I decided to study for law entrance examination. I decided to go to Pune as there were more opportunities there and I could learn a lot of things there. Initially, my parents were opposed to my decision because they could not afford my hostel fees and other expenses. But after seeing my sincere desire they managed my fees from somewhere and that decision really changed my life and became the turning point.

The culture was really different there and I had never studied using computers in my whole life before. People used to talk to each other in English. Sometimes I really wondered, how were they able to talk in English! Our village school was totally different from Pune’s college.

Role of IDIA in Vaibhavi’s life

One day, IDIA Pune Chapter conducted a sensitization program in our college. They introduced us to many opportunities available after pursuing law and they conducted an exam through which they were going to select some students who were really interested in law as a career and they were going to sponsor the educational expenses. As I was really interested in law from the beginning, I performed well in the preliminary test and after an interview, I was selected as an IDIA trainee.

All volunteers from the IDIA team really supported me throughout the year. They took my personal classes every day (apart from Career Launcher classes) and they also conducted mock tests every month. As I had difficulty in understanding legal knowledge in English,  Atharv Dada from IDIA used to explain to me in Marathi. He even made a timetable for my daily work. Liji didi, Apoorva didi, Soumyashree didi, Madhura didi and all volunteers really explained to me each and every topic of the syllabus. I really think that I am here only because of these people. I cannot imagine what would have happened without them.

When my CLAT results were declared, I did not even know whether my results were bad or good! But finally, Soumyashree Didi called me and said, “Congratulations, Vaibhavi!” I asked her “Marks thik hain kya?” Are my marks okay?, and she said, “Yes”! And I felt really very happy because my dream was coming true. I got enrolled in GNLU soon thereafter.

Aim: ‘A Ray of Hope’ for Villagers

The journey of these 5 years has just begun. The journey will give me the most memorable 5 years of my life. These years will teach me many new things, both good and bad. But the final decision will be mine – to choose what is good for me. After exploring these five years, I want to work especially for rural people. I want to create opportunities for education in rural area. I want the villagers to realize that living in rural India can be a better option than moving to urban areas; the only thing here is that you need to provide them with ‘a ray of hope’ so they can grow by their own will and abilities.


About IDIA:

IDIA is a pan-India movement to train underprivileged students and help transform them into leading lawyers and community advocates. IDIA is premised on the notion that access to premier legal education empowers marginalized communities and helps them help themselves. IDIA selects and trains students from underprivileged backgrounds (IDIA Trainees) to crack top law entrance examinations in India. Once they are admitted to top law colleges, it provides a scholarship to these students (IDIA Scholars) that comprises financial support, training and mentorship among other things.

Read more about IDIA here: https://www.idialaw.org/

Get in touch with them here: info@idialaw.org


SCC Online is now on Telegram and Instagram. Join our channel @scconline on Telegram and @scconline_ on Instagram and stay updated with the latest legal news from within and outside India

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Division Bench of Vikram Nath, CJ and P.B. Pardiwala, J., while addressing an issue with regard to the live streaming of the Court proceedings held that a committee to work out the modalities for the said purpose has been constituted comprising of two Judges of this Court.

A law student raised the issue with regard to the Live Streaming/Open Access of the Court proceedings and in the public interest Gujarat High court should work out the necessary modalities for the said purpose.

Bench on perusal of the material on record, stated that to observe the  requirement of an open Court proceedings, members of the public should be allowed to view the Court hearings through video conferencing except the proceedings ordered for the reasons recorded in writing to be conducted in-camera.

Right to Know and receive information is one of the facts of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and for which reason the public is entitled to witness the Court proceedings.

As, the above-stated Court proceedings involve the issue impacting the public at large or a section of the public.

Bench appreciated the efforts of the 3rd year law student appeared in person in the public interest.

Further, in line of the above-stated observations, Bench stated that to work out the modalities to facilitate the people at large including the media to watch the virtual hearing, Committee of two Judges of this High Court has been constituted pursuant to Standing Committee’s decision on 25-06-2020.

In the near future, a report of the committee is expected after which to allow access to the public at large including the media persons of print digital and electronic media shall be finalized.

Petition was disposed of in view of the above. [Pruthvirajsinh Zala v. Gujarat High Court, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 1055 , decided on 20-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Anup Jairam Bhambhani, J., directed the the Delhi Police to assure that the immediate removal of a law student’s pictures from the Pornographic Website should be done as the images were taken without her consent from the social media platforms.

Petitioner who is a law student from Bangalore complained that her pictures that she had posted on social media platforms ‘Instagram’ and ‘Facebook’ have mischievously and illegally been lifted and placed by respondent’s 6 and 5 — Pornographic website along with derogatory captions.

An online complaint to DCP-South on 11-07-2020 was filed, but no action was taken.

Petitioner’s counsel, Sarthak Maggon submitted that petitioner verily believes that respondent 5 is a spurious website, which carries pornographic content and which ought to have been banned and taken down from the world-wide web by the competent authorities.

Respondent 5 unauthorizedly and illegally in utter violation of the provisions of Information Technology Act, 2002 and Penal Code, 1860 placed the petitioner’s photographs on that website.

By reason of the inaction on the part of the authorities, these photographs have already received 15,000 views.

Rahul Mehra, Counsel for respondent 2/State of NCT of Delhi submitted that urgent and immediate steps would be taken to first take down the petitioner’s photographs that have been uploaded onto the errant website and subsequently necessary investigation will be carried out to trace and punish the offenders.

Bench directed that the complaint made by the petitioner be transferred to the Cyber Prevention Awareness and Detection Unit (CyPAD) of Delhi Police and that immediate action as assured be taken to remove the petitioner’s photographs from the errant website. Matter to be listed on 30-07-2020. [X v. UOI, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 761 , decided on 17-07-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The bench of Ashok Bhushan and Naveen Sinha, JJ has dismissed a petition filed against the Allahabad High Court order granting bail to former BJP MP Swami Chinmayanand in a case pertaining to the alleged rape of a law student in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh.

The bench also issued a notice to Chinmayanand on another plea seeking transfer of the trial in the rape case against him from Uttar Pradesh to Delhi. It, however, refused to stay the trial of the case. The Bench, while refusing to interfere with the Allahabad High Court order, said the High Court had imposed sufficient conditions to ensure that the accused would not tamper with evidence or threaten witnesses.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the victim, claimed that secret videos of the law student (/topic/law-student) bathing were filmed, which were used by Chinmayanand to threaten her and to rape her. He told the court that the High Court, while granting bail, had noted that there was an apprehension of tampering with evidence and threatening but Chinmayanand was still granted bail.

The court, however, said that the apprehensions are taken note of by the High Court which is why certain conditions were imposed, else it would have been an unconditional bail.

“We understand your anxiety but the High Court is monitoring the investigation pursuant to the Supreme Court’s orders. Protection is provided in a substantial manner. Everything has been considered and a charge sheet is filed. When charges have to be framed, the law will take its course,”

In February, Allahabad High Court had transferred from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow the trial in the sexual abuse case against Chinmyanand. The Allahabad High Court had on February 3 granted bail to Chinmayanand, a former Union minister of state, in the alleged rape case filed by a woman who studied law in a college run by Chinmayanand in UP’s Shahjahanpur.

In December 2019, the 23-year-old law student, who has accused Chinmayanand of rape, was released from a district jail in connection with an extortion case after she was granted bail by Allahabad High Court.

The woman was arrested on September 25 in connection with an extortion case filed on the basis of Chinmayanand’s complaint alleging that she, along with three of her friends, had demanded Rs 5 crore from him. Chinmayanand had alleged that they threatened to make public some purported videos of him getting a massage from the law student. On the other hand, the woman had alleged that she was repeatedly raped and blackmailed by Chinmayanand for over a year.

(Source: ANI)