CASE SUMMARY: YOUTH BAR ASSOCIATION OF INDIA VS. UNION OF INDIA

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• Case name:
Youth Bar Association of India vs. Union of India
• Citation:
AIR 2016 SC 4136
• Court:
Supreme Court of India
• Bench:
Dipak Mishra, M Khanwilkar, Y. Chandrachud
• Parties:
Petitioner: Youth Bar Association of India
Respondents: Union of India

• Brief facts:
In this case a writ petition preferred under article 32 of Constitution of India. The petitioner youth Bar Association had prayed for issue of writ in the nature of Mandamus, directing UOI and States to upload each and every FIR (first information report) registered in all the police stations within the territory of India on the official website of Police of all states, as early as possible, preferably within 24 hours from the time of registration of the FIR.
• Issue:
 Whether the writ issued be an order or direction directing the respondents to upload each and every “first information report” lodged in all the police stations within the territory of India in the official websites of the police of all states.
 Whether such FIR be uploaded as early as possible, preferably within 24 hours from the time of lodging.
Argument of the petitioner: The counsel on behalf of the petitioner contended that-
 after registration of the FIR, if the FIR is uploaded online it will solve many unnecessary problems faced by the accused and their family members. When the criminal law is set in motion and liberty of an individual is at stake, he should have the information so he can take necessary steps to protect his liberty.
 Article 21 of Constitution in its broad perspective seeks to protect the persons of their lives and personal liberties except according to the procedure established by law. The said article in its broad application not only takes within its fold enforcement of the rights of an accused but also the rights of the victim.
 The right to liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution is a valuable right, and hence should not be lightly interfered with.
 The precious right guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India cannot be denied to convicts, under trials, detainees and other prisoners in the custody, except according to the procedure established by law by placing such reasonable restrictions as are permitted by law.
 Moreover, in case the accused has been framed falsely, then he can take proper steps beforehand.
• Argument of the respondent: The contention raised by the counsel of the defendant was that-
 The counsel for Union of India, submitted that the directions issued by the High Court of Delhi can be applied with certain modifications.
 The Central Government is supporting all the States to set up a mechanism for filing online complaints under the protect ‘Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems’
 The counsel appearing for State of Uttarakhand submitted that FIR in respect of certain offences which are registered, like sexual offences and the offences under POCSO may be difficult to be put on the website.
 The counsel appearing for North eastern states of Meghalaya, Mizoram and Sikkim submitted that insurgency would be a sensitive matter and it would not be possible on part of the said states to upload the FIR within 24 hours
• Judgement:
The Supreme Court observed that-
 An accused is entitled to get a copy of the FIR at an early stage than as prescribed under section 207 of the CrPC 1973. The accused may file an application with a certain amount of fee prescribed by State Government to either officer-in-charge of police station o superintendent of police to obtain a certified copy of FIR within 24 hours.
 The accused may file an application with certain fee as prescribed by the State Government before the concerned Magistrate or Special Judge to whom the FIR has been forwarded and it will be provided within 2 working days.
 The copies of the FIR, unless the offence is sensitive in nature like sexual offences pertaining to insurgence terrorism and of that category, offences under POCSO Act 2012 and such other offences should be upload on the police website.
 The decision not to upload the copy of the FIR on the website shall not be taken by an officer below the rank of Dy.SP or any person holding equivalent post.
 The direction for uploading of FIR in the website of all the states shall be given effect from 15th November 2016.
 If FIR is refused to be given because of sensitivity of the case, one can approach Superintendent of police or Commissioner of police in metropolitan area. It will be forwarded to committee of 3 police officials and decision will be given within 3 working days as to whether a copy of the FIR can be granted or not. This committee has to be set up with 8 weeks of 15th November,2016.
 Now, if some state police forces are not complying with these directions, then it is contempt of the court. It may first be desirable to request the concerned police authorities to comply with the above said guidelines.
• Importance of the case: The Supreme Court directive regarding uploading the First information report on the website of state police was a step to wholesome reform in the criminal proceedings’ apparatus. It aimed at promoting prompt action, transparency and curb arbitrariness. It primarily safeguarded the interests of accused persons. The accused who may come to know that he figured in a FIR, but has no idea of the allegations which form its basis. The apex court’s judgement also benefited the victims of crime who have no means of getting to know whether their complaint had been brought on record or not. The Indian police department is known for dubious record of suppressing crime. Viewed in this perspective the court’s prescription makes it difficult for station house officers to ignore crime, a common practice adopted with a view to helping an offender or to dress police statistics up so that they conceal a slightest rise in crime.

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