In a move aimed at enforcing police reforms across India, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked all states and Union Territories (UT) to upload FIRs within 24 hours of filing. Only FIRs relating to rapes and sexual assault on women and children will be immune to this new directive.
The move, as legal experts believe, could play a big role in relieving complainants of the often lengthy waits they had to previously endure before being handed over a copy of the FIR by the concerned magistrate.
As a relief to the administration in areas where there are poor internet connectivity, the 24-hour deadline can be extended to 72-hours.
The apex court bench headed by Justice Dipak Mishra also made it clear that the order must be implemented by November 15, 2016. The directive also mitigated the scope for any loophole for the accused in case the FIR was not uploaded in due time.
The failure of the administration to upload the FIR on time can not bring any relief to the accused, the court said.
“The copies of FIRs, unless the offence is sensitive in nature, like sexual offences, offences pertaining to insurgency, terrorism and of such category, offences under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) and such other offences, should be uploaded on the police website,” it said.
The directive has come in response to an PIL filed by the Youth Lawyers’ Association of India. The PIL referred to an earlier ruling by the Delhi High court that directed the Delhi Police to upload FIRs on its portal within 24-hours of the initial registration. The PIL urged the court to extend this directive to all of India.
So far, the Northeastern states of Sikkim and Mizoram have been granted an extension of time in uploading the FIRs because of their difficult terrain and poor internet connectivity.
“An accused, who has reasons to suspect that he has been roped in a criminal case and his name may be finding place in an FIR, can submit an application through his representative/ agent for grant of a certified copy before the concerned police officer or to the superintendent of police…. On such application being made, the copy shall be supplied within 24 hours,” it said.