The Supreme Court has held that the public cannot be given free access to the charge sheet or the final investigation report as it is not a public document and to do so would violate the rights of the victim, the accused and even the investigating agency.
In the judgment delivered on Friday, a bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravi Kumar said, “If all the charge sheet and related documents submitted along with the charge sheet are placed in the public domain or on the websites of the state governments. , so it would be against it. Scheme of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC) and may violate the rights of the accused as well as the victim and/or the investigating agency.
The apex court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by journalist Souro Das, who demanded that all charge sheets or final reports, as summaries of police investigations in criminal cases, be uploaded on state government websites. be loaded.
Das cited the Supreme Court’s 2016 judgment in which it directed the police to upload First Information Reports (FIRs) within 24 hours to suggest that if the FIR, which is There are unsubstantiated allegations, which can be made public, so there is a greater need to disclose their content. The charge sheet, which is the investigative report of the allegations.
The petitioner, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, referred to provisions of the CrPC, Evidence Act and Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 and submitted that uploading the charge sheet on the state website would be detrimental to the criminal justice system. Transparency will come.
The bench refused to agree with the petitioner on each count. Responding to the contention that the chargesheet is not a public document, the SC said, “Sections 173 and 207 of the CrPC, read together, require the investigating agency to produce copies of the final report (chargesheet) along with relevant documents. The prosecution should rely on the accused and no one else.
“The copy of the charge sheet along with the necessary documents cannot be said to be public documents under the definition of ‘public document’ under Section 74 of the Evidence Act… Reliance on Sections 74 and 76 of the Evidence Act is misplaced,” he said. ordered.
Referring to its 2016 judgment relied upon by the petitioner, the court said, “The directions issued by this court (in the Youth Bar Association case) are in favor of the accused, who are framed as charge sheets. The scale cannot be extended to the public. Concerned.”
“Placing an FIR on a website cannot be equated to placing a chargesheet with relevant documents on public domain and state government websites,” he added.
Advocate Bhushan submitted that Section 4(2) of the RTI Act imposes a duty on public authorities to provide as much information as possible to the public at regular intervals. On this, the bench said, “Reliance on Section 4(2) of the RTI Act is also misconceived and misplaced… Copies of the charge sheet and documents related to the charge sheet Section 4(1) (b) of the RTI Act (which specifies information to be placed in the public domain by all public authorities).
The petition was filed last year and the court did not issue a notice to the Center seeking its response. As a result, the case was decided on the preliminary submissions made by the petitioner without knowing the stand of the Center or the States on the matter.