Upload FIRs on websites in 24 hrs, Supreme Court tells states

In a step forward to introducing police reforms, the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday directed all states and Union territories to upload all FIRs, except those relating to sexual assault against women and children, on respective police websites within 24 hours of their being filed.

This will negate the need for a complainant to wait till the time the concerned magistrate provides him a copy of the FIR under Section 207 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc).
In areas where there is no internet connectivity or poor connectivity, the time has been extended up to 72 hours. The order has to be implemented by November 15. The Bench, headed by Justice Dipak Mishra, also made it clear that if an FIR is not uploaded, the accused cannot take advantage of it before a court of law.

"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 direction came on a PIL by the Youth Lawyers' Association of India. The PIL referred to a decision by the Delhi high court, in which the city police was directed to upload the FIRs on its website within 24 hours of an FIR being registered. The lawyers body sought the apex court for a direction for pan-India implementation of the high court order.

The extension of time in uploading the FIRs was granted when counsel for states like Sikkim and Mizoram said due to difficult terrain and poor internet connectivity, it would be difficult to upload FIRs within 24 hours.

The Delhi high court, in 2010, had ordered all police stations in the national capital to upload and make available copies of FIRs to the accused persons, so that they can defend themselves without further delay before the trial court.

"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.

"In case of states where the district magistrate has a role, he may also assume the said authority. A decision by the concerned police officer or the district magistrate shall be duly communicated to the concerned jurisdictional magistrate," the apex court said.

Once the FIR is forwarded by the police station to the concerned magistrate, it shall be given by the concerned court within two working days, it said.

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