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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 23 January, 2023

  • 7 Min Read

Chargesheet is not a “Public Document”: SC

Chargesheet is not a “Public Document”: SC

Chargesheets are deemed to be private documents as declared by the Supreme Court bench.

About the news:

  • The Supreme Court ruled that the government is not required to post chargesheets on police or official websites in order to give the public unrestricted access to them.
  • According to the Court, posting chargesheets for public review would be against the rights of the accused, victims, and investing agency.

A chargesheet: What is it?

  • A chargesheet is the final report created by a police officer or investigating agency following the conclusion of their investigation into a case, as described by Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
  • According to section 173(2) of the CrPC, the chargesheet in K Veeraswami v. Union of India & Others (1991) is the police officer's final report.
  • If a chargesheet isn't filed against the suspect within the required window of 60 to 90 days, the arrest is invalid and the suspect is eligible for bail.

Chargesheet Must Include:

  • Names, the type of information, and offences are all specified. The chargesheet provides vital information regarding the accused's arrest, detention, release, and whether or not any actions were taken against him.

How to proceed after submitting the chargesheet:

  • The official in charge of the police station sends the chargesheet to the magistrate after it has been prepared, who has the authority to take note of the offences listed there so that the charges can be formulated.
  • Typically, a chargesheet refers to one or more FIRs and the accusations made against a person or group for the crimes detailed in each FIR.
  • The judicial system's prosecution of the accused begins after the charge sheet has been presented to a court of law.

What is The First Information Report (FIR)?

  • Any information about the commission of a Cognizable Offence that is provided orally or in writing to an officer who is on duty by a party who feels wronged or by any other person is referred to as an F.I.R.
  • The Judicial Magistrate may direct the concerned jurisdictional area of the Police Station to register an F.I.R. based on the information supplied.
  • Zero F.I.R. : Regardless of the police station's jurisdiction, a complaint may be filed using zero F.I.R. at any police station. It is a revision that was made following the Nirbhaya Rape Case.

How Do Chargesheets and FIRs Differ?

Provision:

  • Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) defines the phrase "chargesheet," although neither the Indian Penal Code (IPC) nor the CrPC define the term "First Information Report" (FIR). Instead, it is covered by the police regulations/rules in Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which is about "Information in Cognizable Cases."

Filing period:

  • An FIR is filed at the "first" instance that the police are notified of a cognizable offence, whereas the chargesheet is the last report submitted at the conclusion of an investigation (offence for which one can be arrested without a warrant; such as rape, murder, kidnapping).

Establishing Guilt:

  • While a chargesheet is full with evidence and is frequently utilised during a trial to substantiate the offences the accused is charged with, a FIR does not determine a person's guilt.

Why are Chargesheets not considered Public Documents?

  • A chargesheet cannot be made public, according to the Court, because it is not a "public document" as defined by Sections 74 and 76 of the Evidence Act, 1872.
  • Public papers are those that are actions or records of sovereign authority, official bodies, tribunals, and public offices, whether legislative, judicial, or executive, in any region of India, the Commonwealth, or a foreign country, according to Section 74. Public records "maintained in any State of private documents" are also included.
  • The public body in charge of them must produce certified copies of the papers indicated in this section as they are solely public records.
  • Under this clause, copies of chargesheets and other necessary public papers are not considered to be public documents.
  • Section 76 specifies that every public official who has custody of such documents must deliver a copy upon request and legal fee payment, together with an attestation certificate that includes the date, seal, name, and position of the officer.
  • All documents other than those mentioned in Section 74 are considered private records under Section 75 of the Evidence Act.

Read Also: Anti-superstition laws

Source: The Hindu


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