SAURAV DAS Vs. UNION OF INDIA
LAWS(SC)-2023-1-50
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Decided on January 20,2023

Saurav Das Appellant
VERSUS
UNION OF INDIA Respondents




JUDGEMENT

M.R.SHAH, J. - (1.)By way of this petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India the petitioner has prayed for appropriate directions/orders directing the respondents - States to enable free public access to chargesheets and final reports filed as per Sec. 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as 'Cr.P.C ') in furtherance of the rationale as established by this Court in Youth Bar Association of India v. Union of India, (2016) 9 SCC 473 on their websites.
(2.)Shri Prashant Bhushan, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner has heavily relied upon the decision of this Court in the case of Youth Bar Association of India (supra) by which this Court directed copies of FIRs to be published within 24 hours of their registration on the police websites or on the websites of the State Governments.
2.1 It is the case on behalf of the petitioner that while the direction of this Hon 'ble Court directing the police to publish copies of FIRs on their websites has indeed induced transparency in the working of the criminal justice system, the logic of disclosure applies more strongly to chargesheets, for while FIRs are based on unsubstantiated allegations, chargesheets are filed after due investigation.

2.2 Shri Prashant Bhushan, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner has taken us to the Scheme of the Code of Criminal Procedure more particularly Ss. 207, 173(4) and 173(5) of the Cr.P.C and relying upon the said provisions it is vehemently submitted that as per the aforesaid provisions when a duty is cast upon the Investigating Agency to furnish the copy of the challans/charge-sheets along with all other documents to the accused, the same also should be in the public domain to have the transparency in the working of the Criminal Justice System.

2.3 Shri Prashant Bhushan, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner has also vehemently submitted that the chargesheet is a public document once filed in the Court. Reliance is placed on Ss. 74 and 76 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. It is submitted that even under Sec. 4(2) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (hereinafter referred to as the 'RTI Act ') a duty is cast upon the public officer/public authority to provide as much information suo moto to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications and to provide as much information as mentioned in Sec. 4(1)(b) of the RTI Act.

Making the above submissions, it is prayed to grant the relief as sought in the present petition.

(3.)We have heard Shri Prashant Bhushan, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner at length.
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